Thread for current Gaelic reading

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Thread for current Gaelic reading

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Edited: Aug 27, 2010, 11:00pm

Here's a thread where we can post our current reading in (or around the topic of) Gaelic. I'm working my way through Eadar Dà Sgeul, a collection of short stories, partly with a view to using some of them in class next year.

As diversion, and good for when you have a few minutes spare, I am really enjoying dipping into Laoidh an Donais Og (hymn to a young demon) by macneacailaonghas::Aonghas MacNeacail - there are lots of very short poems, all with parallel text, so it's easy to read on the tube etc. Aonghas Dubh (as he is known - though Aonghas Liath would be more accurate these days!) writes in a modern style, and though the poems are sometimes gnomic, the Gaelic is simple and straightforward.

I might risk an example, ("fair use", hopefully). Many are musings on the relationship of man, society and nature, as here:

dobhran is duine

ma roinneas sinn
an linne seo
tha bradan dhuts' ann
tha bradan dhòmhsa

otter and man

if we share
this pool, there's
a salmon for you
a salmon for me

Why not post what you're tackling here? If you use the touchstones feature (see explanation on the right of the message box as you are writing, it will bring up the title and/or author of works you name. Needless to say, it doesn't always work with Gaelic, but often enough to be worth it. That way, you can see the works mentioned without having to read all the posts.

Edited to try to re-create the touchstones, which didn't work the first time.

Tried again. Touchstones seem to work more often with the English title, but not always even then. Grrr!

Sep 19, 2010, 11:16pm

Another story from Eadar Dà Sgeul, this one by Iain Crichton Smith (Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn). This one might be of interest to at least one member of RG, as it is set in Australia, most unusually for this author.

It's only three pages long, and very easy to read. It's a simple story of a close encounter with a shark, told in a detached, almost Hemingwayesque manner. ICS was a schoolteacher, and I wonder if he wrote this for his class, as the story is so simple and accessible, and with a protagonist of school age.

I'm a big fan of his poetry, though I remember struggling through many a grim, rain-lashed story of alienation and bleak despair as a Gaelic student! It was a very pleasant surprise, therefore, to attend a talk he gave to the Gaelic Society of London, only a year or two before he died, and to find a man with an infectious giggle who was just incredibly, wonderfully funny. It seems he struggled with depression for decades, and, as sometimes happens, it just lifted in later life.

His wife apparently once said to him, as they prepared to go to a friend's funeral "You're not going dressed like that". "Like what?" he said. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

His writing has grown on me over the years. What I love about his poetry is that it's very, very accessible, and drawn from the most commonplace minutiae of everyday life. When you first read it, it almost seems like there's nothing there, and yet the more you read it, the more you realise that everything's there.

So in this story, a boy goes swimming alone, sees a shark and manages to get to shore safely. We're not even sure how close the shark was. But in the boy's mind at least, it was snapping at his heels, and he'll never swim in that bay again. Death has become real to him, and he will never feel safe again.

Well, at least the sun was shining.

Sep 26, 2010, 3:05pm

Have read Gnothach Annasach an Dr Jekyll is Mhgr Hyde, a graphic novel in Gaelic based on the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Feeling lazy, I didn't bother to use a dictionary, and I dread to think what my five word score would have been!

Undoubtedly, I missed some of the finer points, but that did not get in the way of enjoying the story. The artwork was a great help, as was the fact that it's a great story. There's a short biography of RLS in the back, with a full page reproduction of a rather nice portrait engraving from the Illustrated London News.

The whole thing is done in 40 pages, and a nice challenge for an intermediate reader. It also gives you a workout on the passive construction - here's a nice example:

"...feuch an cluinn sibh ach nach cluinnear sibh"

"try to hear, without being heard".

If I get time, this book might be a suitable candidate for a Flashcard Exchange vocabulary list. I'd still like to get something going on co-operative vocab lists for individual books - any thoughts, anyone?

Sep 26, 2010, 4:31pm

I have the Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped in Gaelic Fo Bhruid although the 'Marvel' comics square jaw on the characters puts me off a little. Davie Balfour looks about 35 in it!

Sep 27, 2010, 2:50pm

>4 LesMiserables:, I know what you mean - Dr Jekyll was unexpectedly muscular for a man of science : D

Not my favourite comics stylie - but I'd still like to see some more Gaelic graphic novels.

Edited: Feb 11, 2011, 12:08am

Sort of combining reading with watching. Thanks you mta's sale thread, I picked up a copy of "Speaking our Language: Series 1" on DVD and, although I didn't realise it, the accompanying books were included: "Speaking Our Language: Guide to Learning Gaelic - Series 1, Part 1" and "Speaking Our Language". So am going back to basics and starting from scratch. It's intriguing to to hear the different pronunciation of phrases I already thought I knew.

Feb 11, 2011, 12:08am

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Feb 14, 2011, 10:37am

I have started Ann an Duthaich Ur by Jeffrey Shaw, published by Clar in 2002 - part of my Gaelic Books Council sale haul. Though the author has an English-sounding name, this was written in Scottish Gaelic. Mr Shaw learned Gaelic as a boy from his grandfather in Canada (presumably, though he doesn't say so, in Cape Breton).

