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  5. Does uamhasach or Lenition me…


Does uamhasach or Lenition mean anything.

Does "Piuthar uamhasach." mean anything ? Yes I got this from Google translate, "I know I am bad"

The "Tips" are almost as difficult as the language itself

Aon (one) and dà (two) cause lenition on the noun that follows, if possible:

I am supposed to know what "lenition" means ?

December 23, 2019



Hey, when lenition is introduced in the tips it is fully explained. It is very common in Gaelic. We can’t explain what it is every time it occurs. You have omitted the sentence before it which says “who doesn’t love a recap” which makes it clear that this has already been explained previously. See the skill before that (Numbers) or when it is first introduced (Phrases 1)

The following is from Phrases 1 The Magic of Lenition The gender of the noun often causes a special type of consonant mutation called lenition, where an extra h appears after the initial consonant. You can see an example of this with words like madainn and oidhche (both feminine nouns) and feasgar (a masculine noun).

Feasgar math - Good afternoon / evening

Madainn mhath - Good morning

Oidhche mhath - Good night

Singular feminine nouns usually cause this lenition (in writing) in adjectives starting with the consonants:

b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, and t But not in those beginning with:

l, n, r, sg, sm, sp, st, and vowels. You don't need to memorise this now. The best way to become comfortable with it is gradual exposure throughout the course. Lenition happens for lots of reasons.

This is from numbers - the skill before the part you have just reached

Aon (one) causes lenition The numbers one and two in Gaelic cause lenition on the noun that follows whenever possible:

aon + bàta = aon bhàta (one boat)

aon + piseag = aon phiseag (one kitten)

Dà (two) causes lenition and is singular Gaelic used to maintain quite a distinct 'dual' form when referring to two things only. This has broken down in many ways, but it is still important to know that two things in Gaelic are not regarded as plural. Dà (two), like aon (one), causes lenition on the noun that follows:

dà + bàta = dà bhàta (two boats)

dà + piseag = dà phiseag (two kittens)

Hope that helps!


No bother! I probably could have summed it up with add a (h) :)


Lenition is a change in the first letter of the word that follows it. It has to do with how the words flow into one another. This is a common feature of celtic languages.

There is an introduction to Lenition in the notes for the second skill of the tree, found here - https://www.duolingo.com/skill/gd/Phrases/tips-and-notes

There may be other write-ups about Lenition in the tree.


Uamhasach means terrible. To be honest I don't know what exactly Lenition means.


Sorry, I'm not meaning to be awkward, but I do find it pretty baffling. I think it stems from a blockage when it comes to things being masculine or feminine. I've come a long way here with the accents, which I never really mastered in 6 years of French, but I still don't see - in Gaelic - what would make a morning or evening feminine and an afternoon masculine. I don't get whether animals are masculine or feminine in Gaelic (I haven't got far enough to work that out yet), but that's where it would be really difficult because you get males and females in most species and you wouldn't call a tomcat she or a vixen he. I realise this can't be changed but it certainly slows the learning process. I never appreciated the word "it" so much as I do now.


I'm another learner, and I would agree that being able to confidently remember what gender nouns apply to which nouns can be challenging. I think if you're hoping that there's a rule of some kind, or a guiding principle you're likely to be disappointed. I'm new to Gaelic, but (sort of) learned French and German at school, and learning, memorising, trying, getting it wrong, trying again was the only way I ever got anywhere.
Of course, I may be completely mistaken and Gaelic may have some underlying logical principle which will grant insight into what nouns are feminine and which are masculine. But I kind of doubt it.


Thank you Steven. It is comforting to know I am not the only one. I think it would be easier if one were hearing Gaelic spoken casually around the home and community. I realise that's not possible and I do try to tune in to the learner programmes on BBC Alba and the older ones on u tube, but it's not the same. We used to have a lovely fluent Gaelic-speaker in our community. He ran a Gaelic Gossip group for beginners, but I never had the confidence to join as my Gaelic at that time was limited to: "Hello. How are you (and yes, I used thu, not sibh, which raised a few elderly eyebrows)" and "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say it in English". I can't even write those as I only ever said and heard them. Nobody thought it worthwhile showing me the written version, especially after I'd accidentally disrespected the only people who would know. Compared to that, this is a doddle and I am grateful, despite my lack of insight on the m/f question.


OK [Takes deep breath] The following are NOT rules but guidelines

FEM indicators - body parts, heavenly bodies, musical instrumeats, countries, female people/animals, -AG, polysyllabic -ACHD, -I as final vowel [except jobs]

MASC indicators - -AS, -ACH, -AN, monosyllabic -ACHD, jobs ending -AIR or -EAR

MASC is default gender

There are many exceptions, these are no more than guidelines.......


Hey, not sure if this helps but all nouns are either masculine or feminine in Gaelic, but that by itself is fairly meaningless. Think of them as category 1 and category 2 if that helps. There isn’t really a set rule for which nouns are placed in each category but you will pick up general patterns (countries are almost always feminine for example) the course generally holds your hand when introducing the rules for each gender. When learning the article for example it does masculine in a skill by itself followed by opportunities to practice and only when that has been reinforced do you encounter feminine. It may not be as confusing as you think. The word cù (dog) is grammatically masculine but you would still refer to a dog as he / she just as you would a person. Getting bogged down learning the gender of each and every noun won’t help you in the early stages and you will begin to remember the gender of common words pretty quickly through exposure. Use the hints and the notes liberally, as they are designed to help with this. You can always ask me any questions on here if you are stuck on anything.

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