1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "I am not hearing a puppy."

"I am not hearing a puppy."

Translation:Chan eil mi a' cluinntinn cuilean.

December 22, 2019



Does 'cuilean' have any etymological link with CuChulainn? (Hound of Culann)

Cause if it's deprived from that then it's cool, but if the smith Culann's name means puppy then the Ulster Folk Hero is the Hound of the Puppy which is hilarious xD


There is no similar word for a puppy known in Old Irish - and indeed the only word at all is an extremely obscure diminutive of gadar. This gives us a problem as they must have had a word - they would have been very common. So we must say the usual word for a puppy in Old Irish is unknown. Given that they had the word there must have been a diminutive form I would have thought. MacBain gives no etymology, which probably means he does not know. The Modern Irish is coileán.

The problem is that -lean is not a normal diminutive in these languages so far a I know. But it is in Old and Modern English in the form -ling (as in duckling). I am baffled. Perhaps it came to Irish at some stage from Norse.

Wikipedia explains the name Cú Chulainn but not the name Culann. Note that Chulainn is just the genitive of Culann. It is significantly different from coileán as the l is broad and ann is not a diminutive suffix.

So the answer is it does not look like it.


The only difference between my answer and the right answer was a missing apostrophe on the 'a'. All of the "a ' faicinn" questions accepted it without the apostrophe but highlighted the typo. Is there a difference that makes the apostrophe far more important for cluinntinn or is this just an inconsistency?

Frankly what the course allows as a typo and what it doesn't has thus far seemed very arbitrary and at times has accepted spellings that were either just wrong or so wrong that they were in fact other words, often without even saying that there was any typo at all! Other times it seems to ignore actual typos, such as a 'q' or 's' instead of an 'a', both regular typos I make on my phone. This aspects needs a lot of refinement and perhaps temporally removed until it is more reliable! I simply do not trust the course to tell me when I have spelled something wrong!


Is it possible you had another typo? Duolingo does not recognise any punctuation in submitted answers, so it would absolutely have accepted your answer without the apostrophe.

What is or is not accepted as a typo is not entirely within our control on the Gaelic course - a lot of this is Duolingo's own system. Usually, if you are one letter out, it will accept your answer. If this is a recurrent problem for you, perhaps the Troubleshooting Forum might be of more help.


I have reported one of my answers that was accepted because it shouldn't have been. It said I'd made a typo, but I had actually written a positive statement instead of a negative statement. I hadn't read the question attentively enough. You can report things to help improve the course. However, I'd need to know if a native speaker would ever write it deliberately without the apostrophe, or whether they always would.


We would need to know what the sentence was. Since there is usually a significant difference between negative and positive in Gaelic - more than just adding a not which you can sometimes in English. So it is unlikely it got confused unless there is a specific error in a specific question - which again no one can check without details.

As for the apostrophe, there are two answers. Older native speakers were banned from using Gaelic at school, so, with the exception of those who engage with Gaelic literature or academia, they either can't read it all or have limited literacy and no knowledge of grammar rules - so for example they would have no clue why there is an apostrophe in

Chan eil mi a' cluinntinn cuilean 'I am not hearing a puppy,

but there is only one in

Chan eil mi a' dol a chluinntinn cuilean ' I am not going to hear a puppy'

But those younger native speakers who were fortunate enough to have gone through GME (Gaelic Medium Education) should be able to get the apostrophes in the right place in Gaelic just as you can in English, even when the difference is inaudible (girls vs girl's vs girls').


Thanks so much for the reply! It sounds like Duolingo should accept the missing apostrophe then. However, mine was a definite mistake, hence I reported that the answer shouldn't have been accepted. I can't remember exactly the question, but it was something as far apart as I wrote "tha" but the answer was "chan eil". That should never have been accepted saying it was just a typo!


Sounds like that was a single erroneous answer added by mistake, which they can easily take out now you have reported it, so thank you. Duolingo has certain issues but that is not a mistake it would make.

But apostrophes are different. Unlike educated Gaels, Duolingo does have a big problem with apostrophes and hyphens. You will find lots of people complaining in lots of different courses here and all the mods wringing their hands and saying "There is nothing we can do about it - it is Duolingo's fault." So on this course only, try to get them right but ignore any criticism from Duolingo and accept that they are wrong in the click-the-word answers. For example it says *o 'clock instead of o'clock and lots of similar mistakes in various languages including Gaelic.


Really? Its free


That is the smallest comment I can see on this thread. All of the other comments are much bigger than normal.

Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.