The book tells the story of a family's emigration to and life in Canada. It may be a children's book, as the point-of-view character is a boy, and the cover is brightly illustrated.

My five word score (see relevant thread for explanation) is 5W477, which makes it a fairly straightforward read, so far. The most interesting word in the first five is "fuathas", meaning, in this context, "a great number", or "a large amount". Here's the sentence:

"Uireannan, bhiodh an cuan a' goil agus a' gluasad leis an fhuathas eisg a bh'ann..."

"Sometimes, the sea would be boiling and moving with the great quantity of fish that were in it..."

Checking this in Dwelly online, I find that "fuathas" can also mean an alarm, something frightening or an apparition: ""Chunnaic iad fuathas" they saw an apparition" - Dwelly.

One often finds Gaelic words that seem to have an extraordinary range of unconnected meanings. In this case, the path is easy to trace from a prodigious quantity to anything prodigious, hence something supernatural and startling, such as an apparition.

I'm enjoying this, and will carry on with it, amongst the four or five books I have currently on the go, which include The Scottish Enlightenment The Scots' Invention of the Modern World by Arthur Herman (which pretty much takes the 18th century Lowland view of the Gaels as violent savages at face value) and The Hare with Amber Eyes.

Anyone else reading anything Gaelic? Anything Gaelic or Scottish related?

Feb 19, 2011, 1:19pm

Finished the first chapter of An Dùthaich Ur, in which a young lad muses, perhaps somewhat anachronistically, on why his family and others have to cope with seasonal food shortages, despite being surrounded on every side by abundant game, which they cannot touch, as it belongs to the landlord.

He mentions the "frith" or deer forest on the slopes of the mountain. The author seems to think this would be a wooded slope, but the word "forest" here means a tract of land, usually in fact treeless, set aside for deer, in order to stalk them in season.

Edited: Jul 13, 2013, 6:31am

I've started a new one (without finishing An Dùthaich Ur - never was one for eating up my greens). I am now reading Am Fear Og 's An Tuagh Umha, which translates as The Young Man and the Bronze Axe. It's a translation by Murchadh MacLeòid of the book The Boy with the Bronze Axe by Kathleen Fidler.

I must say, comparing opening chapters, it is much more engaging. It is set in the stone age village of Skara Brae, and gets you into the story right away. A young girl and her even younger brother slip away from the house at dawn to visit an island they have been forbidden to go to alone. Mother is asleep, and Father is away, helping to build a stone circle.

The author was apparently known for the quality of her research, and a stone age tale has great appeal, so my hopes are high.

I might even see if I can get hold of the English version, as a parallel text.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Apr 16, 2011, 7:45pm

Still enjoying Am Fear Og 's an Tuagh Uamha. The children were stranded by high tide, and were rescued from certain death by a strange boy in a boat. He is on the run, survivor of a massacre of his tribe by their enemies. He speaks a slightly different dialect of the children's language - which would certainly not be Gaelic, of course! There are hints that his tribe is more advanced than the children's, and there is suspense as to what kind of welcome he will get when he brings them home. He has saved the children, but it seems that a stranger is a rare, and usually unwelcome, sight.

I'm finding it a fairly easy read, as the storyline is strong enough to make unknown words guessable in context.

More info about Skara Brae here:

Apr 17, 2011, 7:00am

I am really enjoying this book (Boy with the Bronze Axe)- it's easy to keep going, because you want to know what happens next.

Well, after initial suspicion, the children's father (back from helping to build the stone circle at Brodgar) invites the boy, Tenko, to dinner with these words:

"An gabh thu biadh comhla ruinn mus fhalbh tu air ais a-rithist dhan duthaich agad fhein?"

"Will you take food with us, before you go back to your own country?"

The Stone Age equivalent of "You'll have had your tea" no doubt!

Apr 30, 2011, 2:31pm

Stone Age Dinner menu


Raw barnacles (bairnaich amh)


Mixed eel (easgainn) and crab (crubag), wrapped in wet clay and cooked in the fire

Side dish of strips of mutton (caorach), cooked on bone skewers until burnt on the outside, while still raw on the inside

To drink



May 12, 2011, 6:29am

Still reading Am Fear Og agus and Tuatha Uamha, but also dipping in to Cainnt na Caileige Caillte by Alison Lang - very readable, for the most part.

What are you reading?

May 16, 2011, 11:21am

I seem to have left Am Fear Og 's an Tuagh
Uamha at work, so read a short story from Eadar Da Sgeul by Iain C Mac a' Ghobhainn aka Iain Crichton Smith instead. It's called Na Stocainnean, and was an easy read. A woman gives some old knitted stockings - well, long socks, in context, to a tinker woman. Her son wears them to school, and their original owner, the first woman's son, gets into a fight with him. Simply told, and fairly easy to read.

Tellingly, it's all in Gaelic, except for the name of the teacher - "Miss MacDonald", and when the boy tells his classmates to "shut up" in English. Gaelic is not short of expressions for "shut up" ("Duin do chab" comes to mind - literally, "shut your beak"), so presumably the author is reflecting normal playground usage of the time (nowadays, there would be much more English, of course).

I recall my parents reacting quite strongly if any of us kids told each other to shut up (what would now be considered unrealistic standards of politeness were expected), so maybe this is a way of using a forbidden expression.

