"The pen is dirty, I need another one."
Translation:Tha am peann salach, feumaidh mi fear eile.
You need to memorize the gender of the noun along with the meaning. I noticed that native speakers of other gendered languages that I speak (French, Spanish) do this quite naturally and from the very beginning (in childhood). With Gaelic you use nouns quite frequently without a definite article ("Tha taigh agam") that would identify their gender so it has been harder for me to memorize. Forcing myself to do it got me over the related problem of mixing the Gaelic definite articles «an», «a'», «an t-», «am», and «a h-» with the English indefinite articles "a", "an" when translating (argh! there are no indefinite articles in Gaelic) . So I'd put your focus on the eight different definite articles (argh!) and the adjectives, lenition and other cues that help reinforce the correct use of gender in the language.
Firstly the correct list is «an», «a'», «an t-», «am», «na», «na h-», «nan» and «nam» (which makes up the eight you claimed).
Because one word can take different articles in different cases, it can be a very confusing way to remember genders for a beginner (although it does work once you have learnt all the rules). I don't want to write a book here, but you can often tell from what category of meaning it has (e.g. musical instruments are feminine) or what it ends in (-ag is feminine). But there is another very simple rule that applies to Gaelic, Manx and Irish more than any other language I know of
A substantial majority are masculine, so if in doubt guess masculine.
This phenomenon is from the chance event that happened in these languages that most neuter nouns became masculine when we lost the neuter. D
Thanks for the explanations, I was beginning to think this was purely random. Just as an aside, when I first started this course, I thought I was doing well and jumped a few of the intro lessons. Unfortunately, in so doing I think I might have missed a few of the basic rules, which I am now beginning to regret!
A good point. This course (Duolingo in general) is not good for those who are revising or who have knowledge of related languages. I would love to be able to choose a fraction (to suit my ability) of the questions to do and simply zoom to level 5 in each unit in the time that I find is appropriate for me. I am doing the Norwegian course, and I there is simply not enough in it that I have not met in other languages for me to do more than about three exercises per unit - at least at the beginning! Even that is a bit much, but I do miss the harder exercises and some of the vocabulary by just doing one exercise and one test then moving on. We should be able to set what proportion of the questions we get. Or they could have a system of allowing you to go faster if you are getting good marks.
I see what you are saying, but I think you are arguing from the opposite end of the spectrum to me. You are clearly an accomplished linguist, whereas I am very slow and should not have skimmed over anything. In fact, the reason I did was because I was new to Duolingo and did not appreciate how it worked - I have a better idea now.
Unfortunately it's a lot more complicated than that, which is why I didn't give a straight answer matching the fear/tè to the article. It depends what letter the noun begins with. You will see an before some masculine nouns and some feminine nouns. Am is only found before masculine words beginning with b,p,m,f.
But as for remembering which is which, fear also means 'man'. To be most unhelpful, this word is related to werewolf 'man-wolf'.
Thanks for the excellent explanations here. They would have been very useful in another question, where I have already asked about the same point. The German course has a tips section which is absent from the Gaelic equivalent, certainly on the mobile, but which would be so helpful in cases like this.
The Gaelic tips are available at https://duome.eu/tips/en/gd. You can access these in a browser on your mobile and switch between that and the app as required. I find the ability to do a text search to find what I want very useful. You can navigate from there to find any other language or you can guess what to change the last two letters to - e.g. de for German. I have heard that some languages don't have the notes all the way to the end of the course, and this may include German. It looks as if notes are only available on the app if they were written before a certain date (when some courses were half written and Gaelic wasn't started). That makes me wonder if the notes are even up to date or if they are frozen in time when the uploading stopped. The notes on the web are corrected when errors are found.
The link I have given is not the official one. The official one has a different link for every unit of every course which is obviously totally impractical. An unofficial volunteer collates them on the page I linked to and updates them periodically.