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  5. "I was sleeping."

"I was sleeping."

Translation:Bha mi a' cadal.

December 29, 2019

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spjh1966

Bha mi nam chadal, surely?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tj4234

Either or. Bha mi nam chadal is more like saying "I was asleep".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/richardwestsoley

I'm not a native speaker, but was taught that the difference is between action and state. I think "bha mi nam chadal" is referring to the state of being asleep while "bha mi a' cadal" is emphasising the 'doing' of the sleeping - am sure a native speaker can correct / elaborate though! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spjh1966

In Irish I've only ever come across "Tá mé i mo chodladh" - the same construction. This construction is also used in other Gaelic phrases, such as "tha mi nam sheasamh" for "I'm standing" or "tha mi nam shuidhe" for "I'm sitting".

I'm not entirely convinced about the difference between being in a state of sleeping and doing the act of sleeping.

But I'm not a native speaker, and just because I've not encountered a specific phrase doesn't mean it's not used, obviously.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

It is exactly the same in Irish. You got everything right apart from the tense. nam = i mo, so it should be

Bhí mé i mo chodladh.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spjh1966

I learned Ulster Irish at school in Derry. Tá me/ Tá muid is used instead of Táim/Táimid.

I believe that in the Gaelic linguistic spectrum Ulster Irish and Islay Gaelic are very similar.

My dad was a native speaker of the Munster Ring Irish dialect and I found that really difficult to follow!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

Yes it is very much a spectrum. Even in Ulster you will find variable amounts of Scottishness. I believe some people would not even say muid but sinn similar to in Scotland, and that some people say cha instead of .

And I've been to Islay - to learn Irish! - and they say gu ro maith agad (not sure how to spell it as it is borderline Scottish/Irish). And their ch is very weak, almost like an h, which I believe is a feature of some Irish dialects.

I have also been on an Irish course in Ulster - the far west. I'm sure it was much easier for me than Munster would be.

I don't know about the Irish Duolingo course's approach to dialects, but most Scottish Gaelic dialects are not far enough apart to cause learners much problem even though they have a range on the course - except for a few weird pronunciations. But in the Welsh course they deliberately teach the northern and southern dialects, even having separate units on gyda and gan, the two prepositions corresponding to aig in Gaelic to indicate possession. Wouldn't be too bad except these two prepositions require different grammar. Welsh is pretty full of lots of wee words that mean lots of different things. My post here illustrates the problem. Much of the range of options is caused by the dialectal variation, but I am now completely confused as to which bits come from where.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

Yes, definitely. It is totally misleading to suggest this is the normal way to translate I was sleeping which is usually understood to mean 'I was asleep', which is definitely Bha mi nam chadal.

I believe (from what I have been taught and what I've actually heard with some other verbs) that Bha mi a' cadal would mean 'I was going to sleep'. If you swing the lead quite a lot it is just possible to translate this as I was sleeping if you use the imperfect as the past habitual, i.e. you could say I was sleeping every night at 11 pm, meaning going to sleep, but this is really stretching it. In normal usage this translation is plain wrong. This verb should not be taught until the Bha mi nam... construction is introduced.

This is what Mark says in his dictionary under an 'in'

A small number of vn’s are preceded by these prep poss adjs instead of a’bha mi nam shuidhe I was sitting □ bha e na chadal he was sleeping □ bha i na seasamh aig an doras she was standing at the door □ bha na uilleagan nan laighe air an làr the leaves were lying on the ground □ bha a’ chlann nan ruith anns a’ phàirc the children were running in the park □ this usage is not obligatory in the last example

The last sentence is telling because it means that it is obligatory in all the other examples.

For cadal itself he says

cadal, -ail nm & vn of caidil sleeping etc., sleep □ [...] □ an cadal asleep □ used with the prep prons of ann an thus: bha e na chadal he was asleep / sleeping / dormant masc □ bha i na cadal she was asleep / sleeping / dormant fem etc.

He gives similar information under the verb caidil. There is no suggestion of the a' cadal construction anywhere. Elsewhere there are a couple of examples of this structure and examples showing two ways to 'go to sleep'

Chaidh i na cadal
Bha i a' dol a chadal


[deactivated user]

    I am very surprised and rather disappointed to see this course teaching this structure with a static verb rather than teaching people the primary construction, which is parallel to the Irish construction:

    Tha mi nam chadal.