Jul 7, 2011, 1:20pm

What are your Gaelic Summer Reading projects? I'm still making sure I at least dip in to everything in my collection, and also intending to finish at least one novel before September. It'll probably be the easiest one - the children's novel "Am Fear Og agus an Tuagha Uamha"!

Do share your Summer reading goals - no goal too humble!

In non-Gaelic reading, I am mightily enjoying And the Land Lay Still by James Robertson. There's something about his writing that just makes me want to read more - he could be writing about anything, and I'd want to read it. The fact that this novel is a panorama of modern Scottish history from 1945 to date, with special attention to devolution / nationalism issues is just a bonus.

Aug 4, 2011, 3:38pm

Finished the first of my Gaelic purchases from Sabhal Mor. Not that difficult, as it was Sgeulachd Mhgr Ieremiah Iasgair - Beatrix Potter's Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher. My five word score was 5W143 - 143 words read for 5 looked up.

I never read Beatrix Potter as a child, so I'm coming to these quite fresh - and thoroughly enjoying them. Lots of fishy vocabulary!

Nov 16, 2011, 11:07pm

I recently ordered An Dannsa Mu Dheireadh and I am doing well with it. It's just about where I am -- not much complex vocabulary and an interesting plot, and for the first time I feel like I'm really reading a story nicely. I'm wondering if anyone else has read this and if so, if you've read any others like it so I might try to look for them.

Tapadh leibh!

Nov 18, 2011, 8:53am

I haven't actually read that one, though I have read quite a bit by the same author, as you can see from various postings. He is excellent, and very accessible, too - though a tad on the depressing side, sometimes!

He was a very prolific writer of novels, short stories, plays and poems. I particularly like the short story "Murchadh", which is included in the anthology Amannan. It is one of the more cheerful ones, and is, in fact, very funny.

I'll look out for An Dannsa Mu Dheireadh - do you know the publisher?

Nov 20, 2011, 10:01am

An Dannsa Mu Dheireadh is good ol' Acair. I will be on the lookout for Amannan -- thanks for the suggestion!

Jan 21, 2012, 11:05am

Another one from Eadar Dà Sgeul, read on the tube this morning on the way to work - Na Solais, by Iain MacDonald, who is the director of the Gaelic Books Council, and always kind and encouraging to learners!

I had no dictionary to hand, but there was nothing that was not ultimately guessable, even though the penny might drop several paragraphs later.

It's a tale of second sight, hardly more than two pages long - perfect!

What are you reading at the moment? What would you recommend?

Edited: May 2, 2012, 8:32pm

I just received a copy of Coco is Crubagan by Flora MacDonald which doesn't seem to be linked here. I hadn't put it "in" my library yet -- maybe I'll go try...... It's quite readable, with a conversational tone, and though I don't recognize every word, I recognize enough to keep going and follow the short segments, only two or three pages at a time.

Edited to add the touchstone to Cocoa and Crabs!

May 3, 2012, 7:24pm

Do you listen to the audio CDs at the same time?

May 5, 2012, 9:53pm

No, I haven't been. I plan to listen to it afterward for practice at that, too!

Something I really like about the format is that the English is in another section, so my eyes don't jump across to the English, but rather dig in to the Gaelic. After reading the Gaelic, I go read the English, and then go back and read the Gaelic again. This method has been helpful for me to get the flow, and also learn some vocabulary.

May 20, 2012, 9:07am

Two reasons to celebrate -

The first is that today I needed to get a paid libarything membership as I have more than 200 books on my account. As I only use this account for Gaelic books, I'm quite pleased with that. The question is, now that I can add unlimited books, whether to add the other several thousand. Hmm, not sure.

The book that tipped me over the 200 (actually, they seemed to let me get away with 201) was Eimhir - Sorley MacLean's Dain do Eimhir, Poems to Eimhir, with a parallel translation by Iain Crichton Smith. A lot of the poems are quite short, but all are demanding, so the parallel text is really necessary, albeit the translations are quite free.

I found it in, of all places, a Waterstones in central London, lurking in the poetry section. God knows how it came to be there!

Second reason to celebrate -

Yay! Postings!! I'd practically given up hoping for any response, but now I know that if I just shut up for a few months...

Don't let me disturb you - just act like I'm not here (tiptoes quietly to the back)

Jul 29, 2012, 8:29pm

Math dha riribh! I signed up for the membership after a similar threshold (not Gaelic books, but Virago Press books) and it was a nice way to celebrate. Meal do naidheachd!

Jul 30, 2012, 9:09am

>26 outrageoussocks: Tapadh leat!! Have been quite lazy about reading Gaelic lately, but postings are very motivating!

Oct 9, 2012, 1:40pm

Obh obh! Still being lazy. And I just came across this quote from Joseph Brodsky:

"There are worse crimes than burning books.
One is not reading them."

Great. So now I'm a criminal. Cheers, Joe.

Edited: May 31, 2013, 1:02pm

Continuing the discussion of Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach by Tim Armstrong here, as I find I am reading it without having realised it! The short story in the collection Saorsa is, in fact, the opening chapters of the novel, as I can tell from the vocabulary list on Memrise (see links thread).

