I need you, I love you…

Today’s wee snippet is on expressing need, love, and hate. Of course, Gaelic doesn’t have verbs for “to love/need/hate”, but instead you have to say that you’ve love/hate/need in you for something/somebody. The nouns for these are:

need: feum
love: gràdh*
hate: gràin*

So, for all you lurvebirds out there:

“Tha gràdh agam ort” – I love you. Literally, ‘there is love at me on you’. Similarly:

“Tha gràdh agad orm” (you love me)
“Tha gràdh aig Effie air Dòmhnaill” (Effie loves Donald)
“Bha gràdh againn aig t-uisge beatha” (we used to love whiskey)

For the less romantic, ‘need’ is expressed similarly:

“A bheil feum agad orm?” (Do you need me?)
“An robh feum aig a’ nighean bheag air pòg?” (Did the little girl need a kiss? Best be careful if asking that sort of question.)

And for those with anger in their hearts:

“Tha gràin agam ort” (I hate you)
“Tha gràin aig Murchadh oirre” (Murdo hates her)
“Nach robh gràin aig Susaidh air lite nuair a bha òg?” (Didn’t Susie hate porridge when she was young?)

And so on. Tha sin gu leòr an-dràsta – tha an t-acras orm.

* Our teacher wrote “graidh” on the board, but the SMO online dictionary has love as “gràdh” with “gràidh” being the genitive form. She also wrote “grainn” on the board, but the dictionary has “gràin”. This could be a spelling error – she admits to being no great shakes at the spelling – or a dialect thing, but she is a native speaker so in my mind overrules a dictionary.

PS: If in doubt about a phrase or word, I find it useful to search in Gaelic Google (link on right of this weblog) for it, to see if it occurs in natural language.

Tha mi a’ toiseachadh…

I’m starting this weblog off whilst taking a summer short course in Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye, although I have been learning the lingo by distance on An Cùrsa Inntrigidh since September of 2004. It may seem to be gilding the lily, or putting myself through unnecessary torture, to be taking a course on top of what I’m already doing, but a) I really need the face-to-face practice, and b) it’s a good excuse for a holiday up here, particularly with the Fèis an Eilein going on this week and next.

There are many questions that a casual reader of weblogs who comes across this might ask, not least “why the hell are you learning it?”, which I hope to answer as time goes on. The main purpose of the weblog is to keep track of my learning, what I find hard/easy at a particular time, what strikes me about the language, and what it’s like as a learner. I wish I’d done something similar when I started learning Italian back in ’93 as now, having studied it for over a decade, I’ve just forgotten what it was like as a learner, and what things mystified/amazed/infuriated me about the language. It’s like childhood in a sort of way – what you can remember about early years is patchy, and even what you do remember is likely to be wrong or distorted by the lens of time.

This is a level 3 course. That is, it takes the learner up to Level 3 in Gaelic, as defined by the standard course “Speaking our Language” (SOL). (The levels are defined on the Scottish National Mòd site, in the assessment section. ) I was planning to take the Level 4 course, which happens next week, but couldn’t because I couldn’t book my moggie into the local cattery (sigh), so 3 it is, which isn’t so bad as it’s a mix of revision and new stuff.

Gur e

Anyway, enough blether. Today’s little linguistic snippet is how to mix the two verbs “to be” in the same sentence using “gur e”. For instance, take the sentence:

“Tha mi ag ràdh gur e hamstair a th’annad.”

Which translates as the common phrase:

“I’m saying that you’re a hamster.”

Note that the first part of the sentence uses the “tha” verb, and the second part the “is” form as “‘s e”. Why is this? Because the first part expresses a process, an activity – “tha mi ag ràdh” – whereas the second part is about identity – “hamstair a th’annad”. Thus you need to use “gur e” rather than “gu bheil”, as you would were both parts using the “tha” form. The phrase is a conjunction of the two statements:

“Tha mi ag ràdh.”
“‘S e hamstair a th’annad.”

So the second part follows the same rule as any other “‘S e” construction. If the second part were not about identity, then you’d be using the “tha” form, eg:

“Tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil i ag ol uisge beatha.” I think that she’s drinking whiskey.

The negative of “gur e” is the same as in “‘S e”:

“Tha i ag ràdh nach e hamstair a th’annad.”