For anyone learning both languages, let's look at the differences.
- Irish: tá Often sounds like English taw, depending on dialect. Has an inflected form, táim 'I am' but you can still say tá mé if you want to.
- Gaelic: tha like English ha. No inflected forms. No one knows where the h came from. It would have originally have been pronounced like the th in English thin and may result from the Norse influence on Gaelic.
So either words translates as is/am/are. D
It's definitely a thing as I was told it by my Irish teacher. And it is extremely useful. But it works even if there are two consonants at the beginning, so a fuller version is:
If you have two vowels together in a first syllable, one broad and one slender, and no suggestion of a long vowel (either a fada/sràc or a double consonant as in ceann) then you pronounce the first one in Gaelic and the second one in Irish.
It seems to work whether the broad or slender one is first, and can even work with diphthongs as in taoiseach (I don't know if this last bit is reliable).
The Gaelic is usually the original version. For example, bean was ben in Old Irish. It is usually said the a was added to make the n broad, but it looks like a remarkable coincidence that the Irish pronunciation just happened to match the spelling. I have always suspected the pronunciation changed first (possibly because of the broad n) and then they put the a in.
If anyone knows more details of when this rule does or doesn't work, please post.
Not in this circumstance - Eilidh is big - predicative adjective or complement; but if you were saying Big Eilidh is running/talking/ with her friends, then yes, you would - Tha Eilidh mhòr a' ruith etc etc. - attributive adjective. I asked a similar question back in the day, I'm used to French which would use the feminine form in both cases.
This catches a lot of people out, as teachers often forget that what is obvious to some people is not obvious to others, especially as this is an area where modern Celtic and Germanic languages work completely differently from Romance and older languages. Here is an example that may help to show that predicate adjectives do not agree
(inflected — uninflected)
In French (as an example of a Romance language),
The three white cows are white
Les trois vaches blanches sont blanches (French)
so you see that both whites change because of the number/gender of the cows. But
Die drei weißen Kühe sind weiß (German)
Mae'r tair buwch wen yn wyn (Welsh)
Tha na trì bà geala geal (Gaelic)
In Celtic and Germanic languages, the attributive adjective (the one that is part of the noun phrase) changes but the predicative one does not. It is easy to spot the predicative adjective in German and English (as it is the other side of the verb) and in Welsh (as it is after yn) but it is harder to spot in Gaelic. It is best to look at the English word order if you are not sure, as it is actually (in rare cases) possible for the Gaelic to be ambiguous. D
If I understand correctly bò becomes bà in the plural (beyond two) and when the root word changes form in the plural (instead of affixing "-eannan" or another pluralizing ending) then, rather than leniting the adjective (as in bò gheal), the adjective remains in its original form. The opposite is true of stem changing masculine nouns where the adjective is lenited. e.g. balach beag becomes balaich bheaga). Finally the "a" is added to plural forms when the adjective is monosyllabic. [The above summary is subject to correction!! Also don't be intimidated, it's quite simple and becomes natural quickly.]
Yes, most of what you have saidis is 100% true and it is very helpful to try and figure out the rules for yourself but you have made it look more confusing that it is, and this has happened because of two common mistakes that occur when languages like Gaelic, Irish, Welsh and even German are taught.
- There is no difference between the genders in the plural.
- This means that all rules you have been taught that only apply to one gender, such 'feminine words cause lenition' can only apply to the singular.
So it is actually wrong (but almost univeral) practice to make statements like this. The correct form is
Feminine singular words cause lenition.
It seems that almost every sentence on the Welsh course involving a feminine plural noun has a comment saying 'Why hasn't [lenition] occurred?'
So it is better not to consider separately what happens to feminine and masculine in the plural. When learning about the plural, throw out everything you know about singulars (noun endings, lenition, what word is used for the article) and start again, on a gender-neutral basis.
As for inserting the i, it is true that this does not happen with feminine nouns, but you still have to learn the plural for each masculine noun, so it is not a very helpful rule. As a matter of interest, this i was originally the ending, related to the slender-vowel plural endings in Italian funghi, pizze, Latin cacti etc. and it is this vowel ending that caused the lenition in the first place, even though the i has 'migrated' to the last syllable of the stem.
So the helpful form of the rule is just
Words that insert an i in the last syllable in the plural causes lenition.
Your rule that single-syllable adjectives add an a in the plural also has issues. It is the form I was taught, just like everyone else. After discussing this with silmeth, because the rule did not seem to match reality, we think the correct rule is
Single-syllable adjectives generally add an a/e as appropriate.
There are lots of things to worry about when learning to speak Gaelic, but this isn't one of them. Lots of languages including Gaelic, have a large variety of ways to pronounce an r in different dialects and different words. Any reasonable attempt will make you understood, and will be quite sufficient unless to are trying to pick up a specific accent.
I have a book that lists 207 pronunciations for this word from different places in the 1950s and there is quite a bit of variety. The most common are
- [r] as in Southern English or Standard American mooring
- [r̥] this is a devoiced [r], like you are whispering the [r]
- quite often there are marks to show the tongue should be a little further forward (palatalized) or a little further back (velarized)
- occasionally it is marked as a trill (as in Scots more) or a fricative
I have listened to the four sentences that contain this word. Unfortunately there are only two speakers so that means you should not assume their way is the only way. They seem to have a little bit of extra sound at the end of the letter, but this is not important. I think it would probably be counted as a bit of fricativization or a weak tap, so you can try to imitate them if you want.
So overall, if you avoid the inaudible r you get in Southern English more or the strongly trilled r you get in Scots more you should be OK.
One thing you want to avoid is any pronunciation you may have heard for the slender r (i.e. when it is next to an e or i ) as that is irrelevant, as this is a broad r. D
My impression so far has been that most Rs in Scots Gaelic are rolled. Generally, Rs at the end of a word aren't held for long enough that the rolling becomes obvious, so they can come out sounding almost like a D. It's still an R, but the tongue is further back against the roof of the mouth instead of held behind the lower front teeth -as in a nor- …EDIT: as in a more typical 'English' R
Please avoid terms like 'normal'. My previous post mentions three specific dialects of English but I do not judge any of them to be 'normal'. As we do not know where you come from we do not know what you might consider 'normal' but we do know that not everyone will agree with you.