I must say I feel more enthused about Gaelic reading than I have for a long time. It's not that the story is so great - it's fine, but not the kind of thing that would top my reading pile usually. Actually, I'm getting into the story.

But what is really keeping me going is the wonderful feeling of support I get from the fact that the author has bothered (indeed, gone to some trouble) to provide a vocabulary on his website, and on Memrise - links on the links thread.

This is the kind of thing I envisaged with this group, but has been a bit slow to get off the ground. I'm perfectly happy to create vocab lists on Memrise or elsewhere, consult on tricky syntax etc etc - but a little response goes a long way to keep my motivation going. I hope I'm not the only one - please say if you'd like to read Gaelic too!

Edited to correct typo

Jun 2, 2013, 11:15pm

Just finished Luathas-Teichidh (Escape Velocity) by Tim Armstrong, from the Saorsa short story collection.

It's an all-action science-fiction story with a noirish atmosphere - though really, it could have just as easily been set in the Wild West, with our heroes escaping on a stagecoach, rather than a rocket.

It was a fun read, and some fun vocabulary, e.g. daga plasma - a plasma gun), or eanchainn innealta - a supercomputer with a personality, literally "artificial brain". I particularly enjoyed the half-crocodile (leth- chrogall) policeman. I thought it was some kind of metaphor, until he swiped the hero with his scaly tail, and I remembered what genre I was in!

I think I will now have to buy the novel, Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach from which this is an extract, in order to find out what happens next. A major encouragement is the vocabulary on Memrise. I have been assiduously using the site to memorise it, and I can report that it worked very well indeed. It was so much easier to read without having to look up every fifth word, and, conversely, it was easier to remember the new words with a story to fit them into.

Of course, I still had to look up a few, but the ones on Memrise were pretty much the ones I needed, and the language in general was fairly straightforward - suitable for an intermediate reader. Memrise is easier to use and prettier to look at than Flashcard Exchange, so it might well become my site of choice for sharing Gaelic vocabulary. Any other Memrise users out there?

Jun 3, 2013, 4:03pm

I'll use it if you create it, mta; and I'll promote it on the Scottish Gaelic facebook pages, too.

Edited: Jun 3, 2013, 11:57pm

Reading Cleasan a' Bhaile Mhoir and think it's just right for where I'm at. At first I wasn't sure about the summaries in English, but I don't think they give too much away. There are still details one must read for. A list of some specific vocabulary after the chapter is nice -- one can see afterward what might have been missed. I went back and read it again and was able to read some new words then in context. The amount if words to deal with is doable. I am very pleased to have found this!

Edited to say I'm not sure why the touchstone isn't working as the book is in my library -- maybe for the lack of accents?

Jun 4, 2013, 9:13am

>31 Sile: - great, a Shìle! It would have to be a book that's not too big, and that I have got in my library. Any candidates?

Jun 4, 2013, 9:30am

>32 outrageoussocks: Good to hear, outrageoussocks. I'm quite liking the "vocabulary in advance" idea of Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach, though it does require some commitment. The upside is that the reading is a much smoother experience, when you get to it - much less stopping to look things up, and much less guesswork or "fuzzy patches" where you're not quite sure what was meant.

Not sure why, but the touchstones don't always work very well. Accents are not usually the problem - it should find a work, with or without them. It does seem to struggle with Gaelic titles sometimes, and authors' names usually only work if you give them in English.

Are you enjoying Cleasan?

Jun 17, 2013, 12:42pm

Hello, I'm new to this reading group, slowly adding from my bookshelves to my list of Gaelic books here. This morning I added twelve titles from Giglets (not really on my bookshelf) and was a bit surprised to see that no one else has them on their lists.

I'm curious if it's because they're e-books and you're not interested or if it's because they're abridged versions of English classics, and that turned you off. Normally I would shy away from abridgments myself just because, but in this case I went ahead and bought each as they came out last year because I am interested in Gaelic e-books and one of the translators is a friend.

By the way, last year two friends of mine and I put together a list of all the Gaelic books in electronic format we could find, and we found them in all sorts of interesting places. We've been keeping our list updated and you can find it at An Comunn Ameireaganach's forum at Click on Gaelic Resources, Books, and then Gaelic e-books.

An do leugh thu riamh leabhar Gàidhlig eileagtronaigeach?

Jun 17, 2013, 1:45pm

Still waiting for my order of Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach from Foyles, but there are 36 people learning the vocabulary on Memrise, so plenty of consultation available if needed.

Jun 17, 2013, 2:12pm

Ha! I just read what I posted above. That should have been An Comunn Gàidhealach Ameireaganach.

I'll be interested in your opinion of Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach, mta. I've read what I guess is the first chapter in Saorsa, but I don't read much science fiction in English so I don't have anything to compare it to. By the way, a student of mine met Tim Armstrong on the ferry from Harris to Skye recently and he gave her a copy of his book. She hasn't stopped talking about what a nice guy he is and how supportive he was when he learned she's studying Gaelic.

Jun 18, 2013, 12:11pm

>37 cailleach70: I have not read much sf for many years, and, like you have read only the opening chapter in Saorsa. To quote myself from message 30

It's an all-action science-fiction story with a noirish atmosphere - though really, it could have just as easily been set in the Wild West, with our heroes escaping on a stagecoach, rather than a rocket.

