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  5. "Tapadh leat, Fhionnlaigh"

"Tapadh leat, Fhionnlaigh"

Translation:Thank you, Finlay

December 30, 2019



Hey, the grammar notes may help you here. The rules are different for f followed by a vowel than with a consonant.

  • Fhionnlaigh
  • Fhearghais


  • a Fhrìseil
  • a Fhlòraidh

Hope this helps.


To extrapolate on the above, Gaelic doesn't like the sound of two vowels running into each other. Fh is silent in Gaelic. So a fhionnlaigh would be pronounced "uh younley" (or something along that lines). Which is difficult to say.


This is a bit different from Gaeilge, where you always get "a" in the vocative, even before a vowel: "a Eoin", "a Aine" and so on. Somehow I'd got the idea that you could do things like this "a h-Eilidh", "a h-Anna", but that might be archaic?


No. Although you may not have realized it, lenition and h insertion are mutually exclusive, even in Irish. Compare a 'his' and a 'her'. One causes lenition, and the other inserts an h. Similarly, an (Irish feminine article) causes lenition, but na (Irish plural article) inserts an h. There is nothing that causes both.

The origins of the h are not fully understood, but at least in some cases, it derives from an old mutation - the 'aspirate' or 'spirant' mutation (not to be confused with 'aspirate mutation' meaning 'lenition' in some old Irish grammars!). This is a completely different mutation from lenition, so cannot occur in the same circumstances.

So you could (just) have a h-Anna - it would mean 'her Anna' but this would be unusual.

In Welsh you have ei 'his' which lenites, and ei 'her' which both aspirates p, t, c and inserts h before a vowel.


"a Fhionnlaigh" as in "a Fhriseal" etc?


Can it be programmed to accept Findlay as well?


Yes it can, but I don't think they will. Although Findlay is sometimes given as a first name it is quite rare and it is not the usual Anglicization of Fionnlagh. I believe it is more common as a Irish surname or as a first name derived from that than it is as a Gaelic first name. Having said that, if your name were Findlay you might well wish to Gaelicize it as Fionnlagh.


I see your point. I just meant that I have known several real-life Findlays here in Scotland, so it should be accepted as an alternative by Duolingo when the course is updated.


I see your point. I just think that whilst Findlay would be Gaelicized as Fionnlagh, I don't think Findlay is the correct Anglicization of Fionnlagh as it is not the standard spelling.

Note that they do not have to wait for the course to be updated. They can add it as an option straight away if they choose. But they won't do this unless you draw it to their attention. So you will have to report it. In order to make their life easier, this is the best procedure.

  1. Next time something like this happens, check the discussion page to see if the issue has been resolved of if the correct answer is disputed.
  2. If not, when the question repeats (as it will if you get it wrong and you are not doing a test), answer the question as you believe to be correct, but make sure it is 100% correct - accents, capitalization, punctuation - all the things you don't normally worry about. This makes it easier for them as they can add your answer with one click.
  3. Press Report and select 'My answer should be accepted'.
  4. Add a note explaining the issue on the discussion page, as you did. This allows them to see your reasoning or explain why they do not accept it, and it allows a discussion.


In this example 'Fionnlagh' is pronounced exact the same as 'Fhionnlaigh' by the speaker!


The simplistic answer is that it does not sound like Fionnlagh in this sentence because she is not saying Fionnlagh but Fhionnlaigh, and that is what it sounds like to an experienced ear.

However, I am guessing that what you mean is that you cannot tell the difference between agh and aigh with this speaker. There is a difference, so let me try to explain. Unfortunately this is going to get very technical.

First let's look at the gh. This should be a /ɣ/ when broad as in agh. This is quite a rare sound in the worlds languages, so it can be hard to explain. You may well have got the idea as it is is common in Gaelic and introduced early in the course. It is like the /x/ ch in loch, except that it is voiced. This means that your vocal cords vibrate, making it more like a g than a c. Now the slender gh in aigh is a y sound /j/ according to the text books, but it isn't always in reality. It is sometimes a /ʝ/. This is one of the rarest sounds in the world, and fairly rare in Gaelic. The only way to describe it is that if you have learnt to slenderize a ch (so as in dreich instead of loch in Scots, cloiche instead of clach in Gaelic, ich instead of ach in German) then you need to do the same thing with the broad gh. Try saying Fionnlagh but with an i instead of an a. This will force your tongue up towards the top front teeth and change the sound. We will get to the vowels later, but there is an i in Fionnlaigh. Now I asked my Gaelic teacher at university when the slender gh was pronounced this way, and she said, "No one knows because no one has done the research." Not very helpful. All I can say is that you hear it in some words in some dialects.

But our problems are nowhere near over. This speaker is quite heavily devoicing both of these ghs. That is, they sound quite a lot like the broad and slender ch respectively. Muddling voiced and devoiced consonants is very common in many languages, including Gaelic. For example, when we add an s to make an English word plural, it is sometimes pronounced /s/ and sometimes /z/. Fluent speakers usually don't even notice, but it does confuse learners.

Now for the vowels. Quite often in Gaelic in particular, the difference between a broad and slender consonant is much clearer than between the vowels, so you are generally advised to pay more attention to the consonants than the vowels when working out which it is. This is in stark contrast to other languages, where the vowels are more helpful. For example, the difference between mouse and mice, goose and geese is almost entirely in the vowels. But there are some differences in Gaelic, and here I can clearly hear that the a in Fionnlagh is /ə/, like the a in about, whereas the ai in Fionlaigh is more of a /ɤ/, a bit like the i in fluoride (not easy to find an example, and even that one is not that close). Listen carefully and see if you can hear the difference. The difference between vowels is always less in unstressed syllables than in stressed ones, so it is a weaker version of the vowel in taigh or my.

Horrendously complicated I know, but I hope you may get one or two pointers from this that help you with this word and others.

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