Colloquial Scottish Gaelic Chapter 1 Part 1


I learned some very interesting things today. unfortunately, only one of them was about the Gaelic language. The others are about how not to make audio software for a language textbook. The audio files that came with the book can be really useful, they’re really helping with the whole pronunciation thing. But only because I’m unbelievably persistent. The narrator is exhausting. He sounds bored. Like, really really bored. Not a great way to keep a student’s attention. But he’s not the worst part. The worst part is Dialogue Two, in which a woman tries to buy a bus ticket from a bus driver I suspect may be an avox who immigrated from Panem. Seriously, who picks an actor with no observable skills in projection or annunciation to teach people foreign languages? Not the brightest plan.

There’s also the small matter of whoever gets paid for writing these dialogues. I’ve always had difficulty with the little conversations printed in language texts. I’m pretty good at languages, I tend to pick up the rules quick-like. But those silly dialogues confound me. And I think I finally realize why. It’s the conversation itself. No one talks like that. I don’t care what language you’re speaking, you address someone in the same style and tone that they address you. If a stranger greets you formally, you don’t get all pal-sy with them. It’s simply not done. Unless you’re the girl in CSG dialogue one, I guess. Now, I know why they’re doing it, they want to teach you about the politeness distinction, introduce the pattern, let you hear the difference. But it makes the conversation so stilted. It just doesn’t flow right. I really think these dialogues should be written the way actual people would talk in an actual conversation.

But enough ranting, random trivia time! When the British want to say they really like something, they often call it “smashing”. Which is kinda weird, why would you smash something you like? There’s something funny going on there. The strangeness, it turns out, is because “smashing” has nothing to do with the word “smash.” It (probably) traces it’s origins back to English landowners with Scottish servants. In SG “‘S math sin” means ‘that’s good’ or ‘that’s very nice’. It’s pronounced suh-mah-sheen. Which is pretty darn close to ‘smashing’. It’s possible that the Englishmen, using ‘funny’ Gaelic words to impress their friends, and started saying awesome things were ‘smashing’, and the phrase stuck.

Now, to wrap up this rather ridiculously long post, I present you with… more gratuitous me! Here’s a video of my pretty horrendous attempts to read through the first two dialogues from CSG. Yay!

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