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  5. "Bha cèilidh mhòr ann a-raoir…

"Bha cèilidh mhòr ann a-raoir."

Translation:There was a big ceilidh last night.

December 30, 2019



A cèilidh as a meeting of people / gathering is quite distinct from a meeting (coinneamh). You wouldn’t have a cèilidh at the office round a table with the board of directors for example. A gathering would be closer, but still wouldn’t convey what a ceilidh is.


A decent cèilidh has fiddles, guitars and drinks. Maybe step-dancing. At least here in Alba Nuadh :) If an office meeting breaks into a cèilidh, you are working at a great place, lol :D


CIMacAonghais's explanation is quite correct, but the other comments are confused because they are not distinguishing between what the same word means in Gaelic and English so everyone is partially right.

  • In Gaelic, a cèilidh is any non-business meeting, that could involve a cup of tea, or a large band and a dance floor, or anything in between.
  • In English, a cèilidh generally involves the band, the dance floor and deoch laidir 'alcohol'.

The reason for the difference is obvious. If I go round to my friend for a cup of tea, then no one in the English-speaking world knows about it. But if I put up a sign that says

Cèilidh 8f Talla Mòr

then all the non-Gaelic speakers will miraculously find they have enough Gaelic to get to the right place at the right time for the dancing.

The cèilidh mhòr in the question is the way you make it clear in Gaelic that there is dancing etc. involved, so cèilidh in the correct translation in English. You would not always bother with the word mhòr in the Gaelic. Party is not correct as not every party is a cèilidh mhòr (if there is no dancing) and not every cèilidh mhòr is a party (if it is open to the public).

That also means that the acceptable translations for cèilidh mhòr are not the same as for cèilidh. D


I have encountered three meanings of ceilidh. One is the broad idea of a gathering of people, which I had not come across before this course, in which case it could be translated properly as 'meeting' in English - I think Duolingo would be wrong to say this is incorrect, if no other context is given. But the one I am most familiar with (in Skye) is an informal evening gathering at someone's house at which anyone present might contribute a song, or play an instrument, or tell a story, or recite a poem, or call for a dance, etc. The third (common in the Scottish Lowlands in my experience) is a derivative of this second meaning, which is a gathering where everyone just goes to do Scottish country dancing to the music of an accompanying band (ceilidh band), without contributions by those attending. This is very like an English 'barn dance' (or North American square dancing?). Personally, I have never come across 'ceilidh mhor' (sorry my keyboard doesn't do accents) applied to either of the second or third meanings.


Please can you edit this post to clarify if you are talking about the meaning of the word in Gaelic or English. You start by talking about how the word would translate in English - which implies you are talking about Gaelic, but then you go on to talk about the meaning in the Lowlands, which suggests you may be talking about the word in English.


Ceilidh means meeting. This according to several native Gaelic speakers. So why was I marked wrong??


A ceilidh is more of an upbeat social gathering. If you were going round to your mate's house for a few beers and to listen to some instensive music that would be a kind of ceilidh.


What's wrong with translating cèilidh as party?


It's not a party, really. To the Scottish out there correct me if I'm wrong, but a cèilidh more of a local "sock hop" if we were in the fifties. A dance with a local band such as the Run-Rig Dance Band (to quote there origins).


You are basically right, as I clarify in my answer.

But please also note that Scottish is only used as an adjective. It does not mean the people (when not qualifying a noun) or the language. We are Scots and we speak Scots (when we are not speaking Gaelic). D


I sincerely apologize. Social customs are something I'm still working on. My ancestry is largely Scot(?), but I have never been out of the US.

The only thing that I have heard such terminology is that, though it was different once upon a time, Scotch is a drink. Period. Case closed. End of story.


Apologies not needed as it is easy to make a mistake since it is far more complicated than that, and most English people get it wrong, as the equivalent of English or American is different in different contexts.

Phrase grammar American Equivalent
I am a Scot singular noun I am an American
I am Scots adjective I am American
We are Scots plural noun We are Americans
We are Scots adjective We are American
Scots (language like English) no equivalent
Scots dialect American English

You will see that as well as Scottish never being a noun, Scot is never an adjective - Scots is used instead.

Scottish is never used to refer specifically to the Scots language, as there are two separate Scottish languages - Scots and (Scots/Scottish) Gaelic. People tend to avoid Scots Gaelic as it causes confusion with Scots.

In general, Scots is the adjective for the language and the people, and for anything culturally associated with the country, such as the law. Scottish is the only correct term for things that are geographically related to Scotland, such as cities, counties, mountains and rivers. Scottish also tends to be used for culinary things, whether they have to be made in Scotland (like cheese) or they are just associated with it (like a recipe).

Scotch, originally a mis-hearing by English people of the Scots pronunciation of Scottish (as they sound almost identical to English ears) is, as you are aware, generally regarded as offensive, simply because it is not the correct word, but has been adopted not only for whisky, but also for beef, and for Scotch mist, which is actually fog that is so heavy that you think it is raining. It is common in the highlands and you get wet remarkably quickly, as it does not obey the rules of gravity like normal rain. You will notice from this that Scotch is only a variant of Scottish, never Scots in modern usage. D


Note that non-Scottish learners are unfamiliar with the word 'ceilidh' in English; I would prefer 'social gathering' as acceptable too, unless you think that this misses the mark too much.


Yes, this has been discussed quite a lot above, but I don't think their translation quite hits the mark. A cèilidh in Gaelic is indeed any social gathering, from meeting your friend for a cup of tea upwards. But when they say cèilidh mhòr they mean a big party. However, it would be understood that Scottish dancing and alcohol would be involved, which is not necessarily the case the English social gathering. We have adopted the Gaelic word ceilidh into English, in the specific sense of a Scottish-style party or dance, and everyone would say ceilidh in English to imply what sort of party it was.


I had technical difficulties with this question. There was no box but I was able to type unfortunately I couldn't see what I was typing which made it a little difficult to see if I had left any spaces or made any spelling errors. This happened on another question in the same lesson as well. Others were fine so I don't believe it was the phone.

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