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I. Of Pronunciation and 

II. Op the Parts of Speech 

III. Of Syntax 

IV. Of Derivation and 





IRogal Celtic Society JEDltiou^ 






For several years the Grammar of the Gaelic language 
by the Rev. Dr Stewart of Moulin has been out of 
print. This has been a source of regret to scholars and 
students of that tongue. Not but that there are other 
Grammars of real value, which it would be unjust either 
to ignore or to depreciate, and which have served, and 
are serving, an excellent purpose in connection with 
Celtic Literature. But the Grammar of Dr Stewart has 
peculiar features of its own which give it a permanent 
value. It is distinguished by its simplicity, conciseness, 
and philosophical accuracy. No Grammar of any lan- 
guage bears on its pages the marks of real and profound 
scholarship, in so far as it goes, more than does the 
Grammar of Dr Stewart. One cannot read a sentence 
of it without seeing how carefully he had collected his 
materials, and with what judgment, caution, and saga- 
city he has compared them and drawn his conclusions. 
His discussions upon the Article, the Noun, the Verb, 
and the Preposition, ample evidence of this. It is 
no doubt true that a much fuller discussion is, with the 
more abundant resources of modern scholarship, com- 


petent and desirable, but, so far as he goes, Dr Stewart's 
treatment of the subject is of a masterly character. 

That there are defects to be found in the work is 
very tme. On the subject of Syntax his disquisitions 
are deficient in fulness, and there is a want of 
grammatical exercises throughout. It was at first 
thought desirable by the publishers and their advisers 
to remedy these defects by introducing fuller notices 
on the subject of Syntax, and a considerable number 
of grammatical exercises from other sources open to 
them. But it was finally deemed best in every view of 
it to give Stewart's work just as he had left it, and that 
is done here with the exception of a list of subscribers' 
names in the introduction. Messrs Maclachlan and 
Stewart are doing the literary community a service in 
republishing this volume, and thanks are specially due 
to the Eoyal Celtic Society of Edinburgh, a society 
which has done much to foster the interests of education 
in the Highlands, and which has given substantial aid 
towards the accomplishment of this undertaking. 

Thos. M'Lauchlan. 

Edinbxtrou, Ist August 187S. 




or Pronunciation and Orthography, . 






I.— Of the Article, 



11.— Of Nouns, 


Of Gender, 


Of Declension, 



III.— Of Adjectives, 


Of Numeral Adjectives, 



IV.— Of Pronouns, . 



v.— Of Verbs, 



Formation of the Tenses, 



Use and import of the Moods and Tenses, 


Irregular Verhs, 


Defective Verbs, 


Reciprocating state of Verbs, 


Impersonal use of Verbs, 


Auxiliary Verbs, 



VI.— Of Adverbs, . 



VII.— Of Prepositions, 


Idiomatic phrases. 



VIII.— Of Conjunctions, 



IX. — Of Interjections, 






Chap. I.— Of Concord, .... 

Sect. 1. Of the agreement of the Article with a Noun. 
Sect. 2. Of the agreement of an Adjective with a Noun, 
Sect. 3. Of the agreement of a Pronoun with its Ante 

cedent, .... 

Sect. 4. Of the agreement of a Verb with its Nominative 
Sect. 5. Of the agreement of one Noun with another, 

Chap. II. — Of Government, . 

Sect. 1. Of the Government of Nouns, . 
Sect. 2. Of the Government of Adjectives, 
Sect. 3. Of the Government of Verbs, 
Sect. 4. Of the Government of Adverbs, 
Sect. 6. Of the Government of Prepositions, 
Sect. 6. Of the Government of Conjunctions, 







Chap. I. — Of Derivation, . . , , 

Chap. II.— Of Composition, . . . . 

Exercises in Reading, &c., . 





The utility of a Grammar of the Scottish Gaelic will be 
variously appreciated. Some will be disposed to deride the 
vain endeavour to restore vigour to a decaying superannuated 
language. Those who reckon the extirpation of the Gaelic a 
necessary step toward that general extension of the English 
which they deem essential to the political interest of the 
Highlands, will condemn every project which seems likely to 
retard its extinction. Those who consider that there are many 
parts of the Highlands, where the inhabitants can, at present, 
receive no useful knowledge whatever except through the 
channel of their native tongue, will probably be of opinion 
that the Gaelic ought at least to be tolerated. Yet these too 
may condemn as useless, if not ultimately detrimental, any 
attempt to cultivate its powers, or to prolong its existence. 
Others will entertain a different opinion. They will judge 
from experience, as well as from the nature of the case, that 
no measure merely of a literary kind will prevail to hinder 
the progress of the English language over the Highlands; 
while general convenience and emolument, not to mention 
private emulation and vanity, conspire to facilitate its intro 
duction, and prompt the natives to its acquisition. They 


will perceive at the same time, that while the Gaelic continues 
to be the common speech of multitudes, — while the knowledge 
of many important facts, of many necessary arts, of morals, 
of religion, and of the laws of the land, can be conveyed to 
them only by means of this language, — it must be of material 
service to preserve it in such a state of cultivation and purity, 
as that it may be fully adequate to these valuable ends ; in 
a word, that while it is a living language, it may answer the 
purpose of a living language. 

To those who wish for an uniformity of speech over the 
whole kingdom, it may not be impertinent to suggest one 
remark. The more that the human mind is enlightened, the 
more desirous it becomes of farther acquisitions in knowledge. 
The only channel through which the rudiments of knowledge 
can be conveyed to the mind of a remote Highlander is the 
Gaelic language. By learning to read and to understand 
what he reads, in his native tongue, an appetite is generated 
for those stores of science which are accessible to him only 
through the medium of the English language. Hence an 
acquaintance with the English is found to be necessary for 
enabling him to gratify his desire after further attainments. 
The study of it becomes, of course, an object of importance; 
it is commenced, and prosecuted with increasing diligence. 
1'hese premises seem to warrant a conclusion which might at 
first appear paradoxical, that, by cultivating the Gaelic, you 
effectually, though indirectly, promote the study and diffuse 
the knowledge of the English. 

To public teachers it is of the highest moment that the 
medium through which their instructions are communicated 
be properly adapted to that use, and that they be enabled to 
avail themselves of it in the fittest manner. A language 
destitute of grammatical regularity can possess neither per- 


spicuity nor precision, and must therefore be very inadequate 
to the purpose of conveying one's thoughts. The Gaelic is 
in manifest danger of falling into this discreditable condition, 
from the disuse of old idioms and distinctions, and the admis- 
sion of modern corruptions, unless means be applied to pre- 
vent its degenerating. It is obvious that a speaker cannot 
express himself with precision without a correct knowledge 
of grammar. When he is conscious of his ignorance in this 
respect, he must deliver himself sometimes ambiguously or 
erroneously, always with diffidence and hesitation ; whereas 
one who has an accurate knowledge of the structure and 
phraseology of the language he speaks, will seldom fail to 
utter his thoughts with superior confidence, energy, and effect. 

A competent degree of this knowledge is requisite to the 
hearer also, to enable him to apprehend the full import and 
the precise force of the words of the speaker. Among the 
readers of Gaelic, who are every day becoming more numerous, 
those only who have studied it grammatically are qualified to 
understand accurately what they read, and to explain it dis- 
tinctly to others. Yet it cannot be denied that comparatively 
few ever arrive at a correct, or even a tolerable knowledge of 
grammar, without the help of a treatise composed for the 
purpose. Whoever, therefore, allows that the Gaelic must 
be employed in communicating to a large body of people the 
knowledge of revealed Truth and the way of eternal Life, will 
readily admit the extensive utility of investigating and 
unfolding its grammatical principles. Impressed with this 
conviction, I have been induced to offer to the public the 
following attempt to develop the grammar of the Scottish 

While I have endeavoured to render this treatise useful to 
those who wish to improve the knowledge of Gaelic which 


they already possess, I have also kept in view the gratification 
of others, who do not understand the Gaelic, but yet may be 
desirous to examine the structure and properties of this 
ancient language. To serve both these purposes, I have occa- 
sionally introduced such observations on the analogy between 
the Gaelic idiom and that of some other tongues, particularly 
the Hebrew, as a moderate knowledge of these enabled me to 
collect. The Irish dialect of the Gaelic is the nearest cognate 
of the Scottish Gaelic. An intimate acquaintance with its 
vocables and structure, both ancient and modem, would have 
been of considerable use. This I cannot pretend to have 
acquired. I have not failed, however, to consult, and to 
derive some advantage from such Irish philologists as were 
accessible to me, particularly O'Molloy, O'Briten, Vallancey, 
and Lhuyd. To these very respectable names I have to add 
that of the Rev. Dr Xeilson, author of " An Introduction to 
the Irish Language," Dublin, 1808; and E. O'C., author of 
" A Grammar of the Gaelic Language," Dublin, 1808; to the 
latter of whom I am indebted for some good-humoured stric- 
tures, and some flattering compliments, which, however 
unmerited, it were unhandsome not to acknowledge. I know 
but one publication professedly on the subject of Gaelic 
grammar written by a Scotsman*. I have consulted it also, 
but in this quarter I have no obligations to acknowledge. 

With respect to my literary countrymen who are proficients 
in the Gaelic, and who may cast an eye on this volume, less 
mth a view to learn than to criticise, while I profess a due 
deference to their judgment, and declare my anxiety to obtain 
their favourable suffrage, I must take the liberty to entreat 
their attention to the following considerations. 

* Analysis of the Gaelic Language, by William Shaw, A.M. 


The subject of Universal Grammar has been examined in 
modern times with a truly philosophical spirit, and has been 
settled on rational and stable principles; yet, in applying 
these principles to explain the grammar of a particular 
language, the divisions, the arrangements, and the rules to be 
given are, in a good measure, mechanical and arbitrary. One 
set of rules may be equally just with another. For what is 
it that grammatical rules dol They bring into view the 
various parts, inflections, or, as they may be termed, the 
phenomena of a language, and class them together in a cer- 
tain order. If these phenomena be all brought forward, and 
stated according as they actually appear in the language, the 
rules may be said to be both just and complete. Different 
sets of rules may exhibit the same things in a different order, 
and yet may all be equally just. The superiority seems, on 
a comparison, to belong to that system which follows most 
nearly the order of nature, or the process of the mind in 
forming the several inflections; or rather, perhaps, to that 
system which, from its simplicity, or clear and comprehensive 
arrangement, is most fitted to assist the memory in acquiring 
and retaining the parts of speech with their several inflections. 
In distributing the various parts of language into their 
several classes, and imposing names on them, we ought always 
to be guided by the nature of that language, and to guard 
against adopting, with inconsiderate servility, the distribu- 
tions and technical terms of another. This caution is the 
more necessary because, in our researches into the grammar 
of any particular tongue, we are apt to follow implicitly the 
order of the Latin grammar, on which we have been long 
accustomed to fix our attention, and which we are ever ready 
to erect into a model for the grammar of all languages. To 
force the several parts of speech into moulds formed for the 


idioms of the Latin tongue, and to frame them so as to suit 
a nomenclature adapted to the peculiarities of Latin grammar, 
must have the effect of disguising or concealing the pecu- 
liarities, and confounding the true distinctions, which belong 
to the language under discussion. 

Although, in treating of Gaelic grammar, the caution here 
suggested ought never to be forgotten, yet it is needless to 
reject indiscriminately all the forms and terms introduced 
into the grammar of other languages. "Where the same 
classifications which have been employed in the grammar of 
the Latin, or of any other well-known tongue, will suit the 
Graelic also, it is but a convenient kind of courtesy to adopt 
these, and apply to them the same names which are already 
familiar to us. 

In stating the result of my researches into Gaelic grammar, 
I have endeavoured to conform to these general views. The 
field of investigation was wide, and almost wholly untrodden. 
My task was not to fill up or improve the plan of any former 
writer, but to form a plan for myself. In the several depart- 
ments of my subject that distribution was adopted which, 
jifter various trials, appeared the most eligible. When there 
were terms already in use in the grammars of other languages 
that suited tolerably well the divisions which it was found 
requisite to make, I chose to adopt these, rather than load 
the treatise with novel or uncommon terms. If their import 
was not sufficiently obvious already, it was explained, either 
by particular description, or by reference to the use of these 
terms in other grammars. In some instances it was found 
necessary to employ less common terms, but in the choice of 
these I endeavoured to avoid the affectation of technical nicety. 
I am far from being persuaded that I am so fortunate as to 
have hit on the best possible plan. I am certain that it must 


be far from complete. To such charges a first essay must 
necessarily be found liable. Still there is room to hope that 
the work may not prove wholly useless or unacceptable. 
Imperfect as it is, I may be allowed to think I do a service 
of its kind to my countrymen by frankly offering the fruits 
of my labour to such as may choose to make use of them. 
It has been, if I mistake not, the misfortune of Gaelic gram- 
mar that its ablest friends have done nothing directly in its 
support, because they were apprehensive that they could not 
do everything. 

I confess that my circumscribed knowledge of the varieties 
of dialect used in different parts of the Highlands, may have 
left me unacquainted with some genuine Gaelic idioms which 
ought to be noticed in a work of this kind. The same cause 
may have led me to assert some things in too general terms, 
not being sufficiently informed concerning the exceptions 
which may be found in use in some particular districts. I 
respectfully invite, and will thankfully receive, the correction 
of any person whose more accurate and extensive information 
enables him to supply my omissions, or to rectify my mistakes. 

In a few particulars I have differed from some of the 
highest living authorities, — I mean those gentlemen whose 
superior abihties are so conspicuous in the masterly transla- 
tion of the sacred Scriptures with which the Highlands of 
Scotland are now blessed.* Here I have been careful to 

* A few examples of what I conceived to be deviations from gramma- 
tical propriety are given from the Gaelic version of the Bible. As the 
translation of the Prophetical Books underwent a revision, the exception- 
able passages in those Books have been changed in the second edition from 
what they were as they came out of the hands of the original translator. 
The criticism on those passages is, however, allowed to remain in this edi- 
tion of the Grammar, because the first edition of the Gaelic Prophets is 
still in the hands of many, and because it often happens that "we can best 
teach what is right by showing what is wrong." — Lowth. 


state the grounds on which my judgment was formed. In 
doing this, I would always be understood to advance my 
opinion and propose my reasons with the view of suggesting 
them to the consideration of my countrymen, rather than in 
the expectation of having my conclusions universally sus- 
tained and adopted. 

Among my grammatical readers, it is probable that some 
may have formed to themselves arrangements on the subjects 
different from mine. Of these I have to request that they 
do not form a hasty judgment of the work from a partial 
inspection of it, nor condemn it merely because it may differ 
from their preconceived schemes. Let them indulge me with 
a patient perusal of the whole, and a candid comparison of 
the several parts of the system with each other. To a judi- 
cious critic, some faults and many defects may appear, and 
several improvements will occur. On this supposition, I have 
one request more to make : that he join his efforts with mine 
in serving a common cause, interesting to our country, and 
dear to every patriotic Highlander. 




In preparing a Second Edition of the following treatise, the 
author has endeavoured to avail himself of every assistance in 
his power, from hooks, observation, and the communications of 
some literary friends, to whom he is indebted for several judi- 
cious remarks. In comparing the opinions of different critics, 
it was not to he expected that all should be found to agree 
together. It sometimes happened that one approved what 
another would have rejected. If the author has not adopted 
every hint that was offered him, but used the privilege of ex- 
ercising his own judgment, the responsibility must rest with 
himself. He hopes those gentlemen who most obligingly 
favoured him with their remarks will forgive him for men- 
tioning their names, for he is unwilling to withhold from 
the public the satisfaction of knowing that he has had the 
best assistance which his country could afford him in com- 
piling and modelling his work. He thankfully acknowledges 
his obligations to the Eev. Dr Robertson, of Callander ; Dr 
Graham, of Aberfoyle ; Dr Stuart, of Luss ; Dr Macleod, of 
Kilmarnock ; and Mr Irvine, of Little Dunkeld. 

From these sources of emendation, omissions have been 


supplied, idiomatic phrases have been collected and inserted, 
some alterations have been made by simplifying or compress- 
ing particular parts, and new examples and illustrations have 
been introduced throughout, according as the advantages 
which the author enjoyed enabled him to extend his know- 
ledge of the language, and served to correct, or to confirm, 
his former judgments. He thought it might be acceptable 
to Gaelic scholars to have a few lessons subjoined as exercises 
in translating and analysing. For this purpose he has 
selected some specimens of original prose composition, ex- 
tracted from unpublished manuscripts, and from the oldest 
Graelic books that are known to be extant. These specimens, 
short as they are, may suffice to exhibit something of the 
powers and elegances of the language in its native purity, un- 
mixed with foreign words and idioms, as well as to show the 
manner in which it was written two or three centuries ago. 

