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  5. "Would you like tea with suga…

"Would you like tea with sugar and milk? No."

Translation:Am bu toil leat tì le siùcar agus bainne? Cha bu toil.

December 25, 2019



In Irish older and more prescriptive grammars don’t allow using lists of nouns connected with agus as complements of a preposition. In more traditional Irish one would need to say le siúcra agus le bainne, ar bhord agus ar chathaoir, and never le siúcra agus bainne or ar bhord agus c(h?)athaoir – though I believe the latter is currently gaining broader usage in contemporary language under the influence of English.

From the traditional Irish grammar point of view, this sentence would be understood as: would you like tea-with-sugar (one item) and milk (separately, as another wanted item)?

Is that the same in Scottish Gaelic? Would an older, more traditional speaker rather say le siùcar agus le bainne?


Yes I have read that in prescriptive Gaelic grammars but I think in reality (as opposed to prescriptive grammars) it depends if the things are together or separate. So

Dà chupa le siùcar agus bainne

would mean two cups, each with milk and sugar, but

Dà chupa - le siùcar agus le bainne

would mean two cups, one with milk and one with sugar. I don't know if this is right.

It Is even clearer in passives

Chaidh a ràdh le Ant 's Dec (as a team).
Chaidh a ràdh le Trump 's le Putin (separately).

(trans. 'it was said by...')

Note on word order: standard English is always milk and sugar, regardless of the Gaelic.

I have never seen a rule but observation suggests to me that you always put the shorter word first. The one with fewer syllables, or as a tie-breaker, the one with fewer consonants or with shorter vowels

ladies and gentlemen
boys and girls
black and white (as opposed to geal 's dubh, or even Breton gwenn-ha-du).



So is it just in English that you're saying the shorter word goes first, but not necessarily in gaelic?


Yes. It is my observation that this rule applies in English. In other languages there seems to be no preferred order, unless it has become a stock phrase, such as the Breton flag - where it has actually become the name of the flag, or there is an obvious order, such as three-stripe flags always being named from to top or the hoist. Just as important, a particular pair will always have the same order in English, such as milk and sugar. In Gaelic, and all other languages that I have looked at, no one seems to worry if one person says it one way and the another says it the opposite way.

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