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  5. "Ciamar a tha i?"

"Ciamar a tha i?"

Translation:How is she?

March 4, 2020



The sounding of the end of this phrase catches me out. The 'i' sounds almost like 'ah' here but is clearly sounded 'i' in other sentences. How do you tell who this question is addressed to?


I still don't get what that "a" is doing there


It’s a relative particle. Ciamar, as other question words, has a kinda to be verb built-in in itself, so it really means how is (it)? (historically ciamar comes from two words, cia ‘which is (it)’ and mar ‘like, in a similar manner to’, so it originally means which manner is (it)…).

So you have:

  • ciamar – how is it …?, what is the manner … ?
  • a – the relative particle, kinda like English that, which, introduces a relative clause
  • tha – is
  • i – she

literally it translates to something like: how is it that she is?, what is the manner that she is?


This is a really helpful explanation!! Thank you so much!!


The prompt is definitely saying "thu"...


The final vowel sounds more like "thu" than "i".


Is it usual in Gaelic not to have any different inflection for questions compared to statements?


If you mean inflection as in change of intonation – then yes, the intonation typically does not change for questions (or emphasis) in Gaelic. Questions are marked by question words (like ciamar here, the yes-no questions are introduced by the an/am particle, negative questions by nach); similarly emphasis is introduced by fronting (changing word order to move some part of the sentence to the front) or emphatic pronouns (like mise, thusa, esan, ormsa, agadsa, etc.).


I initially wrote "ciamar a tha i" and was told I'd written in English. I changed it to "e" and was marked correct but I thought "i" is SHE and "e" is HE??!!

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