One of the reasons I am enjoying these Gaelic lessons so much is the wealth of information that is presented by our tutor throughout the classes, sometimes explanations of vocabulary background and sometimes related amusing stories. This week had plenty of both!
Firstly, a wee colloquialism that I missed from last week’s lesson which is idir, idir, idir which translates to ‘at all, at all, at all’ and should always be said in full, triplicate form. This is apparently appended to the end of a negative mood sentence as emphasis, such as chan eil mi toilichte idir, idir, idir – I am not happy, at all, at all, at all!
On a similar theme this week we learned Obh, obh! and mo chreach sa thanaig! – Obh, obh apparently doesn’t really translate into English but I’d say it may be representative of a mix between ‘meh’ and ‘grrrr!’ but it should normally precede a clause that explains its use such as mo chreach sa thanaig! which literally translates to ‘my destruction has arrived’ or more naturally ‘Good God!’. I like this :D
If wet isn’t accurate or descriptive enough for you, as often it isn’t in Scotland then you can precede fluich with bog which literally means ‘bogging’ as in ‘bogging wet’ or ‘soaking wet’.
As well as the grammar points which I went over in Càite Bheil Thu A’ Fuireach? – Lesson 3 we learned to count from 11-19 and the days of the week.
Numbers (constructed by pre-10 number with 10 appended):
With regards to the days, each of them carries some meaning, some more interesting than others.
- Diluan – Monday – from the French for the day Lundi
- Dimàirt – Tuesday – again from the French Mardi
- Diciadin – Wednesday – means Day of the1st fast – traditionaly Gaels would fast twice a week, apparently
- Diardoain – Thursday – meaning the day between two fasts!
- Dihaoine – Friday – the Day of the 2nd fast
- Disathairne – Saturday – referring to Saturn
- Didòmhnaich – Sunday – meaning God’s Day which was generally used by Catholics, OR
- Là na Sàbaid – Sunday – meaning the Sabbath which was generally used by Protestants
The second Sunday option is apparently more commonly used but either works.
Finally, a little bit about Murdo MacFarlane the writer of this week’s song. Murdo hails from Lewis, as does our tutor and he was well known around the island, in particular her father knew him pretty well. Murdo apparently was a great songwriter but a miserable man :)
Our tutor’s father was a bus driver and drove a school bus into Stornoway every morning and every morning, dressed in a blue boiler suit, Murdo MacFarlane would jump onto the school bus into Stornoway so that he wouldn’t have to pay the far on a normal bus!
This week’s song Cànan nan Gàidheal was written as a lament of the foreseeable death of the Gaelic language as all Murdo saw in front of him was the decline of the language. Thankfully, efforts have been made to keep Gaelic alive and the number of people in my class alone are testament to the success of these efforts.
As I mentioned in the main post, I like this song, the lyrics really speak to me and sum up why I felt the need to learn the language of my predecessors.
Lyrics in English:
It wasn’t the Northern snow or frost
nor the sharp, withering East wind
nor rain and Westerly storms
but the plague that came from the South
to blight blossom, leaf, stalk and root
of the language of my people and race
Chorus (after each verse)
Come to us, come with me to the West
and hear the language of heroes
Come to us, come with me to the West
and hear the language of the Gael
If a kilted man would be seen in the glen
certainly Gaelic was his language
then they tore his roots from the land
and replaced Gaelic with the language of the Lowlander
and the Highlands, once the cradle of the brave
is now a land of foreign majors and colonels
Bring out the golden candlesticks
and set up the white wax candles
light them in the room of mourning
hold a wake for the ancient tongue of the Gael
That is what the enemy once said
but the language of the Gael lives on
Though it fled for its life from the glens
and can no longer be heard in the Dùn
from MacKay country far in the North
down to Drumochter of cattle
But in the Western Isles
It is still the first language of the people