I came across this legal precept in DIL, quoted from Ancient Laws of
"ni nais etach for nach nocht" = thou shalt not bind a naked person
to pay in clothes , Laws iv 36. 3
It follows the more realistic precept:
"ni nais uma nā hairgead nā hōr acht for māl"
which DIL paraphrases as "only a chief is to be bound to pay in
copper, silver or gold".
The staccato alliteration of "ni nais etach for nach nocht" gives this
the sound of a proverbial phrase. It brings to mind the reminder that
"you can't get blood from a turnip". I know that Ancient Laws has
been superseded by Corpus Iuris Hibernici. Does the latter have a
different take on these lines, or any further comment on them?
[By the way, I copied these lines directly from eDIL, including the
macrons. I'll be interested to see if they survive transmission
intact. Here is the second line as retyped directly from my
keyboard: ni nais uma nā hairgead nā hōr acht for māl, using the
Irish Extended setting on the Mac.]