"Dè an t-ainm a th' ort, a charaid?"
Translation:What is your name, friend?
- dè – what is…?
- an t-ainm – the name
- a – the relative particle, introduces relative clauses, no literal translation to English, but here roughly equivalent to that
- th’ – tha shortened before a vowel, is
- ort – on you (sg.)
- a charaid – (oh) friend, my friend (vocative)
literally: what-is the name that is on you, friend?
In Gaelic people don’t really speak about their names but rather names that are on sb, hence the relative clause.
Also, in many other wh-questions there are relative clauses, as those questions in Gaelic typically work by themselves as a copula questions (asking: what is (it)…?, where is (it)…?, how is (it)…?) so you need to introduce a relative clause to specify what you ask about: dè (a) tha anns a’ phàirc? what is it that is in the park? (you cannot simply ask what is in the park?, there’s no grammatical way for that), ciamar a tha thu? how is it that you are?, etc.
See also my reply in the thread "Cò ris a tha an t-sìde coltach an-diugh?".
My dictionary gives "De 'n t-ainm a th' ort?" for this phrase. With 'n instead of an. Is that no longer used or less correct somehow?
I don't really understand the contractions yet in Gaidhlig. I get confused as to when they count as separate words like "isn't" or when they are verbal shortcuts like "singin' and dancin'"
I wouldn’t say it’s less correct, the use of such contractions isn’t very standardized in any way and you’ll say people writing the whole thing: dè an t-ainm a tha ort? as well as shortened to dè ’n t-ainm a th’ ort? and all versions in between – but they all are pronounced the same (unstressed reduced vowels disappear when in contact with other vowels anyway, so there’s no difference in how dè an and dè ’n are pronounced, those are exact same words, one just spelt in full and the other with the elision marked in writing).