"Seall air Spot a'ruith" translates loosely to "See Spot Run", and anyone who grew up learning to read via the Dick and Jane books will remember that sentence. I think the Gaelic version of it is a rather fitting title for this blog.
Ok, this is it. As you can see, I haven't spent any time in the past FOUR YEARS learning Gaelic. I'm disappointed in myself.
Today I was listening to Donnie Murdo MacLeod sing Màiri Nighean Alasdair, a Gàidhlig love song. It was so beautiful. So I decided. Starting today. I've challenged myself to spend time every day for 100 days learning Gaelic. Let's start right now: it's Gàidhlig
Muriel and I are working on 'Why' questions and 'Because' answers. Have you ever asked your child 'Why' and their answer was 'Because' ? Somehow these exercises seem fitting after Laraidh agus Digear. A natural childhood progression, so-to-speak:
Carson a tha an cat air a’ bhòrd? Tha an cat air a’bhòrd airson gu bheil i ag ithe iasg.
Carson nach eil an càr beag buidhe air an rathad? Chan eil an càr beag buidhe air an rathad airson gu bheil e aig an taigh.
Carson a tha a’ chaora mhor fon a’ chraobh? Tha a’ chaora mhor fon a’ chraobg airson nach eil anns an taigh.
Carson nach eil Mari aig an taigh? Chan eil Mari aig an taigh airson gu bheil I ag obair.
Trying some words we havn’t covered yet: Carson a tha tri mucan beag anns an taigh laidir? Tha tri mucan beag anns an taigh laidir airson gu bheil sidheach mor spiocach aig an doras!
And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming:
Carson a tha da ghille anns a’chraobh mhor? Tha a da ghille anns a’chraobh mhor arson gu bheil iad a’streap.
Carson a tha deich na caraichean aig an taigh? Tha deich na caraichean aig an taigh arson gu bheil sinn ag ol uisge-beatha.
For fun, I ordered this children's book a couple of weeks ago and it arrived today.
I believe the title translates to "Larry and Digger", 'Digger' being the tractor.
Much to my glee, I discovered that there are words I understand on almost every page. On page 5 I can read the entire first sentence!
(You gotta understand: learning a foreign language is something that comes very hard for me. I'n not a 'natural', so this is quite fun.)
Update: It turns out that 'laraigh' is not Gaelic for 'Larry'. It's Gaelic for 'Lorry' which is the British word for 'truck'. Now sentences like "Tha laraigh mhor bhuidhe aig Rob." make more sense. Rob has a big yellow lorry".
That makes much more sense than "Big yellow Larry is at Rob."
My homework is creating these sets of three sentences like:
Is the tired boy eating? No, the tired by is not eating. The tired boy is sleeping.
I think that translates to:
Am beil an gille sgith ag ithe? Chan eil an gille sgith ag ithe. Tha gille shith á cadal.
The good news: I get the structure.
The bad news: Not enough of the actual vocabulary is in my head at this point. The left brain is doing all the work and the right brain is loafing.
On the other hand Muriel says I have a good ear. Meaning that when she says a word I can repeat it back to her correctly. So maybe my right brain is working just a tiny bit. Now if it would only remember those words.
Which means "I Love You". Gaelic is an interesting language, I'm learning. There is no word for 'have', for example. I can't say "I have a cup of coffee." Instead I have to say what translates literally to "A cup of coffee is at me."
Instead of saying "I am a fireman", I would have to say "A fireman is in me." (My son would emphatically agree that an Infantryman is in him. In fact he would say:
Leader by birth, Warrior by training, Infantry by the grace of God
But I digress.
I'm finding this idiosyncratic nature of Gaelic to be fascinating. For most of it's history, Gaelic was a spoken language, not a written one. History was passed on via story and song and as a result the Bards were held in high esteem. If you were found to have a good memory at a young age, you may well have become the clan Bard.
A cool thing happened today during my lesson with Muriel. In the past, I described written Gaelic as resembling a handful of Alpha-Bits (the breakfast cereal) casually tossed onto the table. A funny thing happened today: Presented with a short Gaelic phrase, I was able to pronounce most of it. I did not understand it, but I could at least pronounce it. Some of Muriel's pronunciation rules are starting to take root in this old brain. Tha mi glè thoilichte. I am very happy.
Which brings me back to Tha gràidh agam ort, the title of this post. In eleven days my Sweet Lady Wife and I wil be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. I asked Muriel to teach me to say "I Love You" in Gaelic.