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  5. "Cò ris a tha an t-sìde colta…

" ris a tha an t-sìde coltach an-diugh?"

Translation:What is the weather like today?

December 3, 2019



Is this just a set phrase that cannot be literally translated or can it be broken down to be understood?

  • cò ris – ‘what with?’, a question word – in Gaelic question words work as if they had embedded copula, the ‘to be’ verb, so cò ris can be translated as: ‘what is (it) with?’, ‘with what is (it)?’,
  • a – relative particle, introducing relative clause, ‘that, which, whose, whom’, etc.,
  • thus: cò ris a – ‘what is it with which…’,
  • tha – ‘is’,
  • an t-sìde – ‘the weather’,
  • coltach – ‘like, similar’ (used as coltach ris, lit. ‘similar with’, to mean ‘similar to’) – ‘similar’,
  • an-diugh – ‘today’

So the whole sentence means literally: ‘what is it to which the weather is similar today?’, ‘what is the weather similar to today?’

That’s the way Gaelic asks ‘what sth is like?’

You will very often see this type of relative constructions in wh-questions in Gaelic.

eg. dè an t-ainm a th’ ort?, ‘what is your name?’

  • – ‘what, what is’,
  • an t-ainm – ‘the name’,
  • a – relative particle, ‘that’
  • th’tha before a vowel, ‘is’,
  • ort – ‘on you’,

so literally: ‘what is the name that is on you?’

The a will disappear after a vowel, so instead of dè a tha… you’ll see dè tha…, etc.


I see, so basically it's the Gaelic equivalent of the French "qu' est-ce que c'est" etc.


Probably no coincidence that there were lots of Celts in France when the Romans tried to introduce Latin, as this structure is common to all the Celtic languages, but unknown in Latin.


Very helpful, mòran taing! What is the difference between "cò" and "dè," please?


means 'what'

on its own means 'who(m)' and the words are actually related, so the o in each should help you remember. However, when followed by a preposition, you always use , whether you mean 'whom' or 'what'. That is why here we are seeing cò ris 'what with'. In this particular example you might translate it as 'to what is the weather similar'. The point is that you would never use next to a preposition.


To add to that, is a shortening of earlier ciod é, ciod e what is it – and the ciod part in turn comes from Old Irish cid which was the stressed neuter form of cía from which modern comes. So they all are related and come from the same interrogative pronoun (and indeed are related to English who and what).


Yes, seems like it. They all continue Indo-European neuter pronouns ending in *-d (or later pronouns that got this neuter ending by analogy).

In general (almost?) all Gaelic question pronouns/words trace back to some form of Old Irish cía who? which? what?…. Ciamar how is from cía + mar, lit. which way, what like?, cionnas how is from OIr. cindas, itself from cía + indas what manner, what condition (as if from cia/cò + ionnas in modern Gaelic), what – as above – from ciod e/é what is it with neuter ciod from cid, where from unstressed cia used as where, càite where from OIr. cía + áitt what place, carson why from which, what + air son for the sake of, cuige why, wherefore – I believe, though am not 100% sure – from ciod thuige what for, and itself from cía (perhaps influenced by conjunctive particle co· how and “in ancient maxims” where – Akerbeltz gives this OIr. co· too much credit for modern Gaelic terms for where, it wasn’t really where already in OIr.).

I don’t really know how the distionction between cia and came to be, but I guess it’s just that some dialects kept cia in a few phrases with the initial slender, while in most dialects this question word just evolved into everywhere (except for where as that’s already Middle Irish development). But I’m not entirely sure.

In Old Irish it was unstressed (working as conjuct particle) ce·, ci·, cia· regardless of gender and number, stressed feminine/masculine h-prefixing cía who? what (fem./masc.) is it?, cid, ced what (n.) is it?, plural citné who/what are they? (possibly from *cía ata n-é ‘what is it that they are?’) and this conjuct co· how?, a lot of compounds (like cindas how?) of them in OIr. already. You can find more about them in Thurneysen’s Grammar of Old Irish §456–462, in Stifter’s Sengoídelc pp. 190–191, and in de Vries’s A Student’s Companion to Old Irish Grammar pp. 83–84.


Thank you. Only today, on a question about cò mheud and cia mheud I was surmising that they were inflections of the same thing. So presumably the d/t we see in these words is just the standard neuter singular ending we all know and love (in it and eudh)?


Mòran taing! You explained it so clearly.


Big help. Tapadh leibh.


Tha sneachd ann. Happy Hogmanay to all. 31.12.20


Wow this is a toughy lol


Tha an t-uisge ann.


Keep missing the an after tha


"A tha an" sounds like "a han", at least when spoken by the very emphatic lady, so that's helping me get those right.


It should except my answer but it isn't anyone else who has the same problem?


There are often reports like this, but it is impossible to diagnose what the problem is unless we know exactly what you wrote. Next time this happens I suggest you copy and paste your answer into a comment so we can have a look at it. (This is easy on the web, but I am not sure it is possible on the app - does anyone know?)

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