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  5. "I do not have six boats yet."

"I do not have six boats yet."

Translation:Chan eil sia bàtaichean agam fhathast.

December 10, 2019



Is there any consistant clue to when a certain word is used? Bata, bhata bataichean. cu chu coin, I am wrong half the time and can't figure out why.


I found a simple way to remember. On its own, boat is bàta. After aon or dà, it becomes bhàta. Its singular form is still used when it's two boats, but more than two and you use its plural form; bàtaichean. Take what I say with a grain of salt though, I'm very new to this


Thanks. Easy way to remember.


It is complicated so they will introduce the rules bit by bit. It is of course, important to read the notes on each section. But very briefly, certain words cause lenition (i.e. the insertion of the h) these include aon 'one', 'two', glè 'very', and, most importantly, the feminine definite article.

Various different plural endings are used on different words (compare mice, oxen, cats) but the plural is not used after 1, 2, 'many' or 'how many'.


Ah I thought there was lenition after all vowels and certain conconsants. That's why bàta was frustrating me. I suppose you just need to remember which words in particular, or is there a rule of any kind?


The actual rule is

Lenition occurs after all words that ended in a vowel 2000 years ago.

Of course this rule is of no practical help at all but it does explain why it occurs more often after vowels. And it is also the case that the words quite often end in a vowel in other languages even if not in Gaelic. For example the definite article ends in a vowel in the feminine but not the masculine in Spanish, Italian and German.

But in practice you just have to learn them.

Sometimes the notes will mention a group that all go together, such as adjectives that go before nouns, or rules such as prepositions that add an s (that you will meet later) never do it. These rules help but basically it is just learning. D


Just to clarify, I guess you are thinking of the nominative singular masculine articles in the three European languages you cite. Even then this is not so in Italian in which the masculine singular definite article "lo" exists for use with nouns starting with certain letter combinations as does "gli" in the plural. I accept this is not germane to your general point and you are correct in saying we just have to learn them.


I guess you are thinking of the nominative singular masculine articles in the three European languages you cite

Yes I was. An oversight of mine. You may not have covered it yet, but everything I said here about the article in Gaelic only applies to the nominative singular - although it is also used for the accusative. So I took it as read (wrongly) that it only applied in the same situation in other languages. There are different rules for the plural and (when we had them) different rules for the neuter and the dual. Thus it does not apply to gli either.

the masculine singular definite article "lo" exists for use with nouns starting with certain letter combinations

This is news to me but is interesting. Whilst the feminine singular definite article ends in a in all Romance languages that I know of and this probably goes back to a vowel in Proto-Indo-European, which is why it works in Gaelic, the situation with the masculine is far more complicated for a number of reasons.

It is received wisdom that both the forms le (French) and il/el (Italian and Spanish) are abbreviations of Latin ille 'that', but this can't be the whole story. If illa abbreviates to la then surely ille abbreviates to le. This French is logical, but with the problem that it is not normal, in Latin or other Indo-European languages, for masculine nouns to end in a vowel. This is why it does not match with the Gaelic or other languages. My guess is that it is Etruscan, a non-IE language that had masculine nouns ending in -e and which influenced Latin.

The -o in your example of lo as well as Portuguese o and Medieval Spanish/Portuguese lo is assumed to be from Latin -us, so it should really be counted as a consonant ending, even if the -s has gone missing. As for the -o- which supposedly replaced -u-, it didn't. It is assumed to be an -o- in PIE, as it is in Greek (ancient and modern) and modern Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. The -u- appears to be simply a variant in one dialect of Latin (which just happened to be the one adopted as standard, but not the one from which most modern languages are descended). One dialect of Italian retains the u, and that is Sicilian, as do Maltese words of Sicilian Italian origin.

The forms il and el are odd. My guess is that they were affected by one or both of the following

  • Consonant endings for masculine nouns being common before these people started speaking Latin
  • Influence from neighbours - al (Arabic), il (Maltese) and el (Hebrew), even though these words are non-gender specific. D


ha ha thank you


I'm finding if a noun follows the definite article there is often a mutation, other words (like glè) mutate the following adjective. This doesn't happen with plural nouns (like coin). How do you know that coin is the plural of cù? Trial and error I suppose though there is generally a translation when you've submitted your attempt and often you can look up individual words with the faint dotted underlining.


I just found "tips" in my lessons which have helped a lot. I don't know why I never noticed them before. (Are they new?) Anyway, thanks for the response.


I am a complete beginner at Gaelic, but I have found this link quite helpful. https://www.cuhwc.org.uk/page/unofficial-guide-pronouncing-gaelic Although not everything in it corresponds to what we hear from the various speakers on this course. I’ve realized from listening to the Duolingo examples that the variation in pronunciation (possibly between the Western Isles and the Northern reaches of Scotland?) is quite significant, and the fact that we are indiscriminately introduced to people who pronounce ard “arrd” and “arshct” is adding to the confusion for beginners!


I have found this site useful for pronunciation and much more. https://learngaelic.scot/sounds/index.jsp


Thank you Sara for the tip on the pronunciation website. I am really struggling with the pronunciation but this was very helpful. Learn Gaelic is also very helpful as the dictionary gives pronunciation as well. The newsletter is interesting too. Keep safe.




When you use "have" in English to talk about possession, the pattern in Gaelic is totally different. Rather than say "I do not have ...", what you literally say is "There isn't ... at me". In Gaelic this is Chan eil ... agam.

Chan eil mi means "I am not" so isn't used when talking about possessive "have". If you used it here, it would mean something like "I am not six boats with me", which doesn't make sense.

