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  5. "an t-sùil gheal"

"an t-sùil gheal"

Translation:the white eye

March 24, 2020



SO difficult to understand this speaker


I agree. I find her accent very difficult to follow


I really don't like these unexplained silent S's, especially when I get them as a listening exercise.


I'm wondering if they are really silent, or it it's the speaker. The one that sounds much older has a very different way of pronouncing words. Probably the dialect where she lives.


They are silent. This is a type of lenition of s. In the Old Irish the article was in, ind (from older *sindos, *sinda, etc.), ended in d. When it lenited the s of the following word, the s changed to /h/ and then the -nd h changed to -nt (the d of the article devoiced to t under the influence of h), thus in Old Irish the eye was int ṡúil pronounced /intuːl’/.

This t was later reanalyzed as a part of the noun, hence the modern spelling an t-sùil with pronunciation /ən tuːl’/.

More etymological spelling would be (but nobody writes like that) something like ant shùil.

You can read more about it on Gramadach na Gaeilge (website about Irish grammar, but the history here for Scottish is the same).


ant shùil
I love that etymological spelling!


I wouldn't have got gheal in a month of Sundays. I heard "yav"


It's weird to spell it wrong, frankly. Should be an t-shùil. (UPD: missed that explanation above)


I'm confused, I thought only masculine nouns got a t- prefix with the definite article. Or are nouns starting with an s treated differently to those starting with a vowel?


Of course they are treated differently than those starting with a vowel – nouns starting with an s do not start with a vowel.

A few comments above I explained that an t-s is just an irregular pattern of lenition of s after the article (and thus you can expect an t-s everywhere where you’d eexpect a’ + lenition with other consonants) and where it comes from.

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