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  5. "Dè an t-ainm a th' oirbh, Ol…

" an t-ainm a th' oirbh, Ollaimh?"

Translation:What is your name, Professor?

November 29, 2019



well there be a slower pronunciation option and if so when? :-)


Duolingo technology does not currently allow the slower option on the courses that use real voices - and I think we are better off than the courses that use robots to do the talking?


Is there much of a difference between the pronunciation of 'bh' in 'oirbh' and the 'mh' of 'ollaimh'? Not sure if it's just my uneducated English ears but they seem to sound the same.


They are identical because they have drifted towards each other over time, as people use these words without thinking that one must once have had a b in it, and the other an m. The bh would have been made with both lips a bit like the b in Spanish. The mh would have been a bit more nasal - try holding your nose and saying it. You might just hear a difference still if you get the chance to listen to a really old native Gaelic speaker. D


They are identical.


Is there a reason that "Ollaimh" is capitalised here, not a name but a profession?? Just in case I've missed something! Tapadh leibh!


Is this a literal translation?


Fairly literal (except that more complex idiomatic question is translated to a simpler idiomatic English, as in English it doesn’t make sense to ask it in a more complex way).

Unidiomatic, very literal, translation would be What is the name that is on you, Professor? (but this wouldn’t be natural English, thus it isn’t accepted). See also my posts under "Dè an t-ainm a th' ort, a charaid?" and "Cò ris a tha an t-sìde coltach an-diugh?".


Can someone write this out phonetically??


I can't access the recording, so I will have to guess, and there is always some argument about any exact transcription. Further, a lot of transcriptions of Gaelic use non-standard symbols, which I have tried to avoid. Here is my attempt

/ˌd͡ʒeː ən ˈt̪enʲə̆m ə ˈhɔrʲɔ̆f | ˌɔlˠəf/

You may not be familiar with these symbols, and it is important not to get bogged down in the details, so here are the important parts, in my view

  • as in jay if you try to take the y off to make a pure vowel
  • an as in an. Remember the vowel /ə/ is the neutral vowel you get in about
  • tain between ten and Tain. Make sure your tongue touches your teeth for the t (as you would for English th)
  • m as is freedom with the vowel hardly noticeable
  • a as in a
  • th' oir between horror and Hoyer
  • bh a hardly noticeable vowel, then a consonant anywhere between an f and a v
  • oll as in holly, with the ll a bit more like the ll in all
  • ai as in about
  • bh anywhere between an f and a v



I don’t think the /ə/ of an is really pronounced after another stressed vowel, like è of .


Can’t listen to this particular recording (thus can’t be sure how it’s exactly said here and transcribe it accordingly), but it should be something like:

  • broad phonological transcription: /ˈd´eː n ˈtɛnɛm ə həɾ´əv, ˈɔɫəv/
  • narrower phonetical: [ˈtʒeːn̪ ˈd̪ʰɛnɛm~ˈt̪ʰɛnɛm ə həɾʲəv~həðəv, ˈɔɫ̪əv]

I am very unsure about vowels in oirbh though (could be /ɤɾ´ɤv/, /ɔɾ´ɔv/, or /ɛɾ´ɛv/ for all I know too, can’t check in anything reliable now) – and also not sure how common the slender r distinct from broad is.

Notice that:

  • dè an merges basically into a single word, as if dè ’n (and sometimes indeed it is written that way) – unstressed vowel of an disappears,
  • the t in t-ainm might (but doesn’t have to) be voiced to [d̪ʰ], it also might be fully nasalized to [n̪] in some dialects.


I responded "Professor, what is your name?" and was marked as wrong. "What's your name, professor?" doesn't sound as polite in standard English.


That doesn't matter. We need you to translate the Gaelic to English, and in the Gaelic, you put 'professor' at the end of the sentence. :)


Exactly, it's only natural that syntax changes between languages and in Gaelic it goes at the end, but that misses the point about it being a translation. A translation should not sound stilted or unnatural in the target language. In the same way you would translate "Tha mi beò fhathast" as I'm STILL alive, rather than I am alive still, the point I was trying to make was that in using "oirbh" and the capitalisation on "Ollaimh" suggests this is a polite and formal request, rather than a casual "hey, what's your name, prof!", hence why I believe it would be more polite in English, to address the subject before asking the question. It's merely a suggestion, rather than a criticism.


This was not offering the English translation. This was only offering the Gaelic translation. I have a screenshot of it. I know what it means, and it wants the English translation but it doesn't allow for it.

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