I'm sure the author (who is very nice!) would be the first to admit that Chapter 1, at least, is not cutting edge sf. It's an adventure story. If I'm honest, I probably wouldn't read it if it were in English, but all Gaelic reading is an adventure, and I really want to support the idea of Gaelic sf, Gaelic books with online support, and anything written by a member of Gaelic punk band Mill a h-uile Rud!

Jun 18, 2013, 12:28pm

>35 cailleach70: BTW, cailleach70 - thanks for that great resource :-D Speaking for myself, I suppose I might be a little sniffy about Giglets in English, though I would virtuously suppress that tendency - ANYTHING that promotes reading has got to be good. Similarly, anything that promotes Gaelic reading has got to be good. I have read the graphic novel version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Gaelic, and that was fine.

That said, I do not (yet) possess the technology, and would be more tempted to invest if there was some serious Gaelic literature available - with vocabulary support included.

Still, I am old-fashioned enough to feel that e-books don't really, y'know, count...

Jun 19, 2013, 10:57am

I applaud your virtuous suppression of sniffiness toward electronic books. I know where you're coming from, as they say, but I must admit that I have become a partial convert. I don't own a Kindle, but I do have "it" on both my laptop and iPad and have been surprised at how quickly it felt natural to sit and read from an electronic device. I can't imagine living without bookcases full of books, but e-books seem to be here to stay. We even have a dozen or so Kindles at the library that we lend out pre-loaded, with selections of either best sellers, mystery, classics, or non-fiction, and patrons snatch them up as soon as they are returned.

The Gaelic Giglets are something else, of course. The best thing to say about them is that they might encourage someone to read a Gaelic book. But I just don't like abridged books. I'd rather not see translations either, but I think that's a different issue all together.

I have a friend in Canada who mentioned the other day that she likes being able to read Gaelic books on her iPad through iBooks because she can click on a word and have it link directly to Am Faclair Beag. I forgot to ask her how she does that. My Giglets books are in iBooks on my iPad (don't ask; I have no real idea how they're different) but I haven't figured out how to link them to AFB. Now that would be useful.

Edited: Jun 23, 2013, 8:40am

picking up ACDD from Foyles today - will let you know how it goes. I'll have a little angel perched on one shoulder, saying "Now, don't buy anything else. You have no shelf space anyway". On the other shoulder will be a little demon, saying "Go on! More books! You know you want to" Who will win the battle for my soul?

I've just been reminded it's payday tomorrow. This is bad news for my soul.

Typo edit

Edited: Jun 23, 2013, 8:41am

Would you believe the angels won? Probably because I had been to Foyles recently enough that they had nothing new I was interested in.

However, I got what I went for - my own copy of An Cuan Dubh Drilseach. I told the staff about the online vocabulary support, and they were quite interested. Next step, maybe get them to put a little sign or sticker on the cover to that effect?

Would you be more inclined to buy a Gaelic book stickered "Free online vocabulary support"?

Started Chapter 2 at last, and we are in the luxurious apartment of the all-powerful and beautiful but treacherous Sadb (I presume there is a svarabakhti vowel in there, so pronounced "Sadap"), who is celebrating her 373rd birthday, but looks 25 - one knows how she feels.

Her minions have allowed some unknown female to escape her beautiful-but-treacherous clutches. Minions - how useless are they? Feed them to the piranhas, I say!

Having pre-learned some of the vocabulary did make it a lot easier, though there was still some to look up. I'm enjoying this!

Jun 23, 2013, 11:56am

Would you be more inclined to buy a Gaelic book stickered "Free online vocabulary support"?


Jun 23, 2013, 12:19pm

Tapadh leat, a Shile! In fact, let's make it a poll:

Vote: Would you be more likely to buy a Gaelic book stickered "Free online vocabulary support?

Current tally: Yes 3, No 0, Undecided 1
Please vote, everybody!!

Jun 23, 2013, 12:21pm

A friend in Canada is reading it now too and trying to say encouraging things to me since I told her I felt the bit I read in Saorsa wasn't terribly drùidhteach. (One of my favorite words since I began to notice a couple of years ago that John Purser uses it in almost every one of his entertaining articles in "Cothrom.") I did like the idea, however, that Armstrong is stretching the vocabulary (and mine) as his characters get into places and situations most Gaelic speakers never see.

I think any vocabulary support (on-line or in the book itself) is a good idea for Gaelic learners, even ones like me, who collect dictionaries, and yes, I probably would be more inclined to buy a book with that sticker.

I also want some of whatever the treacherous Sadb is taking!

Jun 23, 2013, 1:01pm

Well, it's not my usual cup of tea either, but I am enjoying it immensely. And it has definitely picked up since we left that boring old mining planet. Let me add my voice to that of your Canadian friend, and say "Siuthad! siuthad!"

Sadb also has some nifty ideas on interior decoration, with seven full grown trees in her vast, cathedral-like apartment. This flat is described as "modest and humble for one of her power and wealth", which is how she can afford the illegal genetic manipulations (innleadaireachd ghinteil mhi-laghail) that give a girl that extra sparkle.

It's a hoot!

