" not."

Translation:Two pounds.

January 27, 2020



Does "not" also mean pound as in weight, or only pound as in British currency?


Just the money. If you see my other answer on this page, and follow the link to what I wrote on another question, you will see that the origin of this unusual word is not know for certain, even though I have offered a hypothesis. What is known, however, is that this term was coined specifically for the English pound, when its value began to be significantly different from the Scottish one. The Scottish one would have been known as a punnd until it went out of use, in the same way that 'normal' terminology was used for the other named amounts.

The punnd would also have referred to the weight, in the same way as the corresponding terms beginning with p refer to both, in English, Irish and Welsh, and just as terms beginning with l refer to both in other languages such as French livre (f).

The reason for this is that a pound of money was originally the value of a pound (of weight) of silver. This of course relates to the use of the same word for both 'money' and 'silver' in some languages, such as

Gaelic: airgead
Welsh: arian
Scots: siller

The English currency later became the currency of Great Britain, then the UK, then the Commonwealth, although most countries, including Ireland, first split their currency from the English currency, and then either renamed it or abandoned it.

As an aside, our symbol £ is a script capital L for Livre or Latin Libra, with a line through it like other currency. D


So the pattern of a softened consonant in a noun preceded by a number doesn't hold here? Is this because the noun begins with n, or for some other reason please?


It's because it begins with an 'n'. You don't lenite words that start with L, N, R, SG, SM, SP, ST or vowels.


Strictly speaking, there is a small change with L and N, but it is so small that it is not written, and not important for beginners.


Thanks very much, ceabhain. I'm a complete beginner at Gaelic so I'm probably asking extremely basic questions... Have a lingot :)


I'm only about a half step up from absolute beginner myself! I definitely keep a tab open to the course notes and tips, and another one open to the dictionary at learngaelic.scot/dictionary ☺️☺️

In case you haven't seen them, there a ton of great info at:


Ta for the lingot !!


Sgoinneil, I din't know all the tips were already collated, I'd been doing a copy and paste job myself.... Tapadh leat a charaid!


'Not' is a very interesting looking word. Anyone know the etymology? I'm surprised it's not 'punt' like in Gaeilge.


No they don't. Scotland suffered hyper-inflation a few centuries ago. The currency went down by about 12x compared to English money. Conveniently there were 12 pence in a shilling so 1 penny English = 1 shilling Scots (to use the correct terminology). That is why a penny is called a sgilean = 'shilling'. They managed to borrow an Italian/Latin word for the English shilling (which we no longer need), but no one seems to know where they got not from.

This did not happen in Ireland which is why they use more obvious terminology.


Despite David below, we do know. It's quite simply "note", as in what our Atlantic cousins would call a (dollar) bill. Simple as that.


I said "no one seems to know where they got not from" because I could not find any reference works that that thought they knew. Specifically, Wiktionary gives no etymology and MacBain does not mention it (which probably means he did not have a clue, since there would be no other reason for him to leave it out).

So if you have any reason for saying we know, as opposed to it seems likely, then that would be interesting. Three particular points that have to be covered are whether paper money was in use when the word came into use, whether the British English term predates the Gaelic term, and whether there is evidence that note meant 'a piece of paper' as opposed to the basic meaning of 'a record, on whatever medium' prior to its use in this sense.

I have in fact considered these points on another question since I wrote my answer here. The evidence fits the hypothesis (which is not the same as a proof) that the term came into use in Scotland (in Gaelic and English) when paper money first came into Europe, with Scotland one of the first adopters and, because paper money was a promissory note in Scotland, in contradistinction to metal money which had intrinsic value, and in contradistinction to English money, because, unusually, Scottish money was produced by private banks instead of a central bank. This meant that the Scottish money was a promissory note, whereas other national money, such as English, was not.


what about quid--yes, i know, q is not in the gaelic alphabet


does anyone else hear "nochd"


I hear something quite like it, but let me explain.

Once upon a time, t and d probably sounded like they do in English, except that your tongue must touch your front teeth - as if you are pronouncing a th. But then things changed, in a sort of chain reaction. This sort of thing is very common in languages. The d changed to /t̪/ (the ̪ is there to remind us to make the tongue touch the teeth). So nod is now pronounced as /nɔt̪/ So what should you do with the t to keep it different from the d? Well, people started letting a little air out before the sound. This sounds a wee bit like an h so it it is shown as /ʰt̪/. This made things complicated for words where the pronunciation did not change. To keep the pronunciation the same, nocht had to be respelt as nochd. Since every dialect is different, this means that not in one dialect can sound like nochd in another - ones where they have a very 'weak' ch, such as Islay and Ireland (where they would spell it nocht because the t and d have not undergone this change).

This may have confused you, but at least it may explain why you see words that you would expect to have a t,c,p spelt with a d,g,b such as

sgòil = school
Gàidhlig = Gaelic
deasbad = dispute
sguab = scoop
uisge-beatha = whisky
Aimearaga = America
bonaid = bonnet
seacaid = jacket



Thank you for a very prompt and detailed reply. I am starting to get a bit of a handle on the pronunciation and spelling but sometimes it feels as if you are reliant on context.

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