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  5. "What is a service?"

"What is a service?"

Translation:Cad is seirbhís ann?

January 6, 2015



I was trapped by Cad é seirbhís too. I wish these construction did not come out of the blue with our dear DL.


Not cad e seirbhis?


I went for cad é seirbhis? too, based on the common phrases Cad é sin? and Cad é seo?.

Gramadach na Gaeilge deals with this in it's section on the copula in interrogative clauses - Cad é seo? is short for Cad é rud seo? or Cad é an rud é seo? ("What is this thing?"), and gives 3 different ways of asking "what is a book?"
Cad é rud leabhar?
Cad é an rud é leabhar?
Cad is leabhar ann?

This also gives me more insight into the "ann of existence", as against ann as a shortened form of ansin.

  • 1807

Questions with the copula seem complicated :/ I need to read that part again in more detail at some point. But in the German version, he already explains higher up on the page that the Cad is X ann? form is used when asking for a definition (reminded in the section you gave a link to), and the corresponding answer is Is é rud is X ann ná … (absent from the old English translation).

I’m not sure, but this Cad is X ann? form actually seems to be used only for definitions


No — the Cad is X ann? form is correct.


Have we had this construction before? Does the 'ann' mean 'there' or 'in it'?


Not that I know of. The Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla shows that it means “there” (in its existential sense), but I find it easier to remember by treating it as if it were the prepositional pronoun “in it”.


Can you give me a rough literal translation of it?


“A service, what is there?” (I find it easier to remember as “What’s in it, a service?”.)


Yes, it does seem to be related to the 'dliodoir ata ionat' sort of construction. Except that uses bi, and not the copula . . .


Ok now, according to this exercise,

"What is a X?" == Cad is X ann

In the opinion of those with good knowledge of Irish, are we better off just accepting the above as an idiomatic rule, or should we try to make sense of a literal translation?

(BTW, I realize that "service" is just the particular noun DL used to teach this construction, but of all the nouns they have taught us thus far, using "service" as an example here is a very odd choice.)


It might help learning how ann is used in such constructions if the English sentence wasn't almost meaningless.

Is this question asking what services are available? Would ann be used if we were translating "What services are available?" or "What services do you offer?" or some other more common English construction?


Agree that the English sentence is awkward and puzzling. I can't think of any practical application of it.


Really? You don't think that learning how to ask "what is a predicative adjective?" or "what is a sonic screwdriver?" is a practical use of this exercise?


I am referring to the English translation having no practical purpose, nothing more. As others have noted in regard to the translations, they simply don't always equate to anything that makes sense in English. I think this impedes progress in trying to grasp the concept in Irish. It's frustrating at least.


I really don't understand your objection. What nouns other than "service" would you consider practical? If the exercise had been "what is a predicative adjective?" would you have learned the vocabulary that you had never seen before ("predicative adjective"), or would you have leaned a new construction ("what is a ...?") that is a pretty useful phrase to know when you are learning about a new culture.


Guess we're not communicating. "What is a service?", while grammatically correct, is not a question that would be commonly used in English. Look at Nina's second paragraph in her comment above - I think she's hitting on my point. Looks like more than one of us questions the translations on this and other exercises. I know you have pointed out that we are learning Irish, not English, but Duo has awkward translations that don't help us grasp the Irish construction when translated. "Is there an answer?", "Is there an issue?", etc. Sound fine to me in English, but I can't picture "Is there a service?" I don't think we would use the indefinite article. Sounds unnatural. Not sure what a new culture has to do with it. Is as Corcaigh mo sheantuismitheoirí.


Is there a bus service between here and Castlebar? Is there a service in the Church on Saturday evening? The fire brigade provides a service to the public. The Murphys sent us a dinner service as a wedding present.

But that is all beside the point. Tge point of this exercise is to learn how to say "What is a ..?". If the exercise was "What is a book?" someone else would have complained about a stupid question because who would ever need to ask that question?


And you think that "What is a service?" has a practical use? Can you give a real life example where you would use that specific English sentence?


Duolingo is not a phrase book!!!

If all you want is a list of sentences that you can learn off by heart and parrot back on command, then you've been wasting the last year - that's not how Duolingo is designed to work.

The exercise is teaching you how to ask "what is a XXXX?". It really doesn't matter what the noun is, it's a useful construction to know.


i tried "Ceard seirbhís" omg copula argh

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