The present edition owes its existence to the generous 
patronage of Sir John Macgregor Murray of Lanrick» Bart., 
to whom the author is happy in avowing his obligations for 
the unsolicited and liberal encouragement given him in the 
execution and publication of his work. To the same gentleman 
he is indebted for the honour of being permitted here to record 
the names of those patriotic sons of Caledonia who, in con- 
cert with the honourable baronet, and at his suggestion, 
though residing in the remote provinces of India, yet mind- 
ful of their country's fame, contributed a liberal sum of money 
for promoting Celtic literature, more especially for pu>)lish- 
ing the poems of Ossian in their original language. It is 
owing, in a principal degree, to their munificent aid, that 
the anxious expectation of the public has been at last so 
richly gratified by Sir Jolin Sinclair's elegant and elaborate 
edition of the poems of thai tender and lofty bard. 




The Gaelic alphabet consists of eighteen letters: a, b, c, 
d, e, f, g, h, i, 1, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u. Of these, five are 
vowels, a, e, i, o, u ; the rest consonants. 

In explaining the powers of the letters, and of their 
several combinations, such obstacles lie in the way that 
complete success is not to be expected. In order to explain^ 
in writing, the sounds of a particular language, the only 
obvious method is to represent them by the letters com- 
monly employed to exhibit similar sounds in some well- 
known living language. But there are sounds in the 
Gaelic to which there are none perfectly similar in English, 
nor perhaps in any modern European tongue. Besides, the 
same combination of letters does not invariably represent the 
same sound in one age that it did in a former, or that it 
may do in the next. And this may be equally true of the 
letters of the Gaelic alphabet, whose powers are to be taught ; 
and of the letters of any other language, by whose sounds 
the powers of the former are to be explained. A diversity 
of pronunciation is very distinguishable also in different dis- 
tricts of the Highlands of Scotland, even in uttering the 
same words written in the same manner. Though the 
powers of the letters, then, may be explained to a certain 
degree of accuracy, yet much will still remain to be learned 
by the information of the ear alone. 


2 [FastL 



UmMf r 

^.t li»OW a TOVd 


Toeal tooDd, bni to 


' - to be found m 

Md» kr 

wofdi, Geoi^ev 


: ^ lt» Mft 


jare ^ite 



otiien^Uiei .^^ 

, , . _. „ „„ ^. cig MS- 

fPBMit TbeMm 

e lue of tlie TOirci* wiU be seen to tidw 

plaee fieqiKiidjr m Gadse oitibognvlqr. 

BMdM tiie connoa dtfitKm of tbe kttm into Yc^^ 

CammuA^a u fdaod toawaaaA io adopt mM liiitib« 

The Yoireb aie dhided into £rw»^ and mmaU: a, o, n, 
a» called Iroad rowda ; e, i, mnallTowt^ 

The dnucnaaU ana dhrided into MuU» and Xt^«^; 
llttf0r,b,e, d,f, g,ni,p,t; X*gwii#, 1, n, r, a (a^ Tbeyaw 
alao dtfided into LabSalst PakUaU, and UmjuaUf ao named 
from tbe ofgana ^i^ojred in pronoondng then : LaUals, b, 
^ m, p; FdkdaJU, e, g; Un^uaU, d, 1, n, r, a, 1 

Tbe a^inte ^ ianot indnded in anj of theae diriaioaa 

^ It wffl iauMdialdf oenr to «7 cnwMrfn ffcst tfam k * lilgM 
ijfijBfitktwrewtfcfciaadttteo— oa Mdem iato <»tttof aai ftgirf^ 
tv Hm kiter «» twiflf fanor«d from «• dMi ofUqaids to that or vatMi 
lWkaotMor«wight»lwt<aiiitwtfo»a tf i M f MMiit ; uiheaccid€iaU 
or tW Mfar » an^ la OMtfcv <iw Mao wttfc ttow or the urate, aot of fte 
Maaidioatwaati. ForaBkofMfoa^^kiaeladcdiatfcediMfori^aida, 

O WfilMi^ wko boro toaelMd oa tkk p«t or Oadie 

iBf ^ Iflifc frarnipffkafc htiro diffdwl Ifco coMOMuite fuOm iatn 
" tadimmtiiabU, TbetoaMri 

nmttaNe tad iirmiUabU, Tbe tosMr aaaio bof been gfrca to 

Itteb, ia wittii^^ bnre beea oecaiieBallf eiiBbiaed wttb tiie letter A/ «H^ 

tbe letter a«n« t» Iboee coaeoattte wfafaA bere not* ia mitlag, hmm 



All the vowels are sometimes long, sometimes short A 
long vowel is often marked with an accent, especially when 
the quantity of the vowel determines the meaning of the 
word ; as, b^ death, sail the heel, caraid a pair, ris again, 
mo more. Ion a marsh; which are distinguished by the 
accent alone from bas the palm of the hand, sail a beam, 
caraid a friend, ris to. Ion the elk. 

All the vowels, but especially the broad ones, have some- 
what of a nasal sound when preceded or followed by m, mh, 
n, nn- No vowels are doubled in the same syllable like ee, 
oo, in English. 

In almost all polysyllables, excepting some words com- 
pounded with a preposition, the accent falls on the first 
syllable {d). The other syllables are short and unaccented, 
and the vowels in that situation have in general the same 
short obscure sound. Hence it happens that the broad 
vowels in these syllables are often used indiscriminately 

There are no quiescent final vowels. 


A has three sounds. 

1. The first is both long and short : long, like a in the 
English words far, star; as, kc slaughter, kth a ford, gradh 

comtdned with h. But, in fact, both classes of consonants are alike mutable. 
in their pronunciation ; and their tmUation on^t to have been marked in 
the orthography, though it has not. This defect in Gaelic orthography 
has been often observed and regretted, though it has never been corrected. 
Bather than continue a distinction which has no foundation in the structure 
of the language, I venture to discard the division of mutable and immiUable 
consonants, as not merely useless, but as tending to mislead the learner. 

(e) In explaining the sounds of the letters I have availed myself of the 
very correct and acute remarks on this subject annexed to the Gaelic 
version of the New Testament, 1767. 

(<2) If it be thought that this renders the language too monotonoos, it 
may be observed, on the other hand, that it prevents ambiguities £U)H 
obscurities in rapid speaking, as the accent m£^8 the initial syllable of 
polysyllables. Declaimers, of either sex, have often found their advantage 
in this circumstance. 


(ove, stoich oppress; short, like a in that; as, cath a battle^ 
alt a joint, abuich rij^e. 

2. Both long and short, before dh and gh. This sound 
has none like it in English. Long, as, adhbhar a causey 
adhradh worship ; short, as, lagh a laic, magh a field, adharc 
a horn. 

3. Short and obscure, like e in mother; as, an, a the, ar 
our, ma if, and in the plural termination a or an. 


E has three sounds. 

1. Both long and short : long, like e in where, there; as, 
h, Bh he^ Th during. This e is generally marked with a 
grave accent. Short, like e in met; as, le with, leth half, 

2. Long, as, r^ the moon, c^ the earth, an d6 yesterday. 
This e is commonly marked with an acute accent. 

3. Short, like e in mother; as, duine a m^n, ceannuichte 


/ has two sounds. 

1. Both long and short, like ee in seem : long, as, mln 
smooth, righ a king ; short, as, min meal, crith trem- 

2. Short and obscure, like i in this; as, is am, art, &c. 


has three sounds. 

L Both long and short : long, somewhat like o in more; 
as, m6r great, hi gold, d6chas expectation ; short, like o in 
hot; as, mo my, do thy, dochann harm. 

2. Both long and short : long, nearly like o in old ; as, 
lorn bare, toll a hole ; short, as, lomadh making bare, 
tolladh boring. 

3. Both long and short, like (2) a (e) : long, as, foghlum 
to learn ; short, as, roghuinn choice, logh to forgive. 

(e) That is the second sound assigned to a. 



U has one sound, both long and short, like oo in fool : 
long, as, hv fresh, iiraich to reneio ; short, as, ubh an eggt 
urras a surety. 


There are thirteen Diphthongs reckoned in Gaelic : ae, 
ai, ao, ea, ei, eo, eu ; ia, io, in ; oi ; ua, ui. Of these, ao, eu, 
ia, ua, are always long ; the others are sometimes long, some- 
times short. 


The sound of ae is made up of (1) a long, and (1) e short. 
This diphthong hardly occurs, except in Gael a Gaul or 
Highlander, and Gaelic the Gaelic language (/). 


The sound of ai is either made up of the sounds of both 
the vowels, or like that of the former. 

1. Made up of (1) a and (1) i: the a long, the i short ; 
as, faidh a propliet ; the a short, the i short ; as, claidheamh 
a sword. 

2. Made up of (2) a and (1) i: the a long, the i short ; 
as, saighde arrotvs. 

Before a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the i often 
loses its sound, and only serves to qualify the sound of the 
following consonant {g) ; hence, 

3. Like (1) a alone : long, as, faisg squeeze, fkilte 
salutation ; short, as, glaic a hollow, tais soft. 

4. Like (2) a alone : short, as, airm arms, gairm a call. 


1 . The sound of ao is like (2) «, long : as, caora a sheep, 
faobhar the edge of a tool, saothair labour. 

if) The plural of la or latha a day, is sometimes written laeth ; but it 
is doubtful how far this is a proper mode of writing it. 

(g) The effect of the vowels in qualifying the sound of the adjoining 
consonants will be explained in treating of the Palatals and Linguals. 



The sound of ea is either made up of the sounds of both 
the vowels, or like that of one of them. 

1. Made up of (2) e and (1) a: e very short, a long, 
as, beann a summit, pinnacle, feall deceit ; a short, as, meal to 
enjoy, speal a scythe. 

Before a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the a fre- 
quently loses its sound, and only qualifies that of the fol- 
lowing consonant ; hence, 

2. Like (1) e, long : as, dean do ; short, as, fear a man^ 
bean a woman. 

3. Like (2) e, long: as, easlan sick; short, as, fead 

After a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the e loses its 
sound, and only qualifies that of the preceding consonant ; 

4. Like (1) a, long : as, c^ard an artificer ; short, as, geal 

5. Like (3) a, short : as, itheadh eating, coireach faulty. 


The sound of ei is either made up of the sounds of both 
the vowels, or like that of e alone. 

1. Made up of (1) e and (1) i : e long, i short, as, sgeimh 
beauty ; e short, as, meidh a balance. 

2. Made up of (2) e and (1) i: e long, i short, as, feidh 
dieer ; e short, as, greigh a herd, stud. 

Before a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the i loses 
its sound, and only qualifies that of the following consonant ; 

3. Like (1) e alone : long, as, meise of a plate. 

4. Like (2) e alone: long, as, eigin necessity ; short, as, 
eich horses. 


The sound of eo is either made up of the sounds of both 
vowels, or like that of o alone. 


1. Made up of (2) e and (1) o: e very short, o long, as, 
beo alive, eolas knowledge; o short, as, beothail lively. 

After a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the e loses its 
sound, and only qualifies that of the preceding consonant ; 

2. Like (1) o : long, as, leomhann a lion ; short, as, deoch 


The sound of eu is like (2) e alone : long, as, teum to Ute, 
gleus trim, entertainment. 

One of the most marked variations of dialect occurs in 
the pronunciation of the diphthong eu, which, instead of 
being pronounced like long e, is over all the North High- 
lands commonly pronounced like ia; as, nial, ian, fiar, for 
neul, eun, feur. 


The sound of ia is made up of the sounds of both the 

1. Made up of (1) i and (1) a : both of equal length, as, 
fial liberal, iar west. 

2. Made up of (1) ^ and (2) a: of equal length, as, fiadh 
a deer, ciall common sense. 

In cia ivhich ? iad they, ia is often found like (1) e. 


The sound of io is either made up of the sounds of both 
the vowels, or like one of them alone. 

1. Made up of (1) i and (3) o: Hong, o short, as, diol to 
pay, fior t7'ue; i short, as, iolach a sJiout, ionnsuidh an 

Before a Lingual or Palatal, not quiescent, the o sometimes 
loses its sound, and only qualifies that of the following con- 
sonant ; hence, 

2. Like (1) i : long, as, iodhol an idol; short, as, crios a 
girdle, biorach pointed. 

After a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the i some- 


times loses its sound, and only qualifies that of the preceding 
consonant ; hence, 

3. Like w in fun., short and obscure: as, cionta guilt, 
tiondadh to turn. 


The sound of iu is either made up of the sound of both 
the vowels, or like u alone. 

1. Made up of (1) i and (1) m: i short, u long, as, fiu 
worthy ; u short, as, iuchair a key. 

After a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the i loses its 
sound, and only qualifies that of the preceding consonant ; 

2. Like (1) u: long, as, di^ worst part, refuse; short, 
as, tiugh thick, giuthas j^r. 


The sound of oi is either made up of the sounds of both 
the vowels, or like that of o alone. 

1. Made up of (1) o and (1) ^.• o long, i short, as, 6igh 
a virgin ; o short, as, troidh a foot. 

2. Made up of (3) o and (1) ^: o long, i short, as, oidhche 

Before a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the * loses its 
sound, and only qualifies that of the following consonant ; 

(3.) Like (1) o long: as, m6id more; short, as, toic 

4. Like (2) o long : as, f6id a turf ; short, as, fois rest. 

5. Like (3) o short ; as, coileach a cock, doire a wood. 


The sound of ua is made up of the sounds of both the 

1. Made up of (1) m and (1) a, equally long; as, cuan 
the sea, fuar cold. 

2. Made up of (1) u and (2) a; as, tuadh a hatchet^ 
sluagh people. 



The sound of ui is either made up of the sounds of botli 
the vowels, or like that of u alone. 

1. Made up of (1) u and (1) *.' it long, ^ short, as, suigh- 
eag a rasp-herry ; u short, as, buidheann a company. 

Before a Lingual or a Palatal, not quiescent, the i loses 
its sound, and only qualifies that of the following consonant; 

2. Like (1) m long: as, duil expectation ^ chigjive; short, 
as, fuil blood, muir the sea. 


There are five Triphthongs, in each of which i is the last 
letter : aoi, eoi, iai, iui, uai. In these the two first vowels 
have the same sounds and powers as when they form a diph- 
thong. The final i is sounded short ; but before a Palatal 
or a Lingual, not quiescent, it loses its sound, and only 
qualifies that of the following consonant. 


1. Made up of ao and (1) i; as, caoidh lamentation, 
aoibhneas Joz/, laoigh calves. 

2. Like ao ; as, caoineadh wailing, maoile baldness. 


1. Made up of (2) eo and (1) i ; as, geoigh geese. 

2. Like (1) eo ; as, m.QOu fingers. 

3. Like (2) eo ; as, deoir tears, treoir ability, 


1. Like (1) ia ; as, fiaire mare awry, 

1. Like (2) iu ; as, ciiiil of music, fliuiche more wet 



[part I. 


1. Made up of (1) ua and (1) i; as, luaithe quicker. 

2. Made up of (2) tia and (1) ^; as, cruaidh hard, fuaim 

3. Like (1) ?*a ; as, uair timef an hour, cluaise of an ear. 


The simple powers of the consonants differ not much from 
their powers in English. Those called mediae by the writers 
on Greek grammar, viz., b, d, g, approach nearer in force ta 
the corresponding tenvss p, t, c, than they do in English. 

In accented syllables, where, if the vocal sound be short, 
the voice necessarily rests on the subsequent articulation, 
the consonants, though written single, are pronounced with 
the same degree of force as when written double in English ; 
as, bradan a salmon, cos a foot ; pronounced braddan, coss. 
No consonants are written double except Z, n, r. 

A propensity to aspiration is a conspicuous feature in the 
Graelic tongue Qi). The aspirating of a consonant has been 

(A) This propensity is seen in the aspirating of consonants in Gaelic 
words, which have an evident aflBnity to words in other languages, where 
the same consonants are not so aspirated. The following list will suf- 
ficiently illustrate and confirm the truth of this remark : — 








Scriobh, write. 


Fiabhrus, a fever. 


Bacholl, a staff. 



Deich, ten. 


Luireach, a coat of mail. 


Cleireach, a clerk. 


Modh, manner. 


Claidhearah, a sword. 



Cridhe, the heart. 


Meadhon, middle. 


Luadh, mention. 


Leugh, read. 


