"The pet is not in a forest."
Translation:Chan eil am peata ann an coille.
An is the original word, related to English in. No one seems to know why the ann was added but it is very confusing. It is nothing to do with anns the special form of an 'in' used before the definite article and a few other places.
You can still hear an in very formal Gaelic or in fixed expressions like Tha mi an dòchas 'I am in hope', thus 'I hope'.
No one seems to know why the ann was added but it is very confusing.
Akerbeltz suggests in the ann an article (and that’s my hypothesis too) that it’s added to avoid ambiguity since the loss of eclipsis in Scottish Gaelic. Since an taigh can mean both the house and in a house, people started to say ann an taigh, there, in a house, in-it in a house to make it clear.
When there’s no fear of ambiguity, the ann is sometimes omitted, Akerbeltz gives example bha iad an Glaschu they were in Glasgow – as Glaschu never has a definite article, an Glaschu must mean in Glasgow so it’s sufficient.
On the other hand in Irish the preposition just stays i and is never doubled, eg. ‘in a house’ is i dtigh /ə d’ig’/ (or, depending on dialect, i dteach /ə d’ax/) and there’s no ambiguity with definite article because of eclipsis. ‘the house’ – an tigh /ə t’ig’/ or an teach /ə t’ax/ – has different consonant.
Thank you for that link. However I am always rather dubious of these claims that disambiguation causes change, except when the words are so similar (e.g. if similar words meant 'left' and 'right') that you cannot tell by context. But I accept it is a possibility.
And just for good measure, an taigh has a third meaning: 'their house', which would be a dteach in Irish.