All this is quite different to the way English and some other languages do things, so can take a bit of getting used to, but it comes with practice if you remember the pattern Chan eil ... agam = "I do not have ...".


When do you use mi and agam. And where do they come in the sentence. I put chan eil mi ? Why was this wrong. Fabulous course. Tapadh leat.


Mi is the normal word for 'I' or 'me'. Gaelic is VSO (verb-subject-object).

The problem here is that there is no verb 'to have' in Gaelic (or any Celtic language so far as I am aware) so you have to rearrange the sentence as

Not are six boats at-me yet
Chan eil sia bàtaichean agam fhathast

Slightly less literally this would be

[There] are not six boat at me yet


Thanks so much for your help I can understand it now.


As in other Celtic languages there is no real verb "to have", you have to construct the sentence in another way: I don't have six boats becomes There is not six boats to me (which is what agam means - to me.


Thanks Sebastian it is so much clearer now.


Does the adverb, "fhastast" in this case always at the end of the sentence?


Fhathast: still and yet

So, I'd read "I do not have six boats yet" as meaning "I'm in the process of building my collection." And I'd read "I don't have six boats still," as "I sold off some of my collection."

Does this sentence say both of those things? If not, how do we know which meaning it has?


One letter out, why not just say it's a typo


what was the letter? It could have been a different word. There is a word bata and a word bàta, which are different.


Sorry, it was the frustration talking. It was actually the plural of bàta. I find the orthography of Gaelic incredibly frustrating and, because it's now principally a spoken language, the speakers on the examples have different pronunciations of the same word. I'd got the spelling of all the words in the sentence correct but had used g instead of ch in the plural. I'm sure once I've got used to it I'll be less grouchy!


Michael Bauer on www.akerbeltz.org says the Gaelic spelling system is pretty regular once you get used to it. I think it's just the getting used to it that takes a bit of work, haha. I'm just grateful that I'm an English speaker learning Gaelic spelling not a Gaelic speaker learning English spelling - think of all the different pronunciations of the same word in English. Yikes!


try being dutch and your keyboard doing autocorrect a lot of times.... my "don't" gets turned into "donut" many times :D Apart from translating in your head from gaelic to dutch to English and vice versa


Change the language on your keyboard! Better to do it before you pull all your hair out.


He is entitled to his view but most scholars agree that amongst the world's languages that use an alphabet, Gaelic and Irish (but not Manx, which is completely different) are second only to English in terms of difficultly.

The only good feature is the regular way we use an h to show lenition so you know when a word is lenited. In the other Celtic languages you just write what you hear.


Yes, I may have over-egged it slightly. In my experience most scholars agree. But my experience is mostly from universities in Scotland, and oral. I can't remember any written references, although I have read it somewhere. French is said to be a poor 4th on the list. Ignoring the Celtic languages is a major bugbear of mine, generally, and especially when looking at English etymology.

You have obviously looked and only found this article where you observe an obvious deficiency, and I think there is a dearth of written material.

But the article has two other significant deficiencies where it does not fully address my claim. One is that it only looks at how easy it is to get from the written to the spoken form, not the other way round. Until the last paragraph, that is. With a 2019 reference, it shows that at last someone has realized theses are different things and produced different rankings and, as I said (before reading that paragraph) putting English and French at to top (one prize each) having ignored the Celtic languages.

The other is that whilst our writing system (as opposed to Chinese) was designed to mirror the speech, we usually try to get straight from the written to the meaning. This may be ignored for lexicon as there is necessarily a 1-1 correspondence: you can know that ceann means 'head' - or even that means 'rice' - without any knowledge of how to pronounce them. But it is different with grammar. There is no way to tell, if you haven't learnt it, that men is the plural of man or where Fangor is in Wales. The Germans do it better than the English - the plural of Mann (= man) is Männe, easily recognizable as Mann with extra marks to show it is plural. What you can't do is tell how to pronounce the ä. It is in fact just the same as the vowel in men. Similarly with the Welsh place. If it were written in Gaelic orthography it would be Bhangor and you would immediately realize that it was just Bangor with lenition. The systematic rule we have for writing lenition makes it much easier to understand but more difficult than the Welsh to know how to pronounce.


Have you got any references for that? I'd like to read more. The orthographic depth article on Wikipedia is only short and doesn't make any reference to Celtic languages, sadly.


Doesn't fhahast mean still? If so then there is no reference to this in the English answer?!


Well, still and yet are the same word in many languages: noch in German, todavia in Spanish, byth/erioed in Welsh, jeszcze in Polish and so on. If you have the thing, it's still, if you don't have it it's don't have it yet. I posted my original thing just out of frustration but it's generated all sorts of interesting discussion about all sorts of things.


SORRY ... they are NOT the same in German : STILL ("positive" fhathast) would be NOCH IMMER and YET ("negative" fhathast) would be NOCH NICHT ... man könnte also NICHT sagen : "ich habe sie NOCH" zu "I STILL have them" (obwohl das FAST geht !) und gleichzeitig "ich habe sie NOCH" (ohne NICHT) zu "I don't have them YET" ... aber GUTER VERSUCH - ein LINGOT kriegste gern !


Yet and still can mean the same thing. I still haven’t got six boats = I haven’t got six boats yet.


why not chan eil mi sia bataichean agam fhatast


I have explained the structure of the Gaelic above - the boats are the subject of the sentence. So your sentence would be, literally, '[There] is not me six boats at-me yet.'

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