Greigh, a herd. 

lo In French, 


Aprilis, AvrilU; 

habere, avoir; Febris, Fiitre: exio 



usually marked, in the Irish dialect, by a dot over the 
letter aspirated ; in the Scottish dialect by writing h after it. 
All the consonants have their sounds changed by being 
aspirated, and the effect is different on different consonants. 
In some cases the articulation is changed, but still formed 
by the same organ. In others the articulation is formed 
by a different organ. In others the h alone retains its power. 
And sometimes both the h and the consonant to which it 
is subjoined become entirely quiescent. 





Righ, a king. 


Plaigh, a jplague. 


Saighead, an arrow. 


Maighistir, master. 


lomhaigh, an image. 


Priomh, chief. 


Ramh, an oar. 


Samhuil, like. 


Umhal, humble. 


Gabhar, a goat. 


Mathair, mother. 


Roth, Rath, a wheel. 


Muth, change. 


It is probable that the consonants, thus aspirated, were pronounced 
without aspiration in the older dialects of the Celtic tongue ; for we are 
told that in the Irish manuscripts of the first class for antiquity, the con- 
sonants are for the most part written without any mark of aspiration. 
See '* Lhuyd's Archseol. Brit," p. 301, col. 1. 

The tendency to attenuate tlie articulations shows itself in a progressive 
state, in a few vocables which are pronounced with an aspiration in some 
districts, but not universally. Such are deatach or deathach smoke, cun- 
tart or cunthart danger, ta or tha am, art, tu or thu thou, troimh or 
throimh through, tar or thar over, am beil or am bheil is there ? dom or 
domh to me, &c. Has not this remission or suppression of the articula- 
tions the effect of enfeebling the speech, by mollifying its bones and 
relaxing its nerves ? Ought not therefore the progress of this corruption 
to be opposed, by retaining unaspirated articulations in those instances 
where universal practice has not entirely superseded them, and even by 
restoring them in some instances, where the loss of them has been 
attended with manifest inconvenience ? It is shameful to see how many 
monosyllables, once distinguished by their articulations, have in process of 
time, by dropping these articulations, come to be represented by the 
solitary vowel a, to the no small confusion of the language and embar- 
rassment of the reader. The place of the absent consonant is often 
supplied, indeed, in writing, by an apostrophe. This, however, is at best 
but an imperfect and precarious expedient. 


In treating of the consonants separately, it will be con- 
venient to depart a little from the alphabetical order of the 
letters, and to consider first the Labials, next the Palatals^ 
and lastly the LingucUs. 



1. Plain. Like p in English ; as, poll a pool, pill return. 

2. Aspirated. Like ph or / in English ; as, a' phuill of the 
poolf phill returned {i). 


1. Plain. Like h in English ; as, baile a town, beo alim. 

2. Aspirated. Like v in English ; as, bhuail struck. In 
the end of a syllable the articulation is sometimes feeble, 
and often passes into the vocal sound of u (Jc) ; as in marbh 
(Z) deady garbh rough, dabhach a vat. 


1. Plain. Like m in English ; as, mac a son, cam crooked. 

2. Aspirated. Somewhat like v in English, but more 
feeble and nasal; as, mhathair rnother, lamh the hand. 
The sound mh has the same relation to that of bh, as the 
sound of m has to that of b. Sometimes, like bh, it becomes 
a vocal sound like a nasal u; as, in damh aji ox, samhradh 
summer: and sometimes the articulation becomes so feeble 
as not to be perceived ; as, comhradh speech, domhainn deej), 

(i) Ph is found in no Gaelic word which is not inflected, except a few 
words transplanted from the Greek or the Hebrew, in which ph represents 
the Greek <p, or the Hebrew Q. It might perhaps be more proper to 
represent D by jp rather than ph ; and to represent <^ by /, as the Italians 
have done in fihsnfia, Jilologia, &c., by which some ambiguities and 
anomalies in declension would be avoided. 

{k) The affinity between the sounds of v and u is observable in many 
languages, particularly in the Hebrew, Grcok, and Latin. 

(Z) Agreeably to the like pronunciation, the Welsh write this word 
marw. the Manks Tnarroo. 



1 . Plain. Like / in English ; as, faigh to get, f6id a turf. 

2. Aspirated. Quiescent ; as, fheara men. In fhuair 
fmind, the aspiration is retained, and the word is pronounced 
as if written liuair. It is probable that it was originally 
written and pronounced fuair {la) ; that huair is but a 
provincial pronunciation {n) ; and that to adapt the spelling 
in some shape to this pronunciation, the word came to be 
written fhuair. 


In treating of the Diphthongs (ai, ea, ei, &c.) notice has 
been often taken of the powers of certain vowels in modi- 
fying the sound of the adjoining consonants. This refers 
to a twofold mode of pronouncing the Palatal and Lingual 
consonants, whether plaiii or aspirated. The difference be- 
tween these two modes of pronunciation is, in some conson- 
ants, abundantly striking ; in others it is minute, but suffi- 
ciently discernible to an ear accustomed to the Gaelic. The 
one of these modes of articulation belongs to Palatals and 
Linguals, chiefly when connected with a broad vowel; the 
other belongs to them when connected with a small vowel. 
Hence, the former may be called the hroad sound, the latter 
the small sound of a Palatal or a Lingual. 

These sounds are not distinguished in writing, but may 
be known, for the most part, by the relative situation of the 


1. Plain. Broad: like c in come, curb; as, ciil the hack, 
cridhe the heart. 

(m) It is still pronounced fuair in the Northern Highlands, and it is so 
written in Irish. See Irish Bible, Gen. xxxv. 18,19; John ii. 14, viii. 
62, 53. 

(n) So fathast yet, fein self, are in some places pronounced as if they 
began with an h instead of an/. The latter word is, by the Manks, 
written hene. 


2. Small: like c in care, cure; as, teic support^ circe of a 
hen (o). 

3. Aspirated. Broad : like the Greek ;(, as pronounced 
in Scotland, in Xiapa\ as, croch to hang^ chaidh went. 

4. Small: like ;j( in x'-wv; as, chi y/i^fZZ see, eich horses. 


' 1 . Plain. Broad : like g in go, rogue; as, gabh to take, 
glor speech, bog so/^. 

2. Small: like </ in give, fatigue; as, gin to produce, thig 
sAaZZ coTTie, tilg ^o ^/iroz^. 

3. Aspirated. Broad: has no sound like it in English ; 
ghabh took, ghleidli kept. 

4. Small: nearly like y in young; as, ghin produced. 

5. Gh in the end of a syllable is often quiescent; as, righ 
a king, tiugh thick, fuigheall remainder. 

1. Plain. Broad: nearly like t in toiie, bottom; as, tog 
to raise, trom heavy, brat a covering. 

(o) Over a considerable part of the Highlands that propensity to aspira- 
tion, which has been already remarked, has affixed to c, in the end of a 
word, or of an accented syllable, the sound of cJic; as, mac a son, tore a 
hoar, acain moaning ; pronounced often machc, torchc, achcain. 

There is reason to believe that this compound sound of chc was not 
known of old, but is a modem corruption. For, 

This pronunciation is not universal over the Highlands. In some parts 
the c retains its proper sound in all situations. 

If the articulation in question had, from the first, been compounded, it 
Is highly probable that it would have been represented, in writing, by a 
combination of letters, such as chc ; especially as we find that the same 
sound is represented at other times, not by a single consonant, but by a 
combination, as in the case of chd. Why should it be thought that boo a 
hwk, and bochd poor, were originally pronounced alike, when they are 
distinguished both in writing and signification? 

The word pK^ a sack, has been transplanted from the Hebrew into many 
languages, among the rest the Gaelic, where it has been always written 
sac, although now pronounced sachc. In none of the other languages in 
which the word is used (except the Welsh alone), has the final palatal 
been aspirated. It would appear therefore that the sound sachc is a 
departure from the original Gaelic pronunciation. The same change may 
have happened in the pronunciation of other words, in which the plain r 
is now aspirated, though it may not have been so originally. 

Paet I.] 



2. Small: like ch in cheek, choose; as, tinn sick, caillte 

3. Aspirated. Like h in house; as, thig shall come^ throisg 
Jasted, maith good, 

4. Quiescent : in the middle of a polysyllable, in the end 
of a long syllable, and in certain tenses of a few irregular 
verbs when preceded by dJ; as, snitheach (jp) watery, sith 
peace, an d' thug e? did he give'? also in the pronoun thusa 


1. Plain. Broad: nearly like d in done; as, dol going, 
dlh. near, close, ciod what. 

2. Small : like J in Jun£, jewel; as, diii refuse, maide a 
stick, airde height. 

D, after cA, is commonly sounded like c; as, bochd poor, 
pronounced as if written bochc (g). 

{p) Though th be quiescent in the middle of a polysyllable, over the 
North and Central Highlands, yet it is, with more propriety, pronounced, 
in the West Highlands, as an aspiration ; as, athair father, mathanas 
pardon, pronounced a-hair, mahanas. 

{q) I am informed that this pronunciation of chd is not universal ; but 
that in some districts, particularly the East Highlands, the d has here, as 
in other places, its proper lingual sounds. In many, if not all the 
instances in which chd occurs, the ancient Irish wrote ct. This spelling 
corresponds to that of some foreign words that have a manifest affinity to 
Gaelic words of the same signification ; which, it is therefore presumable, 
were all originally pronounced, as they were written, without an aspira- 
tion, such as. 


Old French. 


Noct-u Noct-is, &c. 


an nochd, to night. 



Ochd, eight. 



Beannachd, blessing. 



Mallachd, cursing. 


Bruchd, evomition. 


Intleachd, contrivance. 

Lact-is, -i, &c. 

Lachd, milk. 

Dict-o, -are, &c. 

Deachd, to dictate. 

Eego ) 
Kect-um \ 

Keachd, a law, institut 

From the propensity of the Gaelic to aspiration, the original c was con- 
verted into ch, and the words were written with cht, as in the Irish acht 
but, &c., or with the slight change of t into d, as in ochd, &c. This is the 


3. Aspirated (r). Broad: like broad gh, as, dhruid did 
shut, gradh love. 

4. Small: like small gh; as, dhearc looked. 

5. Quiescent; as, f^idh a prophet, cridhe a heart, radii 
saying, bualadh striking. 

RULE. — The consonants c, g, t, d, have their small 
sound, when, in the same syllable, they are preceded, or imme- 
diately followed, by a SMALL vowel; in all other situations 
they have their broad sound. 


1. Plain. Broad: like 5 in sun, this; as, speal a. scythe, 
cas a foot, siiil an eye, scian a knife. 

2. Small : like sh in show, rash ; as, bris to break, sMmh 
quiet, sniomh to twine, st^idh foundation. 

3. Aspirated : like h in him ; as, sbuidh sat, shrann 
snorted. Before I and n, it is almost, if not altogether, 
(Quiescent ; as, shlanuich healed, shniomh twisted. S fol- 
lowed by a mute consonant is never aspirated. 

RULE. — S has its small sound, when, in the same syllable, 
it is preceded or followed by a small vowel, urith or without 
an intervening Lingual. In all otJier sitziations it has its 
broad sound. Except. S is bi'oad in is am. It is small 
in so this, sud yofi. It is customary to give s its broad sound 
in the beginning of a word, when the former word ends with 
r, in which case the r also has its broad sound; as, chuir sinn 
we put, air son on account. 

opinion of O'Brien, when he says the word lecht is the Celtic root of the 
Latin lectio — ^the aspirate h is but a late invention. — O'Br. Ir. Diet. voc. 
lecht. In process of time the true sound of cht or did was confounded 
with the kindred sound of chc, which was commonly, though corruptly, 
given to final c. 

\r) It is certain that the natural sound of d aspirated is that of [the 
Saxon d] or th in thou; as the natural sound of t aspirated is that of th in 
think. This articulation, from whatever cause, has not been admitted into 
the Gaelic, either Scottish or Irish, although it is used in the kindred 
dialects of Cornwall and Wales. 


Of L, it, E. 

A distinction between a consonant when plain^ and the 
same consonant when aspirated, has been easily traced thus 
tar. This distinction readily discovers itself, not only in 
the pronunciation and orthography, but also (as will be seen 
in its proper place) throughout the system of inflection. It 
takes place uniformly in those consonants which have been 
already considered. With respect to the remaining Unguals, 
Ij n, r, a corresponding distinction will be found to take place 
in their pronunciation, and likewise in the changes they 
suffer by inflection. This close correspondence between the 
changes incident to Z, n, r, and the changes which the other 
consonants undergo, seems to be a sufiicient reason for still 
using the same discriminative terms in treating of theirpowers, 
though these terms may not appear to be so strictly applic- 
able to these three consonants as to the rest. The powers 
of I, n, r, shall accordingly be explained under the divisions 
plain and aspirated, broad and small 

1. Plain. Broad: has no sound like it in English; lom 
bare, labhair speak, mall sloic, alt a joint, aid a brook, flat a 
rod, dlii near. 

2. Small : like II in million ; as, linn an age, lion fill, 
pill to return, slighe a way. 

3. Aspirated. Broad: like I in loom, fool; as, labhair 
spoke, lom feminine of lom bare^ mol to praise, dhlu feminine 
of dill near. 

4. Small : nearly like I in limb, fill ; as, a linn hi^ agty 
lion filled, mil honey, dligheach due, lawful. 


1. Plain. Broad: has no sound like it in English; nuadh 
ne^o, naisg bind, lann a blade, earn a heap of stones. 

2. Small : like n in the second syllable of opinion ; as, 
nigh voashy binn melodious, cuirn heaps of stones. 



3. Aspirated. Broad : like n in no, oji ; as, nuadh fem- 
minine of nuadh neio, naisg hound, shnamh swam, sean old 
(«), chon of dogs, dkn a poem. 

4. Small : like n in keen, near ; as, nigh washed, shniomh 
tvnsted, coin dogs, dkin jyoems. 

In an when followed by a Palatal, the n is pronounced 
like ng in English ; as, an gille the lad, an comhnuidh always. 

N, after a mute, is in a few instances pronounced like 
r (t) ; as in mnathan women, cnatan a cold, an t-snkth of 
the yarn ; pronounced mrathan, cratan, &c. 


1. Plain. Nearly like r in roar ; as, ruadh reddish, righ 
a king, ruith run, torr a heap, ceartas justice. 

2. Aspirated. Broad: nearly like r in rear; as, car a 
turn, ruith ran, m6r great. 

3. Small: has no sound like it in English; a righ 
king, seirbhe satiety, rahiv gen. of ni6r great. 

Th.^ plain, aspirated, broad, and small sounds of these 
Linguals are not distinguished in writing ; but they may, 
for the most part, be known from the relative position of 
the letters. 

EULE. — L, N, E, have their plain sound when, in the 
same syllable, they are immediately preceded by a j^lain 
Liquid, or immediately follmoed by a plain Lingual ; also 
in the beginning of certain cases and tenses ; in all other 
situations, they have their aspirated sound. They have 
their small sound when, in the same syllable, they are pre- 
ceded or followed by a small vowel, loith or ivithout an inter- 
vening Liquid ; in other situations, tJiey have their broad 

(a) In sean old, the n has its plain sound when the following word begins 
with a Lingual. Accordingly it is often written in that situation seann; 
as, seann duine an old man, an t-seann tiomnaidh o/ the old Testament, 

(t) So in Latin, canmen from cano was pronounced, and then written 
carman ; genmen from the obsolete yfuot passed into germen. 

Part I.] 



H is never used as an independent radical letter. When 
prefixed to a word beginning with a vowel, it is pronounced 
like h in how ; as, na h-6ighean the virgins, na h-oidhche of 
the night. 

The following scheme exhibits a succinct view of the 
letters, both singly and in their several combinations. The 
first column contains the letters whose sound is to be 
exhibited; the prefixed figures marking the number of 
different sounds denoted by the same letter. The second 
column explains the sounds by examples or by references. 
The third column contains Gaelic words, with their transla- 
tion, in which the several sounds are exemplified. 

1 a 










t short 


( short 



( short 



far star 





short this 

{long more 
short hot 

( short) 
1 short 



hx slaughter, ^th a ford, 

ar to plow, abuich o'ipe. 

adhradh worship, adhbhar reason. 

adharc a horn, adhart a holster, 

ma if, an the, a his, her. 

h se he, gnh sort, kind. 

le with, leth half. 

an de yesterday, ce the earth. 

dulne a man, briste broken. 
( min smooth, righ a king. 
\anin meal, crith a shaking. 

is am, art, is. 

m6r great, Ihnfood. 

mo my, do thy, Ion the ouzle. 

lom ba7'e, toll a hole, 

lomadh making bare. 

roghnuich to choose. 

roghuinu choice. 


