The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161904   Message #3851247
Posted By: GUEST,Emily
19-Apr-17 - 12:00 PM
Thread Name: Irish speakers' help, please
Subject: RE: Irish speakers' help, please
/* copied for reference
Callin o custure me, Calen o Custure me, Caleno custure me, Callino Casturame, etc.

Cailín ó Chois tSiúre mé = I am a girl from beside the [river] Suir
Cailín óg a stiuire me = my dear little girl
Cailín og a stuair me = Colleen oge astore = young girl of my heart forever, or young girl, my treasure. */

Unfortunately my Irish language knowledge does not extend to early modern Irish, which is where the 16th/17th centuries would fall. But based on my knowledge of modern Irish and old/middle Irish, I would say that these are all credible translations. My preference would go to cailín ó Chois tSiúre mé just because it is more in line with the conventions of Irish syntax. As Felipa pointed out, the lenited c (/ch/) tends to be reduced to /c/ by most English speakers, which accounts for the variance in those characters.

However, by the same token, in old/middle Irish, and presumably in the transition to early modern Irish, /g/ often was pronounced like /c/, as evidenced by the appearance of the conjunction "and"--agus in modern Irish--spelled "acus" and "ocus" in old/middle Irish texts. So I am somewhat hesitant to dismiss the translation cailín óg based solely on variations in the orthography. What is throwing me off is the me in the latter two translations. In order for the translations back into English that you have suggested to work, the me has to serve as a possessive, and I am not sure if me can be used in such a fashion. I know in modern Irish, the possessive is mo, as is also the case in old/middle Irish, and I can't recall ever seeing me used as a possessive. Which of course does not mean it has never happened, merely that I have not encountered it in my reading, which is mostly limited to the epic cycles.

Now, the pronunciation of me can vary, i.e. pronounced like "may", "meh" as in met, and "muh". And mo is also pronounced "muh" so the two could feasibly be conflated with each other. But if me were serving as a possessive, I would expect it to precede the noun it is modifying. And again, I can't recall ever seeing the possessive mo appear after the noun it modifies. So I would have to do some research to say for sure, but my initial impression is that the latter two translations are syntactically unlikely.

As a caveat, this is all just my interpretation of the language itself. For a more thorough exploration of the history of the song itself, I can do no better than to refer you to the link Felipa shared above. I can't figure out how to get it into my text box here, but it was in her first reply.

Hope this helps you some.