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  5. "Tha mi ag iarraidh seacaid."

"Tha mi ag iarraidh seacaid."

Translation:I am wanting a jacket.

April 12, 2020


  • 1737

I want a jacket would be the norm.


It would be a norm, not the norm. Big difference, especially if you live in a place where people tend to use the continuous form.


No. There are two fully valid constructions but only one norm. That's what a norm is. It is the agreed standard way to do it. You may well be against normative behaviour and that is fine but a norm implies that a standard had been agreed.



An ANSI or ISO standard in the EU is the same in the UK is the same in Mexico is the same in the US.

Language norms are not the same. They aren't formally agreed to and they're highly dependent on where you learn the language. "the norm" in one place may not be "the norm" in another -- they are group specific. You can say, "this is the norm for x", and you can say "that is the norm for y", but if you're talking about norms for the union of x and y, each of them is just "a" norm in competition with the other.


But where do people usually use the continuous form in this context? I'm not saying it's impossible, but I do find it unlikely.


Very good point. With all the argument about norms, no one has actually answered the implied question about how you actually say this in English.

(1) Gaelic, like all the Celtic languages, uses the continuous form consistently for these stative verbs – where you are in a state of something for a period of time.

  • I am eating: munching for a period of time
  • I am wanting: desiring for a period of time

Neither of these is something you can do instantaneously.

(2) However, most dialects of English, including Standard British English and Standard American English (which appear to be the main ones used by the course writers) are inconsistent and go for

  • I am eating
  • I want

(3) From (1) it should be no surprise that the 'I am wanting' construction is common in areas where the English is heavily and recently influenced by a Celtic language, such as Wales and the Scottish Highlands.

It appears that what happened here is that the writer of this question, being familiar with Highland English, did not see anything wrong with this translation and preferred it as more literal. When complaints were raised on other questions, the translation was justified on the grounds of preference for the more literal alternative, missing the point that it was not an alternative at all in any standard dialect of English. I think the course policy has now changed and this is a legacy translation.

I am not too worried about which they give as the default answer, but I hope that they now accept both. If anyone finds they do not accept I want it should be reported as 'my answer should be accepted'. Remember to get it spelt perfectly, including punctuation and capitalization, to make it easier for them to add.


Where do they do that in English? Pretty much all over the southern US, throughout Appalachia, most of rural Midwestern US, just off the top of my head. I've heard it from English servers in London, from friends in Bath and throughout Scotland. I caught it in an episode of "Murder, She Wrote" last night (we're wanting a doctor), I've caught it in Jonathan Creek (as well as things like "did you eat breakfast yet"); it's one of those things people say "nobody does that..." until you start listening to people talk and then it turns out they do it everywhere.

Claims like "well they don't do that in any standard dialect" are naively incorrect at best and do a massive disservice to everyone, particularly the hundreds of millions of people who regularly speak that way because that's how the language is used once people open their mouths and start taking.


That is an interesting list of dialects and I don't dispute it for a moment. I am thinking a lot of things are far more widespread in English than grammarians and teachers would have us believe.

These people who are telling us what is 'right' would also have us believe that when someone says something like I am wanting they are stupid, uneducated etc, and therefore are unable to follow the rules. This makes a massive assumption that people are wanting to follow these rules, and they are not stopping to consider why someone might be saying I am wanting. They would have use believe that everyone used to speak standard English, so anyone who doesn't must have deviated for some reason.

But I am not accepting this. I am suspecting that these structures have always been used. Further, it is my experience that a lot of this 'deviation' is in fact Celtic influence, that has simply been hidden by the promoters of 'standard' English (i.e. posh, Germano-French English). I suspect that people have been using these Celtic features since they started speaking English instead of a Celtic language, anything up to 1000 years ago.

However, I think we live in a world where these supporters of Germano-French English have effectively defined 'standard' English. For this reason I stick to my claim that this structure is not found in standard dialects. But please do not be thinking I am suggesting that 'standard' dialects are in any way preferable to any other dialect. I myself use the I am wanting structure and no one will stop me by telling me it is not standard, as I don't care.


Why is it not subject pronoun used in this cases? "Is ag iarraidh"?


Mi is the subject. There is no distinction between 'I' and 'me' in Gaelic. Your sentence does not make sense as there is no subject and Is is the wrong verb.

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