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  5. "Go away, Fergus!"

"Go away, Fergus!"

Translation:Thalla, Fhearghais!

April 30, 2020



What is the difference between Talla, a Fhearghais & Talla Fheargais ?


Well, the difference is that you put a in the first one and you didn’t in the second one (also, you left unlenited g in Fheargais there) – neither is correct in the meaning go away, Fergus.

The correct sentence is thalla, Fhearghais, (with thalla go away) no a there, as the vocative of Fearghas is Fhearghais (it starts with a vowel – the lenited fh is silent – and so there is no a in front of it).

(Your second example – talla Fhearghais – with the lenition of g fixed, could actually make sense in Gaelic, but it would mean Fergus’s hall; the hall of Fergus.)


My understanding is that the vocative particle 'a' is also allowed with 'fh' in written Gaelic.


It really depends on the sound. If the name after lenition starts with a consonant, then you say it (and write it), that includes eg. a Fhriseil /ə r´iʃɪʎ/ (o) Fraser – since it starts with the consonant /r´/ (but that’s not because of fh which is silent, it’s because of r).

In case of Fearghas the vocative is Fhearghais /ɛrɛɣɪʃ/ – it starts with a vowel and thus the vocative particle disappears in speech (in older texts it is sometimes written, as it is before other vowels, eg. a athair instead of athair – but Duolingo sticks to the modern practice of omitting it when it’s not pronounced).

Compare how in English you write a history but an hour, and a university but an ultimatum – because the choice between a and an depends only on phonology, not orthography, and you use an before vowels.


Makes sense, tapadh leat!

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