Chaidh e dhan chéilidh is mi cho tinn or The mystery of the agus

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
Jump to navigation Jump to search

I'm sure you have come across these mysterious constructions with agus stuck right in the middle of it. Sentences like bha agam ri dol a dh'obair is mi cho tinn ris a' chù.

For once, the explanation of how to translate this and how to use it is simple.

Gaelic allows you to juxtapose two concepts in a sentence and link them together by using is or agus, leaving it to the hearer to infer the meaning. And before you get out the baseball bat - what that means is that you take two phrases, connect them with is or agus and leave it to the hearer to figure out what the relation is. No kidding.

Take the two statements above: bha agam ri dol a dh'obair and bha mi cho tinn ris a' chù. The meaning of each of those sentences is clear. Now connect them with agus (lose the second verb, whichever it is) and you get bha agam ri dol a dh'obair is mi cho tinn ris a' chù. The agus tells the hearer "here are two statements, you figure how they are connected."

The nice thing about this is that you can make quite complex and varied statements using the same construction, the only problem is that you have to be careful you don't make statements which are too ambiguous. The above translates as I was so ill and had to go to work.

Using two different sentences, the connection changes - Rinn mi mearachd and Bha mi 'nam ghille òg. Put them together and you get Rinn mi mearachd is mi 'nam ghille òg. This translates as 'I made a mistake when I was (only) a young lad'. Simply because it is the most intuitive way in which these two concepts can be related to each other.

That's it really.

Beagan gràmair
Pronunciation - Phonetics - Phonology - Morphology - Tense - Syntax - Corpus - Registers - Dialects - History - Terms and abbreviations