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  5. "Tha glasraich math dhut."

"Tha glasraich math dhut."

Translation:Vegetables are good for you.

February 26, 2020



Glasrach was obviously the wrong answer, but it means 'woad' which is allegedly good for you. I am not suggesting that there is much risk of confusion, but it would be better if the 'wrong' answers were definitely wrong.


A question about your "allegedly." We have learned "Tha mi": "I am," "Bha mi": 'I was" and "Bidh mi": "I will be." How would you express an "allegedly"? I might be... ?


That is a very interesting question, because what I tend to hear/see on the BBC has always seemed not quite right, so I have given it a wee bit of thought. You tend to hear variants on the theme of coltas appearance like

  • a-rèir coltais according to appearance
  • 's coltach gu... it is apparaent that...
  • tha e coltach gu... it is apparent that...
  • , tha e coltach, (used adverbially between commas) , it appears,

so all with the apparent sense of 'apparently', which is different. These are taken from an AFB search for apparently. Nothing comes up for allegedly. When gossiping in Gaelic and your neighbour tells you what they heard from the baker's sister's friend, then 'apparently' may be OK as you are reporting the matters as if you take it as true. But that is very different from the use of 'allegedly' which clearly does not imply any acceptance of the statement by the reporter. I think this sort of anti-defamation-suit language was probably never needed in Gaelic until we had proper news progammes in Gaelic. Even in English it turns out to be surprisingly modern, as this Ngram shows

Alegedly Ngram

So I think the simple answer is that Gaelic has not developed the language that is used to make litigation lawyers happy.


OK let me try this again with the given example: "Tha glasraich math dhut." Vegetables are good for you.

How would you say : Vegetables MIGHT be good for you.

We have the "to be" verbs in past, present, and future tenses expressing definite states of being. What about probable states of being?

I might be hungry.

You might be right.

We might leave tomorrow.

They might live in Aberdeen.


Yes - two different things that I understood you are asking about, so sorry if I answered the wrong question.

I cannot think of any direct translation of might that would work here. The problem is that might actually means several different things. I searched in Mark's dictionary and tried to understand the various translations in his copious examples. I came up with the following:

  • The most common one is simply to use the conditional tense of the verb. This has not yet been covered, but it is the fourth and last simple tense in Gaelic. Its basic translation is 'would' and works wherever might can be substituted with would.
  • There is also a defective irregular verb faod 'may'. Sometimes you might translate this as 'might', but more often you would translate its conditional tense as 'might'. But unfortunately there are some fairly irregular ways this can be used, corresponding to 'it might be that' etc. This verb will need at least a unit if not two to learn.
  • But when used, as you are suggesting, to refer simply to something that may or may not occur, not conditional on anything, then none of these would suit, and I would go for
  • 'S dòcha gu(n)... (+ dependent form) - it's possible/probable that...

So all in all, I'm afraid the basic answer is that you will have to wait until they have written the rest of the course.


You can hear the differences per speaker in the pronunciation of "dhut". One speaker sounds like /ɣut:/ (softened/lenited "g") the other like more like /ju:t/ ("y" sound).


I’m just speculating here (I don’t know the Gaelic phonology that well yet), but might this be a difference in phonological context rather than speaker, if the /juːt/ pronunciation happens after a word ending in a slender sound?

I would expect that the broad dh /ɣ/ sound might get assimilated to slender /ɣ’/ ([ʝ] or [j]) after a palatal consonant at least in some speakers’ speech, but I wouldn’t expect a difference between /ɣ/ and /ɣ’/ in dhut depending just on the speaker (nor would I expect any dialect with a [ʝ ~ j] as a realization of broad /ɣ/).

But take what I write here with a big grain of salt, I’m just thinking freely here.


I think you are close to a good explanation. I bet I can think of examples in more widely spoken languages (Spanish, English, French) where vowels (especially dipthongs) sound differently depending on the preceding word or the context of the speaker/listener.


