First real-life Gaelic exchange since completing the tree. A tale of hope...
It works! I had my first real-life Gaelic exchange since completing the tree a couple of days ago. Driving along near home yesterday, there was my friend Angus’s car coming the other way. In this neck of the woods everybody knows everybody else, and drivers usually stop for a chat, just stopping driver to driver in the middle of the road (I use the word ‘road’ very loosely here…) and rolling down the window. With traffic of about one car an hour, on a bad day, this is perfectly feasible. If another car comes along, the third driver usually gets out and joins the conversation. Anyway, I digress. Angus, a Lewis man, is the only born and bred Gaelic speaker I know. Down went the windows. I launched straight into it. Here is a (slightly idealised) transcription of our short conversation:
‘Ciamar a tha thu, Aonghais?’
‘Gu math. Latha stoirmeil!’
‘Glé stoirmeil! Glé ghaothach!’
‘Tha i fuar cuideachd. Coig puing.’
‘Tha. Ann an Achadh na Sìne bha e ceithir puing. A bheil thu ag obair an-diugh?’
‘Cha bhi thu a’ cadal a-nochd ma-tha.’
‘Feumaidh mi a’ falbh. Tioraidh, Aonghais.’
‘Tioraidh. Feasgar math.’
(Two words not on the tree – stoirmeil (stormy) whose meaning was obvious; puing (degree) whose meaning was easily guessed through context. I was interested in the final ‘Feasgar math’, no doubt meant in the ‘have a good day’ sense, which I had not come across before.)
OK, we were not in the realm of the Socratic dialogue there, but it was a conversation with a beginning, a middle and an end. I must point out that I was not a complete beginner when starting the DL course. However I felt much more at ease and fluent than I did before doing the tree.
The moral of the story? Keep at it! It’s worth it! ‘
Aw, shucks... ;-).
The novel, Winter Winds, isn’t completed yet. It’s a fan fiction about a young wounded Afrika Korps veteran who ends up in a (fictitious) POW camp set up on the grounds of the Loch Maree hotel. He’s an inveterate hiker (Wandersmann) and the camp doctor takes him hillwalking around Loch a’Chroisg, on Càrn Beag and Meall a’Chorainn as physical therapy after he gets his artificial leg. He wants to bag Fionn Bheinn, but I don’t think he can handle Munros yet...
Wow, I am so impressed. Have a lingot!
What really impresses me is your ability to cope with the grammar on the hoof as it were. Maybe that's because you weren't a complete beginner at the start of the course. I still have to work out which are the first two words I need to use in a sentence to indicate the tense and whether it's a question. I often go back on an answer and fix it before I click the button. I often hear or see a sentence in Gaelic and think I've understood it but then when I see the translation realise I've got the wrong end of the stick because I haven't noticed the tense, or that it was a question, or that it said "agad" or "aice" rather than "agam" at the end. I can get it right if I stop and think and go over it slowly, but I can't pick it up at the first hearing unless it's a simple present tense sentence. I don't know how long it will take for these distinctions to become automatic rather than something that has to be worked out like a puzzle for each sentence.
(Of course, having crass errors like "Tha" instead of "Bha" being passed by the software as mere typos doesn't help, but that doesn't seem to be anything the course contributors can fix. But I need to be forced to do the questions again when I do stupid stuff like that, or I won't learn to stop doing stupid stuff like that.)
Ta. I'm having a wee twitter break at the moment but I'll go in and follow you while I remember. Assuming I can figure out who you are on Twitter...
OK, found you and followed. I like your style.
And I've found and followed Alex Mulholland and Wilson McLeod. The others aren't jumping out at me.
Coincidentally there is only one born and bred Gaelic speaker around where I live in the south of Scotland too, and coincidentally he is also called Aonghas. The car-stopping thing is less likely, though it did happen once, on a single track road near his house. I was driving and he was on foot, and I had a native Welsh speaker in the car. I stopped for a chat and the two guys had an experiment to see if either could understand the other in their native languages, but the result was a complete bust. Total non-comprehension.
I might fantasise about going up to Aonghas outside the paper shop and saying "Ciamar a tha sibh Aonghais?" to see what might happen, but I fear the result would be humiliating for me! (I imagine I would address Aonghas as "sibh" because he's about 10 years older than me and moreover he's a rather well-known and well-respected Gaelic poet. Kind of in the Ollamh category really.)
Making a fool of yourself is an inescapable rite of passage for any language learner. As for the Prof, I would have a handy gambit all ready and prepared, just in case I came across him in the paper shop:
Madainn mhath, a Bhàrd Mhòr! A bheil sibh a’ leughadh A’ Ghrian a-rithist?
My father's family emigrated from Barra about a hundred years ago. I went back there for a visit about 35 years ago and was ecstatic to hear people speaking Scottish Gaelic as a first language, and disappointed that I couldn't join in. Now, in middle age, I've just started the Duolingo course, and discovered Steall (http://www.steall.online/) an online magazine in Gaelic, to help me keep up.
Meal do naidheachd junkming !
Being from Australia, I would have probably said.
Tha an t-sìde glè mhath an-diugh. Tha mi a ’creidsinn gu bheil an t-uisge beagan nas blàithe. Tha mi air bhioran. Chan eil mi bog fliuch idir an diugh!.
I would have probably been told "Mo chreac! Thalla air ais a dh'Astràilia!"