1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "Tha mi ag obair an-siud ann …

"Tha mi ag obair an-siud ann an taigh-òsta."

Translation:I am working over there in a hotel.

January 27, 2020



It's an hotel, like an hospital or an horse - or so I was taught long ago. Even if most people no longer use that form, should it not be accepted?


I think the accepted convention is only to use 'an h-' over 'a h-' when the 'h' isn't pronounced, as in an honour.


There are two issues here. One is whether the h is silent. My grandmother (born England 1891) always said ôtel, i.e. pronounced it as in French, with no h and thus she said an ôtel. I think the word was still regarded as French. The English word was hostel but the new French form of the same word was coming in.

The same logic could apply to hospital as it is French in origin - but I am not sure if we borrowed it before the h became silent in French.

I have never heard an horse, nor is there any etymological reason for treating the h as silent. I have heard an orse in dialects such as Cockney where h is generally silent.

It is of course possible to treat the h as silent even when it isn't. This happens in Welsh yr het 'the hat' - the h is pronounced but it would be *y het if the h counted as a 'proper' consonant. As for whether this happens in any dialect of English, it doesn't in any dialect I have heard, but if someone knows one where it does, please post. D


It never made sense to me, but an hotel is actually correct English. One of those crazy exceptions that prove the rule we always learned about in school!


Sorry, to expand on that, yes, in most cases whether it is A or AN depends on whether the H is silent or not.


No. Some people consider that an hotel is correct English. It depends on a number of factors, including how you pronounce it, how traditional you are, which side of the Atlantic you live on, and so on.

An Ngram plot reveals that in the UK an hotel started its terminal decline in about 1950 from an approximately 50/50 situation, and has just about reached non-existence now. In America an hotel has never been as popular as a hotel and never took off when the word hotel started becoming popular in the 1820s.

I do not accept the idea that some prescriptive grammarian can decide something is wrong if it is what many people say. D


There is no right or wrong answer here, but a hotel is by far the most commonly used.


I think that in most cases, it would just depend on how you speak. H-dropping is pretty common in many accents, so if I read 'an horse' then I'd just expect that speaker to be dropping their H's (and so would also expect 'an house') The Ôtel thing though is cool, didn't know about that.


I would say an hotel, but I presume you would not do that with Gaelic. The pronunciation is an 'otel


I'm not sure what you mean by 'do that with Gaelic'. If you are talking about people putting the English form hotel of the French word hôtel into a Gaelic sentence - which they might well do, then, since I have never heard the word without the h in the twenty years I have stayed in Scotland, I think you are right that the word would have an /h/ in Gaelic.

But this gives us a problem as there are no rules for what form of the article, and what lenition rules apply. As far as I know, the following rules are applied

  • h is a consonant (unlike in Welsh where it is pronounced as a consonant but counted as a vowel)
  • It does not lenite
  • The word is treated as masculine - like most borrowed words, but may take a feminine article in the genitive. This is because an h is inserted anyway before a vowel, so this sounds quite natural, whereas you never get an /h/ in the genitive - letters that usually lenite to /h/ don't do so after the article, so it would sound a bit awkward

Note however that there are different rules for words that have been in the language a long time and are related, if not borrowed from, English. Here you often get a t

toll hole
talla hall


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