An diofar eadar na mùthaidhean a rinneadh air "Masculine nouns"

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(Clachan)
(Each)
Loidhne 125: Loidhne 125:
 
| Nominative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''each beag'''</span><br>'''a small horse'''<br>do nothing || <span style="color: #008000;">'''eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''small horses'''<br>after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
| Nominative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''each beag'''</span><br>'''a small horse'''<br>do nothing || <span style="color: #008000;">'''eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''small horses'''<br>after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
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|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Genitive || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh eich bhig'''</span><br>'''a house of a small horse'''<br>lenite the adjective and slenderise it || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh each beaga'''</span><br>'''a house of small horses'''<br>the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Genitive || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh eich bhig'''</span><br>'''a house of a small horse'''<br>lenite the adjective and slenderise it || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh each beaga'''</span><br>'''a house of small horses'''<br>the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Dative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air each beag'''</span><br>'''on a small horse'''<br>do nothing || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''on small horses'''<br>after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Dative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air each beag'''</span><br>'''on a small horse'''<br>do nothing || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''on small horses'''<br>after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
|-
 
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Loidhne 138: Loidhne 138:
 
|width="40%"|Plural
 
|width="40%"|Plural
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Nominative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''an t-each beag'''</span><br>'''the small horse'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an t-</span><sup>2</sup> || <span style="color: #008000;">'''na h-eich bheaga'''</span><sup>3</sup><br>'''the small horses'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">na h-</span><sup>3</sup>; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Nominative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''an t-each beag'''</span><br>'''the small horse'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an t-</span><sup>2</sup> || <span style="color: #008000;">'''na h-eich bheaga'''</span><sup>3</sup><br>'''the small horses'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">na h-</span><sup>3</sup>; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Genitive || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh an eich bhig'''</span><br>'''a/the house of the small horse'''<sup>4</sup><br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an</span>; lenite and slenderise the adjective || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh nan each beaga'''</span><br>'''a/the house of the small horses'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">nan</span>; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Genitive || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh an eich bhig'''</span><br>'''a/the house of the small horse'''<sup>4</sup><br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an</span>; lenite and slenderise the adjective || <span style="color: #008000;">'''taigh nan each beaga'''</span><br>'''a/the house of the small horses'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">nan</span>; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Dative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air an each bheag'''</span><br>'''on the small horse'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an</span>; lenite the adjective || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air na h-eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''on the small boys'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">na h-</span>; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Dative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air an each bheag'''</span><br>'''on the small horse'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">an</span>; lenite the adjective || <span style="color: #008000;">'''air na h-eich bheaga'''</span><br>'''on the small boys'''<br>the definite article is <span style="color: #008000;">na h-</span>; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
 
|- style="vertical-align:top;"
| Vocative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''a eich bhig!'''</span><sup>5</sup><br>'''Oh, small horse!'''<br>the vocative particle is <span style="color: #008000;">a</span>; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both || <span style="color: #008000;">'''a eichibh beaga!'''</span><br>'''Oh, small horses!'''<br>the vocative particle is <span style="color: #008000;">a</span>; lenite the noun; nouns that slenderise for plural add <span style="color: #008000;">-(a)ibh</span>; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural
+
| Vocative || <span style="color: #008000;">'''a eich bhig!'''</span><sup>5</sup><br>'''Oh, small horse!'''<br>the vocative particle is <span style="color: #008000;">a</span>; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both || <span style="color: #008000;">'''a eichibh beaga!'''</span><br>'''Oh, small horses!'''<br>the vocative particle is <span style="color: #008000;">a</span>; lenite the noun; nouns that slenderise for plural add <span style="color: #008000;">-(a)ibh</span>; one syllable adjectives add <span style="color: #008000;">-a</span> in the plural<sup>1</sup>
 
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Mùthadh on 04:52, 8 dhen Dàmhair 2014

Gaelic has 4 cases (we will leave the discussion of whether the vocative is a case in Gaelic to the linguists): the nominative, the dative, the genitive and the vocative case. Hurk?

