Mathain va

Having proven myself unable to learn Arabic and Amharic, why would I think I could learn Gaelic?  Consistent failure doesn’t stop me from trying.

About 60% of people in the western isles speak Scottish Gaelic. The highest proportion of Gaelic speakers in all of Scotland is in northern Lewis at 75%.  Signs, announcements, etc. here are in Gaelic first, English second.

Sometimes Gaelic looks like something I could learn. There seem to be lots of extra letters involved, but you can almost sound it out:


Other times it looks pretty daunting:


I went to a 2-hour “taste of Gaelic” class yesterday at Stornoway’s cultural center, An Lanntair.

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At the end of the class I could say good morning, my name is Lorna, how are you, I am very well, I’m not bad, I am too hot (there’s a heat wave going on just now), thank you, indeed, do you have..?, and I’m sorry. But by this morning all I remembered was “good morning” – mathain va (phonetic spelling; we didn’t do any writing in our two hour lesson).

I tried out my new phrase on Ann, our Gaelic speaking landlady at the bed and breakfast. Of course she responded with a long string of incomprehensible words. Oh well. I just smiled stupidly and asked for a bowl of porridge. In English.


About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Cairo, Egypt.
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