Scottish Gaelic: your parents were happy

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by AuthorJCJ, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. AuthorJCJ New Member

    English - American
    I'm an author teaching myself Scots Gaelic to use in a book I've just started. I have a computer program coming to help me in that area . . . but, in the meantime, I need to keep writing.
    Please: the Scots Gaelic translation for 'your parents' (as in 'your parents were happy') {do faic tùsan?}, 'his father' {na athair?} and 'your mother' {bhur màthair?}.
    I can look up individual words, but can't find much about stringing the words together. European languages tend to scramble the words (compared to English) so I'm very hesitant about using 2 words in a row as there's a 50-50 shot I'll have them backwards . . . and with my luck. Three word strings are even more likely to be incorrect!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2011
  2. AlJaahil Junior Member

    Canadian English
    Hi, JCJ -

    At a guess, I wonder if you're using Sabhal Mór Ostaig's website to look up words? Faic tùsan actually means "see roots," i.e. of the words you're looking up. :D 

    Anyway, there are two words for "your" in Gaelic depending on formality - it works the same as French, where one form for "you" is informal singular (tu) and the other is plural and/or formal (vous).

    "Your" singular informal is do, which becomes d' before vowels. Do also has a phonetic effect called lenition which changes an initial consonant of the following word, normally shown by writing an h after that consonant.

    "Your" plural/formal is either bhur or just ur - either is correct, but you should probably pick one or the other and stick with it; ur is much more common nowadays. Bhur/ur does not lenite, but does prefix n- to vowels.

    "His" is a, which disappears before vowels (in older writing it was shown with an apostrophe at the beginning of the word but this isn't done now). It lenites like do.

    "Your parents" singular informal is do phàrantan or d'athair agus do mhàthair, literally "your father and (your) mother."

    Formal plural would be (bh)ur pàrantan or (bh)ur n-athair agus (bh)ur màthair.

    "Your mother" is again do mhàthair or (bh)ur màthair.

    "His father" is just athair or (old-style) 'athair
  3. AuthorJCJ New Member

    English - American
    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I certainly wouldn't want to be using 'see roots' when I mean 'your parents.' :eek: That's not even CLOSE!!
    I really appreciate your quick response and your clear answer! It's exactly what I needed!! :thumbsup:
    Well, AIJaahil, again, thanks so much for your guidance! It's much appreciated!:p
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2011
  4. AlJaahil Junior Member

    Canadian English
    I forgot to translate "your parents are happy" for you. "Your parents" you know, so...

    Tha <your parents> sona. You can also use sunndach instead of sona; the difference is hard to describe but sunndach tends to mean "merry" or "happy about something."

    Note that the verb tha goes at the beginning of the sentence - this is normal Gaelic word order.
  5. AuthorJCJ New Member

    English - American
    Hi again . . .
    Thanks for the addendum. Actually, the 'your parents were happy' was to show usage. The actual sentence is, "Your parents were very sad." (I didn't want to be the cup half empty kind of person.) HOWEVER, I'm not doing a full translation, just peppering the story with common words (lots of pronouns so far).
    The characters, living in northern Scotland in the first half of the 19th century, actually speak Gaelic 10% of the time, but the book is in English. The main character will learn English as a teenager, when he attends university in England.
    To keep the story 'real,' in dialogue, the young main character refers to, and converses with, his mother, father and grandmother in Gaelic. I have to be careful to NOT use too many Gaelic words . . . and that the words I DO use can be 'figured out' by the context of the rest of the sentence/dialogue. I'd like to impart at least a little knowledge on the reader, be it history or language. And, I have a number of NAMES lists (male, female, surnames) I refer to for character names.
    It's a fact that Americans butchered language by putting the words in the order that you say them in sentences. One classic story that made the rounds many years ago was a particular sentence in French that, when translated literally, was something like "Throw me down the stairs my keys, Charlie." So, I was aware that Europeans sometimes put the verb first - but I wasn't sure about Gaelic. Now, I know that, too.
    I can't wait for my 'inexpensive' computer program shows up - <Name censored>, it ain't - but I don't need to be conversational (I don't know a single person I could converse with), only be able to come across in written usage as somewhat knowledgeable, without being a pain-in-the-neck to a kind stranger (new friend) like yourself.
    Are you a native speaker or did you learn it via school or other means? I got sorta hooked on Gaelic, or the idea of Gaelic, from books by Diana Gabaldon, although I'd been exposed to it many times before - my fave genre is historical romance based in England/Scotland/Ireland (although I've never been to any of those places - but would love to).
    Anyway, thanks for the additional information - I really appreciate it.
    Have a great day in Vancouver!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2011
  6. AlJaahil Junior Member

    Canadian English
    I'm a fairly fluent learner, it was the language of part of my family but they switched to English 3 or 4 generations ago. We should keep the chat down, though - I need to keep on Cherine's good side because she's so helpful to me in the Arabic forum.

    Anyway, Gaelic is a bit different in that while you can put the verb first in certain cases in languages like Spanish, especially if there's no overt pronoun subject, you must do so in the Celtic languages.

    About pronouns: Gaelic combines pronouns with prepositions into one word, e.g. bho "from" + mi "I/me" ==> bhuam "from me." The separated form is ungrammatical.

    Also be aware that Gaelic uses verb+preposition combos like English but they are not necessarily the same. Early in my studies I said I was going to "put out" the cat (i.e. let him outside). When the guy I was speaking to stopped laughing, he explained that cuir amach is in fact "put out," literally, but means to publish, to throw up, or to lay in the sense of a bird laying an egg - not quite the image I was going for.

    For "sad" I would need to know what they were sad about to give you the best translation - there are quite a few words with different nuances.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  7. AlJaahil Junior Member

    Canadian English
    A good idiomatic phrase would be Bha <your parents> fada fo bhròn, literally "Your parents were far/long under sorrow." Gaelic conceives of involuntary states like sadness, hunger, fear, etc. as being "on you," sometimes expressed as such or, as here, expressed as you being "under" them.

    I'm going to suggest that we take Rallino's suggestion above and move this to PMs - you're welcome to PM me at any time.

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