1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "There is not a bear in my ho…

"There is not a bear in my house."

Translation:Chan eil mathan anns an taigh agam.

February 29, 2020



If I ever actually get to speak this language with anyone kind enough to let me inflict it on them, I do hope they are not going to be too worried if I say anns when I mean ann, and vice versa. Because I get this wrong basically all of the time.


There are basically two types of Gaelic speaker. Some old people refuse to speak to outsiders in Gaelic. (This is a local language for local people.) There are fewer and fewer of these people left.

Everyone else you will meet is very pro-learning and will always encourage you. In my experience they will always take time to help and support and never criticise. I think one of the main things is that everyone who speaks Gaelic can also speak English, and so they do not want you to help them with their English, as happens with many other languages, and also the fact that they choose to let on that they speak Gaelic, that is a sign that they want to help. Again, it would be different if they couldn't speak English.


Tapadh leibh, a Dhaibhidh. You know, when I first went to North Wales 30 years ago or so, the attitude was very much that if you went into a pub where Welsh was spoken, it was very much their language and they didn't want outsiders to be involved. I've been back to North Wales several times in the last decade, to Betws-y-coed in particular, and on one particular visit when I went to the local shop, the lady serving said "Diolch" and expected to hear it in return, even from us English! Even a simple "Bore da" in the morning went down a treat with local people as well. I admit my sample size is not really anywhere near big enough to draw conclusions, but it certainly felt as though the language was being demystified. It sounds like the same is happening to Gaelic. Let's face it, the language is too beautiful not to share ...!


It's a generational thing, but I heard someone talking about the Isle of Man, where Manx, which is very similar to Gaelic, has actually died out but is being revived. He said,

It's very sad, but the thing that has allowed us to revive the language is that all the old speakers are dead.


Why is this anns instead of ann? I thought it would only be anns if it was in 'the house'. Thank you.


Thank you. They usual translation of aig is at, not only as a normal preposition but when this structure is being explained.


Would a sentence with 'mo taigh' also be possible? Or wouldn't it work with the 'anns an' part, or have a different meaning? (Something like 'chan eil mathan ann an mo taigh', so without agam?)


There are several issues here, but they have not yet all been covered in the course.

In any course they have to teach some bits first and some bits later, so unfortunately there is always the risk that if you try a variant (which is inherently a good thing for a learner to do) you will use grammar you haven't learnt yet. In this case,

  1. You use ann an as there is no 'the' in 'my house'.
  2. *Ann an mo always contracts to nam or na mo.
  3. Mo (and hence nam) cause lenition, so t > th.
  4. This sort of possessive is quite normal in colloquial Gaelic, but it is not 'correct' to use it with a house.

So, overall, you can say

nam thaigh or na mo thaigh

Probably more complicated than you wanted?


Thank you! I'll always prefer a complicated explanation why above 'no you can't', because if there's logic, it's easier to remember :)

I just checked the notes again and saw the alienable and inalienable possession info, so now it makes sense why it's not correct with house. Thanks again!


What is "san taigh"? I haven't seen "san" used anywhere yet.


It is the same as anns an. They really should have introduced it ages ago, as it is at least as common in real life, and it does confuse people who haven't met it.

You also need

  • sa = anns a'
  • sna = anns na


I had "Chan eil mathan san taigh agam", but that was not accepted. Is that not a colloquial translation?


No it is not a colloquial translation. It is perfectly normal good Gaelic. They seem to have overlooked it on this course and I assume they will put it in when they revise the course. But you can still report it as a fault as that will encourage them to do that.

As far as I know any contraction that does not have an apostrophe is spelt that way because it is accepted by GOC (Gaelic Orthographic Conventions) and should therefore be acceptable in high-register Gaelic. But it does not work the other way round. There are some contractions, such as lur 'with our' that are only found in high-register Gaelic. So you will probably never hear them in a pub or see them in this course.


Sorry, that was an oversight. If it happens again, please submit a report and we can change it from there :)


A Dhàibhidh R a charaid, the issue of 'two types of Gaelic speaker' is far too complex to be dismissed in four lines.


I quite agree. But I didn't want to write too long an essay. Please feel free to expand on the subject.

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