Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

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MonaNicLeoid
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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby MonaNicLeoid » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:57 am

The thing with the genitive was clumsily explained above, I think. Another way to explain it is this:

A noun can be indefinite, i.e. unspecified: seaplain = a chaplain (just any old chaplain, not specified at all).

Some languages, like English, mark indefinite / unspecified nouns by a so-called indefinite article, like the English "a/an". Many other languages mark indefinite / unspecified nouns by nothing at all, like Gaelic.

A noun can be specified by various things, for example an article, an adjective, or a genitive, for example:
an seaplain - the chaplain
an seaplain seo - this chaplain
an seaplain ùr - the new chaplain
seaplain an oilthigh - the chaplain of the university / the university chaplain

As you can see, in Gaelic the added genitive is enough to specify the noun, to mark it as definite. It doesn't need its own article in that case. On the other hand, if you use an adjective or demonstrative, like "ùr" or "seo", those do need the article to go with that.

This might look confusing at first sight, but that's just the way it is, you have to learn it as a rule. A noun being defined by a specific genitive doesn't need a definite article itself.
Gaelic is not the only language which does weird things (from an English point of view) like that. I'm currently learning Hebrew, and they do a very similar thing with genitive constructions like that. Whereas with an adjective, they use the definite article twice: they say things like "the chaplain the new".



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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby MonaNicLeoid » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:05 am

Mairead wrote:Can you also please clarify about (GunChleoc's correction) the double use of "ann"? In that sentence I thought the first ann was part of the construction "there are" and the anns was for "in my class".


While I was reading the correction, that was exactly my thought that this was what you meant.

You have two options:

Tha mu dheich oileanach anns a' chlas. = There are about 10 students in the class. Emphasis is on the number of the students.
Tha mu dheich oileanach ann sa chlas. = There are about 10 students present in the class. Emphasis is more on the presence of the students.

Tha mu dheich oileanach ann anns a' chlas - this sounds rather clumsy if you say it aloud.

By the way, it's clas, not clàs, that would be a different word.

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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby GunChleoc » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:24 am

Mairead wrote:Mòran taing. I know what the genitive is (having studied Latin), but I'm confused about this one article business. In the example above, "the university chaplain", why do I take "the" away from "chaplain" and not from "University"? To me it seems more important to say that he is THE chaplain, rather than A chaplain. But is that implied in Gaelic even though the definite article was kept only with "university"?

It is impossible to distinguish between "the chaplain of the university" and "a chaplain of the university" in Gaelic. This does take some getting used to, but it's a hard grammar rule: If you have a string of nouns (a noun phrase with multiple nouns), only the last noun (the one that's in the genitive) is allowed to have an article. An example often used is:

an iuchair
iuchair an dorais
iuchair doras na h-eaglaise

Mairead wrote:Can you also please clarify about (GunChleoc's correction) the double use of "ann"? In that sentence I thought the first ann was part of the construction "there are" and the anns was for "in my class".

Think of the first "ann" is a sort of anchor in space-time. Since "anns a' chlas" is such an anchor, you don't need another one. You can still use it as emphasis though like in Mona's example, with "anns a'" shortened to "sa", although I wonder what the difference in pronunciation would be between "anns a'" and "ann sa". :smaoin:
Oileanach chànan chuthachail
Na dealbhan agam

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Mairead
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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby Mairead » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:25 am

Tapadh leibh! I understand the rule about articles in the genitive now. :) One further question on that topic: Say I wanted to refer to a university chaplain as a general position, such as, "A university chaplain has to meet with students" (a la "a policeman has to fight crime). Is it possible to omit all definite articles from the Gaelic genitive, or would this still come out in Gaelic as "a chaplain of the university"?

And no double "ann", sounds good. ;) Tapadh leibh!
Tha avatar agam à dhealbh aig mo phiuthar anns an Cellardyke. Tha trì videothan Ghàidhlig agam anns an Youtube.
My avatar is from a photo that my sister took in Cellardyke. I have three Gaelic videos on Youtube.

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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby MonaNicLeoid » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:15 am

It would be "seaplain oilthigh(e)" then. The example is probably not great because "oilthigh" in colloquial speech doesn't have a visible/audible genitive (it actually does, it would be "oilthighe", but most people don't use that).

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Re: Hàlo, 's mise Mairead!

Unread postby Seonaidh » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:22 am

How would you differentiate between "a chaplain of the university" and "the chaplain of the university" in English, using the usual genitive construction? You wouldn't - both would be "the university['s] chaplain". If you said "a university['s] chaplain", the chaplain concerned could be attached to any university, not necessarily to the university (being talked about). So, can't do it in English, can't do it in Gaelic. Context is everything.

There is a tree in the wood - Tha craobh ann anns a' choille. But we'd usually contract "anns a'" to "sa", giving "Tha craobh ann sa choille". However, if you said "Tha craobh sa choille" it would mean something like "A tree is in the wood".

One way the Gaelic genitive is different to the English one - and GC mentioned this - is that, in Gaelic, it's only the very last item (which would be the very first) of the genitive list that's actually in the genitive case. In English, it's everything but the last! Thus, given a horrendous English sentence like:-

The boy's mother's house's door was open (everything genitive case but the door, "the" only with first item)

we'd get a horrendour Gaelic sentence like:-

Bha doras taigh mathair a' bhalaich fosgailte (only the boy genitive case, "the" only with the last item)