I’ve just finished a new video using Xtranormal – it’s in Scottish Gaelic and features Hamish and Helen (Seumas & Eilidh). Hamish is from Harris in the Hebrides and hunts haggis as a hobby with his haggis hound Hector (who doesn’t appear in the video), and also farms ostriches. Helen is a translator from Beijing who lives in Glasgow and translates between Scottish Gaelic and Chinese. Subtitles are available in English, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Manx and Welsh.
I wrote the dialogue in Scottish Gaelic using basic phrases, plus a few more complex constructions, and translated into the other languages as I went along. While there’s no mention of hovercrafts, or even eels, there is some discussion of whether the haggis is a real creature or not. I also recorded the dialogue as Xtranormal doesn’t support text-to-speech in Scottish Gaelic.
I plan to make similar videos in the other Celtic languages I know, changing some of the details but keeping the same basic structure.
One question that puzzled me somewhat while making this video was what is the plural of haggis? Is it haggis, haggises or even haggii?
Wikitionary gives the plural haggises.
The Haggis Hunt states that the plural is “haggii, although under certain grammatical circumstances it can be haggises or even ‘wee yins’.”
This blog gives the plural as haggis.
Collins English Dictionary gives haggises as the plural.
So it seems that there is no general agreement on the plural – I know not all these sources are equally reliable, but the less than reliable ones are interesting.
Another question is the etymology of the word haggis. The OED states that the origins of the word are unknown. In Scottish Gaelic the word for haggis is taigeis /tagʲɪʃ/, which becomes thaigeis /hagʲɪʃ/ in some contexts. This comes from the Scots word haggis, according to MacBain’s Etymological dictionary – I thought that the Scots word might come from Gaelic, but it seems not.