Off topic: origins of one Gaelic expression
Thread poster: Vladimir Dubisskiy

Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:19
English to Russian
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May 28, 2003

It was told by my Gaelic co-worker, Doug Barr. i hope you will enjoy the story as I did:

I may have told you this one before, but anyway it's a true story...

Apparently some while back there was a man on the island of Barra who was a sailor and generally went to Haiti, so of course "Haiti" became his nickname and his wife became "Bean Haiti," "Haiti's Wife." Now, he spoke English and so did their sons - you can imagine what kind of English, given that they'd learned it from sailors - but the Mrs. was pretty much monolingual Gaelic and had only a very few words.

She apparently kept hearing her sons use a particular word, particularly before adjectives, and assumed that it meant something on the order of "very" or "quite." Well, one day the minister came to visit (Barra is a Catholic island but there are a few Protestant families) and proposed something - no one remembers quite what, but presumably some way of getting the Protestants and Catholics on better terms. Bean Haiti decided to try to impress the minister a wee bit by using her very little bit of English, and so this very proper Gaelic woman looked up and said in all genuine innocence, "Fooking guid idea, meenishter!" Which made the gossip rounds of the island in minutes flat.

Since then the expression idea Bean Haiti, with the English word "idea" and meaning "a Mrs.-Haiti idea," has come to be a Barra Gaelic-ism for "f-cking good idea." As in, last night at the Scottish Cultural Centre I was volunteering with my friend Péigi and we were both dying for a cigarette; so I said to her, "An teid sinn a-mach airson toit?" Shall we go outside for a smoke? and of course her reply was, "Idea Bean Haiti!" and off we went.

Heh heh.

D.


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Sandra Bonilla
Local time: 10:19
English to Spanish
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COOL!!! May 28, 2003

Nice story!!

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EdithK  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 10:19
Member
Gaelic to German
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Must be Scottisch Gaelic May 28, 2003

Amusing but not Irish Gaelic, if true at all at all (ask your friend about the meaning of *at all at all*. The Island of Barra, where would that be? Slightly wrong spelling (wrong transliteration) of the Irish Beara in Kerry, aor indeed in Scotland? Just intrigued finding out where this comes from.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:19
Member (2000)
Russian to English
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There is an Isle of Barra May 28, 2003

There is indeed an Isle of Barra, and it has its own website.

http://www.isleofbarra.com/


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:19
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
Scottish Gaelic indeed May 29, 2003

Being not very proficient with Gaelic varieties I believe that it's indeed Scottish Gaelic. There is Barra - smaill island though.

EdithKelly wrote:

Amusing but not Irish Gaelic, if true at all at all (ask your friend about the meaning of *at all at all*. The Island of Barra, where would that be? Slightly wrong spelling (wrong transliteration) of the Irish Beara in Kerry, aor indeed in Scotland? Just intrigued finding out where this comes from.


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Beurlach
English to Gaelic
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'Se Gàidhlig na h-Alba - It's Scottish Gaelic May 31, 2003

Hello!

I'm the guy who told Vladimir the story I got from my friend Péigi, a Barra woman.

It's Scottish Gaelic and Barra is one of the Innse-Ghall or Hebrides.

Happy day, all!

Vladimir Dubisskiy wrote:

Being not very proficient with Gaelic varieties I believe that it's indeed Scottish Gaelic. There is Barra - smaill island though.

EdithKelly wrote:

Amusing but not Irish Gaelic, if true at all at all (ask your friend about the meaning of *at all at all*. The Island of Barra, where would that be? Slightly wrong spelling (wrong transliteration) of the Irish Beara in Kerry, aor indeed in Scotland? Just intrigued finding out where this comes from.


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