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  5. "Are you tidying?"

"Are you tidying?"

Translation:A bheil thu a' sgioblachadh?

December 21, 2019



How can you tell if a verb noun stats with a' or ag? Is there a rule or is it just memorisation?


Found it :-)


that word makes me smile .....such a great word to say ......sgioblachadh


you put my favourite phrase on just to make me smile …..of course you didn't but I like to think you did


And I, plowing right along, wrote SKIPLAHUG, before I realized that was just how I remembered how to say it! Also my favorite word! (though not the English version so much)


Can someone break down sgioblachadh please?


Sgioblachadh is the verbal noun from the verb sgioblaich 'tidy'. The -aich ending is often added to an adjective to make a verb. It appears to come from sgiobalta, 'tidy'. This may be a compound of sgioba related to English ship and originally with the same meaning. -ta is a past-participle ending, so the meaning would be 'made ship-like'. However the l is not explained. As MacBain suggests it may come directly from

Norse skipulag, 'order', 'arrangement', from skipa, 'put in order'

and it is skipa that comes from the 'ship' word in Norse.

There is a very good reason why ships were always kept immaculately tidy. It was health and safety. You could not afford to have someone trip over something and go overboard, or for a sheet (rope) to jam when the sails were being hoisted, or for some rubbish to catch fire and set the ship alight. So ships wer always a paragon of tidyness, hence the term shipshape in English and similar terms in other languages.

The word sgioba comes from Old Norse skip meaning 'ship' but now means the 'ship's crew', hence any sort of 'team', rather than the ship itself. There are many related words: ship, skip, skiff, German Schiff, French équippe 'team', and a word that probably comes partly from Gaelic at least, skipper from sgiobair 'shipper', 'person in charge of a ship', hence 'captain'.


a word that probably comes partly from Gaelic at least, skipper from sgiobair 'shipper', 'person in charge of a ship', hence 'captain'.

The English word comes from either Middle Dutch or Middle Low German, but I couldn't tell you where the Gaelic comes from :)


That is what Merriam Webster and Wiktionary say. As these references do not cite sources it is difficult to know how strong their argument is. There is a well known and very strong bias is etymology done a while back in favour of prestige languages, Hebrew > Greek > Latin > Romance > West Germanic > North Germanic > Celtic, so I am always suspicious when something higher on the list is chosed without any obvious argument.

It is sometimes claimed that Gaelic words to do with sailing were imported en masse from Norse. My suspicion is that sailors shared a lot of words for a long time and that this is really 'sailor-speak' rather than any given language, and that it is difficult to determine the exact origins.

One thing that worries me about this word is that it is (in my experience) regarded as a standard word in Gaelic, but slang in English. This leads me to suspect that, whatever the ultimate origin, it could have been Gaelic speakers coming down to the lowlands in the nineteenth century that popularized the word in football, as that was just the time that football was becoming popular.


I wrote that comment from memory, as it was something that crossed my own mind years ago and so I looked it up. Having double-checked, the OED agrees:

Etymology < Middle Dutch or Middle Low German schipper (compare Frisian and Danish skipper , Swedish skeppare , Old Norse skipari ; also Old French eskipre , eschipre ), < schip ship n.1

The first listed definition has examples from as early as the 14th Century, but the definition itself notes its Scottish usage:

a. The captain or master of ship, esp. of a small trading, merchant, or fishing vessel; †a shipman, seaman. In the 15th and 16th cent. chiefly in Scottish use.

I imagine there's a good chance the Gaelic comes from Old Norse too :)


There are some words in Scots that are considered Dutch, most notably pinkie, but by and large, whenever I suspect a word is Gaelic and the dictionary suggests it was first used in Scots, or, if Old English, in Anglian (the most northerly dialect), then I am immediately thinking the Gaels, or possibly the Norse had something to do with it.

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