"Tha mi a' dol a-steach a-rithist."

Translation:I am going in again.

June 17, 2020

This discussion is locked.


So it's a-steach with a transitive verb (i.e. there's motion) and a-staigh with an intransitive verb (i.e. no movement)?


Yes, it depends on motion. No, it doesn’t depend on whether the verb is transitive (takes a direct object) or not (doesn’t take a direct object), or if there is any verb at all…

a-staigh just means inside as a stationary thing, something being and staying inside; a-steach means into (a house), inwards.

a-staigh actually comes from the precursor of anns meaning in the + dative of house, taigh; while a-steach comes from anns + old accusative-nominative form teach (which no longer exists in Gaelic, but is still used in some Irish dialects) – as Old and Middle Irish still had the typical Indo-European difference between stationary in + dative/locative and dynamic in + accusative for motion (cf. German). Thus a bit over a thousand years ago a-staigh (or rather istaig or istig as it was in OIr.) really meant in the house and a-steach (or rather istech) meant literally into the house.


As a trivia-addition to Silmeth's comprehensive answer, it might be interesting to know that typically speakers from the Isle of Skye (and perhaps a few other places) do not make that distinction anymore and use a-staigh in both cases. So don't be surprised/"grammatically offended" if a native speaker (or a learner taught by a Sgitheanach) tells you e.g. thigibh a-staigh! "come in!" instead of thigibh a-steach, that might just be a feature of their dialect :-)

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