Níl Saoi Gan Locht - This is not a Wise Man without Flaw


The Irish language is often remarked upon for it's poetic turn of phrase. To really appreciate how true these comments are one needs to turn to a book. Not a dictionary, in this case we mean a history book.

Some of the oldest written records of the Irish language come from the 9th century common era in the form of the great monastic tomes such as the book of Kells, the Yellow book of Lecan, and, the recently return to Ireland, book of Lismore. The thing is, though there is great value gained by these works, it also highlighted that the Irish language existed for centuries on our island with only Ogham as it's sole written expression.

Prior to a broadly recognised script and a population educated in literacy, the only way information was recorded was in memory, and transferred between memories by oral recitation. Those people trained in memory and recitation were known as bards, and it was with bards that the language grew as everyone knows that it is easier to memorise a rhyme or poem than it is to recall an entire novel. Irish is a poetic language because it began and grew as the language of poets.

One of the more modern expression of the linguestic flare of the Irish language are known as the sean fhocail - or 'old words'. Sean fhocail are well known sentences that some might see as cliché, but when each one of them is considered in more than just passing, the deeper wisdom and cultural insights can be glimpsed.

Níl saoi gan locht translates as 'there is no wise man without fault' and I think we can all agree that here is a deep sentiment, worthy of consideration, wrapped in something as directly simple as four words.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published