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  5. "Thank you, boy!"

"Thank you, boy!"

Translation:Tapadh leat a bhalaich!

December 1, 2019



If balach is boy what makes boy bhalaich here?

Is it an informal vs formal thing or is it something else?


Gaelic has something called the ‘vocative’ case that is basically used when talking to or addressing someone. See a bit more here https://gaelicgrammar.org/~gaelic/mediawiki/index.php/Vocative_Case_(definition)

So basically words change in this case!

Boy (nominative) = balach
Eg. A boy is big = Tha balach mòr

Boy (vocative) = a bhalaich
Eg. Thank you boy = Tapadh leat a bhalaich

The word boy/balach in the vocative is prefixed by ‘a’ which is a common way of forming the vocative (but there are others). Because it is prefixed by ‘a’ the word is also changed - in a process known as ‘lenition’ - so that the ‘b’ is ‘softened’ - known formally as becoming ‘slender’ - to a ‘bh’ and hence ‘a bhalaich’.

This change in the vocative also happens with people’s names which gives rise to the Mairi/Mhairi and Seamus/a Sheumais confusion; where in English they are now two names (with the vocative of the second giving rise to Hamish which is kinda how it’s pronounced) but one name in Gaelic - just in different cases!

PS also tapadh leat vs tapadh leibh?
Singular/informal vs plural/formal
We’re talking to a boy so both singular and informal!


I've hear that in the vocative case u add an 'a'. But your example hints that u ALSO add an i? I've heard that u add an 'i' to masculine words, is this when to do it? Please tell me if I'm wrong.


Sorry, you're quite right, I skimmed over that!
So as well as changing to add the h (b... -> bh...) due to lenition, in certain cases (it's complex - see link below) there is ALSO a 'softening' of the vowel in the vocative, ie the last a becomes ai.

Fuller explanation here:

To some extent I would suggest:
- learn the simple rule to introduce prefix 'a' in front of consonant
- learn the softening by practice and feel! Don't worry about it...


And what about adding the 'h'? balach vs. a bhalaich


Im wondering this too!


Also what is the difference between tapadh leat and tapadh leibh? And when do I know when you use it?


As far as I know leat is informal and leabh is formal so you've basically got to guess as to the situation. You'd assume family and first names would imply an informal leat but that too can be leabh sometimes!


So far grandfather, mother and father have been formal and brother and sister informal, so that makes sense in a "respect your elders" kind of way...


Leat is used for the singular you, an individual and /or person you know, while leibh is used for multiple yous or in a professional and/or respectful setting (e.g., talking to a respected or distinguished person, to your boss at work, to a person in a formal setting).

[deactivated user]

    Calling someone boy is hardly a formal setting in this case lol.


    And I'm not really getting why the "a" part before bhalaich?


    You put the 'a' before the boy if you talking to the boy, or adressing him.


    As much as I can work it out, if your talking about a boy it blalach and to a boy it's bhalaich


    Sorry if this is odd but what about the use of Gillie/ 'illie in place of Balach/ bhalaich?


    They (balach and gille) are just synonyms AFAIK. In the same way English has boy and lad.

    See this question on Reddit and the answer by user Glaic:


    Could anybody give me basic pronunciation rules? Trying to figure this out and i need some help

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