^" {St}^-i 

(hifreshj siigh juice. 
I ubh an egg^ tur quite. 


1 ae 

(1) a (2) 6 

laeth days. 

1 ai 

(1) a (1) i 

f aidli a prophet J claidheamli a sword. 

2 ai 

(2) a (1) i 

saidhbhir, rich. 

3 ai 


fkisg squeeze, tais soft. 

4 ai 

(2) a 

airm armSy gairm to call. 

1 ao 

(2) a 

faobhar edge of an instrument. 

1 ea 

(2) e (1) a 

beann apiimacle, meal enjoy. 

2 ea 


dean to do, make, bean a woman. 

3 ea 


easlan sick, fead lohlstle. 

4 ea 


ceard an artijicer, geal wJdte. 

5 ea 

(3) a 

coireach faulty. 

1 ei 

(1) e (1) i 

sgeimh beauty, meidh a balance. 

2 ei 

(2) e (1) i 

feidh deer, greigh a herd. 

3 ei 


m^ise of a plate. 

4 ei 


^igin necessity, eich horses. 

1 eo 

(2) e (1) 

beo alive, beothail lively. 

2 eo 


leomhann a lion, deoch a drinlc. 

1 eu 

(2) e 

teum to bite, gleus trim. 

1 ia 

(1) i (1) a 

fial liberal, fiar oblique. 

2 ia 

(1) i (2) a 

fiadh a deer, biadh food. 

1 io 

(1) i (3) 

diol to pay, iolach a spout. 

2 io 


iodhol an idol, crios a girdle. 

8 io 


cionta guilt. 

1 iu 

(1) iu 

fiti worth, iuchair a key. 

2 iu 


dill refuse, tiugh thick. 

1 oi 

(1) (1) i 

6igh a virgin, troidh afoot. 

2 oi 

(3) (1) i 

oidhche night. 

3 oi 


m6id more, toic wealth. 

4 oi 


f6id a ^2^r/", fois rest. 

5 oi 


coileach a cock, goirid short. 

1 ua 

u (l)a 

cuan ^/ie sea, fuath hatred. 

2 ua 

u (2) a 

tuadh a hatchet, sluagh peo/>^e. 


1 ui u (1) i sMgheah a raspberry, buidheanii 

a company. 

2 ui u diiil expectation^ fuil Uood. 


1 aoi (1) ao (1) i caoidh lamentation. 

2 aoi (1) ao caoin miM, saoil ^o think. 

1 eoi (2) eo (1) i geoigh geese. 

2 eoi (1) eo meoiv fingers. 

3 eoi (2) eo deoir tears. 

1 iai (1) ia fiaire more oblique. 

1 iui (2) iu ciuil of music. 

1 uai (1) ua (1) i luaithe quicker. 

2 uai (2) ua (1) i cruaidh hard, fuaim sound. 

3 uai (1) ua gluais to move, uair time. 


1 p part poll a pool, streap to climb. 

2 ph Philip phill returned. 

1 b boil baile a town, breab to TcicTc. 

2 bh vile bhuail struck, gabh to take. 

1 m my in6r great, anam life, soul. 

2 mh mhothuich perceived, damh an ox. 

1 f feel m to fold. 

2 fh quiescent fheara men. 


1 c cock can to say, sing, creid to believe. 

2 c kick ceann end, head, reic to sell. 

3 ch x^P<* chaidh went, rach go. 

4 ch -^iLfxoyv chi shall see, crlche of a boundai'y. 
1 g go gabh to take, rag stiff. 



[Paet I. 



3 gh 

4 gh 


5 quiescerit 

1 t 


2 t 


3 th 


4 th 


1 d 


2 d 


3 dh 


4 dh 

(4) gh 

5 dh 


1 s 


2 8 


3 sh 


1 1 

2 1 


3 1 


4 1 


1 n 

2 n 


3 n 


4 n 


1 r 


2 r 


3 r 

geinne a iceJge, ruig to reach. 
ghabh took, ghleidh kept. 
gheibh vdll get. 
righ a king, sluagh people, 


tog to raise, slat a rod. 

tinn sick, kite a place. 

thainig came. 

maith good, fkth occasion, 

dol going, dragh trouble. 

diom resentment, maide a stick. 

dhall iZz'wd 

dhearc looked. 

radh saying, bualadh threshing. 

sannt desire, sloe a ^i7. 

sfeimh gentle, so #/iw. 

shuidh 5a^, shaoil tJwught. 

lorn 5are, slat a roc?, moll cita^. 

linn a7i age, caillte Zos^. 

blath blossom, shlanuich healed. 

leum leaped, shleamhnuich slipped. 

crann a ^ree, naomh holy, naisg 

seinn to sing, nigh ?(;a5/i, 
fan to stay, naisg bound. 
coin i?o^5, nigh washed. 
fearr &e^^er, righ a A;zwgr, ruith 

fear a man, ruith ran. 
fir men, a righ king, treoir 

There is no doubt that the Gaelic has been for many ages 
a 'vritten language. It is equally certain that its orthography, 
since it was first committed to writing, has undergone 


considerable changes. In this respect it has shared the 
common fate of all written languages. 

In the first exhibition of the sounds of a living language, 
by alphabetical characters, it is probable that the principle 
which regulated the system of orthography was, that every 
elementary sound should be represented by a corresponding 
character, either simple or compounded, and that the 
same sound should be represented by the same character. 
If different sounds were represented by the same letter; 
if the same sound were represented by different letters ; 
if more letters were employed then were necessary to exhibit 
the sound ; or if any sound were not represented by a 
corresponding character; then the written language would 
not be an adequate representation of the spoken. It is hardly 
to be supposed that, in the first rude attempts at alphabetical 
writing, the principle above laid down could be strictly and 
uniformly followed. And though it had, yet, in the course 
of a few generations, many causes would occur to bring about 
considerable departures from it. A gradual refinement of 
ear, and increasing attention to euphonia ; contractions and 
elisions brought into vogue by the carelessness or the rapidity 
of colloquial speech, or by the practice of popular speakers ; 
above all, the mixture of the speech of different nations 
would introduce numberless varieties into the pronunciation. 
Still, those who wrote the language might choose to adhere to 
the original orthography for the sake of retaining the 
radical parts, and preserving the etymon of vocables 
undisguised, and for maintaining an uniformity in the 
mechanism of the inflections. Hence the pronunciation 
and the orthography would disagree in many instances, 
till at length it would be found expedient to alter the 
orthography, and to adapt it to such changes in the speech 
or spoken language as long use had established, in order 
to maintain what was most necessary of all, a due correspond- 
ence between the mode of speaking and the mode of writing 
the same language. 

It will probably be found on inquiry that in all languagca 
when the speech has undergone material and striking changes, 


the written language also has varied in a considerahle degree 
in conformity to these changes, but that it has not scrupu- 
lously kept pace with the spoken language in every smaller 
variation. The written language of the Greeks suffered 
many changes between the time that the old Pelasgic was 
spoken and the days of Demosthenes. The various modes 
of pronunciation used in the different districts of Greece are 
marked by a diversity in the orthography of tlie written language. 
The writing of the Latin underwent considerable alterations 
between the era of the Decemviri and the Augustan age, 
corresponding, no doubt, to the changes which had taken 
place during that interval in speaking the Latin. English 
and French books printed within the last century exhibit 
a mode of orthography very different from what is found in 
books printed two or three hundred years ago. These 
instances show the tendency which the written language has 
to follow the lead of the spoken language, and to maintain a 
certain degree of conformity to those modes of pronunciation 
which ai'e from time to time adopted by those who speak it. 

On the other hand, numberless examples might be adduced 
from any living language to prove that tlie written language 
does not adapt itself, on all occasions and with strict 
uniformity, to the sounds of speech. Words are written 
differently which are pronounced alike. The same combina- 
tions of letters, in different situations, represent different 
sounds. Letters are retained in writing, serving to point 
out the derivations of words, after they have been entirely 
dropped in speaking. 

From such facts as these, it appears a just conclusion that 
written language generally follows the spokenlanguage through 
its various revolutions, but still at a certain distance, — 
not dropping so far behind as to lose sight of its precursor, 
nor following so close as to be led through all its fantastic 

Here a question occurs of importance in settling the ortho- 
graphy of any particular tongue : How near ought the 
written language to correspond to the spoken, and where 
may a disagreement between them be allowed with pro- 


priety 1 The following observations may serve to throw- 
some light on the subject of this question, though by no 
means sufficient to furnish a complete answer. 

It is obvious that in speech the articulations (which are 
represented by consonants in writing) are the least liable to 
variation. Vowel sounds are continually varying. In this 
variety chiefly consists that diversity of tone and dialect 
which is found in the speech of different districts of the 
same country, where the same words are spoken. The 
changes, too, which are introduced by time fall with greater 
effect on the vowel sounds than on the articulations. This 
circumstance will strike an observer who steps into any 
deliberative assembly, where the speakers are of different 
ages. St Jerome makes a remark on the reading of Hebrew, 
which is applicable, in some measure, to the pronunciation 
of all languages : " Nee refert utrum Salem aut Salim 
nominetur ; cum vocalibus in medio Uteris perraro utantur 
Hebraei; et pro voluntate lectorum, ac varietate regionum, 
eadem verba diver sis sonis atque accentibus proferantur." It 
may be observed that the superior stability of the articula- 
tions above the vowel sounds is the natural consequence of 
the position of the organs of speech in uttering them. The 
different modifications of the vowel sounds are effected by 
minute changes in the conformation of the organs ; those of 
the articulations are made by more distinct and operose 
inflections of the organs. 

It seems, then, a warrantable conclusion that, of the ele- 
mentary constituents of speech, viz., articulations and vowel 
sounds, the articulations are, in their own nature, ESSEN- 
■sounds, comparatively considered, are ADJUNCTIVE, 

Further, all the vowel sounds that usually occur in speech 
seem to be uttered with equal case, in whatever situation 
they occur, as the same organs are employed for all. In 
forming the common articulations of speech, as different 
organs are employed, a degree of difficulty is sometimes 
felt in making a transition from one articulation to another. 


Thus a difficulty will occasionally occur in pronouncing 
certain words, where the general analogy of inflection or of 
collocation has brought together articulations which do 
not easily coalesce. Hence a necessity arises of departing 
in such a case from the general analogy, and altering or 
displacing some of those discrepant articulations, for the sake 
of ease and convenience in pronunciation, and to relieve the 
ear from an offensive discordant sound. Departures are 
made from the general rules of speech in the case of the 
vowel sounds also, of which the Greek tongue abounds 
with examples. These departures, however, seem to have 
been made from a desire to indulge the ear in certain 
national predilections or aversions which it had conceived 
with regard to particular sounds. In examining the anoma- 
lies of speech, or those peculiarities which have been reckoned 
anomalous, it will be found that such of them as affect the 
articulations have, for the most part, been adopted for the 
purpose of ease and convenience in pronunciation ; while 
tliose which affect the vowel sounds have proceeded from 
tlie peculiar taste of the speakers. Thus the former spring 
from a cause urgent and constant in its nature, and uniform 
in its operation ; the latter, from a cause local and temporary 
in its nature, and variable in its operation. 

If this theory be just, it ought to follow that, in all 
polished tongues, an agreement will be found among those 
iiTegularities which affect the articulations, that is not so 
observable in those which affect the vowel sounds. There 
is reason to believe that, if a full comparison were made 
between different languages, this would accordingly be found 
to be the case. Let it be observed, then, that in speech 
a deference has been usually paid to the articulations which 
has not been paid to the vowel sounds, inasmuch as the 
latter have been changed from the state in which the struc- 
ture of each tongue had at first placed them, frequently and 
from peculiar taste or humour; the former more rarely, 
and for the most part from necessity. If this observation 
be found to be well supported, we shall have the sanction of 
general practice in favour of the conclusion that was formerly 


ilrawn from the nature of articulate sounds, viz., that the 
articulations are ESSENTIAL, PERMAJS-ENT, and PEE- 
DOMi:NrANT ; the vowel sounds ADJUNCTIVE, ELUC- 

If it appear, then, that the vowel sounds in speech are per- 
petually varying in the mouths of different speakers, from 
causes which either elude our search, or, when discovered, are 
seen to he of small importance, may we not judge that it 
would he equally vain and improper to attempt to make 
Writing follow all these minute variations ; and that, how- 
ever it may happen that the same vowel sound may he repre- 
sented in many instances hy different letters, and different 
vowel sounds hy the same letters, yet this disagreement 
hetween Sj^eech and Writing must he connived at, for the 
sake of preserving some degree of uniformity, where alone it 
can be preserved, in the ivritten language ? If it appear, again, 
that the variations from the established analogy which are 
made on the articulations are less frequent, and proceed from 
causes obvious and cogent, ought not these variations to be 
exhibited in writing, for preserving that general corre- 
spondence between the written and the spoken language 
which ought to be preserved, as far as the limited powers 
of letters will permit, and without which the words I 
speak and those I write do not belong to the same 
language ? 

One exception from this principle seems allowable in the 
case of quiescent consonants. It may be inferred, from the 
practice of all living languages, that consonants whereof the 
corresponding articulations have been suppressed in speak- 
ing may yet be retained with propriety in writing, when 
they are requisite to point out the derivation of vocables, or 
the radical part of declinable words. But this exception 
ought to be allowed only to a moderate extent, for the 
reasons already assigned ; to which it may be added, that the 
far greater part of the suppressed articulations can be easily 
discovered and retraced to their roots, without any index in 
the written any more than in the spoken language to point 
them out. 


These observations being premised, I shall proceed to 
explain the present state of Gaelic Orthography, and shall 
endeavour to assist the reader in forming a judgment of its 
merit, and how far it may admit of improvement. 

I. It may be laid down as one settled principle in 
orthography, that each letter or combination of letters in the 
written language ought always to denote one and the same 
sound. From the explanation that has been given of the 
powers of the letters, it may be seen how far this principle 
has been regarded in the Gaelic. Though almost every one 
of the letters represents more than one sound, yet there is an 
evident affinity between the several sounds of the same letter. 
And it may be readily allowed that less confusion and incon- 
venience follow from exhibiting a few kindred sounds by the 
same letter, than would have taken place had the characters 
been multiplied to such a degree as that a separate one 
could have been appropriated to each minute variety of 

It is obvious to remark, as a departure from this principle, 
that in the case of the consonants Z, n, r, the distinction 
between their j)lcdn and their aspirated state is not marked 
in writing, but that in both states the consonant is written 
in one way. In the middle and end of words, as has been 
shown, this distinction may be known from the relative 
situation of the letters. In the beginning of certain cases 
and tenses of declinable words, it may often be known from 
their grammatical connection, but is not marked by any 
graphical index whatever. The proper reading is to be 
determined by the sense of the passage, instead of the sense 
being understood by the proper reading. It is not easy to 
discover how those who first committed the Gaelic to writing 
neglected to mark such a material distinction. Inconveniencios 
and ambiguities not unfrequently arise from this cause, which 
have been long felt and regretted. Is there room to hope 
that it is not yet too late to recommend a method of remedy- 
ing this defect ? The method I would suggest is the most 
simple and obvious of any. It is to annex to the initial Z, iiy 
and r, in their aspirated state, the letter 7i, just as has been 


done to all the other consonants. The analogy of orthography- 
would thus be maintained, the system of inflection would be 
more justly exhibited, and carried on by an uniform process 
in Writing as it is in Speech, and errors in reading and 
ambiguities in syntax would be avoided (u). 

II. Another principle of authority in regulating ortho- 
graphy is, that each sound ought always to be represented 
by one and the same letter, or combination, of letters. The 
deviations from this rule in Gaelic are extremely few. The 
sound of ao is represented sometimes by a alone, sometimes 
by o alone. The sound of gh is represented also by dh ; 
and final c often, though corruptly, represents the same sound 
with chd. 

III. A third principle in orthography is, that no more 
letters ought to be employed than are necessary to represent 
the sound. There are probably few polished languages in 
which departures from this rule are not found in abundance. 
Reasons have been already mentioned which render it 
expedient to retain letters in writing many words, after the 
corresponding sounds have been dropped in pronouncing the 
same words. Quiescent letters, both vowels and consonants, 
are not unfrequent in Gaelic. Though these quiescent 
letters have no sound themselves, they are not always with- 
out effect in pronunciation, as they often determine the 
sound of other letters. Most, if not all, the quiescent vowels 
seem to have been introduced for this purpose. They ascer- 
tain the broad or the small sound of the adjoining con- 

(u) Another mode, proposed by a learned correspondent, of marking the 
distinction in the sound of the initial Linguals, is by writing the letter 
double, thus 11, nn, rr, when its sound is the same with that which is 
represented by those double letters in the end of a syllable ; and when the 
sound is otherwise. to write the letter single; as, llamh hand, Wion Jill, mo 
lamh my hand, lion mi 1 filled. 

