However, DuoLingo told me the "a h-úll" spelling was a typo when I tried it. I'll report it next time.
Edit 2017-01-03: According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_orthography#Punctuation, "a húll' is correct and "a h-úll" is not correct. 'The hyphen (Irish: fleiscín) is used in Irish after the letters t and n when these are attached to a vowel-initial word through the rules of the initial mutations, as in an t-arán "the bread", a n-iníon "their daughter". However, the hyphen is not used when the vowel is capitalised, as in an tAlbanach "the Scotsman", Ár nAthair "Our Father". No hyphen is used with the h that is attached to a vowel-initial word: a hiníon "her daughter".' [Emphasis added]
Notes and Tips on Possessives - https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ga/Possessives
I'm afraid this has nothing to do with lenition! Lenition always places the "h" between the first and second letters of a word, and words beginning with vowels are never lenited. As AnLonDubhBeag helpfully commented, a úll is his apple, a húll is her apple and a n-úll is their apple. See the "Tips and notes" for the possessives skill.
Well, it has SOMETHING to do with lenition -- inasmuch as the effect (known as "h-prothesis" if you want to be technical about it; "sticking an h on the front" if you prefer to go easy on the Greek!) happens to any word beginning with a vowel when it follows another word (e.g. "a" = "her") that 1) would not lenite a consonant but 2) does end in a vowel.
Having said all that, I now can't think of another word that satisfies both of the conditions 1) and 2) above! So probably just best to stick to the simple rule that "a" = "her" prefixes an h to any following vowel.
Hope I haven't confused too many people :)
chas sé síos lána uaigneach - "he turned down a lonely lane"
lána is a masculine noun, so it
1) would not lenite a consonant and
2) does end in a vowel
Up until the 50's, it was common to indicate lenition by putting a dot over the lenited letter, rather than putting h after it. That dot was not used to say a húll, because that h isn't lenition.
If you spell a lenited word out loud, such as mo chat, you can/should say "em-oh space see-séimhiú-aah-tee".
When a means "his", it lenites a noun that starts with a lenitable consonant. It doesn't make any change to a noun that starts with a vowel - a bhosca, a úll.
When a means "her", it doesn't make any change to noun that starts with a consonant. It adds a h prefix to a noun that starts with a vowel - a bosca, a húll.
When a means "their", it eclipses a noun that starts with an eclipsable consonant. It adds a n- prefix to a noun that starts with a vowel - a mbosca, a n-úll.
When the noun doing the possessing is feminine in Irish, but has no gender in English (inanimate objects, abstract concepts, animals you don't attribute a gender to).
Unless the sentence you are translating must have an "it," stick with "her." The point here is to make sure you recognize the difference between "his" and "hers."
am, I mistaken or are you people mostly Irish nationals and teachers in the process of bettering your Irish ? I'm asking that because of the way you are handling terms like " hyphen" - " fricative" - " lenition" "prothesis and so on, which, albeit known to me, are not part of my current english vocabulary ( which is not my mother tongue anyway).. But I like to read your comments. which are quite professionals . it brings me back 60 odd years ago when I was in the Gymnase ( college in French-Speaking Switzerland, Lycee in France). . I think I will be able to learn Irish, a language which should NOT disappear !
Aside from "hyphen" (which is an ordinary word that refers to a little line, shorter than a dash, used in spelling words: "all-around" is a hyphenated word, for example) the words you listed are somewhat technical terms used in linguistics. (I am neither Irish nor an educator, but I did study linguistics at university.)
A fricative is a phoneme (a sound of human language) that is created by blowing air through a small space, thus creating a lot of turbulence. Examples of fricatives are f, v, s, z, sh, zh.
Lenition is the process by which a phoneme becomes "lighter". For example, a stop consonant (like b) becoming a fricative (like v). It is the opposite of fortition, which is the process by which a phoneme becomes "stronger". For example, a fricative (like v) becoming a stop (like b).
Prothesis is what we see here with adding an "h" sound at the start of "úll" in "a húll".
When it happens in the mouth of a non-native speaker (say a native Spanish speaker speaking English), it's sometimes called a parasitic sound or an intrusive sound.
Many thanks indeed. You say you are not a linguist but you had linguistic at the University. so you must have studied letters _ I am an economist and we sure did not have linguistic at the university. I know the terms because I studied Latin and Greek during the 7 compulsory years in college from age 11 to 18. I wanted to be an archeologue but then I changed my mind. But languages remained one of my passions and I needed them for business. It helped me to open markets around the planet and then to settle in South America where i live since 1992. I have business in 2 countries here. But I am not a linguist at all,though it interests me.I have printed your comments.
This makes so much sense (and makes me feel much better about my level of understanding and progress!). I have no background in linguistics and am admittedly not much of a grammar person either, so I've felt more than a little lost with Irish being the first foreign language I've decided to learn. Puts things in perspective. :) And thank you for sharing what you know here in such a clear way!
In school I learned that for masculine possession the noun didn't get a shéimiú, eg. a chara- his friend the feminine went without, eg. a cara- her friend and the collective got an urú. eg. a gcara- their friend but Duolingo has it backwards for some reason. I even looked it up on Wikipedia and got the same answers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_grammar#Pronouns
In what way does Duo have it backwards? It's a bit confusing because of the bizarre tendency of Irish to reflect properties of words in the spelling of the next word, but if you look in the section Possessive determiners there's this:
a athair "his father"
a hathair "her father"
That's consistent with ‘a húll’ = ‘her apple’, no?