An diofar eadar na mùthaidhean a rinneadh air "Interrogatives or Who the what why?"

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(The history of interrogatives)
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Interrogatives are those little words that introduce questions. Like ''who, what, why, which'' in English or ''có, càite, ciamar'' in Gaelic. On the whole these are pretty straight forward but let's take a quick detour into history first, as there are some historical oddities which are bound to confuse you at some point.
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Interrogatives are those little words that introduce questions, like ''who, what, why, which'' in English or ''<span style="color: #008000;">có, càite, ciamar</span>'' in Gaelic. On the whole these are pretty straight forward but first let's take a quick detour into history, as there are some historical oddities which are bound to confuse you at some point.
  
Interrogatives are not the most stable of words, strange as that may seem. Think about it, no one uses ''wheretofore'' or ''whence'' any more for example. So they can fall out of use, fuse or do other funny stuff. A lot of that has happened to Gaelic over the centuries and that is the reason why some of the usages around interrogatives in Gaelic seem downright weird. Like asking ''có ás a tha thu'' when ''có'' is normally reserved for ''who''. Or why people in Lewis say [deː] when everyone else says [dʲeː]... So, without much further ado, here's a family tree:
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==Interrogatives followed by a relative clause==
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This is by far the largest group of interrogatives. Well, 5 of 6:
  
[[File:interrogatives.png|center]]
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{| style="width: 80%;" border="0"
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! align="left" | Interrogative
 +
! align="left" | Meaning
 +
! align="left" | Example
 +
|-
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| <span style="color: #008000;">có (a)</span> || who? || <span style="color: #008000;">có thuirt seo?</span>, <span style="color: #008000;">'''có''' an neach '''a''' bhuail mi?</span>
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|-
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| <span style="color: #008000;">(gu) dé (a)</span> || what? || <span style="color: #008000;">(gu) dé thuirt thu?</span>, <span style="color: #008000;">'''(gu) dé''' an rud '''a''' thuirt thu?</span>
 +
|-
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| <span style="color: #008000;">ciamar a</span> || how? || <span style="color: #008000;">ciamar a bha sin?</span>
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|-
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| <span style="color: #008000;">cuin a</span> || when? || <span style="color: #008000;">cuin a bha sin?</span>
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|-
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| <span style="color: #008000;">carson a</span> || why? || <span style="color: #008000;">carson a bha sin?</span>
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|-
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|}
  
