What is the official language of the European Union?

Clark   Monday, July 05, 2004, 00:30 GMT
Ceasar de Julius, I have a grammar question for you. You said you are a Gaelic-speaker so this is why I ask.

When speaking Gaelic, do you use the "tha + verbal noun" form the most? I mean, if you say, "I walk once a week," would you really translate it as "I am walking once a week" or would you use different verb conjugations?

The Gaelic language is the most hard for me in the verb section because I just do not understand how the verb system works.

I would appreciate it a lot of you could try to explain to me how it works (using my example if possible).
Ceaser DeJulius   Monday, July 05, 2004, 04:20 GMT

I may not be perfect at grammar, but your question seems easy enough for me to answer. First off, I wish to clarify the meaning of "Tha". Tha, is sort of hard to translate, but I guess the closest meaning to it in English would be 'To be'. It is like describing a state. For Instance, 'Tha mi sgith' means, I am tired. 'Tha Mòrag brèagha', means Morag is beautiful. 'Tha' can also confirm, and mean yes. Like, they are coming: 'Tha iad a' tighinn'.

This is all you need, 'Tha' is to be, so, you would use it to describe a state or to confirm. When you say, I walk, or I like, or I anything, you use the verb for it, not Tha. For instance, I like Food : 'S toil leam biadh. Hope this helps.

Criostóir   Monday, July 05, 2004, 05:06 GMT
I'll write a response soon to you, Caesar, but I welcome our conversation! Indeed, I learnt Irish as a second language but embraced it wholly as part of my heritage.

With regards to Clark, Irish is very similar to Gàidhlig with "tha", or in Irish "tá".

Tá + verbal noun normally indicates a present progressive tense, much as in English. The stem of the verb, when conjugated, indicates more a usual action, or a sequence of events, much like English:

Tá mé ag scríobh duit anois. - I'm writing to you now.

Scríobhann mé duit gach lá. - I write to you every day.

With adjectives and other constructions, tá indicates states of being, but not predicative sentences. So in Irish we say:

Tá mé sásta (I'm happy)
Tá tuirse orm (I'm tired, lit. Is tiredness on me).

But you use the copula, "is", when equating two subjects.

Is mac léinn mé - I'm a student.
or to emphasize the impermanence of the equation, a phrase with the preposition "i", meaning in.

Is mac léinn atá ionam - literally, "is student which is in me", i.e. I'm currently a student, but it hasn't always been so and won't always be so.

Clark   Monday, July 05, 2004, 11:30 GMT
Thank you Cristoir. I am not very good at Gaelic or Irish, but I was able to understand the basic part of your explination of where you learnt Irish. Could you tell me why you speak it fluently?

Caesar, to use Criostoir's example, could you translate these into Gaidhlig:

Tá mé ag scríobh duit anois. - I'm writing to you now.
Scríobhann mé duit gach lá. - I write to you every day.

If you did answer my question in your last post, I am sorry for seeming redundant. However, I like examples! :-)

I find the Gaelic and Irish languages so fascinating, but too difficult for me! I wish I had it in me to stick to one language that I really love; but alas, I am never happy with one language and therefore I am not very proficient in any language but English and French (to a lesser degree).
Ferdinand   Monday, July 05, 2004, 12:05 GMT

you said : "But yes, I like the idea of there being a European language, but what about the Germans, the French, the English,...would they like this? It is a great fantasy, but would it ever be a reality in our lifetime? My guess would be no. I would be very pleasantly surprised if it did though, and I would be one of the first Americans to take a Latin class to keep up with you Europeans :-P "

Do you ignore French comes from latin? In France, you learn latin at school, french will enjoy an idea like that, why do you think they won't like the idea?
Clark   Monday, July 05, 2004, 12:14 GMT
Yes, I know very well that French derives from Latin; just as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian (and other verious Romance languages that do not have official recognition).

THat is besides the point; French and Latin are two different languages. It is like comparing Old English to modern English. A French-speaker cannot understand Latin just as an English-speaker cannot understand Old English.

I am sure a lot of people take Latin at school, but my guess would be that most European nations emphasize English as being the language that everyone should know as the second language.
fredinand   Monday, July 05, 2004, 14:05 GMT
Of course, french people can understand latin, what do you mean?
Lucrece borgia   Monday, July 05, 2004, 14:07 GMT

you said : "I am sure a lot of people take Latin at school", people does not "take" but must, it's an obligation at school.
Criostóir   Monday, July 05, 2004, 20:37 GMT
Dear Clark,

well, I wish I were more fluent - I'm no bard - but with hard work and a lot of immersion classes I got where I am.

You're right in noticing the difficulties with the verb in the Celtic languages. Much of the conjugation depends just as much on initial mutations (a fancy linguistic way of saying changing the beginning sound of a word) as on endings.

So for a "regular" verb, for example "cuir", which means put, place, and lots of other stuff (think Fr. mettre, Sp. poner, etc.)

present - Cuireann
present subj. - cuire
past - chuir
past habitual - chuireadh
future - chuirfidh
conditional - chuirfeadh
verbal noun - cur
past participle - curtha

Plus, other particles in sentences can change these sounds further. "Go", for instance, introduces a positive subordinate clause, and causes what we Gaeilgeoirí call urú, and grammarians call eclipsis - basically, a sound changes to it's voiced counterpart.

So example:
Chuirfidh sé an t-úll ar an tabla. - He'll put the apple on the table.

Sílim go gcuirfidh sé an t-úll ar an table. - I think that he'll put the apple on the table.

so the [k] sound of cuir, which in the future is spelt "ch" and sounds like [x], becomes written "gc" and sounds like [g].