Cases

The nominative

Literally the "naming" case. The nominative presents the basic form of a noun which is the word that a dictionary gives you or that you use when naming something, e.g. an taigh, am balach, a' chaileag etc. In Gaelic, subjects of a sentence are in the nominative case. It's referred to by some as the "Naming Case" or the "Nominal Case", probably because they think that Latinate words might cause the brain to overheat. In any case, we believe grammar is difficult enough without having 5 terms for the same thing so we stick with the most established term - the nominative.

The dative

Literally the "giving" case. Never mind other languages here; in Gaelic, simple prepositions are followed by the dative case, e.g. fo, do, de, bho, le, ri, aig, ann an etc. Because prepositions are used with the dative case, it is sometimes referred to as the "prepositional case". Again, we'll stick with the established word, dative, and not bother that linguists argue about whether today's Gaelic dative isn't really a dative anymore.

The genitive

Literally the "creating" case. Well, in Gaelic the genitive is used for various things. For one, it expresses possession (akin to the English "possessive 's"), e.g. taigh mo mhàthar, bean an taighe etc. The genitive case also takes the function of the English particle 'of' as in 'house of horror' 'Queen of Scots' - taigh an uabhais, Ban-rìghinn nan Albannach. In Gaelic, it also forms compound nouns, e.g. gloine fìona (a wineglass) vs. gloine fìon (a glass (full) of wine). The genitive case is referred to by some as the "possessive" case - but do we really need yet another term?

The vocative

Literally the "calling" case - which is what it does. In Gaelic, you use the vocative case when directly addressing someone or something, e.g. when shouting someone's name to get their attention, when addressing an audience, or when you're drunk and talking to a lamp-post: a Mhórag! a lampa-shràid!

Number

What else? Ah, number. English makes a distinction between singular (the cat) and plural (15 cats). In addition, Gaelic has a dual distinction which means the noun will take on one shape for one [X], two [X] and more than two [X] - bròg, dà bhròig, trì brogan.

Definiteness

Definite and indefinite: an indefinite noun is a noun that indicates a member of a group of things without telling you exactly which member. For example, 'a cat' could be any moggie on or off this planet. However, if you say 'the cat sat on the mat' you must have previously mentioned which cat you mean. If you have not clarified, you'll get questions like 'what, Frankie's cat?'. In Gaelic, a definite noun is preceded by a definite article which changes its shape depending on the noun, case, gender and number: a', na, nan, nam... Proper nouns are always considered definite, so Calum and Èideann are proper nouns even though there are many Calums in this world and at least two Dùn Èideanns (look for Dunedin in New Zealand).

Balach

Right, now lets look at our first noun: Balach. It's masculine, it forms its plural by means of slenderisation, which is important, and has b as its initial consonant. It's important to notice initial consonants because they influence the choice of definite article:

balach beag - masculine indefinite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative balach beag
a small boy
do nothing
balaich bheaga
small boys
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh balaich bhig
a house of a small boy
lenite the adjective and slenderise it
taigh bhalach beaga
a house of small boys
nouns followed by an indefinite noun in the plural cause lenition; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air balach beag
on a small boy
do nothing
air balaich bheaga
on small boys
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1

am balach beag - masculine definite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative am balach beag
the small boy
the definite article is an2
na balaich bheaga
the small boys
the definite article is na; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh a' bhalaich bhig
a/the house of the small boy3
the definite article is an4; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
taigh nam balach beaga
a/the house of the small boys
the definite article is nan5; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air a' bhalach bheag
on the small boy
the definite article is an4; lenite noun and adjective
air na balaich bheaga
on the small boys
the definite article is na; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Vocative a bhalaich bhig!
Oh, small boy!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a bhalachaibh beaga!
Oh, small boys!
the vocative particle is a; lenite the noun; nouns that slenderise for plural add -(a)ibh; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1

Oh joy, footnotes again...