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So the only thing that's potentially confusing here is that the relative particle <span style="color: #008000;">a</span> which follows '''all''' of these interrogatives is dropped both in speech and writing if it immediately follows an interrogative that ends in a vowel, so <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> and <span style="color: #008000;">(gu) dé</span>. But note (see the second example) that if the sentence structure forces the <span style="color: #008000;">a</span> into a position where it can't be gobbled up by the interrogative's vowel, it's there both in speech and writing.
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==Interrogatives followed by a dependent clause==
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Well, technically it's just one interrogative, <span style="color: #008000;">càit(e)</span>, which takes the dependent form of a verb:
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* <span style="color: #008000;">càit a bheil thu?</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">càit an robh thu?</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">càit am bi thu?</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">càite fon ghrèin an robh thu?</span>
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As with the others, the final <span style="color: #008000;">-e</span> drops off in speech and writing if there's another vowel right next to it but where it's "buffered" by consonants (see the last example), it sticks around.
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==The history of interrogatives==
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Interrogatives are not the most stable of words, strange as that may seem. Think about it; for example, no one uses ''wheretofore'' or ''whence'' any more. So, interrogatives can fall out of use, fuse, or do other funny stuff. A lot of that has happened in Gaelic over the centuries.  For those reasons, some of the usages around interrogatives in Gaelic seem downright weird, such as asking ''<span style="color: #008000;">có ás a tha thu</span>'' when ''<span style="color: #008000;">có</span>'' is normally reserved for ''who'' or why people in Lewis say [deː] when everyone else says [dʲeː].
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So it turns out that Old Irish was thin on ready-made interrogatives compared to other languages. There basically was one question word (<span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span>) which had to cover a lot of ground. Of course it being Old Irish, it started off by making things more complicated by factoring in stressed and unstressed forms and gender and number. So first off, there was the basic stressed form:
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span> "who, what, which". This was the masculine form and it would prefix <span style="color: #6600CC;">h</span> to a following word. In the plural, this gives <span style="color: #6600CC;">citné</span> "what/what are they?"
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cesí, cessi, cisí</span> - same meanings, but used with feminine nouns. This one caused lenition.
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cid, ced</span> - same meanings, used with neuter nouns. In the plural
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and the unstressed forms
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">ci/ce/ca</span> "who, what, which"
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First off, as you may already have wondered based one <span style="color: #6600CC;">citné</span> "who/what are they?", all of these are actually a combination of an interrogative and the copula verb, so all of these forms technically are "who/what/which is".
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So inflection and all that aside, the way in which Old Irish made this work was by combining <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span> with a noun. Which should feel very familiar, as many modern Gaelic interrogative are still blatantly obvious combinations of a <span style="color: #008000;">c</span> and some noun, like the <span style="color: #008000;">àit(e)</span> <span style="color: #008000;">càit(e)</span>. So you get things like
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">ce méit, cía mméit</span> (our modern <span style="color: #008000;">co mheud</span>) "how many?"
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía airm, c'airm</span> (<span style="color: #6600CC;">airm</span> being an old word for "place) "where?"
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">ce chruth</span> "how?"
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cissi chonar</span> (<span style="color: #6600CC;">conar</span> "way, path", which still appears on Uist and Barra as <span style="color: #008000;">conair</span> with the same meaning) "which way?"
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* <span style="color: #6600CC;">cissi aimser</span> "when, what time?"
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What about <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> though? Well, in later stages of Old and Middle Irish, <span style="color: #6600CC;">ía</span> regularly developed into <span style="color: #6600CC;">á</span> (for instance, also in <span style="color: #6600CC;">día</span> » <span style="color: #6600CC;">dá</span> "two"), so we got <span style="color: #6600CC;">cá</span> and from there's it was only a bunny hop to <span style="color: #008000;">có</span>. You can see the intermediate stage by peeking over to Modern Irish which was <span style="color: #6600CC;">cá as</span> for "where from?", the cognate of our <span style="color: #008000;">có ás</span>. So <span style="color: #008000;">có ás</span> isn't particularly weird because the <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> is basically just the modern version of the old <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span> "who, what, which" plus <span style="color: #008000;">ás</span> "from". And by itself, <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> is the heir of <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span>, though in modern Gaelic this has largely dropped all other meanings apart from "who" except where it combines with a noun.
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The rest of the modern set of question words is slightly different from that of Old Irish but overall, pretty obvious in its derivation:
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cuin</span> "when?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">ùine</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">carson</span> "why?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">air</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">son</span> (a now pretty obsolete word for "account, sake")
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* <span style="color: #008000;">ciamar</span> "how?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">mar</span>, from Old Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">immar</span> "like, as"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">có mheud</span> "how many?" « <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">meud</span>. The now rare Argyll variant <span style="color: #008000;">ce meud</span> is even closer to the Old Irish form
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cé</span> "who?" This is pretty archaic now in Gaelic but it also is from the same root
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The neuter form <span style="color: #6600CC;">cid</span> survives in the forms <span style="color: #008000;">ciod</span> and <span style="color: #008000;">ciodh</span>, both meaning "what?". This also appears in <span style="color: #008000;">ciod thuige</span> "why?" (Old Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">cid thége</span>.
