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  5. "Tha mi ann an oilthigh an-dr…

"Tha mi ann an oilthigh an-dràsta."

Translation:I am in a university just now.

December 2, 2019



I remember "oilthigh" for university because I read it as "oil thigh" and that makes me think of a university haha


As a point of interest it's actually a contraction. Oil comes from ollamh and thigh comes from taigh (which used to be spelt tigh. Presumably the spelling of ollamh has changed too but I'm not sure what its origins are).

oilthigh literally means "house of professors"


Yes. The reason they changed tigh to taigh was stop the t being pronounced as slender. But since it does not make any difference to the pronunciation of th, it was not necessary to change the spelling of oilthigh.

According to MacBain,

ollamh, a learned man, a doctor, so Irish, 0ld Irish [root, ollam, genitive ollaman ; from Irish oll, great (root pol, pel plê, full, fill].

The oil comes from Old Irish oll meaning 'great', so ollamh is a 'great man'. If that is the case then it is related to English full as the f would have been a p in Proto-Indo-European and the p would be lost in Proto-Celtic.


The full sentence recording pronounces "oilthigh" as ol tai, but the individual word mouse-over pronounces it ol hee. Is that an error in the recording do you think?


There are two issues here. One is the pronunciation of th. It does not sound like a normal t to me but I agree there is some sort of odd t-like sound at the beginning, so I would love an expert opinion on what is going on from someone who know the dialect.

As for the vowel, the vowel in this word is one of the most variable en Gaelic. There are theories as to why the word is different from Irish teach anyway. My guess is that the people living in Scotland had houses, and hence a word for them long before the Irish arrived, bringing their Gaelic. So what did the natives say? Well they spoke something like Welsh, and their word for a house would have been something like Modern Welsh . Even this word is subject to quite a lot of regional variation so I cannot tell you how to pronounce it exactly. But the the Irish arrive, bringing their word teach (which is actually taigh in some cases. The most important case is actually the locative, which you probably haven't heard of as it is obsolete, but it is the case you used to use when saying where something was - like you are 'at home', 'in the house'. In other words it was particularly common with places, such as your house. So basically the Irish heaped confusion upon the confusion that already existed, and what we are left with is a myriad ways to pronounce this word.


Òbh òbh, I didn't think "I am at university just now" was that far off


Agreed! I put that too and it was marked as being wrong.


I think I'm at university just now is perfectly valid.


So is "an" a or the or both?


In this context, neither. Ann an is a set phrase meaning in.

There is no Gaelic word for a - means both dog and a dog.

In other contexts, an means the for singular nouns - an taigh = the house. For plural nouns, na means the - na bataichean = the boats.


So does "Ann" mean in and "Ann an" also mean in?


No. It is very confusing so join the club if you are confused. There are tons of discussion on this site to prove it.

Historically, the word for 'in' was an, related to English in, Welsh yn, French en etc. You will still hear/see this in very formal Gaelic and in set phrases such as an dochas 'in hope' i.e. 'hopefully'. But ann has been added to the beginning, for use before an indefinite noun, for no clear reason.

Ann an 'in' or 'in a'
Anns 'in' before an/na/a' 'the' and various other words that you will meet in due course.

You might be tempted to confuse ann with anns 'in' or ann 'there' but note that ann an can only mean 'in'. It cannot mean 'in the' or *'there the' (which is meaningless anyway).


Thank you that is really helpful. Why did they change it or who changed it?

Also how do you join a club. I can't see any links anywhere?


No one really knows. There are some theories, but it is odd.

Club information here


Join the club is a saying in the UK that means there are lots of people in a similar position to you.

As for which changed it and why, it's just one of those things that happens to languages over time.


Does it have to be just now or can it be I am university now


An-dràsta means just now. Now is a-nis in Gaelic.


That is not really correct. They both mean 'now' but different sorts of 'now'. On this course they have decided to translate one as 'just now' in order to show it is different. I have given a longer answer here.


I accidentally wrote "uni" (Australian version of "university") instead of the full word & was marked wrong. I guess I'll have to concentrate in future & not try to watch Escape to the Country on telly late at night while doing Duolingo! : )

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