It is perhaps too late, however, to urge now even so slight an alteration 
as this in the Orthography of the Gaelic, which ought rather to be held as 
fixed beyond the reach of innovation, by the happy diffusion of the Gaelic 
Scriptures over the Highlands. 


sonants. This has been made sufficiently clear in treating 
of the vowels and diphthongs separately. A consonant, as 
has been shown, has its broad sound, both when preceded 
and when followed by a broad vowel ; and in like manner 
has its small sound, both when preceded and when followed 
by a small vowel. K a consonant were preceded by a vowel 
of one quality, and followed by one of a different quality, 
the reader, it has been thought, might be doubtful whether 
that consonant ought to be pronounced with its broad or 
with its small sound. Hence this rule has long obtained in 
Gaelic orthography, that in polysyllables the last vowel of 
one syllable and the first vowel of the subsequent syllable 
must be both of the same quality {x). To the extensive 
application and the rigid observance of this rule it is owing 
that so many diphthongs appear where one vowel is sufficient 
to express the vocal sound, and that the homogeneous 
vowels, when used in their quiescent capacity, are often 
exchanged for each other, or written indiscriminately (?/). 
From the former of these circumstances, most of the words 
in the language appear loaded with superfluous vowels ; 
from the latter, the orthography of many words appears, in 
some respects, arbitrary and unsettled. Even a partial 
correction of these blemishes must be desirable. It may 
therefore be worth while to examine this long established 
canon of Gaelic orthography, with a view to discover whether 
it has not been extended farther than is necessary, and 
"whether it ought not in many cases to be set aside. 

We have seen that the Labials h, m, f, p, whether aspi- 
rated or not, have no distinction of broad and small sound. 

(x) Leathern re Leathan, is Cool re Cool. 

Of the many writers who have recorded or taken notice of this rule, I 
have found none who have attempted to account for its introduction into 
the Gaelic. They only tell that such a correspondence between the vowels 
ought to be observed, and that it would be improper to write otherwise. 
Indeed, none of them seem to have attended to the different effects of a 
broad and of a small vowel on the sound of an adjacent consonant. From 
this circumstance, duly considered, I have endeavoured to derive a reason 
for the rule in question, the only probable one that has yet occurred to me. 

(y) As deanuibh or deanaibh do ye, beannuich or beannaich bless. 


It cannot, then, be necessaiy to employ vowels, either pre- 
fixed or postfixed, to indicate the sound of these. Thus, 
abuich iH^pe, gabhaidh will take, chromainn / would how, 
ciomaich captives, have been written with a broad vowel in 
the second syllable, corresponding to the broad vowel in the 
first syllable; yet the letters abich, gabhidh, chrominn, 
ciomich, fully exhibit the sound. The prepositive syllable 
im, when followed by a small vowel, is written im, as in 
imlich to lick, imcheist perplexity. But when the first 
vowel of the following syllable is broad, it has been the 
practice to insert an o before the m, as in iomlan complete, 
iomghaoth a wliirlwind, iomluasg agitation. Yet the inserted 
o serves no purpose, either in respect of derivation, of 
inflection, or of pronunciation. The unnecessary application 
of the rule in question appears most unequivocally in words 
derived from other languages. From the Latin words imago 
templmn, liber, are formed in Gaelic iomhaigh, teampull, 
leabhar. aSTothing but a servile regard to the rule under 
consideration could have suggested the insertion of a broad 
vowel in the first syllable of these words, where it serves 
neither to guide the pronunciation, nor to point out the deri- 

Another case, in which the observation of this rule seems 
to be wholly unnecessary, is when two syllables of a word 
are separated by a quiescent consonant. Thus in gleidheadh 
keeping, itheadh eating, buidheann a company, dlighecah 
lawful, the aspirated consonants in the middle are altogether 
quiescent. The vocal sound of the second syllable is 
sufficiently expressed by the last vowel. No good reason, 
then, appears for writing a small vowel in the second 

Thus far it is evident that the rule respecting the corre- 
spondence of vowels is wholly impertinent in the case of 
syllables divided by Labials, or by quiescent consonants. If 
we examine further into the application of this rule, we shall 
find more cases in which it may be safely set aside. 

Many of the inflections of nouns and verbs are formed by 
adding one or more syllables to the root. The final con- 


sonant of the root must always be considered as belonging 
to the radical part, not to the adjected termination. The 
sound of that consonant, whether broad or small, falls to be 
determined by the quality of the vowel which precedes it in 
the same syllable, not by the quality of that which follows 
it in the next syllable. It seems, therefore, unnecessary to 
employ any more vowels in the adjected syllable tlian what 
are sufficient to represent its own vocal sound. The rule 
under consideration has, notwithstanding, been extended to 
the orthography of the oblique cases and tenses, and a 
supernumerary vowel has been thrown into the termination, 
whenever that was requisite to preserve the supposed 
necessary correspondence with the foregoing syllable. Thus, 
in forming the nominative and dative plural of many nouns, 
the syllables an and ihli are added to the singular, which 
letters fully express the true sound of these terminations. 
If the last vowel of the nominative singular is broad, an 
alone is added for the nominative plural; as, lamh-an hands, 
cluas-an ears. But if the last vowel be small, an e is thrown 
into the termination ; as, siiil-ean eyes, sr6in-ean noses. No^v 
if it be observed that, in the two last examples, the small 
sound of the I and n in the root is determined by the pre- 
ceding small vowel i, with which they are necessarily con- 
nected in one syllable, and that the letters an fully repre- 
sent the sound of the termination, it must be evident that 
the e in the final syllable is altogether superfluous. So in 
forming the dative plural : if the last vowel of the root be 
small, ihh is added ; as, siiil-ibh, sroin-ibh. But if the last 
vowel of the root is broad, the termination is written aihh ; 
as, lamh-aibh, cluas-aibh, where the a, for the reason already 
assigned, is totally useless. 

These observations apply with equal justness to the tenses 
of verbs, as will be seen by comparing the following examples: 
creid-idh will believe, stad-aidh %oill stojJ ; chreid-inn I would 
believe, stad-ainn / would stop ; creid-eam let me believe, 
stad-am let me stop ; creid-ibh believe ye, stad-aibh stop ye. 

The same observations may be further applied to deriva- 
tive words, formed by adding to their primitives the syllables 


acli, achd, ag, an, ail, as ; in all which e has been unneces- 
sarily introduced, when the last . vowe] of the preceding 
syllable was small ; as, sannt-ach covetous, toil-each willing ; 
naomh-achd holiness, doimhn-eachd depth; sruth-an a 
rividet, cuil-ean a lohelp ; cauch-ag a little cup, cail-eag a 
girl ; fear-ail manly, caird-eil friendly (z); ceart-as justice, 
caird-eas friendship. 

The foregoing observations appear sufficient to establish 
this general conclusion, that in all cases in which a vowel 
serves neither to exhibit the vocal sound, nor to modify the 
articulations of the syllable to which it belongs^ it may be 
reckoned nothing better than an useless incumbrance. There 
seems, therefore, much room for simplifying the present system 
of Gaelic Orthography, by the rejection of a considerable 
number of quiescent vowels {a). 

{z) It is worthy of remark that in such words as caird-eil friendly, slain t- 
eil salutary, the substitution of e in place of a in the termination, both 
misrepresents the sound, and disguises the derivation of the syllable. The 
sound of this termination as in fear-ail manly, ban-ail womanly, is properly 
represented by ail. This syllable is an abbreviation of amhuil like, which 
is commonly written in its full form by the Irish, as fear-amhuil, &c. It 
corresponds exactly to the English termination like, in soldier-like, officer- 
like, which is abridged to ly, as manly, friendly. By writing eil instead 
of ail, we almost lose sight of amhuil altogether. 

(a) From the extracts of the oldest Irish manuscripts given by Lhuyd, 
Vallancey. and others, it appears that the rule concerning the coiTespondence 
of vowels in contiguous syllables, was by no means so generally observed 
once as it is now. It was gradually extended by the more modem Irish 
writers, from whom, it is probable, it has been incautiously adopted by 
the Scottish writers in its present and unwarrantable latitude. The rule 
we have been considering has been reprobated in strong terms by some of 
the most judicious Irish philologers, particularly O'Brien, author of an 
Irish Dictionary printed at Paris 1768, and Vallancey, author of an Irish 
Grammar, and of various elaborate disquisitions concerning Irish antiquities, 
ifrom whom I quote the following passages : — " This Rule [of dividing one 
syllable into two by the insertion of an aspirated consonant] together with 
that of substituting small or broad vowels in the latter syllables, to cor- 
respond with the vowel immediately following the consonant in the pre- 
ceding syllable, has been very destructive to the original and radical 
purity of the Irish language ." Vallancey' s Ir. Gram. Chap. III. letter A. 
"Another [Rule] devised in like manner by our bards and rhymers, I 
mean that which is called Gaol le caol, agus Leathan le leathan, has been 
woefully destructive to the original and radical purity of the Irish 
language. This latter (much of a more modern invention than the former, 
for our old manuscripts show no regard to it) imports and prescribes that 



Almost the only quiescent consonants which occur in 
Gaelic are d, f, g, Sj t, in their aspirated state. When these 
occur in the inflections of declinable words, serving to indi- 
cate the Root, or in derivatives, serving to point out the 
primitive woi-d, the omission of them might, on the whole, 
be unadvisable. Even when such letters appear in their 
absolute form, though they have been laid aside in pro- 
nunciation, yet it would be rash to discard them in writing, 
as they often serve to show the afiBnity of the words in which 
they are found to others in difi'erent languages, or in different 
dialects of the Celtic. The aspirated form of the consonant 
in writing sufficiently shows that, in speaking, its articulation 
is either attenuated or wholly suppressed. 

The writers of Gaelic seem to have carefully avoided 
bringing into apposition two vowels which belong to differ- 
ent syllables. For this purpose they have sometimes intro- 
duced a quiescent consonant into the middle of compound 
or of inflected words ; as, gneidheil, or rather gnethail kindly, 
made up of gno and ail ; beothail lively, made up of beo and 
and ail ; diathan gods, from the singular dia ; lathaibh days, 
fi'om the singular 1^, &c. It may at least bear a question, 
whether it would not be better to allow the vowels to denote 
the sound of the word by their own powers, without the 
intervention of quiescent consonants, as has been done in 

two vowels, thus forming, or contributing to form, two different syllables, 
should both be of the same denomination or class of either broad or 
small vowels, and this without any regard to the primitive elementary 
structure of the word." O'BHeris Ir. Diet. Remarks on A. "The 
words biran and hiranach changed sometimes into hioran and bioranach 
by the abusive rule of Leathan le leathan." Id. in voc. Fear. Tlie opinion 
of Lhuyd on this point, though not decisive, yet may properly be sub- 
joined to those of Vallancey and O'Brien, as his words serve at least to 
show that this judicious philologer was no advocate for the Rule in question. 
" As for passing any censure on the rule concerning broad and small vowels, 
I chose rather to forbear making any remark at all upon them, by reason 
that old men who formerly vnoia arget silver, instead of airgiod as we now 
write it, never iised to change a vowel but in declining of words, &c. And I 
do not know that it was ever done in any other language, unless by some 
particular persons who, through mistake or ignorance, were guilty of it.' 
Archceol. Brit. Preface to Ir. Diet, translated in Bp. Nicolson's Irish His- 
torical Library. 



innaibh women, deibh gods^ rather than insert consonants 
which have nothing to do with either the radical or the 
superadded articulations of the word. 

From the want of an established standard in orthography, 
the writers of Gaelic, in spelling words wherein quiescent 
consonants occurred, must have been often doubtful which 
of two or three consonants was the proper one, and may 
therefore have differed in their manner of spelling the same 
word. Accordingly we find, in many instances, the same 
words written by different writers, and even at different 
times by the same writer, with different quiescent consonants. 
This variation affects not indeed the pronunciation, or does 
it in a very slight degree. Hence, however, some who 
judge of the language only from its appearance in writing, 
have taken occasion to vilify it, as unfixed and nonsensical 
(6). A proper attention to the affinity which the Scottish 
Gaelic bears to some other languages, particularly to other 
dialects of the Celtic, might contribute to fix the ortho- 
graphy in some cases where it appears doubtful, or has become 
variable (c). 

lY. The last principle to be mentioned, which ought 
to regulate orthography, is that every sound ought to be 
represented by a corresponding character. From this rule 
there is hardly a single deviation in Gaelic, as there is no 
sound in the spoken language which is not, in some measure, 

(6) Pinkerton's Inquiry into the History of Scotland. 

(c) E.g., troidh a foot, has been written troidh or troigh, either of 
which corresponds to the pronunciation, as the last consonant is quiescent. 
In Welsh, the articulation of the final consonant has heen preservjed, and 
the word is accordingly written troed. This authority seems sufficient to 
determine the proper orthography in Gaelic to be troidh and not troigh. 
For a like reason, perhaps, it would be proper to write traidh shore^ 
rather than traigh, the common way of spelling the word, for we find the 
Irish formerly wrote traidh, and the Welsh traeth. Claidheamh a sword, 
since the final articulation was wholly dropped, has been sometimes 
written claidhe. The mode of writing it still with a final labial, though 
quiescent, will probably be thought the more proper of the two, when it 
is considered that claidheamh is the cognate, or rather the same word with 
the Irish cloidheamh the Welsh cleddyf, and the French glaive. 


exhibited in the written language. The fault of the Gaelic 
01 thography is sometimes a redundancy, but never a deficiency 
of letters. 

A few observations on the mode of writing some particular 
words, or particular pai-ts of speech, remain to be brought 
forward in the sequel of this work, which it would be pre- 
mature to introduce here. 

The Scottish writers of Gaelic in general followed the Irish 
orthography, till after the middle of the last century. How- 
over that system may suit the dialect of Ireland, it certainly 
is not adapted to the Gaelic of this country. In the Gaelic 
translation of the New Testament, printed in 1767, not only 
were most of the Irish idioms and inflections which had been 
admitted into the Scottish Gaelic writings rejected, and the 
language adapted to the dialect of the Scottish Highlands^ 
but the orthography also was adapted to the language. In 
later publications, the manner of writing the language was 
gradually assimilated to that pattern. The Gaelic version of 
the sacred Scriptures lately published has exhibited a model, 
both of style and orthography, still more agreeable to the 
pui'est Scottish idiom, and has a just title to be acknow- 
ledged as the standard in both. Little seems to be now 
wanting to confer on the orthography of the Scottish Gaelic 
such a degree of uniformity as may redeem its credit and 
ensure its stability. This, it is to be hoped, may be attained 
by a judicious regard to the separate, and especially the 
lelative powers of the letters, to the most common and 
approved modes of pronunciation, to the affinity of the 
Scottish Gaelic with other branches of the Celtic tongue, 
to the analogy of inflection and derivation, and, above all, 
to the authority of some generally received standard, to which 
pre-eminence the late Gaelic version of the Scriptures has 
the only indisputable claim. 



The parts of speech in Gaelic may be conveniently divided 
and arranged as follows : — Article, N'oun, Adjective, Pronoun, 
Verb, Adverb, Preposition, Conjunction, Interjection. Of 
these, the first five are declinable ; the other four are inde- 



The Gaelic article an corresponds to the English definite 
article the. There is in Gaelic no indefinite article corres- 
ponding to the English a or an. The inflections of the 
article are but few. They depend on the gender, the 
number, and the case, of the noun to which it is prefixed. 
Hence the article is declined by gender, number, and case, 
as follows : 





Masc. ^ Fern. 

Nom an, am 

an, a' 


Gen. an, a' 


nan, nam 

Dat an, a,' n* 

an, a,' n' 


In the singular, final n of the article is sometimes cut off, 
and its absence marked by an apostrophe. The same happens 
to the initial a of the dative singular. 


A Noun is the Kame of any person, object, or thing what- 
\ soever, that we have occasion to mention. In treating of 

38 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

this Part of Speech, we have to consider the Gender and 
the Declensio): of Nouns. 

Op Gendkk. 