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Some regions use the form <span style="color: #008000;">cia</span> instead of <span style="color: #008000;">có</span> in front of a noun, but the basic principle of formation is the same:
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia meud</span> "how many?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia fhad</span> "how long/far?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia lìon</span> "how many?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia minig</span> "how often?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia (bh)uaithe</span> "whence?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia ás</span> "where from?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cia an taobh</span> "whither?"
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Some use the very reduced form <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> and <span style="color: #008000;">ce</span>:
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* <span style="color: #008000;">c' fheadh</span> "how far?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">feadh</span> "extent"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">c' ainm</span> "what name?"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cuime</span> "about whom/what?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">uime</span> "about him/it", an inflected form of <span style="color: #008000;">mu</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cuige</span> "why?" « <span style="color: #008000;">c'</span> + <span style="color: #008000;">uige</span> "to him/it", an inflected form of <span style="color: #008000;">gu</span>
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* <span style="color: #008000;">ce ann</span> "wherein?"
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A few words which also carry a form of the old <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span> at heart are a little less obvious:
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* <span style="color: #008000;">ge be</span> "whatever", in older Gaelic <span style="color: #008000;">cibe</span> « <span style="color: #6600CC;">ci</span> + <span style="color: #6600CC;">bíth</span> "existence"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">cionnas</span> "how, in what manner?" « a direct inheritance from Old Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">cindas</span>, from <span style="color: #6600CC;">indas</span> "method, way", with the common <span style="color: #6600CC;">nd</span> to <span style="color: #008000;">nn</span> change
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* <span style="color: #008000;">dé</span> "what?". Now the emphatic "fuller" form of this is <span style="color: #008000;">gu dé</span> and this itself is a re-interpreted form of <span style="color: #008000;">ciod e</span> (which is why Lewis <span style="color: #008000;">dè</span> with broad /d/ is actually the more conservative (i.e. historical) pronunciation), which is the Old Irish neuter form <span style="color: #008000;">cid</span> plus a pronoun.
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* <span style="color: #008000;">ge-tà</span>, from older <span style="color: #008000;">ged tà</span>, which is from Middle Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">ciod tá</span> "though"
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* <span style="color: #008000;">creud</span> "what?", from Old Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">crét</span>, which is <span style="color: #6600CC;">c</span> + <span style="color: #6600CC;">rét</span> "thing" (modern <span style="color: #008000;">rud</span>)
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In Old Irish these interrogatives were followed by relative clauses, which is the reason we still do that today.
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==But <span style="color: #008000;">càite</span> isn't follwed by a relative clause!==
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Indeed, what about <span style="color: #008000;">càite</span>... So why is it we say <span style="color: #008000;">có (a) chanas seo?</span>, <span style="color: #008000;">carson a chanas tu seo?</span>, <span style="color: #008000;">ciamar a chanas tu seo?</span> and <span style="color: #008000;">cuin a chanas tu seo?</span> but <span style="color: #008000;">càit an can thu seo?</span>. Excellent question. In fact it's so good, I had to email my old prof and ask because I didn't have a scooby (I always just accepted that that's how it was, but then I'm more into sounds than word order).
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But then something fun happened in Middle Irish. It had a relative construction <span style="color: #6600CC;">áit i raibhe sé</span> "the place in which it was" (<span style="color: #6600CC;">raibhe</span> being the ancestor of <span style="color: #008000;">robh</span> and <span style="color: #6600CC;">i</span> being the preposition "in" which eventually morphed into <span style="color: #008000;">(ann) an</span>. You still get the same sort of construction in modern Gaelic of course, <span style="color: #008000;">an t-àite san robh e</span>, naturally with a dependent verb form. Now to turn that into a question, slap on <span style="color: #6600CC;">c'</span> (the pre-vowel form of <span style="color: #6600CC;">ce</span>) and you get <span style="color: #6600CC;">c'áit i raibhe sé</span>. Over time, this fused into one word <span style="color: #008000;">càite</span>, followed by a dependent verb because that's what this construction required back in the day, even though it no longer looks like it used to at all and even though it doesn't behave like the other question words.
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The memory of Gaelic for things that were there a looong time ago eh, what can you say?
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==An aside==
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Old Irish <span style="color: #6600CC;">cía</span> (and of course its descendents) are part of the group of words which share a common ancestor with words in other Indo-European languages - even though that's not obvious at first glance. <span style="color: #6600CC;">Cía</span> goes back to a Proto-Celtic root <span style="color: #6600CC;">*kʷēs</span> (from where Welsh gets <span style="color: #6600CC;">pwy</span> "who?" when [[Minding Your Ps and Qs or Why Porcom is a Headache|kʷ became p in Brythonic]]), which in turn comes from Indo-European <span style="color: #6600CC;">*kʷis</span> "who, what?". Now those of you with French or Latin are probably sitting up and going "oh!" - because this is indeed the word from which Latin gets <span style="color: #6600CC;">quis</span> "who, what?" and French <span style="color: #6600CC;">qui</span>.
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But funnily enough, it even throws an arc over to English, because <span style="color: #6600CC;">*kʷis</span> became <span style="color: #6600CC;">hwaz</span> in Proto-Germanic (also meaning "who, what?"). This came with a full set of fairly complicated inflections for lots of cases, three genders and so on but the masculine nominative singular <span style="color: #6600CC;">hwaz</span> became <span style="color: #6600CC;">hwa</span> (now all the Scots speakers can sit up and go "oh!") and eventually <span style="color: #6600CC;">who</span>. The neuter paradigm of <span style="color: #6600CC;">hwaz</span> first gave us Old English <span style="color: #6600CC;">hwæt</span> and then of course <span style="color: #6600CC;">what</span>.
  
