"They have Gaelic, that is good."

Translation:Tha Gàidhlig aca, is math sin.

July 31, 2020

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'tha sin math' would be how i'd normally think of saying that but it offers 'is math sin'
why is that the word order, and is that not a slightly odd use of is rather than tha?


Historically (as in very old phases of the language – Middle Irish and before) you’d use the tha verb to describe current state of something and is for permanent attributes. Is could generally be used with all types of things.

And to some extent it sill can, eg. you can use it to front parts of sentences – put emphasize on them to mark them as the topic of the sentence, for example is ann air a’ bhòrd a tha an cat for it is on the table where the cat is – to emphasize that on the table part is the point of your sentence (eg. when answering the question where is the cat?) and you could say is e an cat a tha air a’ bhòrd to say it is the cat that is on the table as the answer to the question what is on the table?.

And you can also use it when describing to emphasize the attribute (or stress that it’s inherent value of something rather than just current state) is mòr am bòrd sin for that table is big (instead of more regular tha am bòrd sin mòr).

You wouldn’t probably often say that (is mòr am bòrd sin) in a normal conversation (as it’s kinda archaic/poetic) but it is very commonly used in some fossilized phrases, one of which is is math sin! that is good! (which might be the source of English smashing! :) – but that’s probably just a folk etymology, it’s helpful to remember the Gaelic phrase anyway).

The word order is different because historically copula had different word order – it took its predicate (in English the part coming after is) first and only then the subject (the thing before is in English). Today it’s more complicated (in some kinds of sentences the subject does come first), but you’ll still see this order in many kinds of copula sentences.


math fhein! moran taing :D

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