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  5. "Dè tha dol? Chan eil càil."

" tha dol? Chan eil càil."

Translation:What's going on? Nothing at all.

November 30, 2019



What's the difference between càil and idir?


The sentiment is similar but the grammar is different.

  • Chan eil càilnothing at all
  • Chan eil idirnot at all

The first is a noun, which is required as answer to a 'what' question. The second is an adverb, answering a question that starts with the verb a bheil/nach eil such as

A bheil thu toilichte leis na càil? 'Are you happy with the cabbages?'
Chan eil idir. 'Not at all.'

(Note that I just thought I would remind people (or confuse them) that one word can have two meanings. Càil is also the plural of càl 'cabbage', related to kale and cauliflower in English.)


Now when I see this one I can't


I don't know if it's just an overly literal translation, but that is a really odd and unnatural way of phrasing it in English


I think it's a dialect thing, it definitely doesn't sound unnatural to me.


Getting a little bit of peripheral Scots-English dialect as a bonus with our Gaelic lessons ;)


I mean, part of the reason I commented was because I'm scottish and I've never heard this in my life. Is it a regional thing?


I'd never heard it in my life either (definitely had me stumped for a minute at first!), but I've only lived in one bit of Scotland most of my life so I'm bound to have missed out on a lot of differences from around the country.

I'm guessing it's part of the English dialect some or all of the course contributors speak, native to some other bit of Scotland I haven't spent enough time in. :P


I'm from England and it seems natural to me; similar to asking "What's up, what's happening/happened?" "Not much, nothing at all". At least that's my personal experience :-)

For me, the correct translation for this sentence was: "What's going on? Nothing at all". Maybe it's been changed as of 20th December 2019?


Whether the rendering is odd or unnatural depends on the dialect of English. I've heard it in both the US and Canada.


It's changed now. The current phrase is the much more widespread phrase in the English-speaking world. It used to say ‘what's doing?’, which is very regional.


Why isn’t it “Dè tha ag dol”?


The ag is only used when followed by a vowel. Tha mi ag òl, that mi ag ithe, but tha mi a' dol. But as to why there's no a at all, I think put that down to this being highly idiomatic.


An elided a’ makes sense.

It’s interesting how Gaelic spelling is much more phonetic (sometimes!) than Irish. Ag is always spelt the same way in Irish, even though in context it can be pronounced aig or a’.


Omg this answers my question about tge meaning/usage of "ag." For the longest time i thought it was like adding "ing" to a verb in English. Tha fios agam a-nis. Tapadh leibh!!!


Well it is. The problem it that our -ing words serve various different purposes, which gives linguists a big headache trying to categorize them. But the most common, and the first a learner learns, is their use with the verb 'to be' to make the continuous tenses

What's going on?

This is a structure that probably comes from the Celtic languages (as none of our other neighbours have it) and so can be regarded simply as an anglicization of the Gaelic ag structure, or the equivalent in other Celtic languages. So yes,

ag (or a' before a consonant) + verbal noun

does translate as -ing.

The a' is simply missing in this particular colloquial expression.


That is really helpful, thanks!


Isn't " nothing at all" and "nothing much" the same thing.

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