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  5. "B' aill leibh? Tha thu a' br…

"B' aill leibh? Tha thu a' bruidhinn cho luath."

Translation:Pardon? You are speaking so fast.

February 16, 2020



Ironically a' bruidhinn is pronounced so quickly I can't make it out at all. Even when I was reading along with the correct sentence.


Oh, the irony!...


Apparently B' aill leibh is a fixed phrase that is always used no matter who you are talking to...


Interesting. Do you have any sources as I have never heard this, and nor has Am Faclair Beag, which clearly lists both and states that the leibh version is polite. It seems most unlikely that anyone with competent Gaelic would make this mistake, although it might creep in where Gaelic is not well understood.

Note also that the correct word is àill whereas aill (the word used in the question) is 'a precipice'. They know about this and they are going to change it in iteration 2. D


It was the answer given when someone questioned it on one of the other questions, something along the lines of you always use leibh, it's just the way it is.

If you know a good way to search the forum, please let me know, as I can't find it now.


Yes there is a way, and they don't tell you. You need to find the search bar and this depends on where you are:

  • If you are a computer just scroll up to the top right of this page.
  • If you are on a phone, you will have to switch to desktop mode. On my phone I press the ⋮ symbol in the top right hand corner then switch on 'Desktop site', but it may be different on yours. Then you may have to expand the screen to read it then proceed as above. Edit 1/9/20 this functionality has recently been lost on my Opera browser on my smartphone, but is still available on my AVG (Chromium based) browser. So if one browser does not work, try another.
  • On the app there is no way that I know of but if you paste https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36605136?comment_id=40044304 into your browser you should get to the right place on the web.

Then you can type one or more words into the search box. It will find all posts on Gaelic sentences that:

  • contain all the words,
  • although it may also include variants of the words such as cat if you type cats.
  • Needless to say it does not recognise variants of Gaelic words, except that it does not care about accents.
  • It does not recognise partial words.
  • It will fail if the word has markup in the middle - for example if someone typed _ca**i**t_ because they wanted it to display as cait then it would not find cait but it would find ca, i and t which it thinks are three separate words.

There is a slight variant of this. This method only finds comments on Gaelic sentences if you are are the page of a Gaelic sentence (and same in other languages). If, on the other hand, you go to the main learning page and click the Discuss button at the top, then follow the instructions above, it will work the same but it will find posts in all discussions in all languages as well as some that do not relate to specific languages.

If you follow these instructions and search for aill you find lots of similar comments, the most useful of which is the one that references the notes which say

B’ àill leibh
This term means "pardon". Use this for when you haven't understood what has been said. Although leibh is normally used as a polite form, here it is part of a set usage. You would use b’ àill leibh even with a child.

N.B. We have spelled b’ aill leibh without an accent in the course. As mistakes go, it is not the worst. The word, although spelled with an accent, is pronounced with a short vowel sound in modern Gaelic. We will correct this in iteration 2 of the course.

Several issues have come up where the original writers of the course had a number of very sloppy features in their Gaelic that made it look as if they were just translating the English and these are slowly being weeded out. I hope this is one of them, as I have never heard anyone else say this is a petrified phrase, and I cannot imagine any Gaelic teacher or Gaelic-medium teacher accepting it. Nor can I imagine any once-monoglot Gael saying it. It can only happen with someone not properly understanding the language. It is just as cringeworthy as when I saw thou are in a newspaper referenced in a comment here. It could only have happened if the writer was not familiar with the second-person singular in English. D


The word bruidhinn can not be made out in th sentence


Yes, I can only hear two syllables for the whole "tha thu a' bruidhinn" part of the phrase. Sounds like "how peen" to me, and I've listened to it lots of times!


Chan eil mi a' bruidhinn cho luath, tha sibhse a' bruidhinn cho luath!


If it isn't accepted yet this should be accepted as a valid "translation"/answer

Although I wonder if 'cho' should be omitted, or at least one of them?


This sentence has mixed thu and sibh and is therefore incorrect. Reported.

B' àill leibh ? Tha thu a' bruidhinn cho luath.

Should be one of

B' àill leat ? Tha thu a' bruidhinn cho luath.
B' àill leibh ? Tha sibh a' bruidhinn cho luath.

Note there are two similar questions with the same error. I have reported both.


It's always b'àill leibh, it's in the notes. It's a set phrase.


Thank you. I have seen that now, as per my post on this page dated 2/7/20. However, I have never heard it like that, and I think it is something that may occur in dialects more heavily influenced by English, where they may have failed to understand the Gaelic, as it just doesn't make any sense. It's like people trying to speak 'Olde English' and misusing thou. You may hear thou are, but it does not make it correct. I also think they may have edited the notes after I complained. I think they should at least accept b' àill leat even if the writers prefer b' àill leibh.

Also note the space after b'. It is an unusual feature of Gaelic and Irish to leave the space in when you squash two words together. D


I think I was typing too fast. Up until Duo most of my Gaelic was handwritten so I didn't pay as much attention to the spacing. Possibly it's because when you say pardon me you're meant to be polite. It is used with other le forms in other contexts though from looking at Mark. shrug It could be a regional thing for sure.


I agree about being polite. But if I wanted to be that polite, I would normally put the whole sentence in the polite form. In English I would be much more likely to use Sir or Madam in a sentence like this than I would in any other sentence. But once I had done so I would have to continue using the polite 'you' in a sentence that had one. But of course this is probably the reason that this phrase, of all the ones I have ever heard of, is the only one that is 'plural only', at least in some dialects, having spread from speaking to people where I would use the plural when wishing to extra polite, as here, to everyone.

As for the space, this is a problem that was partially invented with movable type, cemented with the typewriter, and perpetuated with cheap word processors - such as we are using at the moment. Originally, before typewriters, and still in well-printed books, you will have a range of spacing. For example, good DTP software will put a bigger space at then end of a sentence than between words, but has to be careful not to always put a big space after a full stop, as there shouldn't be one in Mrs. Smith. So there would probably have been a small space after the apostrophe. But when typewriters were introduced it suddenly became a choice between 0, 1 or 2 spaces. And different languages went different ways. For example, Gaelic and Irish are unusual in putting a space here, but French is unusual in putting one before a ; or :


Oh the irony indeed, so fast cannot make a word of what she says out.


I can only hear one syllable before 'bruidhinn'. Does she really say all that?


There's no way for me to replay the sentence.

But it's not possible to compress 5 syllables into 1 and it's most unlikely that it has been incorrectly recorded.

Much more likely is the bug in Duolingo that does sometimes leave out the beginning of the sentence. If you pause for 10s then replay, and keep your fingers crossed, it will play the whole thing.

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