1 -e if they end in a slender consonant e.g. glic > glice

2 The article is an, except in front of the labials b, p, f, m (sounds made at the lips) where this assimilates to am.

3 Gaelic has a rule that states that in any definite noun phrase, the definite article may only occur once and only in front of the last noun. This means that unlike English, where 'the house of the small boy' is grammatical, in Gaelic, you may only use an (well, a' in this case) in front of balaich. As a result, in Gaelic, you cannot distinguish 'a house of the small boy' from 'the house of the small boy' and have to rely on context to determine whether the first noun is definite or indefinite.

4 The article is an but before all lenitable consonants (except f where it remains an) an is reduced to a'; however, keep in mind the homo-organic rule which prevents the lenition of d, n, t, l.

5 The article is nan, except in front of the labials b, p, f, m (sounds made at the lips) when nan assimilates to nam (same as in 2).

A general footnote: Basically, anything that happens to the noun, happens to the adjective. Thus, if the noun slenderises, in most cases, the adjective will slenderise. Lenition caused by the definite article "jumps" with the result that "jumping lenition" will affect every noun and adjective in that noun phrase until you reach the next part of the sentence, e.g. air a' bhalach bheag tana mhodhail.

Also, in a noun-adjective compound, like coileach-dubh, both elements are declined as if they were seperated, e.g. taigh a' choilich-dhuibh. If it's a compound where the adjective precedes the noun, as in glas-bheinn, the adjective undergoes lenition, but takes no other changes, while the noun is declined regularly and determines the gender of the compound, e.g. na glas-faoileige, dhan ghlas-fhaoleig etc.

Clachan

Our next noun is Clachan. It's masculine, it forms its plural by means of adding a suffix, an, and has c as its initial consonant. It's important to notice the initial consonant because it influences the choice of definite article:

clachan beag - masculine indefinite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative clachan beag
a small village
do nothing
clachanan beaga
small villages
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh clachain bhig
a house of a small village
lenite the adjective and slenderise it
taigh chlachanan beaga
a house of small villages
if a noun is followed by an indefinite plural noun, the indefinite plural noun takes lenition; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air clachan beag
on a small village
do nothing
air clachanan beaga
on small villages
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1

an clachan beag - masculine definite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an clachan beag
the small village
the definite article is an2
na clachanan beaga
the small villages
the definite article is na; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh a' chlachain bhig
a/the house of the small village3
the definite article is an4; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
taigh nan clachanan beaga
a/the house of the small villages
the definite article is nan5; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air a' chlachan bheag
on the small village
the definite article is an4; lenite noun and adjective
air na clachanan beaga
on the small villages
the definite article is na; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Vocative a chlachain bhig!
Oh, small village!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a chlachan beaga!
Oh, small villages!
the vocative particle is a; lenite the noun; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1; with nouns that form their plural with an ending, the vocative plural has the same form as the nominative plural

1 -e if they end in a slender consonant e.g. glic > glice

2 The article is an, except that in front of the labials b, p, f, m (sounds made at the lips) this assimilates to am.

3 Gaelic has a rule that states that in any definite noun phrase, the definite article may only occur once, and only appear in front of the last noun. This means that unlike English, where 'the house of the small village' is grammatical, in Gaelic, you may only get an in front of clachan. As a result, you cannot distinguish 'a house of the small village' from 'the house of the small village'; therefore, in Gaelic, you have to rely on context to determine whether the first noun is definite or indefinite.

4 The article is an but before all lenitable consonants (except f where it remains an) this is reduced to a'; however, bear in mind that the homo-organic rule prevents the lenition of d, n, t, l

5 The article is nan, except in front of the labials b, p, f, m (sounds made at the lips) where it assimilates to nam (same as in 2).