 
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{{BeaganGramair}}
 
{{BeaganGramair}}

Mùthadh on 23:20, 2 dhen t-Samhain 2021

Interrogatives are those little words that introduce questions, like who, what, why, which in English or có, càite, ciamar in Gaelic. On the whole these are pretty straight forward but first let's take a quick detour into history, as there are some historical oddities which are bound to confuse you at some point.

Interrogatives followed by a relative clause

This is by far the largest group of interrogatives. Well, 5 of 6:

Interrogative Meaning Example
có (a) who? có thuirt seo?, an neach a bhuail mi?
(gu) dé (a) what? (gu) dé thuirt thu?, (gu) dé an rud a thuirt thu?
ciamar a how? ciamar a bha sin?
cuin a when? cuin a bha sin?
carson a why? carson a bha sin?

So the only thing that's potentially confusing here is that the relative particle a which follows all of these interrogatives is dropped both in speech and writing if it immediately follows an interrogative that ends in a vowel, so and (gu) dé. But note (see the second example) that if the sentence structure forces the a into a position where it can't be gobbled up by the interrogative's vowel, it's there both in speech and writing.

Interrogatives followed by a dependent clause

Well, technically it's just one interrogative, càit(e), which takes the dependent form of a verb:

  • càit a bheil thu?
  • càit an robh thu?
  • càit am bi thu?
  • càite fon ghrèin an robh thu?

As with the others, the final -e drops off in speech and writing if there's another vowel right next to it but where it's "buffered" by consonants (see the last example), it sticks around.

The history of interrogatives

Interrogatives are not the most stable of words, strange as that may seem. Think about it; for example, no one uses wheretofore or whence any more. So, interrogatives can fall out of use, fuse, or do other funny stuff. A lot of that has happened in Gaelic over the centuries. For those reasons, some of the usages around interrogatives in Gaelic seem downright weird, such as asking có ás a tha thu when is normally reserved for who or why people in Lewis say [deː] when everyone else says [dʲeː].

So it turns out that Old Irish was thin on ready-made interrogatives compared to other languages. There basically was one question word (cía) which had to cover a lot of ground. Of course it being Old Irish, it started off by making things more complicated by factoring in stressed and unstressed forms and gender and number. So first off, there was the basic stressed form:

  • cía "who, what, which". This was the masculine form and it would prefix h to a following word. In the plural, this gives citné "what/what are they?"
  • cesí, cessi, cisí - same meanings, but used with feminine nouns. This one caused lenition.
  • cid, ced - same meanings, used with neuter nouns. In the plural

and the unstressed forms

  • ci/ce/ca "who, what, which"

First off, as you may already have wondered based one citné "who/what are they?", all of these are actually a combination of an interrogative and the copula verb, so all of these forms technically are "who/what/which is".

So inflection and all that aside, the way in which Old Irish made this work was by combining cía with a noun. Which should feel very familiar, as many modern Gaelic interrogative are still blatantly obvious combinations of a c and some noun, like the àit(e) càit(e). So you get things like

  • ce méit, cía mméit (our modern co mheud) "how many?"
  • cía airm, c'airm (airm being an old word for "place) "where?"
  • ce chruth "how?"
  • cissi chonar (conar "way, path", which still appears on Uist and Barra as conair with the same meaning) "which way?"
  • cissi aimser "when, what time?"

What about though? Well, in later stages of Old and Middle Irish, ía regularly developed into á (for instance, also in día » "two"), so we got and from there's it was only a bunny hop to . You can see the intermediate stage by peeking over to Modern Irish which was cá as for "where from?", the cognate of our có ás. So có ás isn't particularly weird because the is basically just the modern version of the old cía "who, what, which" plus ás "from". And by itself, is the heir of cía, though in modern Gaelic this has largely dropped all other meanings apart from "who" except where it combines with a noun.

