tha mi trang gach latha! – Notes on Lesson 8

This was a tough week, I missed a lot having been absent from class for a fortnight but even for those who had been in attendance previously this was a tough week.

In this week’s notes I am going to type out the reading for our homework assignment in whole and will underline points of interest for discussion afterwards.

If you’ve read my previous posts you will probably understand the reaction of shock and awe that I experienced when I opened the document, with my handy abaìr! dictionary in tow though I went to work translating it.

I made a number of mistakes but I’ll try and explain why as I go along.  I’m not going to provide a translation for the whole piece (because I’m a bit evil) as no-one wants to read a blog post of that length!

Mo sgeulachd!

Is mise Ann agus tha mi à Leodhas ach a’fuireach ann am Musselburgh. Tha flat ùr agam an sin agus tha e bun os cionn an drasda! Rugadh agus thogadh mi ann an Garrabost ann an Leodhas. Cha robh ach timcheall air fichead taigh ann nuair a bha mi òg.

Bha mi a;fuireach ann an taigh criot comhla rì m’athair, mo mhàthair, agus dithis pheathraichean. ‘Se Alison agus Doreen a th’orra. Tha iadsan a’fuireach ann an Leodhas fhathast, agus tha Alison a’fuireach ann an Garrabost fhathast!  Tha iad posda agus tha nighean aig Doreen agus dithis nighean aig Alison – chan eil balaich idir anns an teaghlach – tha dithis nighean agamsa cuideachd!

Nuair a bha mi seachd deug bha mi a’dol gu Obar Dheathain gu an Oiltigh… ach, obh, obh ‘s beag orm Obar Dheathain!! Bha mi a’dol dhachaidh an dèidh trì seachdainean!

Aig ochd deug bha mi a’dol gu Glaschu agus ‘s mòr orm Glaschu! Tha mo nighean, Rebecca a nis a’fuireach ann an Glaschu!

Tha m’athair a nis ceithir fichead ‘sa còig agus mo mhàthair tri fichead ‘sa còig deug.  Bidh iad trang gach latha agus tha iad gu math!  Bidh mi a’dol gu Leodhas anns an Dubhlachd airson ceilidh air an teaghlach!

Nueair a bha mo chlann nighean òg bha iad toilichte ann an Leodhas ag obair air an criot comhla rì m’athair!

Tha aon nighean agam a’fuireach ann am Musselburgh agus an nighean eile ann an Glaschu!

This is the story of Ann’s family and there are a few tricky phrases in there if you haven’t heard them explained or had any context supplied.

For example, when I tried to translate ‘s beag orm and ‘s mòr orm all I knew was that beag means ‘small’ and mòr means ‘big’ so since they were in relation to places (Aberdeen and Glasgow) I figured that they would perhaps relate to either the size of the city or the duration of time there.. so I guessed at either ‘Aberdeen is too small’ or ‘I stayed in Aberdeen briefly’ and the opposite for Glasgow.

I was mistaken though in fairness I wasn’t far off. As it happen’s ‘s beag orm is a colloqualism meaning ‘I hate it’ and conversely ‘s mòr orm means ‘I love it’ so Ann hates Aberdeen and loves Glasgow.  Not sure what there is to hate about Aberdeen but then I only lived there for seven years not the three weeks that Ann managed :P.

Another clause I found interesting and I think would have struggled to translate if I wasn’t Scottish is chan eil ach which means (in this context) ‘There wasn’t but (20 houses when I lived there)’ this is perhaps seldom used nowadays but is a standard Scottish turn of phrase.

Otherwise the rest of the underlined words are just new vocabulary:

Gàidhlig English
an sin / ann there
an drasda now (with immediacy as in ‘right now, this moment’)
a nis now (more general, as in ‘these days’)
nuair when
fhathast* still
comhla rì along with
‘se … a th’orra** Their names are ..
trang gach latha lit: ‘busy every day’
Dubhlachd December (lit: The Black Month)
eile other

* We learned before that to ask someone their name you would say Cò thusa? which literally means ‘who are you?’ however there is an alternate way which means ‘what is your name?’ and this is dè an t-ainm a th’ort?  The response to this question is ‘se <name> (an t-ainm) a tha orm (abbreviated to a th’orm).  The form of orm is changed dependant on the personal pronoun, so in this case th’orra is used for ‘they’.

** I find the pronunciation of this word fairly amusing, it is a good example of how complicated Gaelic spelling can be compared to its pronunciation, though often the reverse is true too.  Fhathast is basically pronounced ‘haast’ as the ‘f’ isn’t pronounced when lenited and ‘th’ is also not pronounced mid-word.

We also touched upon dithis again which is the counter for two people and just like it’s relative  (two) it’s a fickle creature.  Dithis means ‘twosome’ which is a noun and therefore when followed by a second noun (as it always would be) the second noun doesn’t take a plural.  This is due to the second noun taking the genitive case and reverting back to the singular form.  That’s what I wrote down, I do not claim to understand it!

Finally, when talking about a dead person in Gaelic, much like other languages such as Japanese you generally aren’t as direct as referring to them as dead.  Rather you tend to say they are not alive, chan eil iad beò. Alternatively, if you are prone to religion you might use caochail which means expired (specifically relating to people).  If you are talking about animals or plants you would use marbh.