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  5. "Tha a' Phòlainn cho math."

"Tha a' Phòlainn cho math."

Translation:Poland is so good.

April 5, 2020



You can't hear the "a' " in the audio at all


You probably have great difficulty hearing it because it's swallowed up in the a of tha. But since the name of the country is a' Phòlainn, you know it has to be there.


And what makes it worse is that I was offered the click-tiles and none of them had a' on. My brain did not process the irrelevant a which would not fit in the sentence at all.


I think they should put the apostrophe on the tile, even if that makes it a bit too easy.


It's much more complicated than that. Duolingo processes apostrophes in a very strange way, leading to various anomalies. When they started writing this course, as with all the other courses, they did not understand that entering the data in very slightly different ways would make Duolingo behave in very different ways. The tiles are not picked by the writers, but by a computer algorithm from valid sentences composed by the writers. You might have seen in the news recently what happens if you rely on a poorly thought out algorithm.

The team are doing their best to find a workaround but it is difficult because Duolingo seems to have no motivation to put their algorithm right. D


Duolingo seems to have no motivation to put their algorithm right

For what it's worth, staff are working on it and have been for a while. They fixed part of the problem recently, but they still haven't been able to find the answer to the whole problem. These things take time unfortunately :(


This is pretty normal with actual speech. It's also why "càite a bheil" sounds like "càite bheil", for example.


Should the a' be A' to go with the capital in Phòlainn


I am assuming that you are assuming that Gaelic and English have the same capitalization rules. Many languages have their own rules, but Gaelic doesn't - it just uses British English rules for all typographical matters, except where there is an issue specific to Gaelic.

Now in English, we don't capitalize the the in places when they are in a normal sentence, although we often due in titles etc. But a further complication is that countries get upset about whether there is an article in their name, and if the the is in the official name then it is often capitalized. So The Gambia likes to be so styled. Even countries that don't have an article in their language tell us what is correct English grammar. So, although historically the Ukraine was known as such, the Ukrainians have decided that Ukraine does not have an article in it. This is absurd as the Ukrainians do not understand English grammar.

It also produces big inconsistencies, because they say it must not have an article in English, but they do not care what happens in Gaelic or French - both of which put an article in it.

Poland is similar. The is not part of the official name. As far as I know, the is never capitalized unless it is part of the official name. In Gaelic we put in the article, not because it is part of the name, but because of the rules of Gaelic grammar, so there is not reason to capitalize it.


Thanks for you interesting and informative reply. I'll stick to lower case 'a' from now on


I've just looked it up. Am Faclair Beag gives

  • Poblachd na Pòlainne Republic of Poland

You probably haven't covered it yet, but na does not mean 'of' It is the genitive of the article, so it is, strictly speaking, a non-capitalized article in a formal name.

Mark gives A’ Phòlainn but when it is given on its own as a dictionary entry it is effectively a heading, so the first word would be capitalized. I wanted to find it elsewhere in the dictionary as an example, but there was none, so I looked at France instead. Not only did it give several examples, all without a capital but I found this:

3.0 List of place names – national and international
It should be noted that, in place names preceded by the definite article, the article has a capital letter. This is how they appear in lists, labels etc. But, in context, the article has a small letter.
e.g. An Fhraing France; anns an Fhraing in France; fìonan na Frainge the wines of France anns an Òban in Oban etc.


Thanks for the interesting and informative reply. My dictionary gives a capital A, but as I hadn't noticed that anywhere else I've been using a capital A occasionally only. Now I'll stick to lower case.


These comments have been really helpful. Perhaps introducing this country in the " which of these is..." section would be better

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