Blas Den Ghaidhlig (A Taste of Gaelic)
Last night we had a meet and greet wine welcome. There are eleven of us in Level One. Most of us sat together commiserating on how nervous we were about class. United in our fear and excitement and sat together again at breakfast.
To our relief, we have a wonderful and patient instructor, Coinneach—Kenneth in English. We all mess up equally so we moved quickly past the nerves and embarrassment. I am the only American. Most of our class is from Scotland but there is a German and a French woman and nobody laughed or gave stink eye to anybody.
Even the upper level students seem to remember what it was like to be a fledgling in the language.
Things I’ve learned about Gaelic so far:
It was a spoken only language for many many years. Then linguist tried to write it down but apparently they had either an evil streak or a wicked since of humor because there is no correlation with another language.
The letter h seems to be randomly thrown into words and sometimes it’s silent, sometimes it’s not.
If the letter T appears before a word, then it kills the first letter of the next word. For example,
D`e ‘n t-aimn a th’ ort? Is pronounced Je t inim a horst. It means Where are you from?
The Scots surnames are often Mac – something which means son of. MacInnes means son of Angus. But, if Murchadh MacInnes gets married, his new wife, Margaret, is now called Mairead NicInnes. Simple right?
My name, Mary, is M`airi unless you are speaking directly to me, then it’s a Mh`airi pronounced
A vadi. See, it’s those h’s again.
Is your head spinning? Imagine 8 hours of this.
Actually, it’s been fun. Sort of like reading a fantasy novel, you have to suspend disbelief or in this case suspend logic and just go with it. Coinneach’s wise words to us. Learn to say the word before you see it. Because if you see it first, it’ll mess you up forever. You have to forget all you know about English.
Other things I’ve learned about the Scotts besides that they are the most lovely people on the planet:
It’s just a wee walk, means at least 2 miles and probably 10. I learned this last year but after one of my classmates discussed taking a wee walk to the next village—6 miles away—I felt it was important to include here.
It’s a wee breeze, (Ha i gaothach beagan) means there are gale force winds coming off the water.
Highland Dance is super fun and great for the legs and cardio. How do I know you ask? Well I attended a highland dance class after dinner (also called tea here.)
Forget bar, put away palates, don’t even think about Zumba. I think it should be the new fling—er thing. CAUTION! If you’ve just consumed a large plate of Lamb stew, it might not be a good idea to go jumping about in a crowded room. All that action could cause a couple of farts to escape—just saying for a friend.
I’d hoped to post a picture of the Highland Dance class but forgot my phone. You know, the one I upgraded to because it had a fancy camera. Yeah. I’ll try to get some new pictures tomorrow. Afterall, the evening’s entertainment is a concert by Old Blind Dogs!
Anyway, after dance class, it was up to the pub for a wee dram and Pub Quiz. Trivia in another country is difficult. Trivia in Gaelic in another country is impossible. English translations were thrown in but it was so mixed in with the Gaelic it didn’t help much. Score one for me, I managed one correct answer for our table. I picked up the word Twilight and guessed Stephanie Myer. Whoop!
Day One was everything I’d hoped and more. I can’t wait for tomorrow! Until then.
Oidche mhath – Good Night.