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  5. "I have a grey sweater on."

"I have a grey sweater on."

Translation:Tha geansaidh glas orm.

February 29, 2020



Since a sweater is made from animal hair, wouldn't you use liath?


I guess (not a native speaker though) not if the sweater has been artificially dyed. ;-)


Dark grey could be glas but I don't think light grey could be. The issue is that Gaelic colours simply don't match up with English ones. If someone said geansaidh glas it would certainly conjure up something very different to grey sweater. I think liath should definitely be accepted.

This jumper is grey but not glas


It's very much dialectal, I'd never refer to anything grey but hair as 'liath'. That jumper is 'glas' to me :)

For what it's worth, 'liath' is accepted here.


Accepted. I just understood from other people's comments that it wasn't. It didn't affect me as I was given the choice between a gorm sentence and two that were clearly wrong.


grey, brown, orange, purple, pink
dearg, liath, donn, orains, purpaidh, pinc

weren't standard colours at all before the development of aniline dyes in 1856. Most of these words did exist, but were only used as colours in specific contexts, for example grey/liath hair. They suddenly became standard colours when you could get cloth in any colour without any premium. It is not surprising that there was some dialectal variation in the rush to adopt new terminology.


I'm really struggling with the Gàidhlig colours as an Irish speaker. This sentence would be "tá geansaí glas orm" in Irish, and 'glas' here means green. Liath would be grey. I'm finding it hard to grasp how sister languages can have two different meanings for the exact same word! It's both fascinating and super confusing.


I’m just a learner of Irish myself, but FGB gives for glas:

2. Grey. (a)Caora ghlas, grey sheep. Capall ~, grey horse. Éadach, flainín, ~, grey cloth, flannel. Fionnadh gearr ~, short grey (woolly) hair. (b)(Of eyes) Grey(-blue); light blue. (c)(Of metal) Lustrous, bright, steely. Lúireach ghlas, bright corslet. Sceana géara ~a, sharp shining knives. An gall ~, the iron-clad viking.

So I don’t think it’s that different – in Irish glas can mean grey too – especially for cloth, and even light blue. Certainly its meaning in Irish and Scottish Gaelic is a bit different, though – not all shades would be described identically.

For green sweater in Irish, I think I’d go with geansaí uaine, especially if it’s vivid green.

EDIT: also see this discussion on Irish Language Forum: Conamara native speaker there says that she would probably understand cóta glas as green coat but uaine would be less ambiguous and in Conamara straight English green is also used (eg. geansaí green).


There is a simple historical explanation that may help a bit to understand what is going on.

Before the Celtic languages were contaminated by English, everyone agreed that glas was darkish-bluish-greenish-greyish. Historically (in all languages) shade was more important than hue, so something would be more likely to be glas if it were dark, regardless of the exact hue.

But when they started teaching through English, they felt the need to map glas onto some English word, but they were not sure which. So, rather arbitrarily, Irish teachers started teaching it meant green and Welsh teachers started teaching it meant blue. Gaelic teachers, who started work a bit later, were a bit more circumspect and were more careful to explain it did not match up exactly. Nevertheless, they sometimes say it means grey. So in practice, the word now means anything between the original common meaning and the new meaning that is different in each language.

Does that help?

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