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Metadata for text 11
No. words in text59556
Title Am Fear Meadhanach
Author Caimbeul, Alasdair
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1992
Date Of Language 1950-1999
Publisher Druim Fraoich
Place Published Ross-shire
Volume N/A
Location National, academic, and local libraries
Geographical Origins Lewis
Register Literature, Prose
Alternative Author Name Alasdair Campbell
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 20.3cm x 14.4cm
Short Title Am Fear Meadhanach
Reference Details EUL, Celtic Library: LI G Cai
Number Of Pages 109
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context Alasdair Caimbeul (Alasdair a’ Bhocsair) was born in 1941, and brought up in the township of Dàil bho Dheas in Ness, in the north of Lewis. His father was the poet, Aonghas Caimbeul, more commonly known as Am Bocsair, whose collected works were published in Bàrdachd a’ Bhocsair in 1978. Alasdair’s father died in 1949, while Alasdair was still a boy. Alasdair’s brother, Tormod (Tormod a’ Bhocsair, 1942-2015), was also an author and poet, his best known work being Deireadh an Fhoghair, published in 1979. Alasdair is also a well-known Gaelic playwright.
Contents A novel in six unnamed chapters, set in the present day, about the middle son, Murchadh, of a family of four, from rural Lewis. At the beginning of the story, Murchadh is 48 years old, and has just returned to Lewis with his wife, having been a secondary school teacher in the Lowlands for the last 25 or so years. He is a quiet, shy, solitary man, who has recently been ill, and who looks much older than his years. He is offered a job at a local secondary school for a few days every week, which he accepts. He does not get on with his wife anymore, and does not associate much with other people, whom he generally finds superficial or annoying. The story, written in the first person, details Murchadh’s life in Lewis as he meets people he knew when he was a child, discusses his fellow teachers, and recalls memories from his youth of his friends and family. Throughout the story, Murchadh becomes more and more sick and, while spending a week in hospital, is told that he has to leave the school, and that he may only have six to eight weeks to live. Around this time, Murchadh’s older brother, Dòmhnall, a successful minister in the Free Church of Scotland, returns to the island with his wife and three teenage sons for a holiday. They stay in the house that Murchadh and Dòmhnall grew up in. When Murchadh visits, he and Dòmhnall take the opportunity to get to know one another again.
Language This novel is an excellent example of colloquial, Lewis (Ness) Gaelic from the mid-to-late twentieth century. There are many examples of direct speech and as the novel is written in the first person, the style is informal throughout.

The text is full of Gaelic idioms, some more common than others, such as aig àird a’ chinn ‘at the top of his voice’, do dhubh no do dhath ‘(your) hide nor (your) hair’, leig mi dhi ‘I let her’, and ’s gun thu gu math ‘and you not well’.

There are also examples of words like duine and càil, in the sense of ‘anybody’ and ‘anything’, being used without an explicit negative verb to mean ‘nobody’ and ‘nothing’, e.g. Cò tha staigh? Duine ach sinn fhìn ‘nobody but us (is in)’ and càil a mhath dhut a dhol thuige ‘(it is) no good going to him’, and of the shortened past tense participle an do, to na, e.g. Na chaidil thu? and càite na rugadh mi.

The text also shows good examples of the way in which English verbs are Gaelicised in Lewis by using, as the Gaelic root, the English present participles rather than the English root. For example, in Lewis, ‘phoning’ and ‘shaving’ are a’ fònaigeadh and a’ sèibhigeadh, rather than a’ fònadh and a’ sèibheadh as in some other dialects. There are examples of this type of verb formation throughout the text.

There are many English words in the text: some given in English spelling, others rendered in Gaelic spelling, and many in a hybrid form, for example modar-buic, boilearsuit, peatrol, suidse, traidhfil, fàileadh an t-scent aice, na h-uncails, tron an t-suimeant, còrdaidh e glè mhath ris spin a ghabhail, cha bhiodh e fiot, feuchaidh mi mo bhest, an leadaidh, cliob, iogart, tòidh. Translations of English idioms can also be found in the text, for example Dia ga mo shàbhaladh! ‘God save me’.
Orthography The text contains a wealth of Lewis usages, for example cionnas rather than ciamar, con rather than carson, sàmhchantas, rather than sàmhchair, b’ fheàrr dhomh greasachdainn orm, rather than greasad orm, ge ar bith, drungairean rather than drongairean, an e sin uireas?, and ’s maid. The author’s dialect is also reflected in the orthography; for example the word for ‘breakfast’ is spelt bracoist, rather than bracaist, a’ bhèan-uiridh is used rather than a’ bhon-uiridh, il is used rather than càit’ a bheil or some other derivative, and final vowels are frequently left out e.g. a bha cho gasd rinn. The orthography is generally that of the late twentieth century.
Edition First edition. The text is well laid out and easy to read.
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