Mu

Ciamar a chanas mi.... / How do I say...
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Mu

Unread post by Mairead » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:08 am

Hello, this little word is something I haven't been able to figure out yet, as every time I think I've got it, I see something that confuses me. My understanding is that this word can mean "about" in both senses of "concerning" and "around". (The latter usage is something I'm not sure about because we don't really say that in American English.) My main priority is in using the "concerning" definition, as it's something I come across a lot when I'm trying to write in Gaelic.

I sometimes see mu dheidhinn, such as on Julie Fowlis's website where she says "Mu dheidhinn Julie" for "About Julie". Other times I see mu all on its own. Still other times, I have been told to use mun as a contraction with a definite article. I can tell there are rules, but I am hoping for some clarity. If, for example, I wanted to say, "I learned about a lot of South American subjects", could I say "Dh'ionnsaich mi mu mòran chuspairean na h-Aimeaireaga a Deas" or would I say "Dh'ionnsaich mi mu dheidhinn mòran chuspairean na h-Aimeaireaga a Deas" or perhaps something else?* Or for something simpler, "Bha mi a' leughadh mu cheòl" or "Bha mi a' leughadh mu dheidhinn cheòl"?

Also, I think mu lenites, but when you have [word that lenites] + mòran + noun, do you lenite both mòran and the noun, or do you skip lenition for one? Or does that differ depending on the word?

Tapadh leibh; I would appreciate getting some clarity on how to use this word and express "about".

* If there are other errors with this sentence, feel free to let me know, but my main concern right now is getting "mu" straight and this was just an example.


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Re: Mu

Unread post by Níall Beag » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:25 am

"mu dheidhinn" always means "about" in the sense of "on the topic of", so "about 3" would always be "mu trì". The boundary between mu and mu dheidhinn for a subject is still a bit fuzzy to me, and I probably overuse mu dheidhinn.

However, just to confuse you further, there's also "air", because you don't think "about" something in Gaelic, you think "on" it. You don't give a speech "about" something, but "on" it.

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Re: Mu

Unread post by An Gobaire » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:41 am

I am not expert in Gaelic grammer and so will not be able to cover all bases but here are a few points to note:

Mu dheidhinn + subject / person = About someone

- mu is used, colloquially or otherwise, as an abbreviated form of mu dheidhinn, and it lenites the following noun.

Mu dheidhinn takes the genitive case after it, whereas the abbreviated form mu does not.

So if it was About Seumas it would be: Mu dheidhinn Sheumais or Mu Sheumas

a book about the Highlands - leabhar mu dheidhinn na Gàidhealtachd (genitive case) / leabhar mun Ghàidhealtachd (prepositional case)

about a boy - mu dheidhinn balaich / mu bhalach about the boy - mu dheidhinn a' bhalaich / mun bhalach
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Re: Mu

Unread post by An Gobaire » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:56 am

Also

Dh'ionnsaich mi mòran mu dheidhinn na h-Ameireagaidh a Deas. (very correct grammar, but more and more, the full genitive form is falling into disuse and we get "mu dheidhinn Ameireaga a Deas" or even more commonly:

Dh'ionnsaich mi mòran mu Ameireaga a Deas.

cuspairean is not needed here.

Alternative "a thaobh + genitive"

"Dh'ionnsaich mi mòran (a) thaobh na h-Ameireagaidh a Deas." or more commonly "a thaobh Ameireaga a Deas".

Bha mi a' leughadh mu cheòl. / Bha mi a' leughadh mu dheidhinn ciùil. (genitive case, gen.form of ceòl - ciùil)

a book about music - leabhar mu dheidhinn ciùil (very correct); you will probably come across "mu dheidhinn ceòl" more commonly in colloquial usage.
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Re: Mu

Unread post by Mairead » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:57 pm

Oh, glè mhath! I will be writing all of this down in my notes. I forgot to ask about this one--I've also seen mu thimcheall. How does that fit into all of the above?