    Beginners need to learn this. It's one of those things that when you hear Gaelic speakers gripe about people not learning proper Gaelic, this is what they're talking about.

    I have never heard "Tha mi a' cadal" for "I am going to sleep." And to say "I'm falling asleep" I've only heard things like "Thig an cadal orm" (lit, The sleep comes on me).

    To express the intent of going to sleep, I've only heard "tha mi a' dol a chadal" or more commonly "tha mi a' dol dhan leabaidh." To be honest, although I'm not a native speaker, just a speaker with many years experience with Gaelic, "tha mi a' cadal" is vague and unclear to me as to what it means. "Tha mi nam chadal" is not--its grammar is very clear.

    The reason is cadal is one of a handful of verbs in Gaelic that are static verbs--that means they express a state of existence. Cadal (to sleep), dùisg (to be awake), seasamh (to stand), laighe (to lay) and suidhe (to sit) are probably the most common of these static verbs that you will see in the static verb construction using the conjugated possessive pronouns nam/nad/na/nar/nur/nan. Ruith (to run) is also a static verb but for reasons I will try to explain, you will see that verb a lot with the a' construction.

    But when used with nam/nad/na/etc., static verbs are unambiguous in what they express: the subject of sentence is, was or will be existing in that state. That state belongs to the subject and at that moment of time, is inseparable from it. Grammatically speaking it is the same reason why in Gaelic we say "Tha mi nam thidsear" to say "I am a teacher," the construction you use to express a profession or your life role. You exist as a teacher--the state of being a teacher is inseparable from you. It belongs to you (as expressed by the conjugated possessive pronoun). So you use the static construction, just like you would to express the state of being asleep: Tha mi nam chadal.

    Sometimes, SOMETIMES, you can use the regular a' construction with static verbs to express a dynamic action of doing something, but it's only sometimes and only with some of these static verbs in some contexts. But this is not the norm. It's the exception.

    The most common is with ruith. You see "Bha mi a' ruith" and its like a lot. That's because ruith expresses an action that is more variable and dynamic than most of the other static verbs. If you wanted to say you saw the horse running in the field, you would say "Chunnaic mi an t-each na ruith anns an achadh." You saw the horse existing in its state of running at that time. But if you want to say you were running toward the house, indicating you were dynamically changing from one location to another in that period of time, you would say "Bha mi a' ruith a dh'ionnsaigh an taighe."

    This is one of those things that is intuitive to native speakers (or should be) but for learners it's a bit tricky to get their heads around. But I don't think this course is doing learners any favors by not teaching them the norm for static verbs like cadal, which is the static construction using nam/nad/na/ etc. And it's bit concerning that these comments are 5-7 months old and there appears to be no comment from a team member as to why they went with this construction and not the normal static construction. I fear by doing this, learners are going ot be more confused down to line as to when they need to use the static construction to properly express what they mean, like "Bha mi a' laighe air an leabaidh" when it should be "Bha mi nam laighe air an leabaidh." From the perspective of an English speaker it may not seem like a big deal but from the perspective of Gaelic speaker, it's bad grammar that doesn't say what you think it says.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joannejoanne12

    This is a long comment but I'll try and cover the main points, and you can ask again if there's anything I haven't cleared up.

    From the perspective of an English speaker it may not seem like a big deal but from the perspective of Gaelic speaker, it's bad grammar that doesn't say what you think it says.

    It's not bad grammar if you understand that there is a difference between "I am sleeping" and "I am asleep". As you said, one is dynamic and one is stative. The difference is exactly the same in English as it is in Gaelic.

    So we translate "tha mi a' cadal" as "I am sleeping", and in the updated Tree 2, we translate "tha mi nam chadal" as "I am asleep".

    DaibhidhR quoted one of our mods in his post below, but I'll quote it here too:

    Yes, definitely! Actually I believe cha robh mi nam chadal would be much more natural, and also should be accepted here.

    I think that the course doesn’t teach (at the moment at least) such construction like tha mi nam chadal I am sleeping, tha e na shuidhe he is sitting, bha i na seasamh she was standing, etc. and that’s the only reason that they use the less natural a’ cadal, a’ suidhe, etc. in the course at the moment.

    When creating sentences for exercises, we are limited to the words and grammar we have already taught. We haven't taught the nam, nad, etc. construction on this course, but we have taught verbal nouns.

    Both "bha mi a' cadal" and "bha mi nam chadal" will be accepted here, and vice versa when we teach the nam... construction later, even though they don't have the same meaning.

