Tag Archives: Gàidhlig


Another thing that occupies my time besides raising two teenagers and writing is Slighe nan Gaidheal. I’m still recovering from the Seattle Fèis the week of June 9 to 15.

“Fèis” is a Scottish Gaelic word meaning festival. (Not to be confused with “feis” which means something rather different :-)

The event was sponsored by Slighe nan Gaidheal, a non-profit that creates ongoing language and music programs in the Pacific Northwest, and puts on the Fèis in alternating years at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.

Fort Worden State Park Bunker

My twins looking out at the beach from the Fort Worden Bunker

The Seattle Fèis is amazing, and it could not happen without dozens of volunteers. I was the Registrar in 2010 and 2012, and it was a huge amount of work. I am so grateful to this year’s team of dedicated, hard-working volunteers.

Even though I wasn’t on the Fèis planning committee this year, I was involved because I’m Slighe’s (volunteer) treasurer. That’s kept me busy! (btw, unless you have an iPhone, Intuit GoPayment is a horrible pain in the ass, in my opinion.)

Volunteering is a wonderful way to support the things you love. How do you volunteer your time?

An Sgeul Beag (The Small Story)

In my last blog post I wrote about writing intentions and goals for 2013. I have other goals unrelated to writing – like getting more organized and the standard improve-my-health-through-diet-and-exercise. Let’s not forget my ongoing goal of raising two pre-teens to eventually reach their full potentials and be (hopefully) less narcissistic than I was at their age.

Another goal I have is to improve upon my understanding of the Gáidhlig language. Luckily for me, my friend and Gáidhlig teacher Geoff Sammons has thought of a way for me to work on my Gáidhlig and for both of us to blog more frequently. (Yay Geoff!)

Geoff started a story, in Gáidhlig – on his blog, and I added my best shot at the translation in a comment. Now I’m going to post what he wrote plus my translation, then add a few more lines in English. Hopefully we can keep this up, and write a little narrative together.

Sin agad e! (There you have it!) Blog posts, Gáidhlig learning and storytelling fun all in one;-)

Happy Writing!



An sgeul beag ùr airson Miriah

’S e oidhche dorcha ’s stoirmeil a bh’ ann. Choimhead a’ bhànrigh a-mach uinneag an caisteal ris an gailleann, dh’fheitheamh i ris an rìgh. Chuala i a-rithist mu dheidhinn an rìgh agus ceannard an fhreiceadain.

Miriah’s translation:

The new short story for Miriah

It was a dark and stormy night. The queen watched the storm from her window in the castle, and waited for the king. She had heard (or heard rumors?) about the king and the leader (of their personal?) guard.

Miriah’s addition:

Sir Iain had served on the personal guard of king Niall’s father, the old king, during the war. Queen Siobhan’s marriage to King Niall established peace between the two kingdoms. But after five years, Sir Iain still did not trust Queen Siobhan and insisted on meeting with the king in private.

And next: Geoff’s addition, anns a Gáidhlig??

Gàidhlig side effect

photo taken on the Isle of Skye 18 July 2011

View on the Isle of Skye, taken on our July 2011 holiday

As mentioned on my “About” page, I’m a Gàidhlig learner. Sadly, I’m not very good at it, so far. The partner of one of my teachers suggested that I try writing in Gàidhlig. If only! I can barely write the simplest of sentences, so far.

The Seattle Fèis is coming up very quickly. Four whole days of Scottish language and culture with tradition bearers in the areas of language, song, pipes, harp, and fiddle, including native Gàidhlig speakers from Scotland and Cape Breton! I am SO looking forward to it.

What does learning Gàidhlig have to do with improving my writing (in English)?

An interesting side effect of learning (or in my case attempting to learn) Gàidhlig, is that it has made me look at the English language a little differently. Not only do I think about grammar in a more analytical way (verb, noun, adverb, adjective, preposition, dependent and independent clauses, dative case, and genitive case) but I am more aware of the way language influences the way I perceive the world.

In English the “basic” sentence structure is Subject – Verb – Object. To form a question, the order is changed to Verb – Subject – Object.

Gaelic languages (Irish, Welsh, Gàidhlig) are verb-centric. In most sentences the verb comes first, Verb – Subject – Object. Every verb has different forms that indicate tense, and whether it is positive or negative, statement or question. (Sentences using question words – who, what, how, how many, why, where – are handled a little differently). There is no word for “yes” or “no”, you answer a question with a negative or positive form of the verb used in the question.

For example, for this question:

A bheil thu sgìth? (Are you tired?)

The positive answer can be: “Tha” (yes) or “Tha mi sgìth” (I am tired).

The negative answer can be: “Chan eil” (no) or “Chan eil mi sgìth” (I am not tired).

Another example:

An do sgrìobh thu an-diugh? (Did you write today?)

Positive answer: “Sgrìobh” (yes) or “Sgriobh mi an-diugh” (I wrote today).

Negative answer: “Cha do sgrìobh” (didn’t write) or “Cha do sgrìobh mi an-diugh” (I didn’t write today).


As a writer, I wonder if thinking in English influences me to care more about who or what is doing something, rather than what they’re doing. Is that why I have to make a conscious effort to avoid lazy adverbs and come up with good verbs in my attempts at writing?

If I ever get to the point in my learning where I can think in Gaelic, maybe I’ll see the world a little differently. At the Seattle Fèis, I’m looking forward to asking the native Gàidhlig speakers how they think.