The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59062   Message #953447
Posted By: Felipa
15-May-03 - 08:07 PM
Thread Name: Cearc Agus Coileach
It should be possible to sing verses from one version to the tune of another, with minor variation. But I'm glad that the versions are published here with their corresponding tunes as they were collected from different sources. I learned the the third version and I am debating with myself whether to add in some lines from other versions.

Later I'll explain differences between the Ó Laoire/ Ó Duibheannaigh and DT versions; they are few.

A note about translations. Two of the translations were provided for me, so I tried to translate the one from "Cas Amhrán" myself. You can see I had difficulties.

I've seen a good website for matching Irish placenames with their Anglicised versions. I think it is connected with An Post (Oifig an Phoist, the Post Office). I haven't bookmarked it, so I didn't take the time to look it up. "Muileann a' Leice" means the mill of the flagstone, not the stone of the mill, but there is at least one town called Milltown (Co Cork is the one I recall). Another possibility is that the name has been crudely transliterated to something like "Mullanalecky", and it's also possible that it is known by a completely different name.

The version I learned also had the lines "sínte sa phot' agus leac ar a bhéal". At the time I didn't have a full translation of the song and I didn't try to make one either, but I thought of the line as meaning the cock was cooking in a pot with a lid over him. I would probably have translated 'leac' as 'lid' and 'béal' as 'beak' rather than more literally, as that's basically how I thought about it. But I see that Lillis Ó Laoire does use 'stone' and 'mouth' in his translation. I think 'leac' is used because in older times there would have been a large cooking pot (cauldron) over the fire and in lieu of a lid one could use a large flat stone. But it is possible that the word has been chosen with more consideration, to bring on an association with a 'leac' stone over a grave. It is not typical to use "béal" when speaking of birds. A bird has a 'gob', a beak. The word choice may be simply poetic licence and rhyming scheme. But it adds to the personification of the bird, who has spurs and a hat (his comb). Also we do sometimes talk of a person having a 'gob' or a 'beak'; in Ireland either word may be used when speaking English. Perhaps the use of "béal" is comical, because talking of a bird's mouth is the flipside of talking about a human's beak.

Quoting myself from another thread: "Of course, often in translation it is more important to convey the sense of the words rather than to translate them literally.
"I think an easy way to illustrate this principle is to think about idioms. In some languages it rains 'frogs', but I should translate that into English as 'cats and dogs'. The English 'swimming against the stream' becomes 'ag snámh in aghaidh an easa', 'swimming against the waterfall' in Irish. If I were translating from the Irish, I might want to convert the expression to the usual English one. At other times I might choose to be more literal in order to emphasize the exotic nature of the material, or in this case because the Irish expression sounds stronger."