Most verbs are quite regular, and follow these systematic changes. The number of irregular verbs is quite limited, but the forms are often very different, and include different forms depending on whether the verb is part of a dependent clause or not. One example can suffice here:

Faigh = to get, receive

present / Faighim (I receive)
past / Fuair mé (I received)
future / Gheobhaidh mé (I will receive)
future dependent / ..., go/ní bhfaighidh mé (that I will/will not receive)
conditional / Gheobhainn (I would receive)
conditional dependent / ..., go/ni bhfaigheadh mé (that I would/wouldn't receive)
past habitual / D'fhaigheadh mé (I used to receive)
pres. subjunctive / Faighe mé, more often Go bhfaighe mé

verbal noun: fáil
past participle: faighte
imperative: faigh (dictionary form)

Ceaser DeJulius   Monday, July 05, 2004, 21:11 GMT
Sorry I am slow in my reply, yet I must say, I am not a translator. Yet, I will give helpful things which help you improve your Gàidhlig. Tha
+ verb works in this sense(read the sentence): Tha mise a'dol dhuchaigh cuideachd. agus. Tha an cù a'dol dhuchaigh a-nise. The first sentence says The dog is going home now, and, the second means: I am going home too. Tha in this case, with the verb, will confirm that you or whatever is doing something. It is har describing a language that comes natural to you to someone who is not immersed in a Gaelic environment. Because it is my first language, it is easy for me to understand everything behind it, it is natural. Yet to you, it is not. Gaelic, like Irish and Manx, has extremely complex grammar and spelling. Gaelic is the more pure form of Irish. The Irish spoken today is the simplified form of what I speak, read and write. Tha vs. Tà (sorry about the grave accent) is a perfect example. The negative system in Irish (Gaelige) is different as well. 'S mise in Gàidhlig is Is mise in Gaelige. The spelling in Gàidhlig is more complex and harder to learn than it is in Irish. So, in any aspect, what me and Criostòir are teaching you are both right in a sense, but still have major differences.

Tapadh leabh (Gàidhlig)
Go raibh maith agut (Gaelige)


PS: Please note: Gàidhlig has a grave accent which Irish does not. Gaelic used to have it, but it was cut in a spelling reform many years back. I wish also to point out, that their really isn't a standard form of either language. For instance, How are you on the Isle of Skye, is said Ciamar a tha thu? but, on the Isle of Lewis, it is said 'Dè man a tha thu'. Irish has he same thing, like the Irish spoken in Gweedore, in Dongeal is different than the Irish spoken in Munstur.
Clark   Monday, July 05, 2004, 22:56 GMT
All right, I am sure you are correct, Ferdinand; French people can understand Latin.

Criostoir and Caesar, thank you so much for the help. I have studied Gaidhlig before, as I have a friend who has a Gaelic-speaking father from Scotland and a Native American mother (what a mix!). Anyways, we would write each other in Gaelic and that was pretty cool.

I am still not sure about the Scottish Gaelic verb. In Irish, the verbs seem to be much like English in terms of using "I go" and "I am going," for example. But with Gaelic, it seems to me that if a person wants to express "I go" and NOT "I am going," the person would use "tha mi a'dol" regardless.
Criostóir   Monday, July 05, 2004, 23:49 GMT
Indeed, Irish has different ways of saying "how are you":

Donegal/Ulster: Cad é mar atá tú? (Cf. Gàidhlig Ciamar a tha thu)

Connemara: Conas atá tú?

Munster: Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?

With regards to spelling, Caesar is right. In the 1940s there was a spelling reform in Ireland that did away with a lot of etymological consonant clusters which were no longer pronounced or needed to recognize verb forms. To an extent, Gàidhlig pronounces some of these still, and some they have just kept in spelling.

So Gaeltacht (area where people have Irish as daily language) is spelt differently from Gàidhlig "Gaidhealtachd".

To form negatives, Irish prefers the particle "Ní" while Gaelic uses "Cha(n)". However, "cha(n)" is also used in Ulster Irish as well.

In response to Clark again, I think you might be right! I'd have to ask Caesar to answer with his knowledge of Gaelic - our two languages have gone separate routes in terms of both grammar and vocabulary since the 1600s - but in Irish, the conjugated present is very akin to English usage, the verbal noun marking a true progressive. This is in contrast, say, with Modern Welsh, which almost always in the colloquial language tends to use periphrastic constructions with "bod" - to be - plus a verbal noun.

I'm speaking with the professor now.

IRISH: Tá mé ag labhairt leis an ollamh anois.
WELSH: Mae i'n siarad gyda'r athro rŵan.

I speak with the professor every day.

IRISH: Labhraím leis an ollamh gach lá.
WELSH: Mae i'n siarad gyda'r athro bob ddydd.

So you see, in Welsh it's more from context that you tell, much like in French or German or other languages with no distinct "progressive" form for the present tense.
Criostóir   Monday, July 05, 2004, 23:51 GMT
sorry! In that last message, the first Welsh sentence should read:

Mae i'n siarad gyda'r athro rw^an, with a circumflex over the w (the letter w in Welsh is a vowel, sounding like a pure u in German, the circumflex making it long, so something like RU-ahn).

Le meas,

Clark   Tuesday, July 06, 2004, 06:44 GMT
Thanks Criostoir, for the explination. But why did you learn Irish?
Damian   Tuesday, July 06, 2004, 06:59 GMT
Bore da, Criostoir..sut ydych chwi heddiw? Da iawn, gobeithio.

(I have a friend from Anglesey)