"I like butter."

Translation:Is toil leam ìm.

September 13, 2020

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Can anyone explain the sentence to me? I understand the V-O-S syntax but what is "Is" and "toil" and "leam"?


Gaelic typically has V-S-O (not V-O-S) word order.

But this is a copula sentence and those are a bit different, as copula is does not take an object and generally has copula – predicate – subject word order (but it also changes with pronouns where you have ’s e…, is mise…, etc.).

Here word by word it is:

  • is – the copula ‘verb’¹, meaning is,
  • toil leam – literally delight, pleasure, will, with me – the predicate of the copula,
  • ìmbutter – the subject of the copula.

The whole sentence very literally means something along the lines of butter is my delight.

Instead of toil you’ll often see the adjective toigh: is toigh leam ìm – and this is actually original form of such phrases (while toil appeared here because in the phrase it sounds similar, so people now use this word); toigh means literally pleasant and the structure is X leam… where X is an adjective is a way to say I find … to be X, so you could think of is toigh leam ìm as saying I find butter to be pleasant (and by extension: I like butter).

¹ it’s not really a verb as it has its own special syntax and doesn’t conjugate like other verbs, it’s rather its own category, a special functional element in Gaelic

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