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  5. "Tha Alba glè shnog."

"Tha Alba glè shnog."

Translation:Scotland is very nice.

January 14, 2020



shnog because of glè? So far I have only met snog.


Yes, glè lenites the following word.


Always? We had 'glè luath' = very fast. Glè lhuath doesn't look right ;)


Whenever it’s possible.

By the way, although lenition is often marked with h after a consonant, it is a phonological process that occurs to some consonants regardless whether it’s marked or not. One of them is slender l which is lenited in speech, although not marked in writing (one would write glé leathan but pronounce the l in leathan differently, see this article on Akerbeltz wiki). Traditionally glé luath would also have different l than luath on its own but the distinction disappeared in modern Gaelic dialects according to Akerbeltz.

In general lenition is a process of making consonants weaker, that is less consonant-like and more vowel-like: stops change to fricatives, some fricatives (s) become h, others (f) disappear entirely. Originally it was a purely phonological phenomenon (depending only on the phonological context) that happened to single consonants standing between two vowels (that’s why some combinations of consonants, like sg- never get lenited), but later the language lost some vowels and it became conditioned by grammar rather by phonology later in Celtic languages.


Gaelic has the rather confusing feature of not marking lenition when the sound change is small, such as l, r and n.

Welsh does mark two:

ll → l
rh → r

Yes, that's right. rh is the unlenited form and r is the lenited form. How confusing.


Agreed. I'm confused too.


Well try doing the Irish and Welsh courses.

All Celtic languages have slightly different rules, and Gaelic and Irish have the special orthography with the h not even shared with Manx.

But the real killer is that it's not just one mutation. One in Scotland but as you go south it gets worse. Two in Ireland and the Isle of Man. Four in Wales. About five (?) in Cornish and Breton.

Have fun.


No. What I said before was correct. It does lenite, but the sound change is small and it is not shown in writing.


You have actually drawn attention to some important points here.

Firstly, only the first part of the course has been written so far, and this is not mentioned in the notes, as it is not usually mentioned to beginners. The only tiny clue that all might not be what it seems is where it says

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

but that is pretty subtle. Next, to be really pedantic, and to contradict the notes, lenition is actually the sound change, not the orthographic change. So adding the h is not lenition. It is the way lenition is marked in writing.

The next problem is that people are more and more learning language in writing. Even in English, I increasingly hear words pronounced the way they are written, instead of the correct way. People are losing the knowledge of how to pronounce things that do not match the spelling, so unwritten lenition may well die out.

The actual sound change for l is beyond this level of the course and I do not want to rush ahead, but silmeth has referenced an article if you are interested.


Fair enough. I should have written 'in writing'. I wasn't aware of the subtle lenition you referred to, and it's not something I've heard in speech, though quite likely my ear isn't sensitive enough to pick it up. Thanks for the correction.


Help please? When do you put the h in? Snog and shnog. What's the difference?


In virtually all cases in Gaelic, though not in other Celtic languages, the insertion of the h, representing lenition, is caused by the previous word. Apart from feminine nouns (where the lenition is still technically caused by the previous word) always look at the previous word.

Glè is simply on the list of words that cause lenition. Eventually you will get the habit of adding words to your mental list when you see lenition occurring. Not sure what you have met so far. Maybe 'two'. Maybe one or two adjectives that go before the noun. The details are not important. The important thing is to learn when you see or hear one.

The annoying thing is that dictionaries, including the Duolingo one and several good dictionaries do not mention this. It should be the first thing you see when you look up any word that causes lenition. There is no obvious solution to this. But at least you could make a list when you see them.


Thank you! Dabhaidh


Daibhidh said it with an accuracy. The more people learning with writing than by listening, the more inpact of languages it has. In some point it can be considered as a destruction of languages, which prolongs centuries.

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