1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "This bread is good!"

"This bread is good!"

Translation:Tha an t-aran seo math!

December 21, 2019



This sentence construction has my brain going into meltdown trying to understand it, can anyone do a literal translate, please?


Word by word: Tha = Is an t-aran = the bread seo = here math = good So it literally says, "The bread here is good." Does that help?


That isn't formatting how I wrote it. Sorry.


to get a line break in the posted text, you have to hit return twice.... I learned that by trial & error.


But the sentence was "this bread is good." Why isn't that "seo aran math"?


As I explain elsewhere on this page, the best way to think of it is to translate seo as 'here', rather than this. Then you have

Seo aran math Here is good bread
Tha an t-aran seo math The bread here is good -- 'This bread is good'.

The technical reasons are that seo in seo aran math cannot be working as an adjective as adjectives go after the noun in Gaelic. It is actually short for * Is seo 'here is'. If you don't translate it like that then you are missing the verb, so it cannot translate This bread is good.


Why is it tha an t-Aran seo math . And not.... Tha aran seo math


The an t- part means the. Tha aran seo math means Bread (in general) is good.


Why not an aran? Sorry if that seems a dumb question


It's a good question, and some people would answer by saying 'because it is.'

But I assume you want to know when it is an t-, and maybe why.

You have met at least two situations where you have to apply different rules - when an never causes lenition, and when it causes lenition if it can. This form, the one that never causes lenition, that you have seen before masculine singular nouns, uses the t- before words starting with a vowel.

The historical explanation is that the t was part of this form of the article in the first place, and was simply dropped before a consonant, in exactly the same way that English a/an was originally an and the n was dropped before a consonant. Why we write it an t- instead of *ant I have no idea. D


Because, to say "this [noun]" in Gaelic, you say "THE [noun] THIS", i.e. "an t-aran seo". Don't capitalize it, either, it's not Bread. The 't-' is because the definite article for masculine nouns is 'an t-' before a noun beginning with a vowel (as opposed to 'an' normally, and 'am' before b/f/m/p).


Yes but it easier to understand if you calque seo as here.

THE [noun] HERE.

as that makes more sense in English and it matches other uses of the word seo.


But that really still confuses me with the lessons earlier on. Like in the basics they use "Seo cearc" and I'd put "This is a chicken." Why was it there fine and not here anymore? I'm sorry if you already explained this.


What I am suggesting is that you try 'here' and see what works. In seo cearc, that becomes 'here [is] a chicken, which is near enough 'this is a chicken'. But with This bread is good!, you try fitting in 'here', and it will not fit at the beginning. 'Here bread is good' does mean the same thing. You could rearrange it as 'the bread here is good', and that would produce the correct translation.


Coming around to this sentence again is really helpful. I'm now reading the sentence literally as; '(Is) the bread this is good' = this bread is good. Did I finally get it?


I don't think it helps to think of every word individually. Think of "an t-aran seo" as a single unit that means "this bread", then the sentence structure is clear: Tha (verb) an t-aran seo (subject) math (adjective). The same applies to possessive phrases like "an duine agam" (lit. the man at me = my husband); it's all one and the same noun phrase.


why is "tha an t-aran math" not correct? I don't understand why the "seo" is needed here


That would translate as The bread rather than This bread.


thank you! makes sense now :)


I appreciate all the discussion below. I (somewhat) understand, but I'm sure with practice it will get easier. Thank you all!


Arghhhh! This is blowing up my brain! How do you know feminine from masculine? Spanish is easy, either ends with an o or an a.


You are quite right. Some languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese and Italian operate an -a is feminine rule so things are easy. Other languages, such as Russian and Latin apply this rule some of the time, so you can sometimes tell easily. But in the majority of languages that have gender, including French, German and all the Celtic languages, there is no reliable rule.

The best thing to do is to gradually learn as you go along. Children do this without thinking, every time they meet a sentence with a clue in. Here, an t-aran clearly shows it is masculine. In French this is fairly easy, because the rules are simple: le is masculine and la is feminine; adjectives add an e in the feminine. However in other languages, such as German and the Celtic languages, the rules are more fiddly, and apply differently in different sentences. You are learning these rules slowly, and the thing is to apply the rules you have already learnt to the sentences they give you, and not worry about more difficult sentences that you will meet later, that will require rules that you will work out later.

There are however some general rules to help you along, as discussed here, with some additional suggestions on other posts here and here. D


So would a more literal translation be "The bread this is is good"? Would that be an appropriate way of looking at and understanding this?


"The bread this is good" but basically, aye. In essence "this/that x" is "an/am/etc noun seo/sin" in Gàidhlig.


I thought "seo" meant "here is". Why the switch, or what am I missing?


No, 'seo' means this. 'An-seo' means here.


Then why isn't it: Tha aran seo math.

It seems like 'an t-aran seo" would mean "this the bread"


Because that is how it works in Gàidhlig. When you want to say "this thing" it is article noun seo. Gàidhlig is not English.