I also collect Gaelic dictionaries, but find that the physical labour involved in looking up as you read is tiresome - as well as the interruption. It works well for me to pre-learn the vocab.

Jun 24, 2013, 9:07am

I am back reporting that I am partway (Chapter VI) into Cleasan a' Bhaile Mhoir and am quite enjoying it. I do like the brief synopses preceding the chapters because they are loose enough not to give too much detail away but help me keep my bearings regarding plot. The length of the chapters is excellent for me. I am also helped a bit by it being a contemporary story -- I feel like I can infer new vocabulary in a way that I am unable to or feel reluctant to try with older texts. There is a bit of English dialogue in it that helps me as a reader but it is also very good at establishing the different characters. Very enjoyable!

Edited: Aug 22, 2013, 11:19am

>47 outrageoussocks: Excellent, outrageoussocks! I'm still hunting for my copy, which has unaccountably gone missing... Give us a clue about the storyline, to whet our appetites!

Still going on with ACDD, and getting quite drawn in. Each chapter is a contrast to the one before, so we have a flashback to our two main characters, Sal and Riosa (each has an accent on the first vowel). Riosa has some mystery about her - naturally, we strongly suspect she is the female who has escaped the clutches of the b.b.t. Sadb.

But this chapter could have taken place in any town of the present day. It's a boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl have brief affair, break up, then settle for being friends, but boy still secretly loves girl thing.

This chapter gives a bit of depth and feeling to the whole thing, and then it's back to the stolen rocket, where we meet A-
Hiom, a silver-skinned android, or "duine saiberneatach" (cybernetic person), as he prefers to be called. He also seems to be several centuries old. I note that the author's name in the vocative would be "a Thiom" (same sound) - inntinneach!

A-Hiom decides to help our duo on the run, as we near the space-station (steisean-fanais, accent on 1st a). The space station is like a city in space, famed for its nightlife - this could come in handy, as Sal is a club DJ, sometime band member, and Riosa is a singer, when she's not dealing drugs.

This novel is not only good for sf terms, but also gets your Gaelic swearing , insult and club vocabulary up to speed, in a quite enjoyable way. Well, it will help with figuring out what the yoof are going on about.

Edited to correct character name

Jul 2, 2013, 11:52pm

>48 mta: the story follows Jessie, who would like to be an actress but is currently a waitress in London. Because it takes place in London a bit of the dialogue is in English. With a friend, she comes up with the idea of a business where she will step into scenarios to help clients get ahead with some personal problems they face. So far, that has meant acting as a catalyst for others to form romantic relationships. It's quite fun so far, but I get the idea that it's going to get a bit tangled soon, which, of course, should be fun, too!

Jul 4, 2013, 10:50am

Promising scenario! And it is now clear there is some wordplay going on in the title, as "cleas" can be not only a trick, stratagem or sleight of hand, but a stage play. Any fave vocab or expressions?

Jul 6, 2013, 11:52am

>48 mta: Interesting about the bits of dialogue in English. It's always a problem for Gaelic writers. When your characters are in an English speaking milieu, do you just have them speak English, ending up with a large chunk of your writing not in Gaelic at all, or do you translate it? It sounds like Catriona Lexy Campbell has gone for an intermediate strategy in Cleasan a' Bhaile Mhor. Is that right?

One of the reasons Tim Armstrong has chosen science-fiction is that he can leave such problems behind, and set his characters in the intergalactic Gaelic-speaking world. You didn't know Gaelic was the lingua franca of the galaxy? It's only on parochial little Earth that it's a minority language ;-)

Any thoughts, anyone?

Jul 7, 2013, 10:29pm

>50 mta: & 51 Oeill, a nis, I see that touchstone working!!

The dialogue is in English, and mostly in dialectical London English at that, but the majority of the writing is not dialogue. The dialogue helps me, a novice reader, hook into connotations more clearly. Also, Jessie just got an anonymous letter in Gaelic, so I think a Gaelic-speaker will be on the scene to provide a bit of Gaelic dialogue soon.

I do have a favorite vocabulary moment to report. Jessie is going through her rather bare refrigerator and finds "iogart le feusag" -- in the notes feusag is translated as "fungus" -- I read it as "yogurt with a beard" which to me meant just about the same thing.

Thanks for deepening the meaning of the title!

Jul 9, 2013, 6:12am

>52 outrageoussocks: That's the way I would read it too - perhaps the note was in case the reader didn't get the joke!

Jul 9, 2013, 9:18am

Yay! More vocabulary has been added to Memrise for Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach - what looks like the whole of chapter 2 is now on. Will our heroes, now including cybnetic person A-Thiom, escape the jaws of the Pulveriser (inneal pronnadh - that makes me laugh, for some reason) as they attempt to sneak onto the space station? Time to find out!

Jul 11, 2013, 10:32am

>52 outrageoussocks: As Cleasan a' Bhaile Mhòr is set in London, I wonder if the characters encounter the extensive Gaelic "scene" there? They could join the Gaelic Society (and its breakaway group, the Highlands and Islands Society), sing in the Gaelic Choir, or attend Gaelic classes - all of these, by the way, the oldest of their kind in the world. They could also attend both Church of Scotland and Catholic services in Gaelic, at least once a year. This would be extremely amusing, and, regardless of the author's intentions, would be bound to be interpreted as a roman à clef. That would almost make a short story in itself!

