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  5. "Tha i fichead 's a dhà."

"Tha i fichead 's a dhà."

Translation:She is twenty-two.

March 25, 2020

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cathie673485

Thought the 's' was short for agus, i.e.,twenty and two


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

What is the derivation of 's a here? There is no obvious meaning to the a spelt like that.

The fact that 21 has an h in (fichead 's a h-aon) makes it odder, as I am only familiar with that after na and a 'her' but that would not lenite. I am aware we say a h-aon, a dhà etc. when counting, but I do not know why or what that has to do with it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silmeth

That’s the numeral (or counting) particle. Not sure how common it is in Sc. Gaelic, but it is required when counting (just numbers, without any objects) in Irish (if you say one, two, three in Irish, you say a haon, a dó, a trí and not just aon, dó, trí) or generally when using numerals as just the numbers (eg. Séamas a Dó, James the Second), see a, the second meaning, in FGB.

It seems to me that in Scottish Gaelic you use this counting particle mainly after the agus or ’s in complex numbers (eg. in fichead ’s a h-aon) and may (?) be omitted in one-digit ones (just aon, not necessarily a h-aon as in Irish).

See also eg. a h-ochd in Am Faclair Beag, but I cannot find a dedicated entry for this particle in Scottish dictionaries…


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

Thank you. It is taught in Scots Gaelic just as you describe in Irish. The only notable difference is

SG: but a dhà
Ir: dhá but a dá

This is what I was taught for Irish (and Google Translate agrees with me for two cats). I note you give but Focloir.ie gives examples of both, without any obvious logic or comment. Maybe it's dialect.

But there are still two issues. One is that a counting particle put before a number isn't obviously the same as a word put in the middle of a number, especially as it is used regardless of whether you are counting.

The other is that doesn't actually explain where it came from.

We may just have to put down o.o.o. (of obscure origin) for the moment.

The only research avenue I can think of, that is well beyond my knowledge, is if we could find out what the h- was originally. It is regarded as caducous in Gaelic, which in practice means 'unimportant and unexplained', whereas is Welsh it has a complex relationship with one of their mutations, so I guess they have some clue as to its origin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silmeth

This is what I was taught for Irish (and Google Translate agrees with me for two cats). I note you give dá but Focloir.ie gives examples of both, without any obvious logic or comment. Maybe it's dialect.

In Irish it’s a dó as a standalone number (two), it’s dhá before a noun (eg. dhá phionta two pints), and it’s when delenited, eg. after the article (an dá phionta the two pints).

One is that a counting particle put before a number isn't obviously the same as a word put in the middle of a number [1], especially as it is used regardless of whether you are counting [2].

[1] It is used before the single-digit part. Fichead, ceud, mìle and similar bigger numbers are treated as nouns, not as numerals (think a score, not twenty). And thus they don’t use the particle, but you do use the particle if you add the small numerals to them (fichead ’s a h-aon, a score and one). Today the noun after those bigger numbers is in singular, but originally it was genitive plural (eg. fichead cat was a score of cats), but since for many nouns that form is identical to nom.sg., today nom.sg. is used (mostly? Faclair Dwelly still claims it’s gen.pl).

[2] Again, it is used when the number stands alone, in fichead cat ’s a h-aon you have a score of cats and one, and the one stands by itself, so it gets the particle. In aon chat air fhichead you don’t put the article before aon.

I have no idea where the particle actually comes from, but it was present already in Old Irish. But I’d like to find its etymology too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaibhidhR

I think you have filled in the details and we agree.

As far as the delenition is concerned, I have not heard about it using this terminology and we have no need in Scotland to do it after the article, as our word is anyway. Two of the examples in the dictionary are now explained, but that leaves

it cost two or three dollars chosain sé dó nó trí de dhollair

But when I look at that more closely that word de presumably makes the numbers into nouns.

And you did give the delenited form in your original list.

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