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  5. "Tha falt gorm oirre."

"Tha falt gorm oirre."

Translation:She has blue hair.

April 14, 2020



I have a hard time telling oirre from orra


Yes, it is the rare thing that still remains in Gaelic, Slavic, Uralic, and some Romance languages, i.e.: r/r', d/d', s/s'! (Maybe elsewhere, as well...)


I am not sure what you mean. Can you expand on that please?


Yes. The sound /r/ in 'ora' is hard, whereas the sound /rʲ/ in 'oirre' is soft, palatalized. The same happens to almost all the consonants in Slavic and some other languages:
/b/-/bʲ/ rus. бусы - бюст, pol. barka - biały
/r/-/rʲ/ rus. русский - рюмка, it. prato - tosc. prato
/n/-/nʲ/ rus. кон - конь, hun. nap - lány
/d/-/dʲ/ cz. domov - dělat, hun. dara-gyerek

In Gaelic, some consonants palatalize the same way:
/b/-/bʲ/ bun - beag
/v/-/vʲ/ a-bhàn -té bheag
/n/-/nʲ/ buna - suthain

But palatalization of some consonants (/rʲ/) changed even further like /rʃ/ in case of 'doirt' or even /rʒ/ in case of 'oirre'... Or does it sound like /ð/ here??


When do you use aige/aice and when do you use air/oirre? both seem to mean he or she has. Does aige/aice mean something closer to possessing an item while air/oirre is more for characteristics or something like that?


First of all, just to clarify,

  • aige, aice etc. are from aig 'at'
  • air, oirre etc. are from air 'on'
  • ann, innte etc. are from ann an 'in'.

It is always really difficult translating prepositions, and it really doesn't help when Mark says that air is really three separate prepositions that merged into one over time. Having given up on trying to distil what he says, here are some guides that sound good to me but I am sure someone will be able to improve them.

Use air for

  • anything you wear in English (e.g. clothing, shoes)
  • anything that would be on you in English (e.g. a spider)
  • anything that you have that makes you worse off (e.g. a disease)
  • any attribute, whether physical or not (e.g. complexion, attitude)
  • anything that is firmly attached to you (a smile, your legs, your hair) provided it is not in you (such as your bones, which would be ann an)

You use aig for anything else you have in English.

I'm sure that if other people contribute to this we can get a good list.


This helps a lot, thank you!


I assumed this was a natural colour so I wrote dark. I would use gorm for almost-black hair. Would it be understood like this?


I’m definitely not an expert, not a native speaker, and wildly speculating here: wouldn’t dark hair rather be dubh (if very dark and blackish) or donn (if brownish) as in the lament song Ailein Duinn (voc. of Ailean Donn) translated to Dark-haired Alan and Faclair Dwelly gives 7** Dark-haired for dubh.

I also think that’s (a part of?) the reason why a black man is fear gorm – as fear dubh would rather suggest dark-haired man, not dark skin colour (but then it also might be a Scandinavian influence – blámaðr in Old Norse).

But then Colin B.D. Mark’s dictionary seems to disagree… – it doesn’t mention anything hair-related for the headword dubh (but gives Calum Dubh as dark-haired Malcolm in the examples for copula is), translates the n-word to duine dubh and doesn’t mention anything skin-related for gorm – so maybe the language changed since the times of Dwelly, or Dwelly’s dictionary was too leaning to the side of traditional language based on Irish?


She has green hair
What's wrong with my version?


Nothing that I can see, if it were a darkish or bluish green. If it were bright green you would definitely say uaine, but Gaelic vocabulary does not distinguish very well between dark green and dark blue.

This is definitely uaine bright green hair but this I would describe as gorm green-blue hair


Exactly. If the color is that fancy, gorm could be grass-green as well.


I was wondering if this meant truly black (which often has a blueish look) or blue-rinsed, as favoured by my grandmothers' generation.

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