In imposing names on sensible objects, the great and 
obvious distinction of Sex in the animal world suggested the 
expediency of inventing names, not only for the particular 
species of animals, but also for distinguishing their Sex. 
Such are viVf femina ; bully cow ; coileachj ceaix, &c. To 
mark at once identity of species, and diversity of Sex, the 
same word, with a slight change on its form, was applied to 
both sexes : as equiis, equa ; lion, lioness; oglach, hanoglach. 
In most languages, distinction of Sex has been marked, not 
only thus by the form of the noun, but further by the form 
of the adjective connected with the noun. Most adjectives 
were furnished with two forms, the one of which indicated 
its connection with the name of a male, the other its con- 
nection with the name of a female. The one v/as called by 
grammarians the masculine gender ^ the other the feminine 
gender of the adjective. Adjectives possessing thus a two- 
fold form, must necessarily have appeared under one or other 
of these forms, with whatever noun they happened to be 
conjoined. Even nouns significant of inanimate objects 
came thus to possess one mark of nouns discriminative of 
Sex, as they happened to be accompanied by an adjective 
pf the masculine or by one of the feminine gender. If any 
noun was observed to be usually coupled with an adjective 
of the masculine gender, it was termed by grammarians a 
jnasculine noun ; if it was found usually coupled with 
an adjective of the feminine gender, it was termed a feint- 
nine noun. Thus a distinction of nouns into masculine 
and feminine came to be noted, and this also was called 

It is observable, then, that gender, in grammar, is taken in 
two different acceptations. When applied to an adjective, 


Tart II.] OF SPEECH. 39 

it signifies a certain form, by which bonus is distinguished 
from bona. When applied to a noun, it signifies a certain 
relation of the word to the attributives connected with it, by 
which amor is distinguished from cupido. As Sex is a 
natural characteristic pertaining to living objects, so gender 
is a grammatical characteristic pertaining to nouns, the names 
of objects whether animate or inanimate. The gender of 
nouns is not, properly speaking, indicated ; it is constituted 
by that of the attributives conjoined with them. If there 
were no distinction of gender in adjectives, participles, &c. 
there could be none in nouns. When we say that amor is a 
noun of the masculine gender, and cupido a noun of the 
feminine gender, we do not mean to intimate any distinction 
between the things signified by these nouns ; we mean nothing 
more thaii to state a grammatical fact, viz., that an adjective 
connected with amor is always of the same form as when 
joined to a noun denoting a male, and that an adjective con- 
nected with cupido is always of the same form as when joined 
to a noun denoting a female (d). 

{d) I flatter myself that all my readers, who are acquainted with any 
of the ancient or the modern languages which have a distinction of gender 
in their attributives, will readily perceive that the import of the term Gender, 
in the grammar of those languages, is precisely what I have stated 
above. The same term has been introduced into the grammar of 
tlie English Tongue, rather improperly, because in an acceptation 
different from what it bears in the grammar of all other languages. 
In English there is no distinction of gender competent to Articles, 
Adjectives, or Participles. When a noun is said to be of the masculine 
gender, the meaning can only be that the object denoted by it is of the 
male sex. Thus in the English grammars, gender signifies a quality of 
the object named, while in other grammars it signifies a quality of the 
name given to the object. The varieties of who, which, and he, she, it, 
refer not to what is properly called the gender of the antecedent noun, but 
to the Sex real or attributed, or the absence of Sex, of the object signified 
by the antecedent. This is in effect acknowledged by writers on rhetoric, 
Avho aflirm that in English the pronouns tolio, he, she, imply an express 
personification, or attribution of life, and consequently of Sex, to the 
objects to which these pronouns refer. The same thing is still more 
strikingly true of the variations on the termination of nouns, as prince, 
princess ; lion, lioness, which are all discriminative of Sex. It seems 
therefore to be a mis-stated compliment which is usually paid to the 
English, when it is said that " this is the only language which has adapted 

40 OF THE PARTS [Part TI. 

When an adjective was to be connected with a noun that 
denoted an object devoid of Sex, it is not always easy to 
guess what views might have determined the speaker to use 
the adjective in one gender rather than in the other. 
Perhaps Sex was attributed to the object signified by the 
noun. Perhaps its properties were conceived to bear some 
resemblance to the qualities characteristic of Sex in living 
creatures. In many instances, the form of the noun seems 
to have decided the point. It must be confessed that in 
this mental process, the judgment has been often swayed by 
trivial circumstances, and guided by fanciful analogies. At 
least it cannot be denied that in the Gaelic, where all nouns 
whatever are ranked under the class of masculines or of 
feminines, the gender of each has been fixed by a procedure 
whereof the grounds cannot now be fully investigated or 
ascertained. Neither the natural nor artificial qualities or 
uses of the things named, nor the form of the names given 
them, furnish any invariable rule by which the gender of 
nouns may be known. It ought to be remembered, however, 
that the Gaelic is far from being singular in this respect. 
The oldest language with which we are acquainted, as well 
as some of the most polished modern tongues, stand in the 
same predicament. 

The following observations may serve to give some idea of 
the analogy of gender in Gaelic nouns ; though they do not 
furnish a complete set of rules sufficient to ascertain the gender 
of every noun : — 

the gender of its nouns to the constitution of Nature." The fact is, that 
it has adapted the Form, of some of the most common names of living 
creatures, and of a few of its pronouns, to tlie obvious distinction of male, 
sluA female, and inanimate, while it has left its nouns without any mark 
characteristic of gender. The same thing must necessarily happen to any 
language by abolishing the distinction of masculine and feminine in its 
attributives. If all languages had been constructed on this plan, it may 
confidently be affirmed that the grammatical term gender would never 
have come into use. The compliment intended, and due to the English, 
might have been more correctly expressed, by saying that " it is the only 
language that has rejected the unphilosophical distinction of gender, by 
making its attributives, in this respect, all indeclinable." 

Part 11. ] OF SPEECH. 41 

Masculines. Nouns signifying males are masculines ; as, 
fear a man, righ a king, sagart a priest, tarbh a hull, cu a 

Many nouns, signifying the young of animals of either 
Sex, are masculine, even when the individual objects they 
denote are mentioned as being of the female Sex ; as, laogh 
a calf, isean a gosling, uan a lamb, &c. (e). 

Diminutives in an ; as, rothan a little wheel, dsalgan a 
little pin, &c. 

Derivatives in as, which are, for the most part, abstract 
nouns ; as, cairdeas friendship, naimhdeas enmity, ciuineas 
calmness, breitheamhnas judgment, ceartas justice, maitheas 
goodness, &c. 

Derivatives in air, ach, iche, which are, for the most part, 
agents ; as, cealgair a deceiver, sealgair a huntsman, dorsair 
a door-keeper, marcach a, maraiche a sailor, coisiche 
afoot traveller, &c. 

Names of such kinds of trees as are natives of Scotland ; 
as, darach oak, giuthas fir, uimhseann ash. 

Most polysyllables whereof the last vowel is broad, are 

Feminines. Nouns signifying females are feminine ; as, 
bean a woman, mathair a mother, bo a cow, &c. Except 
bainionnach or boirionnach a femMe, mart a cow, capull 
a horse or mare, but commonly a mare, which are masculine, 
and caileann or cailinn a damsel, masculine or feminine. (/) 
Mark, vi. 28. 

(e) Uan lieag bainionn, 2 Sam. xii. 3. Numb. vi. 14. So leomhann 
boirionn, Ezek. xix. 1. 

(/) It must appear singularly strange that any nouns which signify 
females exclusively should be of the masculine gender. The noun bainion- 
nach, is derived from the adjective bainionn, female, which is formed froni 
bean, the appropriate term for a woman. Yet this noun bainionnach, or 
boirionnach, a female, is masculine, to all grammatical intents and purposes. 
We say boirionnach coir, a civil woman, am boirionnach maiseach, the 
handsome woman. 

The gender of this Noun seems to have been fixed, not by its significa- 
tion, but by its determination, for most Derivatives in acA are masculines; 
as, oganach a young man, marcach a horseman, Albanach a Scotsman, ko 

42 OF THE PARTS [L»art lU 

Some nouns denoting a species are feminine, even when 
the individual spoken of is characterised as a male ; as, gabhar 
fliirionn, a he-goat. Psal. 1. 9. 

Names of countries ; as, Albainn Scotlandj Eirinn Ireland. 

Names of musical instruments ; as, clarsach a harp, piob, 
u pipe. 

Names of the heavenly bodies ; as, Grian sun, Gealach 

Names of diseases ; as, teasach a fever, a' ghriuthach the 
measles, a' bhreac the small-pox, a' bhuidheach the Jaundice, 
a! bhuinneach, a diarrhoea, &c. 

Collective names of trees or shrubs are feminine; as, 
<,'iuthasach a fir wood, iugharach a yeio copse, seileach a 
iirilluw copse, droighneach a thorny brake. 

Diminutives in ag or og ; as, caileag a girl, cuachag a 
little cup. 

Derivatives in achd ; as, iomlanachd fulness, doillearachd 
duskiness, doimhneachd depth, rioghachd kingdom, sinn- 
sireachd ancestry, &c. 

Abstract nouns formed from the genitive of adjectives ; as,, 
doille blindness, gile luhiteness, leisge laziness, buidhi-e 
deafness, &c. 

Many monosyllables in ua followed by one or more con- 
sonants are feminine ; as, bruach a bank, cruach a heap, 
cuach a cup, cluas an ear, gruag the hair of the head, sguab 
a sheaf, tuadh a hatchet, tuath peasantry. 

■Almost all polysyllables, whereof the last vowel is small, 
except those in air and iche, already noticed, are feminine. 

A few nouns are of either gender ; Salm a Psalm, creidimh 
belief, are used as masculine nouns in some places, and 
feminine in others. Cruinne the globe, talamb the earth, 
land, are masculine in the nominative ; as, an cruinne-c6 
the globe of the earth. Psal. Ixxxix. 11., xc. 2. — D. Buchan. 
1767. p. 12. 15; an talamh tioram ^^e dryland. Psal. xcv. 

So in Latin, mancipium, scortum, though applied to persons, follow the 
gender of their termination. 

Part K.] OF SPEECH. 43 

5. The same nouns are generally feminine in the genitive ; 
as, ga crich na cruinne to the extremity of the luorld. Psal. 
x\x. 4.; aghaidh na talmhainn tlie face of the earth. Gen. i. 
29. Acts xvii. 24. 

Of Declension. 

IsTouns undergo certain changes significant of Number and 
of Eelation. 

The forms significant of Number are two : the Singular, 
which denotes one; and the Plural, which denotes any 
number greater than one. 

The changes expressive of Relation are made on nouns in 
two ways : 1. On the beginning of the noun ; 2. On its ter- 
mination. The relations denoted by changes on the termin- 
ation are ^ifferent from those denoted by changes on the 
beginning ; they have no necessary connection together ; the 
one may take place in absence of the other. It seems pro- 
per, therefore, to class the changes on the termination by 
themselves in one division, and give it a name, and to class 
the changes on the beginning also by themselves in another 
division, and give It a different name. As the changes on 
the termination denote, in general, the same relations which 
are denoted by the Greek and Latin cases, that seems a 
sufficient reason for adopting the term case into the Gaelic 
Grammar, and apjilying it, as in the Greek and Latin, to 
signify "the changes made on the termination of nouns or 
adjectives^to mark relation" {g). According to this description 
of them, there are four cases in Gaelic. These may be 

{g) It was necessary to be thus explicit in stating the changes at the 
beginning and those on the termination as unconnected independent 
aca'f^e/ifc, which ought to be viewed separately; because many who have 
happened to turn their thoughts toward the declension of the Gaelic noun 
have got a habit of conjoining these, and supposing that both contribute 
their united aid toward the forming the cases of noims. This is blending 
together things which are unconnected, and ought to be kept distinct. It 
has therefore appeared necessary to take a separate view of these two 
accidents of nouns, and to limit the term case to those changes which 
ai-e made on the termination, excluding entirely those which take place at 
the beginning. 

44 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

named, like the corresponding cases in Latin, the Nominative, 
the Genitivey the Dative, and the Vocative, (h) The Nom- 
inative is used when any person or thing is mentioned as 
the subject of a proposition or question, or as the object of an 
action or affection. The Genitive corresponds to an English 
noun preceded by of. The Dative is used only after a pre- 
position. The Vocative is employed when a person or thing 
is addressed. 

The changes on the beginning of nouns are made by 
aspirating an initial consonant; that is, writing h after it 
This may be called the Aspirated form of the noun. The 
aspirated form extends to all the cases and numbers. A 
noun, whereof the initial form is not changed by aspiration, 
is in the Primary form. 

The accidents of nouns may be briefly stated thus. A 
noun is declined by Number, Case, and Initial form. The 
Numbers ure two : Singular and Plural. The Cases are 
four : Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Vocative. The 
Initial form is twofold : the Primary form, and the Aspi- 
rated form peculiar to nouns beginning with a consonant. 

In declining nouns, the formation of the cases is observed 
to depend more on the last vowel of the nominative than on 

(A) It is to be observed that these names of the cases are adopted merely 
because they are already familiar, not because they all denominate correctly 
the relations expressed by the cases to which they are respectively applied- 
There is no Accusative or Objective case in Gaelic different from the Nomi- 
native ; neither is there any Ablative different from the Dative, For this 
reason, it is not only unnecessary, but erroneous, to reckon up six Cases in 
Gaelic, distinguished not by the form of the Noun, but by the Prepositions 
prefixed. This is to depart altogether from the common and proper use 
of the term Case. And if the new use of that term is to be adopted, then 
the enumeration is still incomplete, for we ought to have as many Cases 
as there are Prepositions in the language. Thus, besides a Dative do 
Bhard, and an Ablative o Bhard, we should have an Impositive Case air 
Bhard, a Concomitative le Bard, an Insertive ann am Bard, a Precursive 
roimh Bhard, &c. &c. Grammarians have very correctly reckoned only 
five Cases in Greek, two in English, one in French [See Moore, Murray, 
Buffier, &c.] because the variations in the form of the Noun extend no 
further. Surely nothing but an early and inveterate prepossession in 
favour of the arrangements of Latin Grammar could ever have suggested 
the idea of Six Cases in Gaelic or in English. 

Tart IL] OF SPEECH. 45 

the final letter. Hence the last vowel of the nominative, or 
in general of any declinable word, may be called the char- 
acteristic vowel. The division of the vowels into hroad and 
small suggests the distribution of nouns into two Declensions, 
distinguished by the quality of the characteristic vowel. The 
first Declension comprehends those nouns whereof the char- 
acteristic vowel is hroad ; the second Declension comprehends 
those nouns whereof the characteristic vowel is small. 

The following examples are given of the inflection of nouns 
of the 


Bard, mas. 

a Poet. 



Norn. Bard 


Gen. Baird 


Dat Bard 


Yoc. Bhaird 


Cluas, fern, an Ear. 
Singular. Plural. 

Nora. Cluas Cluasan 

Gen. Cluaise Cluas 

Dat. Cluais Cluasaibh 

Voc. Chluas Chluasa 

Formation of the Cases of Nouns of the First Declension. 

Singular Numher. 

General Ride for forming the Genitive. — The Genitive is 
formed from the Nominative, by inserting i after the charac- 
teristic vowel, as, bks mas. death, Gen. sing, bais ; fuaran 
m. a fountain, g. s. fuarain ; clarsach f. a harp, g. s. clarsaich. 
Feminine monosyllables likewise add a short e to the Nomi- 
native ; as, cluas f. an ear, g. s. cluaise ; lamh a hand, g. s. 
laimhe {i). 

(t) It is not improbable that anciently all feminine nouns, except a few 


Particular Rules for the Genitive. — 1 If the nominative 
ends in a vowel, the genitive is like the nominative ; as, tri 
m. a time or season^ g. s. trk ; so also beatha f . life, cro m. 
a sheepfold, cliu m. fame, duin© a man, Donncha Duncan, a 
man's name, and many others. Except bo f. a cow, g. s. 
boin ; cu m. a dog, g. s. coin ; bru i tha belly, g. s. broinn 
or bronn. 

2. Nouns ending in chd or rr have the genitive like the 
nominative; as, uchd m. the breast, sliochd m. offspring, 
feachd m. a host, reachd m. statute, cleachd m. habit ^ beachd 
m. vision, smachd m. authority, fuachd m. cold, sprochd m. 
gloom, beannachd m. a blessing, naomhachd f. holiness, earr 
m. the tail, torr m. a heap. Except slochd g. s. sluichd m. a 
pit, unless this word should rather be written sloe, like hoc, 
enoc, soc. 

3. Monosyllables ending in gh or th add a for the genitive ; 
as, lagh m. law, g. s. lagha ; roth m. a wheel, g. s. rotha ; sruth 
m. a stream, g. s. srutha. Except Jigh m. felicity, grace, or 
charm, g. s. aigh [j). 

