Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Treasured Tomes

One of my most treasured possessions is a book that I can’t read: a Scottish Gaelic bible published in 1826. I'm not a religious person and the bible is not a family heirloom. In fact, I bought it on Ebay from a very nice bookseller in Cape Breton. But it was genealogical research that sparked my interest in it.

I put in my winning bid after determining from census data that a branch of my family had lived in the region of Scotland where the bible was distributed, and that their first language was Gaelic. The fact that they could have read it was enough to imbue it with a little magic in my eyes.

Shortly after I bought it, I signed up for Scottish Gaelic lessons. Alas I didn’t stick with them long enough to retain much of what I learned. I remember only the bare essentials (that "Hallo. Ciamar a tha thu?" means “Hello. How are you?") and a few obscure details (that the literal English translation of the phrase that means “I have a hangover” is “I have the eyes of a lobster”).

But having once again unearthed my Scottish Gaelic bible, I’m planning to sign up for more lessons in the fall. In the meantime, I resolve to locate a book-repair person who can advise me on how best to preserve this fragile tome.


Gata said...

That is so gorgeous. I'd love to add some Scottish Gaelic to my library. All I have is a Teach Yourself cassette from when I tried to learn about ten years ago. All I remembered was "Ciamar a tha thu?", so it was funny to see that phrase again.

Hope you enjoy your treasure, and it's nice to see Gaelic still alive in some corners of the world.

Jordan said...


Julie said...

How do you pronounce it?