"Would you like a drink, friends?"

Translation:Am bu toil leibh deoch, a chàirdean?

September 6, 2020

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More traditionally, the translation would be: 'an gabh sibh deoch, a chàirdean?' or 'a bheil deoch a dhìth oirbh, a chàirdean?' [source = Angus Watson, 'The Essential Gaelic/English Dictionary', Birlinn; amongst others.] 'Bu toil..' in this context is possibly an English calque.


Hmm, are you sure it’s a calque? What exactly Watson write about it? The same way of politely asking someone is used in Irish (ar mhaith libh deoch, a chairde?) and other unrelated languages (eg. Polish chcielibyście napój/drinka?) as a conditional question meaning would you like? or would you want?. And could you give other sources on it being a calque?

Its usage might well be reinforced by English in Gaelic – but the grammar is native. Even if it is a calque it seems to me it’s used in all Goidelic-speaking areas so no reason to avoid it today.


No I am not sure. And that phrase ("..bu toil") is a perfectly valid way of asking for a drink. I believe that it is a calque - probably from English -and usurps more traditional and characteristically Gaelic phrases based on the following evidence.

(1) In my learning texts (e.g. Duncan's dictionary; O'Maolalaigh; MacNeil) it is not given for asking for something. 'Toil' is strictly used for liking something or being pleased by something.

(2) DASG survey: pre 1900, only used for liking or pleasing.

(3) The conditional not used traditionally in Gaelic for politeness, altho I'm sure under the heavy influence of English and French there are exceptions. I am a terrible Celtic purist snob...I know...


Note: I have edited my original comment to be less arrogant! Apologies.

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