The many functions of ə

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
Am mùthadh mar a bha e 14:15, 19 dhen t-Sultain 2015 le Akerbeltz (Deasbaireachd | mùthaidhean) (Created page with "It would seem that, certainly from a learner's point of view, every languages has a small annoying word which has just too many possible functions. In Albanian this happens to...")
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It would seem that, certainly from a learner's point of view, every languages has a small annoying word which has just too many possible functions. In Albanian this happens to be të, which can be any of the following:

  • a short form of a second person pronoun in the dative or accusative
  • a short form of a third person pronoun in the dative or accusative - meaning that the short form "for him" and "for you" are identical...
  • a particle which forms the conjunctive
  • a particle which forms the future conditional
  • a particle which forms the jussive (i.e. it helps form a kind of imperative)
  • a particle needed for some infinitive constructions
  • the definite article before a noun

Once you get into it, it's not quite as bad but can still be a head-scratcher.

Of course Gaelic has one too - a. This covers an even wider range of options that Albanian të, so here's a list which hopefully will help you make a bit more sense of it.

The vocative particle

This a* [ə] is placed in front of a noun when directly addressing someone. It lenites and forces the noun into the vocative case (if the noun has one). English doesn't really have something like it, oh is the closest equivalent but in Gaelic it doesn't sound as corny when you use the vocative, it's just, well, normal.

Before a vowel or fh-, the a disappears.

Seumas [ʃeːməs] » a Sheumais! [ə heːmɪʃ]
James (oh) James!
fir [firʲ] » fheara! [ɛrə]
men (oh) men!
Mórag [moːrag] » a Mhórag! [ə voːrag]
Morag (oh) Morag!

The leniting article

Technically this is not just a but a' with an apostrophe but I've included it nonetheless.

The participle-forming particle

Also technically a' with an apostrophe but I've included it.

The masculine possessive pronoun

The feminine possessive pronoun

The infinitive particle

The counting particle

The reduced form of the preposition do

The reduced form of the preposition de

The relative particle

The first part of various adverbs

Which is sadly relevant because of some GOC nonense.

The letter a

A dialectal form of e

The interrogative particle

The exclamation

The preposition á