    As for the lack of reply, DaibhidhR mentioned it in his comment too, but there are only two or three of us moderating tens of thousands of discussion threads. A couple of us are also course contributors, and so we spend most of our Duolingo time developing the new course and maintaining the current one, rather than on the forum. We're all volunteers who have jobs and lives away from here; unfortunately, we haven't got a huge amount of time to dedicate to checking comment threads and answering questions :(


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

    Firstly, I and most other people who have posted on this subject agree with you 100%. But the reason that no mod has responded is simply that they do not read all posts by default. They will generally read and respond to posts if either someone has reported a fault, or if they have already posted on a thread, which means they get notifications of further posts.

    As for the 'going to sleep' sense, I have edited my post, as I don't think what I said applies in practice to this verb.

    There are, however, other threads on some of which there have been mod comments:

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/37241566 silmeth and I have discussed this. He accepts that a' cadal is not the natural way to say you are asleep, but thinks it would be understood to mean that.

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/39059525 Here they do teach nam shuidhe for sitting, and silmeth says it is correct, even though someone complains it is not explained in the notes.

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/38796456 silmeth says

    Yes, definitely! Actually I believe cha robh mi nam chadal would be much more natural, and also should be accepted here.
    I think that the course doesn’t teach (at the moment at least) such construction like tha mi nam chadal I am sleeping, tha e na shuidhe he is sitting, bha i na seasamh she was standing, etc. and that’s the only reason that they use the less natural a’ cadal, a’ suidhe, etc. in the course at the moment.

    Now we have seen they do (in one place) teach the nam construction, so they could use it here.

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/37549964 There have been complaints but no response, even though Joanne has previously commented on this page. I think I have seen that she says this structure is correct.

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36608919 I have commented but no evidence a mod has seen it.

    https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35630599, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/37990327, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36344396, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35996641, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36471491, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36873021, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36933406, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/41598159, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35848439, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36608067, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35377433, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/41893789, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/38061118 No relevant comments.

    So there is no one apart from Joanne who thinks this is the best way of saying you are asleep in Gaelic, and lots of very strong opinion that it is wrong.

    It is a very fraught issue the question of to what extent we should accept anglicized Gaelic, which I what I believe this is, but is clearly rare, and disliked by most people who have commented.

    But there is a further issue, and that is teaching something that will definitely be marked wrong in any exam. If you or your kids are going to be taking any exams at any stage, it is essential that you do not use this structure. A further point is that there is no need to teach it. Given that there is a dispute, they could simply leave it out, teach the correct structure - as with nam shuidhe, and everyone will still understand a' cadal should they meet it, simply because it resembles the English.

    But someone needs to report this question, so that a mod actually sees this thread. D


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joannejoanne12

    Both these comments are super long so I'll try and address the main points as best I can.

    First of all, I will say that I don't have comment notifications turned on. I comment too often for that to be a good idea. So that's why I don't always see comments on threads that I've previously commented on.

    To take the comment that you quoted from silmeth:

    Yes, definitely! Actually I believe cha robh mi nam chadal would be much more natural, and also should be accepted here.

    I think that the course doesn’t teach (at the moment at least) such construction like tha mi nam chadal I am sleeping, tha e na shuidhe he is sitting, bha i na seasamh she was standing, etc. and that’s the only reason that they use the less natural a’ cadal, a’ suidhe, etc. in the course at the moment.

    He's absolutely right here. We haven't taught the nam, nad, etc. construction in this course, so that's why Tha mi nam chadal isn't taught. We teach a lot of verbal nouns, and so leaving out a' cadal wouldn't make sense.

    As for:

    So there is no one apart from Joanne who thinks this is the best way of saying you are asleep in Gaelic, and lots of very strong opinion that it is wrong.

    I've never said that (as far as I'm aware) and never would, because I don't believe that at all. What I might have said is that:

    • Tha mi a' cadal. > I am sleeping.
    • Tha mi nam chadal. > I am asleep.

    I understand the concern that there might be a confusion between the meaning of two, but in my opinion saying "tha mi a' cadal" when you mean to say "tha mi nam chadal" is no different to saying "I am sleeping" when you mean to say "I am asleep". The meaning will be understood, but they sound clunky in both languages when referring to the state of being "asleep".

    The nam... example will be accepted here, and vice versa in Tree 2.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/katie453015

    Nam- na mo 'in my' - native Gaelic idiom.

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