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Many sentences do not make sense

For example Tha sinn ag iarraidh còta We are wanting a coat

Oh I understand it is more about learning the words and the grammar but NOBODY that speaks English "at least as first language" says anything like this

We go to a clothing store in Scotland and ignoring the fact everybody we likely be speaking English, we would say "We want a coat"

December 11, 2019



but NOBODY that speaks English "at least as first language" says anything like this

That's a bit of an overconfident statement to make on behalf of the 400~ million native speakers across the world.

English is a broad language. You shouldn't presume to speak for all of its native speakers. There are indeed parts of the English-speaking world that do use these structures. You can hear this structure locally in my part of central-belt Scotland, and I've heard examples further afield (Ireland and England IIRC).


Ever since someone told me that the Gaelic for "I have a little Gaelic" translates as "Is a little Gaelic at me", I've tried to be relaxed about whether you would actually say that and to get into a zone where it feels Highland, polite and courteous to express things literally. It really helps. For me though, there has always been sugh a struggle in French with objects being masculine or feminine and the dreaded accents, that the word order is the least of the difficulties. I may be a little biased, though, as I quite like the quirky English of Yoda from Star Wars and enjoy imagining what I would say (or how I would say something) it if I met a Jedi grand master. After that, meeting a native Gaelic speaker holds no fears, even if they might have to use a bit of patience.


I've also been thinking about those sentences a lot because I wouldn't really say it that way either (but am willing to ignore that since it makes translating them into Scottish Gaelic a little easier).

I'm leaning more towards English being the illogical language here, after all, the "wanting" is something that is happening at that moment rather than regularly, so present progressive would probably be the more logical choice (even if it isn't really used in sentences like that ETA: in the dialects I'm familiar with).


There are a couple of things to consider here. This accurately reflects what is going on in the Gaelic. Not translating them this was would cause problems when it comes to teaching habitual actions, which are usually formed in another way in Gaelic.

I speak English and would use these structures, as would other course contributors and a lot of people in Scotland. It’s pretty common here i.e “what are you wanting” as opposed to the standard English “what do you want.” I am aware that the standard of Duo is to use American English, but this would cause confusion between Gaelic structures. I would think any English speaker would understand what these sentences mean, even if they seem a bit strange to those from outside Scotland and possibly Ireland. We decided that clarity with the Gaelic had to take priority.


Makes sense, and it's interesting to learn a few things about Scottish English on the side as well!

I also like that you are teaching the continous forms first, they tend to be quite useful in everyday situations, while the simple present (I'm not sure if that's also what you call it for Gaelic) often tends to be a bit more limited in it's use. (I'm guessing that it's also slightly easier to teach, if it's comparable to Irish (though the conjugation is still one of the easier things in Irish, if you ask me)).


A big difference from Irish is that there are no forms like "iarrann sé" or "scríobhann sí". I would be out of my depth to explain much more than this, but you should get used to using verbal nouns with "tha" a lot! For the real continuous (frequently, usually) there is a construction with "is": "s'abhaist [do Chalum a bhidh a scrìobhadh]. As I work through the course and other materials, I am looking forward to getting a better handle on this.


I see the goal as appropriating the target language well enough to dream in Gaelic. When in (Rome ), look to the syntax as a cultural guide.

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