Each

Our next noun is each. It's masculine, it forms its plural by means of slenderisation and has an initial vowel:

each beag - masculine indefinite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative each beag
a small horse
do nothing
eich bheaga
small horses
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh eich bhig
a house of a small horse
lenite the adjective and slenderise it
taigh each beaga
a house of small horses
the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air each beag
on a small horse
do nothing
air eich bheaga
on small horses
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1

an t-each beag - masculine definite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an t-each beag
the small horse
the definite article is an t-2
na h-eich bheaga3
the small horses
the definite article is na h-3; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh an eich bhig
a/the house of the small horse4
the definite article is an; lenite and slenderise the adjective
taigh nan each beaga
a/the house of the small horses
the definite article is nan; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Dative air an each bheag
on the small horse
the definite article is an; lenite the adjective
air na h-eich bheaga
on the small boys
the definite article is na h-; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Vocative a eich bhig!5
Oh, small horse!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a eichibh beaga!
Oh, small horses!
the vocative particle is a; lenite the noun; nouns that slenderise for plural add -(a)ibh; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1

1 -e if they end in a slender consonant e.g. glic > glice

2 The definite article is an t- before vowels. This is commonly described as the article prefixing t- to nouns beginning with a vowel, but this t- is actually part of the definite article.

3 The definite article is na h- before vowels. This is commonly described as the article prefixing h- to nouns beginning with a vowel, but this h- is actually part of the definite article.

4 Gaelic has a rule stating that in any definite noun phrase, the definite article may only occur once and in front of the last noun. This means that unlike English, where 'the house of the small horse' is grammatical, you may only use an t- in front of each in Gaelic. As a result, in Gaelic, you cannot distinguish 'a house of the small horse' from 'the house of the small horse' so you have to rely on context to determine whether the first noun is definite or indefinite.

5 Before vowels, the a is not pronounced, but should be written

Eilean

The next noun is eilean. It's masculine, it forms its plural by adding an ending and it has an initial vowel:

eilean beag - masculine indefinite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative eilean beag
a small island
do nothing
eileanan beaga1
small islands
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Genitive taigh eilein bhig
a house of a small island
lenite the adjective and slenderise it
taigh eileanan beaga
a house of small islands
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air eilean beag
on a small island
do nothing
air eileanan beaga
on small islands
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural

an t-eilean beag - masculine definite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an t-eilean beag
the small island
the definite article is an t-2
na h-eileanan beaga
the small islands
the definite article is na h-3; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Genitive taigh an eilein bhig
a/the house of the small island
the definite article is an4; lenite and slenderise the adjective
taigh nan eileanan beaga
a/the house of the small islands
the definite article is nan5; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air an eilean bheag
on the small island
the definite article is an4; lenite noun and adjective
air na h-eileanan beaga
on the small islands
the definite article is na h-; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Vocative a eilein bhig!
Oh, small island!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a eileanan beaga!
Oh, small islands!
the vocative particle is a; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural; with nouns that form their plural with an ending, the vocative plural has the same form as the nominative plural.

1 -e if they end in a slender consonant e.g. glic > glice.

2 The definite article is an t- before vowels. This is commonly described as the article prefixing t- to nouns beginning with a vowel, but this t- is actually part of the definite article.

3 The definite article is na h- before vowels. This is commonly described as the article prefixing h- to nouns beginning with a vowel, but this h- is actually part of the definite article.

4 Gaelic has a rule that states that in any definite noun phrase, the definite article may only occur once and in front of the last noun. This means that unlike English, where 'the house of the small island' is grammatical, you may only use an in front of eilein, in Gaelic. As a result, in Gaelic, you cannot distinguish 'a house of the small island' from 'the house of the small island' and have to rely on context to determine whether the first noun is definite or indefinite.

5 Before vowels, the a is not pronounced, but should be written.

Saor

Next up is saor. It's masculine, it forms its plural by means of slenderisation, and it has an initial s:

saor beag - masculine indefinite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative saor beag
a small joiner
do nothing
saoir bheaga
small joiners
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural1
Genitive taigh saoir bhig
a house of a small joiner
lenite the adjective and slenderise it
taigh shaor beaga
a house of small joiners
nouns followed by an indefinite noun in the plural cause lenition; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air saor beag
on a small joiner
do nothing
air saoir bheaga
on small joiners
after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural

an saor beag - masculine definite noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative an saor beag
the small joiner
the definite article is an
na saoir bheaga
the small joiners
the definite article is na; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Genitive taigh an t-saoir bhig
a/the house of the small joiner2
the definite article is an t-3; lenite and slenderise the adjective
taigh nan saor beaga
a/the house of the small joiners
the definite article is nan; the genitive plural of nouns that slenderise for plural is like the nominative singular; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air an t-saor bheag
on the small joiner
the definite article is an t-3; lenite the adjective
air na saoir bheaga
on the small joiners
the definite article is na; after a noun that slenderises for plural, lenite adjectives; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Vocative a shaoir bhig!
Oh, small joiner!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a shaoraibh beaga!
Oh, small joiners!
the vocative particle is a; lenite the noun; nouns that slenderise for plural add -(a)ibh; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural

1 -e if they end in a slender consonant e.g. glic > glice

2 Gaelic has a rule that states that in any given definite noun phrase, the definite article may only occur once and in front of the last noun. This means that unlike English, where 'the house of the small joiner' is grammatical, you may only use an t- in front of saoir, in Gaelic. As a result, in Gaelic, you cannot distinguish 'a house of the small joiner' from 'the house of the small joiner' and have to rely on context to determine whether the first noun is definite or indefinite.

3 The definite article is an t- before s+vowel, sl, sn, sr. This is commonly described as the article prefixing t- to nouns beginning with a vowel, but this t- is actually part of the definite article. The s- is eclipsed by this t, i.e. the two words are pronounced as if the s- wasn't there at all, so air an t-saor is pronounced as [ɛɾʲ ən t̪ɯːɾ]. This happens in all cases except before sp/sg/sd. However, the easiest way to remember this is to say that it happens in all cases where the resulting word is "pronounceable" and *tp/tg/td are not possible pronunciations in Gaelic.

Compound nouns

So, what happens with compound nouns? Well, to begin, we need to recognize that there are two kinds, loose compounds and close compounds, and then try to answer the question of what constitutes a compound, in Gaelic. According to Faclair na Pàrlamaid, close compounds are hyphenated nouns; however, for Gaelic, that is not very helpful as there is much confusion as to which words are and are not hyphenated.

Actually, the distinction is relatively easy, well, for a native speaker. Two nouns form a close compound if there is stress shift. Consider the two nouns gloine fìon 'a glass (full) of wine' as opposed to gloine-fìona 'a wineglass'. We start with remembering that every Gaelic word has word stress on the first syllable, which is the case both in gloine and fìon, in the first example. However, in the second example, you can tell that these two words have fused by listening to the stress pattern and, for gloine fìona, the only stress that is heard is the one on -fìona.

You get the same thing in other languages, for example, in English, when whirl + pool come together (both have word stress), to form whirlpool, only one word stress remains. Similar stress changes occur with paper + cut > paper-cut, bull + shit > bullshit and minimal pairs like 'a Frenchman' and 'a French man', 'a rolling pin' and 'a rolling-pin', and 'a holiday' and 'a holy day'.

This is a bit tricky for a learner, but it's the only foolproof way of telling a loose compound from a close compound. Consider a few more examples before progressing. As you can see, where Gaelic has a close compound, English often has a single word rather than two (e.g sgian-arain vs breadknife). Also, you get lenition in close compounds whereas you don't in loose compounds (the stressed syllables are underlined):

loose compound close compound
mac ministeir
the son of a minister
MacDhòmhnaill
MacDonald
latha nigheadaireachd
washing day
DiLuain
Monday
dùn cloiche
a fortress made of stone
sgian-arain
a breadknife
(sgian arain would be a knife made of bread!)
làrach taighe
the ruins of a house
làrach-lìn
a website