4. Monosyllables characterised by io either drop the o or 
add a for the genitive ; as, siol m. seed, g. s. sll ; lion m. a 
net, g. s. lin ; crioch f . a boundary, g. s. crich ; cioch f. the 
pap, g. s. ciche; fion m. wine, g. s. fiona, crios m. a girdle, g. 
s. criosa ; fiodh m. timber, g. s. fiodha. Except Criost or 
Criosd m. Christ, which has the gen. like the nominative. 

5. Many monosyllables, whose characteristic vowel is a or 
o, change it into u and insert i after it 3 as, gob m. the bill of 
a bird, g. s. guib ; crodh m. kine, g. s. cruidh ; bolg or balg 
m. a bag, g. s. builg ; clog or clag m. a bell, g. s. cluig ; lorg 
f. a staff, g. 8. luirge; long f. a ship, g. s. luinge; alt m. a 

irregular ones, added a syllable to the nominative, as e or a, in forming 
the genitive. The translators of the S. S. have sometimes formed the 
genitive of feminine polysyllables in this manner, as sionagoige from 
sionagog, Mark v. 36, 38. But it appears more agreeable to the analogy 
of inflection that such polysyllables should now be Avritten without an e in 
the genitive. 

{j) It is probable that this noun should rather be written idh. See 
M'Farlane's Paraphrases, III. 3. also Lhuyd and O'Brien, vn loco. 


ooint, g. s. uilt; alld m. a rivulet, g. s. uilld; car m. a turn, g. 
s. cuir ; earn m. a heap of stones, g. s. cuirn. So also ceol 
m. music, g. s. ciuil; seol m. a sail, g. s. siuil. Except 
nouns in on and a few feminines, which follow the general 
rule ; as, br6n m. sorrow, g. s. br5in ; Ion m. food, g. s. 16in; 
cloch or clach f. a stone, g. s. cloiche ; cos or cas f. the foot, 
g. s. coise ; br6g f. a shoe, g. s. br6ige. So also clann f. 
children, g. s. cloinne ; crann ni. a tree, g. s. croinn. Mac 
m. a son, has its g. s. mic. 

6. Polysyllables characterised by ea change ea into i ; as, 
fitheach m. a raven, g. s. fithich ; cailleach f. an old woman, 
g. s. caillich {li). These two suffer a syncope, and add e ; 
buidheann f. a company, g. s. buidhne ; sitheann f. venison, 
g. s. sithne. 

Of monosyllables characterised by ea, some throw away a 
and insert i ; as, each m. a horse, g. s. eich ; beann f. a peak, 
g. s. beinne : fearg f. anger, g. s. feirge. Some change ea 
into ^; as, breac m. a trout, g. s. brie; fear m. a man, g. s, 
fir; ceann m. a head, end, g. s. cinn ; preas m. a hush, g. s. 
pris; breac f. the small-pox, g. s. brice; cearc f. a hen, g. s, 
circe; leac f. a flag, g. s. lice. Gleann m. a valley, adds e, g. 
s. glinne. Some add a to the nominative ; as, speal m. a 
scythe, g. s. speala. Dream f. people, race, gean m. humour, 
have their genitive like the nominative. Feall f. deceit, g. s. 
foill or feill. Geagh m. a goose, makes g. s. geoigh. 

{k) Derivatives in an and ag should form their genitive according to the 
general Rule, ain, aig ; and in pronunciation they do so. When the 
syllable preceding the termination ends in a small vowel, the Rule of ' Caol re 
caol' has introduced an e into the final syllable, which is then written ean eag. 
In this case writers have been puzzled how to form the genitive. The termi- 
nations eain, eaig, would evidently contain too many vowels for a short 
syllable. To reduce this awkward number of vowels they have commonly 
thrown out the a, the only letter which properly expressed the vocal sound of 
the syllable. Thus from caimean m. a mote, they formed the gen. sing, 
caimein ; from cuilean m. si. whelp, g. s. cuileLn; from duileagf. a^leaf, g. s. 
duileig ; from caileag f . a girl, g. s. caileig. Had they not yielded too far to 
the encroachments of the Rule of 'Caol re caol ' they wouldjhave written both 
.the nom. and the gen. of these and similar no\ins more simply and more 
justly, thus : caiman, g.s. caimain ; cuilan, g. s. cuilain; duilag, g. s. duilaig ; 
cailag, g. s. cailaig. 

48 OF THE PARTS [Pabt II. 

7. Nouns in eu followed by a liquid, change u into o and 
insert i after it ; as, neul m, a cloudy g. s. neoil ; eun m. a 
hirdy g. s. coin ; feur m. grass^ g. s. f eoir ; meur m. a finger, 
g. 8. meoir ; leus m. a torch, g. s. leois. Beul m. the mouthy 
g. s. beil or beoil ; sgeul. m. a tale, g. s. sgeil or sgeoil. Other 
nouns characterised by eu add a for the gen., as, treud m. a 
flock, g. 8. treuda ; feum m. use, need, g. s. feuma ; beum m. 
a stroke, g. s. beuma. Meud m. hulk, beuc m. a roar, freumh 

f. a fibre, root, hardly admit of a, but have their gen. rather 
like the nom. 

8. Monosyllables characterised by ia change ia into ei ; as, 
sliabh m. a moor, g. s. sleibli ; fiadh m. a deer, g. s. feidh ; 
biadh m. food, g. s. beidh or bidh ; iasg m. fish, g. s. eifg ; 
grian f. the sun, g. s. greine ; sgiath f. a wing, g. s. sgeithe. 
Except Dia m. God, g. s. De ; sgian f. a knife^ g. s. sgine. 

Piuthar f. a sister, has g. s. peathar ; leanabh m. a child, 

g. s. leinibh ; ceathramh m. a fourth part, g. s. ceithrimh, 
leabaidh or leaba f. a bed, g. s. leapa ; talamh m. earth, g. s. 

The Dative singular of masculine nouns is like the nomi- 
native ; of feminine nouns, is like the genitive; as, tobar m. 
a well, d. s. tobar ; clarsach f. a harp, g. s. and d. s. clarsaich ; 
misneach f. courage, g. s. and d. s. misnich. 

Particular Rules for the Dative of Feminine Nouns. — 
1. If e was added to the nominative in forming the genitive, 
it is thrown away in the dative ; as, slat f. a rod, g. s. slaite 
— d. s. slait ; grian f. the sun, g. s. greine, d. s. grein. 

2. If the nominative suffered a syncope in forming the 
genitive, or if the last vowel of the genitive is broad, the 
dative is like the nominative ; as, buidheann f. a company, 
g. 8. buidhne, d. s. buidheann ; piuthar f. a sister, g. s. peathar, 
d. 8. piuthar. 

The Vocative of masc. nouns is like the genitive ; of 
feminine nouns is like the nominative ; as, bks m. death, g. 
!i. bais, v. f. bhais ; cu m. a dog, g. s. coin, v. s. choin ; grian f. 
the sun, v. s. ghaoth. 


Paet II.] OF SPEECH. 49 

Plural Number, 

Nominative. Masculine nouns which insert i in the gen. 
sing, have their nom. plur. like the gen. sing.; as, oglach m. 
a servant, g. s. oglaich, n. p. oglaich ; fear m. a man, g. s. 
and n. p. fir. Many of these form their nom. plur. also by 
adding a short a to the nominative singular. Other masculine 
nouns, and all feminine nouns, have their nom. plural in a, 
to which n is added, euphcmioi causa, before an initial vowel 


Particular Rules for forming the I^om. Plur. in a or an. 

1. By adding a to the nom. singular ; as, dubhar m. a 
shadow, n. p. dubhara; rioghachd f. a kingdom, n. p, 
rioghachdan. Under this Eule, some nouns suffer a syncope ; 
as, dorus m. a door, n. p. dorsa for dorusa. 

2. IS'ouns ending in I or nn, often insert t before a ; as, 
reul m. a star, n. p. reulta ; beann f. a pinnacle, n. p. 
beannta. So 16n m. a marsh, n. p. 16intean. 

3. Some nouns in ar drop the a, and add to the nom. 
sing, the syllable aich ; and then the final a becomes e, to 
correspond to the preceding small vowel; as, leabhar m. a 
book, n. p. leabhraiche ; tobar m. a well, n. p. tobraiche ; 
lann. f. an enclosure, inserts d, n. p. lanndaiche. Piuthar f. 
a sister, from the g. s. peathar, has n. p. peathraiche ; so 
leaba f. a bed, g. s. leapa, n. p. leapaiche. Bata m. a staff, 
n. p. batacha ; la or latha a day, n. p. lathachan or 

4. Some polysyllables in ach add e or ean to the genitive 
singular; as, muUach m. summit, g. s. mullaich, n. p. 
muUaichean ; otrach m. a dunghill, n. p. otraichean ; clarsach 
f. a harp, n. p. clarsaichean ; deudach f. the jaw, n. p. 
deudaichean. So sliabh m. a moor, g. s. sleibh, with t 

{I) In many instances, the Plural termination a is oftener written with 
this final n than without it. When the vowel preceding the termination 
is small, the termination a or an is very needlessly written e or ean, to 
preserve the correspondence of vowels. 


50 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

inserted, n. p. sleibhte. Sabhul m. a ham, g. s. sabhuil, n. p. 
saibhlean, contracted for sabhuilean. 

The following Nouns form their Nominative Plural irregu- 
larly : Dia m. God, n. p. dee or diathan ; scian f. a knife, 
n. p. sceana or scinichean ; sluagh m. people, n. p. eloigh ; 
bo. f. a cow, n. p. ba. 

Gerdtive, 1. Monosyllables, and nouns which form their 
nominative plural like the genitive singular, have the geni- 
tive plural like the nominative singular; as, geug f. a branch, 
g. p. geug; coimhearsnach m. a neighbour, g. s. and n. p. 

2. Polysyllables which have their nominative plural in a 
or an, form the genitive like the nominative ; leabhar m. 
a book, n. p. fir, or sometimes feara, g. p. fear or feara. 

Cu m. a dog has its g. p. con ; caora f. a sheep, g. p. 
caorach ; sluagh m. people, g. p. sluagh or slogh. 

Dative. The dative plural is formed either from the 
nominative singular or from the nominative pluraL If the 
nominative plural ends in a consonant, the dative plural 
is formed by adding ibh to the nominative singular; as, 
crann m. a tree, n. p. croinn, d. p. crannaibh; mac m. a son, 
n. p. mic, d. p. macaibh. If the nominative plural ends in 
a vowel, the final vowel is changed into ihh ; as, tobar a icell, 
n. p. tobraiche, d. p. tobraichibh. 

2. Monosyllables ending in an aspirated consonant, which 
have their nominative plural like the genitive singular, form 
their dative plural like the nominative plui-al ; as, damh an 
ox, g. s. and n. p. daimh, d. p. daimh, not damhaibh ; fiadh 
m. a deer, g. s. and n. p. and d. p. feidh. So sluagh m. 
people, host, g. s. sluaigh, n. p. and d. p. sloigh. Nouns 
ending in ch, of three or more syllables, form their dative 
plural like the nominative plural, rather than in ibh; as, 
coimhearsnach m. a neighbour, d. p. coimhearsnaich rather 
than coimhearsnachaibh ; phairiseach m. a Pharisee, d. p. 
phairisich rather than phairseacliaibh. 


Part II.] OF SPEECH 61 

Vocative. The vocative plural is like the nominative 
plural, terminating in a, but seldom in an; as, fear m. a maUy 
n. p. fir or feara, v. p. fheara -, oglach m. a servant^ n. p. 
oglaich, V. p. oglacha. Except perhaps monosyllables which 
never form their nominative plural in a, nor their dative 
plural in ihh ; as, damh m. an ox, n. p. daimh, v. p. dhaimh ; 
a shloigh, Eom. xv. 11. 

The irregular noun Bean f. a woman, is declined thus : 

Singular. ^Plural. 

Nom. Eean Mnai, mnathan 

Gen. Mna Ban 

Dat. Mnaoi Mnathaibh 

Voc. Bhean. Mhnathan. 


Cealgair, mas. a deceiver. 
Singular. Plural. 

Nom. Cealgair Cealgaire 

Gen. Cealgair Cealgair 

Dat. Cealgair Cealgairibh 

Voc. Chealgair. Chealgaire. 

Clais, fern, a gully. 

Nom. Clais Claisean 

Gen. Claise Clais 

Dat. Clais Claisibh 

Voc. Chlais. Chlaise. 

Formation of the cases of nouns of the second Declension. 
Singular Number. 

General Rule for the Genitive. The genitive of polysyl- 
lables is like the nominative ; of monosyllables is made by 
adding e to the nominative; as, caraid m. a friend, g. s. 
caraid; aimsir f. time, g. s. aimsir; tigh m. a house, g. s. 
tighe ; ainm m. a name, g. s. ainme ; im m. butter, g. s. ime; 
craig f. a rock, g, s. craige. 

52 OF THE PAETS [Paet II. 

Particular Rules for the Genitive. 1. Feminine nouns in 
ail and air drop the i and add ach; if the nominative be a 
polysyllable, ai is thrown away ; as, sail f. a beam, g. s. 
salach ; dail f. a plain, g. s. dalach; lair f. a mare, g. s. Ikrach ; 
cathair f. a seat, g. s. cathrach; nathair f. a serpent, g. s. 
nathrach ; lasair f . a flame, g. s. lasrach. To these add c6ir 
f. right, g. s. c6rach or c6ire. 

2. Monosyllables characterised by oi drop i and add a ; 
as, feoil f. fl^h, g. s. feola ; t6in f. bottom, g, s. t6na ; 8r6iii 

f. the nose, g. s. sr6ine or sr6na. 

3. Monosyllables characterised by ui change ui into a or 
0, and add a ; as, muir f. the sea, g. s. mara ; f uil f. blood, 

g. s. fola or fala ; druim f. a ridge, g. s. droma. Except 
stiil f. the eye, g. s. siila ; cuid f. a part, g. s. codach or 

4. A few feminine polysyllables in eir form their geni- 
tive like monosyllables ; as, inneir f. dung, g. s. inneire ; 
suipeir f. supper, g. s. suipeire. 

5. The following dissyllables seem to have formed their 
genitive like monosyllables, and then suffered a contraction. 
Sometimes the characteristic vowel is retained, and some- 
times it is thrown away, the final e of the genitive being 
converted into a, when requisite to suit an antecedent broad 

Amhainn, f. a river, g. s. aimhne, contracted for amhainne 
Aghainn ) « . , . . 

A°hann r* ^^^'^^ S- s. aighne, aghainne 

Banais f. a wedding, g. s. bainse, banaise 

Coluinn f. the body, g. s. colna, colla coluinne 

Duthaich f. a country, g. s. duthcha, duthaiche 

Fiacail f. a tooth, g. s. fiacla, fiacaile 

Gamlminn m. a steer, g. s. gamhna, gamhuinne 

Gualainn f . the shoulder, g. s. guaille, gualainne 

Madainn f . morning, g. s. maidne, madainne 

OhdiiT i. work, g. s. oibre, obaire 

Uilinn f. the elbow, g. s. uillne, uilinne 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 53 

6. The following nouns form their genitive by dropping 
the characteristic small vowel ; athair m. a father^ g. s. 
athar; mathair f. a mother^ g. s. mathairj brathair m. a 
hr other, g. s. brathar \ narahaid m. an enemy, g. s. namhad. 
Cnaimh m. a hone, g. s. cnamha ; uaimh f. a cave, g. s. 
uamha. Mil f. honey, has g. s. meala. 

7. A few monosyllables ending in a vowel have their 
genitive like the nominative ; as, ni m. a thing, ti m. a 'person, 
r^ m. the moon; to which add righ m. a king. 

Dative. The dative singular is like the nominative ; as, 
duine m. a man, d. s. duine: madainn f. morning, d. s. 

Vocative. The vocative singular is like the nominative, 
as, caraid m. friend, v. s. charaid ; mathair f. mother, v. 
s. mhathair. 

Plural Number. 

Nominative. — General Rule. The nominative plural is 
formed by adding to the nominative singular a or an, writ- 
ten e or ean to correspond to a preceding small vowel ; as, 
piobair m. a piper, n. p. piobairean ; aimsir f. time, season, 
n. p. aimsirean. Some nouns suffer a contraction in the 
nominative plural ; as, caraid m. a friend, n. p. ckirdean ; 
naimhaid m. an enemy, n. p. naimhdean ; fiacail f. a tooth, 
n. p. fiaclan. 