So basically what I'm getting from this is that it's okay to use mu and mu dheidhinn interchangeably as long as I remember that one takes the genitive and one takes a lenited nominative. And that I should also keep air in mind. With air, can it be used interchangeably with mu and mu dheidhinn (in this context), or does it have a narrower application? What I mean to say is, could I say, "Bha mi a' leughadh air a' cheòl" instead of "mu cheòl"? Or would that not sound right?

Oh, and which of these do you think would be the best for a research topic? For example, with the verb rannsaich, would you say, 'Rannsaich mi fasan' (no 'about'), 'Rannsaich mi mu (/etc) fhasan' or 'Rannsaich mi air an fhasan' with the aim of saying 'I researched fashion'? (Or none of the above?)
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Re: Mu

Unread post by An Gobaire » Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:06 pm

air means "about" when combined with "think" (smaoinich)..but it would be better to tr*nsl*t* it as "of" in English.


smaoinich air seo - think of this

air particularyl means "of, about" when combined with words connected to thought "a' smaoineachadh, a' beachdachadh, a' meòrachadh" + air, or oral action such as "bruidhinn air"/

Tha mi a' leughadh mu (dheidhinn) cannot be replaced by air here. Same with your other examples.

mu thimcheall is used in to mean "about/concerning" and used rather than mu dheidhinn. Often just timcheall in some dialects. Like mu dheidhinn, it takes the genitive, as does timcheall on its own.
  • a' bruidhinn mu thimcheall ghothaichean teicnigeach - speaking about technical matters
    a' smaoineachadh air an rud a thuirt thu - thinking about the thing you said
    a' leughadh mu dheidhinn / mu thimcheall shìthichean - reading about fairies
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Re: Mu

Unread post by poor_mouse » Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:03 pm

An Gobaire wrote:Mu dheidhinn takes the genitive case after it...

So if it was About Seumas it would be: Mu dheidhinn Sheumais

about a boy - mu dheidhinn balaich

Why mu dheidhinn Sheumais (with lenition), but mu dheidhinn balaich (without)?
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Re: Mu

Unread post by Zwalla28 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:52 pm

I think that has to do with Proper nouns counting as definite ones.
Bhiodh gaol agam oirbh gu bràth, ma cheartaicheadh sibh na mearachdan sa' phost os cionn!
Sgeul aigeantach mòr ri linn,
Gu'm bi neart, agus ceart, mar ri treòir,
Do'n fhear sheasas còir an rìgh.

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Re: Mu

Unread post by An Gobaire » Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:45 am

In the genitive/possessive cases, male personal names lenite where possible, and slenderise where they can, but female personal names only slenderise, where slenderisation is possible.

i.e

Seumas - taigh Sheumais
Mòrag - taigh Mòraig

mu dheidhinn Seònaig
mu dheidhinn Ailein
mu dheidhinn Phàdraig
mu dhèidhinn Sìne

etc.
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Re: Mu

Unread post by poor_mouse » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:31 am

And if it's not a personal name, it would not be lenited?
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Re: Mu

Unread post by An Gobaire » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:48 pm

Correct. Unless definite article is involved.
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Re: Mu

Unread post by poor_mouse » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:12 pm

Mòran taing!
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Re: Mu

Unread post by Seonaidh » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:08 pm

But "mu" on its own lenites everything that can.

NB: if on occasion you think a native speaker might be saying "mu deidhinn", they're probably saying "ma deidhinn" (short for "mu a deidhinn"), where the "a" refers to something gramatically feminine. An ùine - inns dhomh ma deidhinn!!

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Re: Mu

Unread post by GunChleoc » Sat Jul 26, 2014 12:07 pm

mu only lenites the word immediately after it, just like fo, glè, deagh, ...

if you have mu + article, the article then lenites the noun and adjective.

"mu" is also used to express uncertainty -e.g. "Bha mu 50 ann" - there were about 50.

timcheall means the area around some place/time - bha e a' bocadh mu thimcheall - it was bouncing around

bha e timcheall orm - it was around me (surrounding me)

mu thimcheall also acts as sort of a doubling, like deidhinn in mu dheidhinn.
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