Jul 11, 2013, 5:20pm

That would be a good idea for a story, and I'll consider it. I'm taking part in a five-week workshop on short-story writing in Gaelic starting next week and am hoping inspiration strikes at some point in the next few days because right now I have no ideas at all.

And speaking of Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach - Two friends and I have started reading it out loud (on Skype) and discussing it sa Ghàidhlig once a week. It's slow going since we find something interesting in almost every paragraph. Two hours of reading and discussing and we're still in the first chapter! Our questions and comments range from things like "how does the leth-chrogall sit in a police car to drive it?" to "does Rìosa's name have two syllables or three" to laughing when we read the swear words out loud and it all of a sudden dawns on us what they are. I was thinking today how much fun it would be to have Tim Armstrong sit in with us some week. We've read other books this way and although it's slow, we don't care. We're there for the còmhradh.

Jul 12, 2013, 9:00am

>56 cailleach70: A chaillich, your contributions here are so inspiring that I'm happy to return the favour - do let us know how the workshop goes! Perhaps you'll be featuring in the touchstones soon :-)

ACDD on Skype - very cool! Tim's blog is here: if you'd like to ask him!

leth-chrogall - specially adapted seats?

Jul 19, 2013, 4:37pm

Still thinking about the leth-chrogall -- specially adapted seats definitely and a much larger car than I have!

Who reads only one book at a time? Not me, and this morning I added the new on-line version of 'Smathsin. I have a few treasured paper copies from the early 1990's and now Stòrlann has taken over from Acair and has put out two new issues. They look very much like the originals, with one modern touch. If you move your mouse over the speech bubbles, someone reads the text to you.

'Smathsin is a comic book that was and still is geared toward children but I'm not ashamed to say I love it.

The link is:

Jul 22, 2013, 3:30pm

Tapadh leibh airson an link for 'Smathsin!

Finished Cleasan -- an enjoyable read, and it expanded my modern vocabulary a bit! Just right for me and my reading level.

Jul 25, 2013, 6:32am

>58 cailleach70: I also have some dead-tree 'Smathsins - my students love them, and it's amazing how much Gaelic there is in them. And it's all real Gaelic, not "textbook Gaelic". I have a Flashcard Exchange list of "sound effect" words, compiled from the pages of 'Smathsin, and Asterix an Ceilteach. Here's the link

Great link - I'll add it to the links thread.

Jul 25, 2013, 6:33am

>59 outrageoussocks: Hò ro gheallaidh! Math fhèin dhut!

Edited: Jul 30, 2013, 6:21am

Still going on with ACDD, after a bit of a break to catch up on my English reading. Still finding the Memrise vocabulary useful, and have even added my own list under the title "More vocab from An Cuan Dubh Drilseach". Is anyone else using this? I'm quite impressed with how effective it is - I found I still remembered over 90% of the words after a two-week break. And I'm remembering them when they come up in the text, too.

Our heroes are not much further on, but there is a very funny bit where Riosa finds out there are no loos on a cyber-manned rocket ship, so she's going to have to cross her legs until they land (which could be next week, at my rate of reading!). Some potentially useful vocabulary here : "Tha mi gu spreadhadh" I'm bursting!

Aug 15, 2013, 7:31am

Well, I started out a bit lukewarm about this book, but now I am quite gripped by Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach. Without giving away too much of the story, our heroes pitch up in San Fran Siosgo (say it aloud), located on the remote, primitive backwater that is the Earth. There, they are befriended by some squat-dwelling musicians.

The Earthlings in San Fran Siosgo speak a strange, incomprehensible language, unlike the Gaelic used throughout the civilised parts of the galaxy. Their quaint speech is rendered phonetically, thus:

"Dùd, ui abhdas tard a band tag eadar".

If you're shocked by bad language (both Gaelic and Earth-speak), then skip this chapter, if not the whole book. But then you'd miss out on some laughs, and a fast-paced story that keeps you wanting to find out what happens next.

I'm loving Tim Armstrong's solution to the problem of That Other Language which looms large in Gaelic fiction today.

I was reading ACDD in a local greasy spoon (or "cheap cafe specialising in fried foods", for non-Brits reading this!), and the waitress, from Eastern Europe, by her accent, asked me what the book was. Turns out she is a Science Fiction fan, and has all the Dune books. When not waitressing, she is studying to be a doctor. Make new friends with Gaelic reading!

Edited: Aug 19, 2013, 4:09pm

Feeling great because I've just finished ACDD! I really loved reading this, as it was incredibly engaging - a real page turner, with laughs along the way. As I think I may have mentioned here before once or twice ;-), Gaelic prose literature does tend towards the miserable, so it is great to read something cheerful and optimistic.

My hard work on Memrise really paid off - not that hard, really, and well worth it. I'm thinking I might create some "courses" (their terminology) for other books. Shorter books than ACDD - maybe Sgeulachd Beniamin Coinneannach to start with, as I already have the vocab on (flashcardexchange as was).