Close compounds

So how DO you decline a close compound? The general rule is that the second noun is always in the genitive and undergoes lenition after the article, when appropriate. The second masculine noun slenderises for plural while the first noun is regularly declined. And, if the second noun is in the plural, it is always lenited. That follows the general rule that a plural noun, following another noun, is lenited. All the footnotes given above still apply to compound nouns but haven't been stated again:

muileann-gaoithe beag - masculine indefinite close-compound noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative muileann-gaoithe beag
a small windmill
do nothing
muileannan-gaoithe beaga
small windmills
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Genitive taigh muilinn-ghaoithe bhig
a house of a small windmill
slenderise the adjective and the first noun and lenited the second noun
taigh mhuileannan-gaoithe beaga
a house of small windmills
nouns followed by an indefinite noun in the plural cause lenition; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air muileann-gaoithe beag
on a small windmill
do nothing
air muileannan-gaoithe beaga
on small windmills
one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural

am muileann-gaoithe beag - masculine definite close-compound noun

Case Singular Plural
Nominative am muileann-gaoithe beag
the small windmill
the definite article is am
muileannan-gaoithe beaga
the small windmills
the definite article is na; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Genitive taigh a' mhuilinn-ghaoithe bhig
a/the house of the small windmill
the definite article is an; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
taigh nam muileannan-gaoithe beaga
a/the house of the small windmills
the definite article is nan; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Dative air a' mhuileann-ghaoithe bheag
on the small windmill
the definite article is an; lenite noun and adjective
air na muileannan-gaoithe beaga
on the small windmills
the definite article is na; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural
Vocative a mhuilinn-ghaoithe bhig!
Oh, small windmill!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both
a mhuileannan-gaoithe beaga!
Oh, small windmills!
the vocative particle is a; lenite the noun; one syllable adjectives add -a in the plural; with nouns that form their nominative plural with an ending, the vocative plural has the same form as the nominative plural

Proper nouns

Still more? Yes, but hang in there, we've almost got it. What's still left is the treatment of proper nouns. Like Pàdraig Bàn MacDhòmhnaill.

Case Proper noun
Nominative Pàdraig Bàn MacDhòmhnaill
Fair Patrick MacDonald
Genitive taigh Phàdraig Bhàin MhicDhòmnaill
Fair Patrick MacDonald's House
lenite and slenderise all words
Dative air Pàdraig Bàn MacDhòmhnaill
on fair Patrick MacDonald
nothing
Vocative a Phàdraig Bhàn MhicDhòmhnaill
Fair Patrick MacDonald!
the vocative particle is a; lenite noun and adjective and slenderise both

Footnotes? Just a few. If you get a double name like Pàdraig Aonghas, both of them slenderise and lenite in the vocative e.g. a Phàdraig Aonghais! or a Dhonnchaidh Mhurchaidh!

Place names

Down to the last item which is proper names that are place names. We get two kinds of place names - opaque place names and transparent place names. Opaque placenames are the ones that don't have any obvious meaning e.g. Leòdhas, na Hearadh, Glaschu whereas transparent place names make sense (by giving a little bit of descriptive information) such as Dùn Éideann, Machair Aonghais, Dùn Bheagan, Meall nan Caorach - and of course semi-opaque ones like An t-Eilean Sgiathanach, but one thing at a time.

Case Shawbost Dunvegan Oban
Nominative Siabost Dùn Bheagan An t-Òban
Genitive muinntir Shiaboist Muinntir Dhùn Bheagain Muinntir an Òbain
Dative ann an Siabost ann an Dùn Bheagan anns an Òban
Vocative a Shiaboist! a Dhùin Bheagain! (a) Òbain!

For the most part, proper names such as place names behave like normal nouns. However, here are a few pointers:

  • In the genitive, placenames behave just like a string of common nouns - they slenderise the last element in names like Dùn Bheagan > Dhùn Bheagain, An t-Eilean Sgiathanach > an Eilein Sgiathanaich; they also show genitive markings only on the last noun. Unlike common nouns, they also lenite their initials.
  • In the vocative (should one need it) placenames behave as if they were common nouns.
  • Opaque placenames are those for which the meaning is not immediately obvious. For example, Achadh Bàn has an immediately obvious meaning. However, with Sruighlea, you won't know by looking at it what it means. Opaque placenames obey the rules of lenition but generally not slenderisation. But for some final elements, such as -bost or -bhagh, which occur a lot, it's possible for the last syllable to slenderise, i.e. muinntir Shiaboist, rather than *Shiabost.

The PDF

There is one for the traditional or conservative pattern and another for the normal or colloquial pattern.

See also



Beagan gràmair
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