Timcheal air dà uair dheug ‘n oidhche – Lesson 5

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

It has been a frenetic month and due to several disruptive weeks in court as a juror I not only missed some classes but also fell behind with blog updates. So somewhat tardily this is my round up of week 5’s lesson and you’ll notice some familiar shades from week 4’s post as we re-visited time, again.

It turns out that time and numbers in general are a bit of a head-scratcher for the wide-eyed beginner Gaelic student and due to considerable confusion during the previous week’s class (which I missed) we focussed largely on both topics again this week. (Note: I’m writing this 3 weeks after the class, so apologies if this merely adds to the confusion!).

An Uair – The Time

We went over time in my last lesson post so I’ll try to avoid any repetition, however I left off wondering how to tell the time when it was x amount of minutes past or to the hour (rather than half past, quarter to etc.) and I can give some examples of this now:

Gàidhlig English
còig uairean ‘sa mhadainn 5.00am
leth-uair an deidh sia 6:30pm
cairteal an deidh dhà ‘sa mhadainn 2:15am
cairteal gu aon uair ‘sa mhadainn 12:45am
cairteal an deidh trì uairean feasgar 3:15pm
aon uair deug ‘san oidhche 11:00pm
cairteal gu còig uairean ‘sa mhadainn 4:45am
trì mionadean an deidh còig ‘sa mhadainn 5:03am
fichead ‘sa dà mhionaid an deidh dà uair feasgar 2:22pm
deich mionaidean an deidh naoi ‘san oidhche 9:10pm
ceithir mionaidean deug an deidh ochd ‘sa mhadainn 8:14am

Sìmplidh, no? The main cause of confusion is down to the number two and the rules surrounding it in Gaelic. I’ll try to explain as best I can!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post is considered as one unit rather, it refers to a couple and therefore it doesn’t take a plural.

Additionally, if is followed by a vowel then it becomes the lenited dhà this is because vowels cannot be lenited.

There is apparently nothing that likes more than to lenite the following word but in the case of words starting with ‘sg’, ‘sm’, ‘sp’ or ‘st’ these cannot be lenited. Everything else is fair game it seems.

Another confusion is that if there is a noun following a ‘teen then the word order becomes curious. The noun in these cases would go between the defining number and the ‘teen itself, for example, dà mhoinaid dheug is 12 minutes (2 minute teen) and note the double lenition.. dagnammed !

Just like in English the word for ‘hour’ or ‘o’clock’ can be dropped except when it’s eleven or twelve o’clock, then uair must be included.

Got all that, seems relatively straight forward now that its written down, doesn’t it?

Additional notes relating to time is that ‘past’ or ‘after’ is an deidh and ‘to’ or ‘before’ is gu. The ‘sa and ‘san seen prior to mhadainn and oidhche are abbreviations of anns a’ and anns an both meaning ‘in the’.

If being specific about time is a little too complex (and it is!) then you can use either timchael air .. which means ‘approximately’ or faisg air.. which means ‘close to’ followed by the approximate time.

Time may seem like a simple topic but it took our class two weeks to sort of get our heads around it, partially of course as counting in Gaelic is new to us, partially because this is all new vocabulary but largely because for such a simple process there are several gotchas involved that completely undermine your confidence just when you think you have it nailed.

So for some light relief! This week’s song is Fear A’ Bhàta (The Boatman) which is a beautiful song with a eerily familiar tune which I can’t quite place. Enjoy!


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