1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "Bha turadh ann."

"Bha turadh ann."

Translation:There was a dry spell.

January 24, 2020

16 Comments


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

Often translated as 'brief dry spell', and often joked that Gaelic is a language that needs a word for 'brief dry spell' as there is no such thing as a 'prolonged dry spell' in Scotland.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeterLawri1

I really struggle with this variant on "to be". I keep on doing it. I put "it was a dry spell" rather than "there was a dry spell" would that be "bha i turadh"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stravaiger64

No, if you link a pronoun (i) and a noun (turadh) you have to use the verb 'is': IIt was a dry spell - Is/'S e turadh a bha ann. / B' e turadh.


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

I wonder how it can be that in all my 20 years of speaking English I never came across the word "dry spell"…


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

According to Ngram, Imgur it is just as common in the US as the UK, and more common than a couple of other terms for weather periods that I thought of for comparison.

My guess is that you live somewhere where it is predominantly dry (of which there are none in the UK). The terms only makes sense if you consider the weather to be wet by default, like they do not have icy spells in the Antarctic as it is usually icy.

I cannot find any etymology for this particular use of the word, which does not seem to relate to the others, nor can I find a date for its first use.

However, the Ngram above suggests it started in about 1850 and grew in a linear fashion until 1940. This corresponds almost exactly with the birth of the telegraph and the consequent development of the modern weather forecast, suggesting that the term was essentially invented for weather-forecast publication.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stravaiger64

I stand corrected, in fact I've just found out the OED's oldest quote is from (Massachussetts) Boston Journal.


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

When? I don't currently have access to the OED. It would be too much to ask that it offers an etymology for that particular use, as they tend not do that very much.


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

Think how much work it took them to look for first usages in 1897. It took me 2 minutes on my computer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stravaiger64

5 Aug 1887. You're right about the lack of etymology, it's just in the "Special attributive combinations" section of the headword "dry". (The full quotation is "Everybody found smoking on the streets..during the dry spell was liable to be arrested."; their first British one is 1920 "A Dry Spell is a period of fifteen or more consecutive days no one of which is a ‘Wet Day’." from something called British Rainfall 1919.)


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

Well the first thing I notice is that the OED needs to do a bit more work. Ngram has found usages in the US and the UK long before that.

I get really frustrated with the lack of etymologies for particular uses of a word. The number of times I have thought that a particular use sounds more like a borrowing from the Gaelic than a development of a previous use, only to find the OED and others have not actually considered it as a separate item.


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

1810 England

Can't find anything from elsewhere before 1880s


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stravaiger64

Yeah well 'dry' is one of those entries that haven't been updated yet: "This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1897)."


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

Please forgive me because i b


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

Forgive me, because I barely know about your site resources. Just wondering if what you need might be found under - drought?


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

Forgive me, because I barely know about your site resources. Just wondering if what you need might be found under - drought?

Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.