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The Intricacies of Dà

April 20, 2011

One, two, buckle my shoe!  Counting should be simple, right!  In Scottish Gaelic: a h-aon, a dhà, a trì, a ceithir, a còig, a sia, a seachd, a h-ochd, a naoi, a deich. 

However, as we saw yesterday, that’s only for the act of counting.  To use the numbers other than counting, the a’s and h’s are dropped. 

When saying there is one of something, you must know when to lenite (after every letter except l, n, r, d, t, s, and vowels.) 

Today: special rules for using dhà/dà:

  • dhà is free-standing.  Tha dhà agam.  (Ha ghaa AH-kum.)  I have two.
  •  is used before nouns.  Tha dà thaigh agam.  (Ha daa high AH-kum.)  I have two houses.
  • nouns following dhà/dà take their dative, singular, lenited form  (nothing could be simpler, right?)

What, you ask, is the dative form?  For a definition, see wikipedia.  For the purposes of learning Gaelic, I’ll stick to saying, today, that the dative form affects nouns like this:

  • Masculine Nouns:  same as nominative
  • Feminine Nouns:
    •  insert i after the last broad vowel (a, o, and u) or instead of the last broad vowel
    • when the last vowel is slender (i, e), there is no change
    • when the noun ends in a, there is no change
    • when the noun begins with f, the f lenites

So we get:

  • dà chù  (dah choo) two dogs
  • dà chat  (dah chaht) two cats
  • dà chirc (dah cheerk) two hens
  • dà chraoibh (dah CHROOY-iv) two trees
  • dà thaigh  (dah high) two houses
  • dà chluas  (dah CHLOO-us) two ears
  • dà làimh*  (dah layv) two hands
  • dà shùil  (dah HOO-il) two eyes

 *Remember, l is one of the few consonants (l, n, r, and s except when followed by l, n, r, or a vowel) that doesn’t lenite

 Today’s listening, Can Seo, episode 13, part 2, in which she discusses genitive forms and cleaning the windows.

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