"Your hair is clean."

Translation:Tha d' fhalt glan.

July 26, 2020

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So let's see if I have this right. "do" lenites "falt "(a feminine noun) which changes to "fhalt" which loses it's /f/ sound and becomes "(fh)alt" which begins with a vowel sound which changes "do" to "d'". Thus "d' fhalt." ??


Not sure why 'tha falt ort glan' is wrong?


It makes no sense. Your hair is d’fhalt – you use the possessive pronoun for it as it is a body part and thus possessed inalienably.

For the hair you own, you possess (eg. someone else’s cut hair locked in a drawer) you’d say am falt agad – but note that the hair would be definite (am falt) and you’d use aig, not air.

(Perhaps analogically to an X agad you could say am falt ort – but that’s not the typical way to say your hair and I cannot quickly find any examples of such usage.)


I knew from the 'notes' that hair and head were different from other body parts ie 'you have clean hair - tha falt glàn ort' but 'you have a clean face - tha aodann glàn agad'. I thought this exception would apply to this situation. Maybe an example in english where the same exception applies might be 'you have a good head on you' meaning you are clever but 'you have a good head' also works but 'Your head is good' works but 'you have a good head on' doesn't

Long way round to say you are right and I was wrong Thanks again


Your hair is clean and you have clean hair are two distinct sentences in English, in one you say your hair, in the other you have (some hair). It’s the same in Gaelic, your hair is d’fhalt, you have (some) hair (as in: it is part of you) is tha falt (eigin) ort.

Saying tha falt ort glan would be kinda like saying you-have-hair is clean instead of your hair is clean in English – nonsensical.

As for the distinction between things you have agad vs things you have ort – that’s just a thing about Gaelic not having a special verb to have and expressing possession in a different way.

Typically things that you own (as a material possession) use the preposition aig at (tha taigh agam, lit. there is a house at me) and things that are part of you or your feelings use air on (tha falt orm, lit. there is hair on me).

But of course there are exceptions, eg. eyes are definitely a part of you but you still use aig with them: tha sùilean donna agam I have brown eyes.

This is only a distinction of how you render the meanings of the verb to have.

Another thing is translating the possessive pronouns my, your, his, etc. describing a noun – here another distinction exists – for things that are very close to you, are part of you, or your family – so called inalienable possession – use the Gaelic possessive pronouns mo, do, a, ur, etc.; while material – alienable – possessions use the an X aig… construction. And here also are exceptions (eg. an duine agam for my husband even though it is definitely a close family member, vs regular mo bhean my wife).

But the exceptions for the two separate distinctions are different. Eg. even though you use aig to say that you have eyes (tha sùilean donna agam), you say mo shùilean for my eyes (and not na sùilean agam).

And even though you use the possessive pronouns (and not an … aig) for family members (eg. mo bhean) you do use aig to say that you have said family members: tha bean agam I have a wife (and not orm).


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