1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "America is not bad."

"America is not bad."

Translation:Chan eil Aimearaga dona.

March 8, 2020



I am grateful to DaibhidhR for shining more light on this.
So although Faclair Beag supports the "Aim" spelling (Aimeireaga) that does not originate from Dwelly. Understandable I suppose as dictionaries often did not include the names of countries.
The argument regarding the relative positioning of broad/slender vowels is compelling but I still have doubts because there are so many resources which use the "Am" spelling (Ameireaga). Angus Watson, and team, could have made a mistake in The Essential Gaelic Dictionary but it is unlikely that "they were not so fussy in those days". It was first published in 2012. Others who use the "Am" spelling: "An Seotal" which is an internet resource for Gaelic-medium subject teaching in Scottish secondary schools. Google translate returns the "Am" spelling. Of the books I own only the following two contain the translation of America and both use the "Am" spelling: The book, "Teach Yourself Gaelic" by Boyd Robertson and Iain Taylor. Published 2003. The book, "Everyday Gaelic" by Morag Macneill. Published 2006.

I am not qualified to say whether one or other version is wrong but it does seem there is much modern Scottish adoption of "Ameireaga".


I had the same problem. The BBC's Gaelic program uses the Ameireagaidh spelling here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00011x0 but the Aimeireaga spelling here https://www.bbc.co.uk/naidheachdan/48148828. Floraidh McDonald's Book "Letter from America" uses the "Am" spelling, as does btw the American Gaelic Society DaibhidhR argument is compelling, but this might be a case of descriptionism vs evolving use?


I typed this and got an error


I entered "Ameireaga" which agrees with my dictionary (Angus Watson) and the on-line resource "An Seotal" which is aimed at Gaelic-medium subject teaching in UK secondary schools. This spelling was marked as a TYPO by the app. which preferred an additional "i" - Aimeireaga. This spelling is supported by the online resource "Faclair Beag" which in turn is based on Dwelly who drew together, in the early 1900s, many older resources. Perhaps not much of a difference given the variations that exist between areas and the evolution over time?


When you go to the Faclair Beag website, you get two columns - the left is the Faclair Beag itself and the right is Dwelly. Often it is clear from comparing them that Faclair Beag has copied from Dwelly. However, in this case, there is nothing in the Dwelly column, so he provides no evidence and Am Faclair Beag cannot have copied from him.

Whilst there are several possible spellings, which it would be possible to argue about, Ameireaga is not one of them. This breaks 'the spelling rule', regarded as sacrosanct in Gaelic. You cannot have the m with a broad vowel on one side and a slender on on the other. Either Watson made a mistake or they were not so fussy in those days. This suggestion seems unlikely as he has put in other vowels which serve only to satisfy the rule. Either way, no breaches of the spelling rule are likely to be accepted after the orthography changes in 1988.

So the only valid current spellings are Aimeireaga(idh).

(Pedants may point out some breaches of the spelling rule, but as far as I know these only occur with suffixes such as esan and sgrìobhte but the rule does not seem to apply to some suffixes, such as -san and -te.) D


What is the purpose of the suffix -idh? I haven't encountered that form.


I have no idea. Burkhard607966 quotes the BBC using this spelling, and AFB gives both Aimeireagaidh and Aimearagaidh.

Dh is normally assumed to have been pronounced like the th in the in the distant past, which probably means long before the word for 'America' came into Gaelic.

Further, I have never seen anything in Gaelic or Irish grammar, or in the etymology of this word that would justify a dental. A look on Wikidata (bottom of page) shows no word for 'America' that ends in a dental in any script I can read, apart from the Kabyle Tamkrit but this is explained by the rules of Kabyle grammar.

Assuming this form came in after the pronunciation of -idh had changed to the modern value, then this would be just the way of representing the sound if it were something like 'Amerikee'. Now I have heard this pronunciation in a folk song in English. I cannot remember the details but it was probably of Scottish or Irish origin. Has anyone else heard this? So the pronunciation would have come first - for an unknown reason, followed by this phonetic spelling. That's the best I can do, so I hope someone can do better. D

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