"Glè mhath. Tha beagan Gàidhlig agam."
Translation:Very good. I have a little Gaelic.
beagan Gàidhlig means ‘a little Gaelic’ as in ‘a little bit of Gaelic’, ‘Gaelic, but not much of it’, ‘some Gaelic’
Gàidhlig bheag would mean ‘a little Gaelic’ as in ‘Gaelic that is not too big’, ‘a tiny singular Gaelic that never grew big’
not quite the same things, though both can be expressed by ‘a little Gaelic’ in English. ;-)
That’s because beag is a regular adjective, it attributes a noun and comes after it. beagan, as I wrote, is a noun, so beagan Gàidhlig means literally a-little-amount of-Gaelic or littleness of-Gaelic.
Here beagan a little amount is a noun being attributed by Gàidhlig (genitive of Gàidhlig, in older language it’d be Gàidhlige, but in modern speech the -e ending is dropped in multisyllable words).
Is this describing how much Gaelic i can speak? If so, the English translations are very poor. No one would ever say, "How much French do you have?" "I have a little French". Learning a language has to include translation, not just transliteration. A 30 year old electronic dictionary could do that
Does it mean that they have some Spanish blood, or that they speak a little Spanish? If the latter, and someone does say that, it is apparently a very local idiom. I've lived all over the U.S. and in multiple other countries and have never heard "having a little " or anything close to it mean that they speak a little.
It means they speak it. You can walk into practically any Mexican restaurant in rural America and hear it said.
Edit: more precisely, it means they have it. They may not speak it but they can write it, they may not be able to write it but they can understand it, etc. To equate it with "speaking" it is problematic in itself.
Se habla, y fue a la escuela secondaria en Mexico, pero nunca he oido "tengo un poco de espanol".
Regardless, if what we learn from Duo is broken and ambiguous, it hurts us more than it helps. The translation should relay the actual meaning of the statement, which I believe in this case is simply the Gaelic way of saying "they speak a little..."
Imagine if French was translated from "Il fait froid" to "it does cold". We could probably get used to it, since many languages use that form, but someone learning English would not be served well by learning that translation.
What does going to school in Mexico have to do with anything? And why would anyone use that construct in Spanish? All I said was "in practically any Mexican restaurant in rural America".
"Hey Sally, are you ordering for all of us?” "why are you asking her?" "Cause she's got some of the Spanish from school".
It's a construct used, literally, across the rural US. I used the example of a Mexican restaurant because it's the most common example for much of the country. You're almost guaranteed to hear it once a day in pretty much any given small town if you listen to the customers.
For that matter, if you pay attention in Canada you'll hear American tourists use it. I was in a bar in Ottawa and heard an American ask two young women what was being said on the television. "Why are you asking us?" "Ain't all you Canadian girls got some of that there French?"