Male speaker: math gut.

Female speaker: yut (word alone).

She's the one who says agus as ayus, so this might be her dialect. She'd need to confirm this herself though.


It is generally accepted that dh is pronounce the same as the normal pronunciation of gh. And it would be more likely to pronounce gh as y than to pronounce g that way, so anyone who does the latter would almost certainly do the former.

As for the g pronunciation you mention, this is unlikely. But the untrained ear does not notice the difference between g and gh, c and ch. This is the reason English-speakers say lock instead of loch, Baak instead of Bach.


I used a g because I can't highlight and copy the ipa symbols above on my phone.


You want a /ɣ/?

Your response spurred me on to see how to solve this. First of all I looked for keyboard apps. The IPA Keyboard by Chuehfu Tech seems excellent. The only problem is that if you tap on an obscure letter it takes you to an upgrade page. I might just pay the £2.49!.

An alternative is GitHub. This webpage is amazing in a laptop and usable on my phone. You just click on the symbols required (that are all laid out so you can find them). They aggregate at the bottom and then you copy and paste the whole lot. You can use the keyboard for any letters it has.


I use the free edition of The IPA Keyboard on an Android phone and it’s enough for me (yes, more obscure symbols require you to buy the paid-for version, but those are only extended symbols or outdated ligatures, the free version gives you full basic IPA).

For typing on desktop, I use LEXILOGOS web IPA keyboard (but it’s fairly limited) and sometimes copy-paste characters from Wikipedia.

But the Weston Ruter’s web IPA charts hosted on GitHub linked by DaibhidhR look good too, and more extensive.


That is a really useful link to the Lexilogos keyboard, a shilmeth, and I have bookmarked it on my phone, as it seems to work well there. It also has a choice of languages, if you ever need an Icelandic Ð, for example. (Note that it is a capital ð. You can get the ð in IPA, but of course IPA does not officially have any capitals. I say 'officially' because some African languages have adopted IPA symbols for normal spelling so new capital letters have had to be created.)

The big advantage of the GitHub site is that the symbols are laid out so you find the one you want, even if you don't know it. For example, supposed you knew that that dhut was pronounced with a 'voiced [x]' then you would find the [ɣ] next to the [x] whereas it took me a while to find it on Lexilogos.

It is not quite true that all the standard IPA is free on The IPA Keyboard. I tried (just picking a random letter) to get an [χ] and they wanted me to pay for it. It is like [x] but made further back in the throat. It has various uses in dialects of German (search for it in Standard German Phonology in Wikipedia). I was rather surprised to find on checking in SGDS that the broad ch in Gaelic appears to have no variants so whatever. I never thought there was a phoneme in Gaelic that has no variants. Is this correct? Are there any others?


Ha, you’re right – didn’t notice that as I hardly ever use that character.

You can always hack around it by using diacritics on available characters: you can type [ʁ̥] (its voiced couterpart, marked as voiceless…) in the free version which is exactly the same sound. So yeah, you don’t have full IPA, but I still think you can transcribe any sound, only sometimes not optimally: you need to work around stacking diacritics.


What you say makes good sense. You definitely would expect some differences according to what comes before.

There is another issue to do with this particular word. That is confusion between the prepositional pronouns of do and de. Essentially they are the same except one is broad and one is slender. Most people (in my experience) don't actually know which pp belongs to which preposition and distinguish by context not by phonology.

According to one list I have they are

pn do de
Eng to of
mi dhomh dhìom
thu dhu(i)t dhìot
e dha dheth
i dhi dhith
sinn dhuinn dhinn
sibh dhuibh dhibh
iad dhaibh dhiubh

Note in particular the one in bold, which is slender but from do. Add to this the variants that exist for all of these with unlenited d and I defy anyone not to get confused.

I don't think many languages have this confusing pair of prepositions. We seem to have picked one up from the south (de exists in French) and one from the east (do is to in English).

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