Ach, he’s feeling the shortage of whisky. We’re all feeling it, Sergeant. Never mind. Good things will come again, and we’ll have whisky galore. Uisge beatha gu leòir. Compton Mackenzie, Whisky Galore (1947) I’ve written before about the relative dearth of Scottish Gaelic vocabulary in Scottish English. Instead, much of the difference in vocabulary between … Continue reading Four English Words Derived From Gaelic
My own mental image that best gets to the nature of translation involves picturing each language as a fixed set of stepping-stones in a stream. Suppose you are translating from Burmese to Welsh. A Burmese utterance is a pathway from one place to another via the [Burmese] stones. They seem to be located in convenient … Continue reading Translating Street Names Into Gaelic
[The letter] h is one of the most common letters on any page of Gaelic, and as a result has become the victim of its own popularity. In pseudo- or pidgin Gaelic it is used by many who do not know the language well and feel that the liberal insertion of a few examples of … Continue reading Hillwalkers’ Gaelic: “Doing The Dubhs”
I must have gone for years without hearing or reading this word until the advent of the improbable television series “Outlander” in 2014 (based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels), which brought the word to the attention of (apparently) the entire English-speaking world, if not beyond. The first season of the series introduced a time-travelling twentieth-century nurse to Gaelic-speaking eighteenth-century Highland Scots, who call her a “Sassenach”. At which point, people started talking nonsense about the word on the Internet. So no change there.
Last time, I introduced the concept of “Hillwalkers’ Gaelic”, which I abbreviated “HG” to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic (“SG”). I did so in the context of a comic poem entitled “The Climber’s Guide to the Pronunciation of the Gaelic Tongue“, which appeared in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal of 1897, probably written by the … Continue reading Hillwalkers’ Gaelic: Part 2
The pronunciation of Gaelic hill names is fraught with difficulty for the non-Gael. One problem is the striking way in which some consonants are not pronounced at all. This is the Gaelic phenomenon of lenition, in which the addition of an “h” to a consonant changes and softens its pronunciation. Some lenited consonants, particularly “dh” … Continue reading Hillwalkers’ Gaelic: Part 1