The rest of the modern set of question words is slightly different from that of Old Irish but overall, pretty obvious in its derivation:

  • cuin "when?" « c' + ùine
  • carson "why?" « c' + air + son (a now pretty obsolete word for "account, sake")
  • ciamar "how?" « c' + mar, from Old Irish immar "like, as"
  • có mheud "how many?" «  + meud. The now rare Argyll variant ce meud is even closer to the Old Irish form
  • "who?" This is pretty archaic now in Gaelic but it also is from the same root

The neuter form cid survives in the forms ciod and ciodh, both meaning "what?". This also appears in ciod thuige "why?" (Old Irish cid thége.

Some regions use the form cia instead of in front of a noun, but the basic principle of formation is the same:

  • cia meud "how many?"
  • cia fhad "how long/far?"
  • cia lìon "how many?"
  • cia minig "how often?"
  • cia (bh)uaithe "whence?"
  • cia ás "where from?"
  • cia an taobh "whither?"

Some use the very reduced form c' and ce:

  • c' fheadh "how far?" « c' + feadh "extent"
  • c' ainm "what name?"
  • cuime "about whom/what?" « c' + uime "about him/it", an inflected form of mu
  • cuige "why?" « c' + uige "to him/it", an inflected form of gu
  • ce ann "wherein?"

A few words which also carry a form of the old cía at heart are a little less obvious:

  • ge be "whatever", in older Gaelic cibe « ci + bíth "existence"
  • cionnas "how, in what manner?" « a direct inheritance from Old Irish cindas, from indas "method, way", with the common nd to nn change
  • "what?". Now the emphatic "fuller" form of this is gu dé and this itself is a re-interpreted form of ciod e (which is why Lewis with broad /d/ is actually the more conservative (i.e. historical) pronunciation), which is the Old Irish neuter form cid plus a pronoun.
  • ge-tà, from older ged tà, which is from Middle Irish ciod tá "though"
  • creud "what?", from Old Irish crét, which is c + rét "thing" (modern rud)

In Old Irish these interrogatives were followed by relative clauses, which is the reason we still do that today.

But càite isn't follwed by a relative clause!

Indeed, what about càite... So why is it we say có (a) chanas seo?, carson a chanas tu seo?, ciamar a chanas tu seo? and cuin a chanas tu seo? but càit an can thu seo?. Excellent question. In fact it's so good, I had to email my old prof and ask because I didn't have a scooby (I always just accepted that that's how it was, but then I'm more into sounds than word order).

But then something fun happened in Middle Irish. It had a relative construction áit i raibhe sé "the place in which it was" (raibhe being the ancestor of robh and i being the preposition "in" which eventually morphed into (ann) an. You still get the same sort of construction in modern Gaelic of course, an t-àite san robh e, naturally with a dependent verb form. Now to turn that into a question, slap on c' (the pre-vowel form of ce) and you get c'áit i raibhe sé. Over time, this fused into one word càite, followed by a dependent verb because that's what this construction required back in the day, even though it no longer looks like it used to at all and even though it doesn't behave like the other question words.

The memory of Gaelic for things that were there a looong time ago eh, what can you say?

An aside

Old Irish cía (and of course its descendents) are part of the group of words which share a common ancestor with words in other Indo-European languages - even though that's not obvious at first glance. Cía goes back to a Proto-Celtic root *kʷēs (from where Welsh gets pwy "who?" when kʷ became p in Brythonic), which in turn comes from Indo-European *kʷis "who, what?". Now those of you with French or Latin are probably sitting up and going "oh!" - because this is indeed the word from which Latin gets quis "who, what?" and French qui.

But funnily enough, it even throws an arc over to English, because *kʷis became hwaz in Proto-Germanic (also meaning "who, what?"). This came with a full set of fairly complicated inflections for lots of cases, three genders and so on but the masculine nominative singular hwaz became hwa (now all the Scots speakers can sit up and go "oh!") and eventually who. The neuter paradigm of hwaz first gave us Old English hwæt and then of course what.



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