An Bhfuil Gaeilge / Béarla / Fraincis / Rúisis / Sínis / Tliongáinis / Ceatsuais Agat? Posted by róislín on Aug 17, 2009 in Irish Language
The recent discussion of language, whether Tliongáinis or Fraincis, suggests another popular topic among language learners – what languages do you know? Any such discussion can range from the standard questions to those off “an bealach buailte” (the beaten track). Sometimes I do think that the bealach “neamhbhuailte” will be pretty well “buailte” by the time I’m done with it though!
A key point regarding these questions is the traditional structure: An bhfuil Gaeilge agat? Do you know Irish? lit. Is Irish at you? This is the same basic structure used to show possession in Irish (cf. Tá carr agam, I have a car, lit. A car is at me). Although I don’t hear it so much lately, this notion of “having” Irish also appears in English, in statements like, “I haven’t got the Irish.” That’s what Fiona says at one point to her seanathair in the film, The Secret of Roan Inish, a film, which, by the way, has some great flashback scenes in Irish.
As for the “the” in the phrase, “I haven’t got the Irish,” it was traditional to use the definite article with language names, at least with Irish itself. I don’t hear that so much lately either. If you do use the definite article, it will trigger lenition in many cases, as most language names are feminine (Béarla, for English, being one major exception). For example: Fraincis, An Fhraincis; Sínis, an tSínis (that’s the s -> ts variation of lenition, Ceatsuais, An Cheatsuais, but An Béarla, srl.
It is, of course, perfectly reasonable to ask, An labhraíonn tú Gaeilge? Do you speak Irish?
So, here are a few questions for starters. Can you figure what the languages are? In most cases, the ending that indicates a language name is –“is” or “-ais.” If anyone wants to send in some answers, it would be interesting to see what other languages are spoken by lucht leanúna an bhlag seo.
An bhfuil Gaeilge agat? Tá / Níl
An bhfuil Spáinnis agat? Tá / Níl
An labhraíonn tú Rúisis? labhraím / ní labhraím
An bhfuil Béarla agat? Tá / Níl
An bhfuil Caistílis (Spáinnis Chaistíleach) agat? Tá / Níl
An labhraíonn tú Ceatsuais? labhraím / ní labhraím
An bhfuil Svahaílis agat? Tá / Níl
An bhfuil Laidin agat? B’fhéidir: Tá Laidin agam ach ní labhraím í.
And finally, since I can’t resist,
An bhfuil Tliongáinis agat? Tá, beagán. OR Níl, níl Tliongáinis ar bith agam.
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