Often the best translation is not the one that explains how the Gaelic works the best. See my comment above for the best way to see how the Gaelic works.


Phew! Well, i'm glad i finally investigated that wee bubble on the screen! (People!


I thought a previous sentences said that Tha sin . meant This is . Can you elaborate please?


Sin...that Seo...this

Is math sin....that is good. Origin of the English word ..smashing


If I ever knew that (might have done...) I'd forgotten. Thank you!


a popular folk etymology, but sadly probably wrong (T. P. Dolan, A Dictionary of Hiberno-English: The Irish Use of English, page 217) The word is very recent, 20th century, and probably is an americanism derived from "smash hits"


Opinions will differ but I think Dolan is a lone voice. I do not have access to their book so my first question would be whether they consider the Gaelic as well as the Irish since the Gaelic is a better match to the English then either the Irish or their suggestion is. And it's an even better - virtually perfect match to the Scots where the g is left out. We also have the antonym it's boggin' ('s bochd sin). Their argument would have to explain how hits became in'.

Historically there was a lot of bias against low-prestige languages such as Celtic and non-Celtic origins were often accepted even if implausible.

Many many Americans have Gaelic in their very recent family tree so it is quite likely that such people, even the President could have heard Gaelic phrases growing up.


That's fair enough. Though I put this badly - the idea is not that "hits" became "ing", but that the "smash" with the meaning from "smash hits" got the present-participle adjective "ing"


Yes, that makes sense, and introduces another important point. This must be a phono-semantic match (PSM). There is a good article on Wikipedia so there is no need to repeat it, but it is lacking in good examples in English. I believe there are loads of words in English from various neighbouring languages including Celtic and North Germanic.

The important thing is that it is a two-part process. The word would not exist without the word in the source language, and it would not have caught on without it making at least a little sense in the target language, both semantically and grammatically. In this case, the existence of the verb smash, which, as you say, became increasingly used in a positive sense in the 20th century, made the semantic sense, and the final in which matched the English -ing, especially in the form -in' that is found in some dialects and actually became fashionable at the beginnin' of the 20th century made the grammatical sense.

The important thing about most PSMs is that they often come about by chance. It is not usually a word that is needed, but rather a word that just happens to catch on because of the chance similarity.

When potatoes were introduced to Europe, they came with a name in Taíno or some related language that resembled batata, although it is suggested it might have had an n in it on the evidence of Gaelic buntàta. Most languages just pronounced it as best they could (potato, patata, batata, etc.). This is called homophonic translation where there is no attempt to re-analyse the word. But in French they went for a PSM, probably because of the chance that they managed to find one - pomme de terre 'ground apple'. No one can claim the semantics are that close, so it must be supported by the phonological similarity as well.

I believe very strongly that there has been a failure to recognise these historically due to bias against foreign languages in general and low-prestige ones in particular. D


Smashing, meaning good, is not used in the United States unless someone is trying to sound British. We have other slang for "good" which varies depending upon region, cultural identity and age.


I heartily appreciate all the input here... This sentence had my brain confused.


Is 'tha an t-aran seo' phrased this way because the sentence has two words which can mean 'is.'


The sentence only had one word that means 'is', namely tha. I'm not sure which other word you thought meant 'is'.


Thank you, i grasp how the sentence works even if i don't fully understand the translation between the two languages. At this stage its probably best to take one thing at a time.


IS comes from THA, not "seo." I think your confusion stems from earlier lessons like, "Seo Aran." DuoLingo's accepted answer took the structure of English, not translating the words individually, but the idea, giving a correct translation as "This is bread."

One might think from that kind of grading that "seo" was two words, when it is not.

Seo = This ... ... (an seo = here)

Seo Aran. = This Bread. .... .... Given this as a full sentence, you may notice that there is no stated verb. The verb is implied. It may sound a little bit like caveman talk, but forgivable as Gaelic comes from ancient origins. We can understand that "This bread," with a person pointing at a loaf of bread, means "This is bread."


Firstly, is does not come from tha. They are unrelated verbs (called 'the copula' and 'the substantive' respectively to distinguish them), even though they both translate as 'is, are, am'.

Secondly, you have explained something to me. I said (before you posted) that I was not sure what tommill89 thought was the other verb, and yes, people are often misled into thinking that seo means 'this is'.

The lack of an explicit verb is nothing to do with it being an ancient language, for the reason that there used to be a verb (is) but it disappeared later. The idea that a sentence needs a verb to be a 'proper sentence' was invented by grammarians who liked to tell other people how they should speak Latin (or Greek – I'm not sure which). This then got copied to other languages. But if we leave prescriptive grammar aside, there is nothing inferior about a language not insisting on a verb in every sentence. As you say, it is quite comprehensible without it, and that is the main purpose of language.


I appreciate this discussion. This is a tough one to grasp.

Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.