Leth-chrogall fans will be glad to know you haven't seen the last of Seairgeant Raithdead, and Irish speakers will enjoy a couple of sentences in Irish. I like it when Gaelic books (and films) get another language or two in - it makes you feel pleasantly polyglot and situates Gaelic in a European or even world context, rather than always looking over its shoulder at English.

The ending leaves room for a sequel - I wonder....

What next? Some short stories from Saorsa perhaps.

Anyone taking a Gaelic book to the beach this summer?

Edited to correct bunny book title

Aug 20, 2013, 1:00pm

Rushing to take advantage of my raised level of enthusiasm, I polished off a short story from Saorsa. It's built around a doppelganger theme (can't do umlauts on this machine either!) with lots of twins, mirrors and mistaken identities packed into a few pages.

It will make a good class reading text for next year. It's called An Dotair Eile, by Padraig MacAoidh if anyone (you know who you are!) wants to get a head start. It doesn't end so much as double back on itself, so it will be interesting to see what people make of it. I might even put a Memrise course on for it.

Just received a very nice message from Tim Armstrong on the Memrise site, in which he does not rule out the possiblity of an ACDD sequel. It might not be for a while, as he is working on a YA novel for Sandstone Press - you heard it here first!

Edited: Sep 2, 2013, 8:59am

I interrupted a couple of other books this weekend to quickly reread Cairteal gu Meadhan-Latha by Aonghas-Phàdraig Caimbeul (it was 1992 and he was using a hyphen) so I can return it to a friend, and right at the beginning is a fun word square I had forgotten about. Draw a square and divide it into nine smaller squares. Put a letter in each box: T, G, F, H, and A, E, I, O, and U. Now make as many Gaelic words as you can with just those letters. The author starts you off with four and suggests that there are five more, but I think there are even more than that.

This is a book for, perhaps, middle school children and / but oh so much fun to read. APC mingles his love of words with geography and history, and the arc of the story is remarkably similar to his later Tilleadh Dhachaigh, yet the story is totally different at the same time. It's short, only about 80 pages, and definitely something an intermediate reader could handle without too much dictionary work.

Sep 5, 2013, 9:38am

Cairteal gu Meadhan-Latha

>66 cailleach70: Thanks for the recommendation! If you put a title in square brackets, or an author in double square brackets, it will bring the item up in the "touchstones" - the links visible on the right of these messages. This enables one to quickly look it up in LT - having done this, I can see that two of us on Reading Gàidhlig have this book - not me, alas, but I will look out for it.

Tried the word square, which was fun. I get 14 words - 21 if you allow three-letter words, and I don't think that exhausts it either!

How was the short-story writing workshop? It's a shame that both Gairm and Gath (one of my words!) have gone, so it's harder to publish short stories than it used to be. Gairm was so important for the language in that way.

There have been recent(-ish) anthologies, of course - An Claigeann aig Damien Hirst and Saorsa, not to mention Eadar Dà Sgeul, but I suppose you have to move in the right circles to get published in that way.

Read another story from Saorsa - called Saorsa gun Chrìch, by Mr Gaelic-in-Germany, Michael Klevenhaus. It is told from two points of view - an escapee from East to West Germany, before the Wall came down, and a seagull. Yes, you read that right. Not really sure what the seagull adds (an overview?), but it's OK. Michael has always been a "Wessie", as far as I know, but it is an interesting story, nonetheless, dealing with the period when the Wall was actually built.

If you're wondering how I can suddenly do accents, I'm at work. On a break, of course!

Sep 18, 2013, 10:23am

The short-story writing workshop was quite disappointing. For the most part, all we did was pointless (nam bheachdsa, co-dhiù) exercises. No discussion about how to develop a plot, characters, what makes good dialogue, or anything else helpful. I did meet a couple of other Gaelic learners though, and that's always good.

I have a few copies of Gairm and Gath; it's a shame the outlet they provided is gone. Thanks for telling me about "touchstones." Let's see if I'm doing it correctly. Are you familiar with the literary magazine called "Northwords Now"? They mostly publish in English, but they do have a Gaelic editor, Rody Gorman, and they include Gaelic poetry or a short story in almost every issue. A couple of years ago they held a competition for Gaelic poems, flash fiction, short stories, and prose writing and published the winners.

Sep 19, 2013, 12:59pm

Yay! Rody appears in the touchstones :-)

We get Northwords Now in my library, plus they send me some extra copies for students. You're right, I had forgotten that - though I don't think they have as much space for short stories as the lamented Gairm and Gath.

Sorry to hear the workshop was disappointing - I would certainly go to one that lived up to the description!

May 15, 2014, 6:03pm

Well it took me a whole three (3) minutes to read Wee MacNessie by Pauline Mackay. I was a little stumped by the pronunciation guides though, as they were rather different from what I had been taught in my course. Still, a nice, wee, book.

Jul 19, 2014, 9:50am

Off to SMO very soon, so I will be reading more Gaelic and posting more. I expect I will have some items to add to my already groaning shelves as well.

I'm taking Fo Bhruid to read, and will benefit from, and contribute to the Memrise course for that novel, which can be found here:

Can't wait!

Jun 29, 2019, 5:16pm

Supplementary to >4 LesMiserables: I was reading this lady night and suddenly realised that the author had completely excluded the whole recuperation period and the pipes' scene between Alan Breck and Robin Og.

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