"Dè tha dol? Chan eil càil."
Translation:What's going on? Nothing at all.
The sentiment is similar but the grammar is different.
- Chan eil càil — nothing at all
- Chan eil idir — not 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.)
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?
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.