Particular Rales. 1. Some nouns, whose last consonant 
is I or n, insert t in the nominative plural; as, tuil f. a flood, 
n. p. tuilte j smuain f. thought, n. p. smuaintean ', coille 1 
a wood, n. p. coilltean ; kithne f. a command, n. p. aithnte. 
The i is aspirated in dail f. a plain, n. p. dailthean ; sail f . a 
beam, n. p. sailthean. 

2. Some nouns in air, chiefly such as form their genitive 
singular in ach, retain the same syllable in the nominative 
plural, and insert i after a ; as, 

Cathair, f. a seat, g. s. cathrach, n. p. cathraichean. 
Lasair, f . a flame, g. s. lasrach, n. p. lasraichean. 
Nathair, f. a serpent, g. s. nathrach, n. p. nathraichean. 

54 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

So also cuid f. a party from the g. s. codach, has the n. p. 
codaichean ; athair m. a fatlhery n. p. aithrichean ; mathair f. 
a mother^ n. p. maithrichean. To which add amhainn f. a 
rivery n. p. aimhnichean ; uisge m. water, n. p. uisgeachan ; 
cridhe m. the heart, n. p. cridheachan. 

The following nouns form their nominative plural irregularly ; 
duine m. a man, n. p. daoine ; righ m. a king, n. p. righre ; 
Hi m. a thirig, n. p. nithe; cliamhuinn m. a son-in-law, or 
brother-in-law, n. p. cleamhna. 

Genitive. The genitive plural of monosyllables and mas- 
culine polysyllables is twofold, like the nominative singular, 
and like the nominative plural ; as, rigli m. a king, g. p. righ 
or righre. The genitive plural of feminine polysyllables is 
like the nominative plural only; as, amhainn f. a river, g. p. 
aimhnichean. Suil f. the eye, has its g. p. sill. 

Dative. The dative plural is formed from the nominative 
plural by changing the final vowel into ihh ; as, coluinn f. 
the body, n. p. coluinne, d. p. coluinnibh; cridhe m. the 
heart, n. p. cridheacha, d. p. cridheachaibh. 

Vocative. The vocative plural is like the nominative plural ; 
as, duine m. a man, n. p. daoine, v. p. dhaoine. 

Final a or e in all the singular cases of polysyllables is oc- 
casionally cut off, especially in verse ; as, leab bed, teang 
tongue, coill wood, cridh heart. 

Of the Initial form of Nouns. 

In nouns beginning with a consonant, all the cases admit 
of the aspirated form. In the vocative singular and plural 
the aspirated form alone is used, except in nouns beginning 
with a lingual, which are generally in the primary form, when 
preceded by a lingual ; as, a sheann duine old man. ^ouns 
beginning with s followed by a mute consonant have no 
aspirated form, because s in that situation does not admit of 
the aspirate. In nouns beginning with I, n, r, a distinction 
is uniformly observed in pronouncing the initial consonant, 
corresponding precisely to the distinction of primary and 


aspirated forms in nouns beginning with other consonants. 
This distinction has already been fully stated in treating of 

The general use of the singular and plural numbers has been 
already mentioned. A remarkable exception occurs in the 
Gaelic. When the numerals fichead twenty^ ceud a hundred^ 
mile a thousand, are prefixed to a noun, the noun is not put 
in the plural, but in the singular number, and admits no 
variation of case. The termination of a noun preceded by 
da tico, is the same with that of the dative singular, except 
when the noun is governed in the genitive case, and then it 
is put in the genitive plural (m) ; when preceded by fichead, 
ceud, &c., the termination is that of the nominative singular ; 
thus da laimh tioo Jiands, da chluais two ears, da fhear two 
TTien, fichead lamh twenty hands, ceud fear a hundred men, 
mile caora a thousand sheejp, deich mile bliadhna ten thousand 
years (n). 


An adjective is a word used along with a noun, to express 
some quality of the person or thing signified by the noun. 

Adjectives undergo changes which mark their relation to 
other words. These changes are made, like those on nouns, 
partly on the beginning, and partly on the termination, and 
may be fitly denominated by the same names. The changes 
on the beginning are made by aspirating an initial consonant. 
The numbers and cases, like those of nouns, are distinguished 
by changes on the termination. The gender is marked partly 
by the initial form, partly by the termination. 

Adjectives whereof the characteristic vowel is broad, follow, 

(m) We are informed by E. O'C. that this is the usual construction in 
the Irish Dialect, and it appears to be the same in the Scottish. Thus, 
air son mo dha shul, for my two eyes. — Judg. xvi. 28. Ir. & Scott, versions. 

(n) So in Hebrew, we find a noun in the singular number joined with 
twenty^ thirty, a hundred, a thousand, &c. 

56 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

in most of their inflections, the form of nouns of the first 
declension, and may be termed Adjectives of the first 
declension. Those adjectives whereof the characteristic 
vowel is small, may be called Adjectives of the second 

Example of Adjectives of the First Declension, 

M6r, great. 

Singular. Plural 

Mas. Fern, Com. Gend. 

Nom. Mor, Mhor, Mora. 

Gen. Mhoir, Moire, Mora. 

Dat Mor, Mhoir, Mora. 

Voc. Mhoir, Mhor, Mora. 

F<yrmatvm of the Cases of Adjectives of the First DecleTision, 


Nominative. The feminine gender is, in termination, like 
the masculine. 

The other cases, both mas. and fem., are formed from the 
nominative, according to the rules already given for forming 
the cases of nouns of the first declension. Take the follow- 
ing examples in adjectives : — 

Genitive. — General rule. Marbh deadj g. s. m. mhairbh, f. 
mairbhe ; dubh hlack, g. s. m. dhuibh, f. duibhe ; fadalach 
tedious J g. 8. m. fhadalaich, f. fadalaich. 

Particular rules. 1. Sona happy, g. s. m. shona, f. sona ; 
aosda aged, g. s. m. and f. aosda ; beo alivcy g. s. m. bheo, f. 

2. Bochd poor, g. s. m. bhochd, f. bochd ; gearr shorty g. 
8. m. ghearr. f. gearr. 

3. Breagh^we, g. s. m. bhreagha, f. breagha. 

4. Crion little, diminutive, g. s. m. chrin, f. crine. 

6. Donn hroion, g. s. m. dhuinn, f. duinne ; gorm blue, g. 
8. m. ghuirm, f. guirme ; lom hare, g. s. m. luim, f. luime. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 57 

But dall blind, g. s. m. dhoill, f. doille ; mall slow, g. s. m, 
mhoill, f. moille ; like the nouns crann, clann. 

6. Cinnteach certain, g. s. m. chinntich, f. cmntich ; 
maiseach heautiful, g. s. m. mhaisich, f. maisich. Tearc 
rare, g. s. m. theirc, f. teirce; dearg red, g. s. m. dheirg, f. 
deirge ; deas ready, g. s. m. dheis, f. deise. Breac speckled, 
g. s. m, bhric, f. brice ; geal white, g. m. ghil, f. gile. 

7. Geur sharp, g. s. m. gh^ir, f. geire ; like the nouns breug, 

8. Liath hoary, g. s. m. leith, f. leithe ; dian heen, g. s. m. 
dhein, f. deine. 

Irregulars. Odhar pale, g. s. m. and f. uidhir; bodhar 
deaf, g. s. m. bhuidhir, f. buidhir. 

Datice. — General rule. Uasal noUe, d. s. m. uasal f. 
uasail ; bodhar deaf, d. s. m. bodhar, f. bhuidhir. 

Particular rule. 1. Trom heavy, d. s. m. trom, f. thruim. 

Vocative. Beag small, v. s. m. bhig, f. bheag. 


In Monosyllables the plural, through all its cases, is formed 
by adding a to the nom. sing. ; in Polysyllables, it is like 
the nom. sing ; as, crom crooked, pL croma ; tuirseach melan- 
choly, pi. tuirseach. 

A few Dissyllables form their Plural like Monosyllables, 
and suffer a contraction ; as, reamhar fat, pi. reamhra, con 
tracted for reamhara. Gen, xli. 20. 

Adjectives of the Second Declension. 

All the Cases of Adjectives of the Second Declension are 
formed according to the general rules for nouns of the second 
declension ; that is. Monosyllables add e for the gen. sing, 
fern, and for the plural cases ; Polysyllables are like the nom, 
sing, throughout. 

In the Second Declension, as in the First, Dissyllables 
sometimes suffer a contraction in the plural ; as, milis siveet, 
pi. milse contracted for miliso. 



[Part H. 

Of the Initial Form of Adjectives. 
Adjectives admit the aspirated fomi through all the 
Numbers and Cases. In Adjectives beginning with a Labial 
or a Palatal, the aspirated form alone is used in the gen, 
and voc. sing. masc. the nom. dat. and voc. sing, feminine. 

Comparison of Adjectives. 

There are in Gaelic two forms of Comparison, which may 
be called the First and the Second Comparative. 

The First Comparative is formed from the gen. sing. mas. 
by adding e; as, geal white ^ g. s. m. gil, comp. gile, ghile ; 
ciontach guilty, g. s. m. ciontaich, comp. ciontaiche. Some 
Adjectives suffer a contraction in the Comparative ; as, bodhar 
deaf, comp. buidhre for buidhire ; boidheach pretty, comp. 
boidhche for boidhiche. 

If the last letter of the gen. be a, it is changed into e, and 
i inserted before the last consonant ; as, fada long, g. s. m. 
fala, comp. faide ; tana thin^ g. s. m. tana, comp. taine. 

The Second Comparative is formed from the first, by 
changing final e into id ; as, trom heavy, 1. comp. truime, 2. 
comp. truimid ; tiugh thick, 1. comp. tiuighe, 2. comp. 
tiuighid. Many Adjectives, especially Polysyllables, do not 
admit of the Second Comparative. 

Both these forms of Comparison have an aspirated as well 
as a primary form, but are otherwise indeclinable. 

The following Adjectives are compared irregularly. 


1. Comp. 

2. Comp. 

Math, maith, good, 



01c, bad, evil, 



Mor, great, 



Beag, small. 



Goirid, gearr, sh^oi't, 



Duilich, difficult. 


Teath, hot, 



Leathan, broad, 

leatha, IMthne. 

Fogus, near, 


paet il] of speech. 59 

Ckirdeach, akin, c^ra. 

Furas, easy, fhusa. 

Toigh, deaVf docha. 

lonmhulnn, beloved, < . 

[ lonnsa. 

To these may be added the nouns — 

Mpran a great number or quantity , and Tuilleadh more. 

The Superlative, which is but a particular mode of ex- 
pressing comparison, is the same in form with the First 

An eminent degree of any quality is expressed by putting 
one of the particles ro, gle, before the Positive ; as, ro ghlic 
very loise, gle gheal very white. The same effect is produced 
by prefixing fior true, skr exceeding, &c., which words are, in 
that case, used adverbially; as, fior mhaiseach truly beautifid, 
ekv mhaith exceedingly good. 

Cardinal Numbers. 

1 Aon, a h-aon, one. 

40 Dk fhichead. 

2 Da, a dhk 

60 Deich is dk fhichead. 

3 Tri. 

60 Tri fichead. 

4 Ceithir. 

100 Ceud. 

5 Cuig. 

200 Da cheud. 

6 Se, sia. 

300 Tri ceud. 

7 Seachd. 

400 Ceithir cheud. 

8 Ochd. 

500 Cuig ceud. 

9 Naoi. 

1,000 Mile. 

10 Deich. 

2,000 Dk mhile. 

11 Aon deug. 

3,000 Tri mile. 

12 A dha dheug. 

10,000 Deich mile. 

13 Tri deug. 

20,000 Fichead mile. 

20 Fichead. 

100,000 Ceud mile. 

21 Aon thar fhichead. 

200,000 Dk cheud mile. 

22 Dha 'ar fhichead. 

1,000,000 Deich ceud mile, 

23 Tri 'ar fhichead. 

Mile de mhiltibh. 

30 Deich 'ar fhichead. 

&c. &c. 

31 Aon deug thar fhichead. 

60 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

Cardinal Numbers joined to a Noun, 

Of the mas. gender. Of the fern, gender. 

1 Aon fhear, one man, Aon chlach, one stone, 

2 Da fhear. D^ chloich. 

3 Tri fir. Tri clachan. 

10 Deich fir. Deich clachan. 

11 Aon fhear deug. Aon chlach dheng. 

12 Dk fhear dheug. Dk chloich dheug. 

13 Tri fir dheug. Tri clachan deug. 

20 Fichead fear. Fichead clach. 

21 Aon fhear thar fhichead. Aon chlach thar fhichead. 

22 D^ fhear thar fhichead. Da chloich thar fhichead. 

23 Tri fir fhichead. Tri clacha fichead. 

30 Deich fir fhichead. Deich clacha fichead. 

31 Aon fhear deug 'ar fhichead. Aon chlach dheug thar fhichead. 

40 Dk fhichead fear. Da fhichead clach. 

41 Fear is da fhichead. Clach is dk fhichead. 

42 Dk fhear is dd fhichead. D^ chloich. is da fhichead. 
50 Deich is d^ fhichead fear. Deich is da fhichead clach. 
60 Tri fichead fear. Tri fichead clach. 

70 Tri fichead fear agus deich. Tri fichead clach agus deich. 

100 Ceud fear. Ceud clach. 

101 Ceud fear agus ali-aon.Ceud clach agus a h-aon. 
309 Tri cheud fear. Tri cheud clach. 

1,000 Mile fear. Mile clach. 

10,000 Deich mile fear, &c. Deich mile clach, &c. 

Ordinal Numbers. 

1 An ceud fhear, the first man; a' cheud chlach, the first 

2 An dara fear. [stone, 

3 An treas fear, an tri-amh fear, 

4 An ceathramh fear. 

5 An cuigeamh fear. 

6 An seathamh fear. 

7 An seachdamh fear. 

8 An t-ochdamh fear. 


Pabt II.] OF SPEECH. 61 

9 An naothamh fear. 

10 An deicheamh fear. 

11 Aa t-aon fear deug. 

12 An dara fear deug. 

20 Am ficheadamh fear. 

21 An t-aon fhear fichead. 

22 An dara fear fichead. 

31 An t-aon fhear deug thar fhichead. 
40 An da fhicheadamh fear. 
60 An tri ficheadamh fear. 

100 An ceudamh fear. 

101 An t-aon fhear thar cheud. 

200 Am ficheadamh fear thar cheud. 
200 An da cheudamh fear. 
1000 Am mileamh fear, &c. 

The foUowmg numeral Nouns are applied only to persons : — 

2. Dithis, two persons. 7. Seachdnar. 

3. Triuir. 8. Ochdnar. 

4. Ceathrar. 9. I^aoinar. 

5. Cuignear. 10. Deichnar. 

6. S^anar. 


The Pronouns are, for the most part, words used instead 
of nouns. They may be arranged under the following 
divisions : Personal, Possessive, Eelative, Demonstrative, 
Interrogative, Indefinite, Compound. 

The Personal Pronouns are those of the 1st, 2d, and 3d 
persons. They have a Singular and a Plural iN'umber, a 
Simple and an Emphatic Form. They are declined 
thus : — 


Singular, Plural. 

Simple Form, Emphat F. Simple F. Emphat. 

1. Mi, mhi, /, me, Mise, mhise. Sinn, we, us, Sinne. 

^' I Thu thee ^' i ^^^» thusa. Sibh, ye, you, Sibhse. 

„ 1 E, /iiw, J 

• \ I, si, she, \ J { lad, siad, they \ j , . . 

The Pronoun 'sibh' yow, of the plural number is used almost 
universally in addressing a single person of superior rank or 
of greater age; while 'tu* thou, of the singular number is 
used in addressing an inferior or an equal. But the degree 
of seniority or of superiority, which is understood to entitle 
a person to this token of respect, varies in different parts of 
the Highlands {p). The Supreme Being is always addressed 
by the pronoun 'tu' thou, of the singular number. 

The Possessive Pronouns correspond to the Personal Pro- 
nouns, and, like them, may be called those of the 1st, 2d, 
and 3d persons singular, and 1st, 2d, and 3d persons plural. 
They have an Emphatic Form, which is made by connecting 
the syllable sa with the possessive pronoun of the 1st, 2d, 

(o) The Pronouns tu thou, se he, si she, siad they, are not employed, 
like other nominatives, to denote the object after a transitive verb. Hence 
the incorrectness of the foUovdng expression in most editions of the Gaelic 
Psalms : Se chrunas tu le coron graidh, Psal. ciii. 4,, which translated 
literally signifies, it is he whom thou toilt crown, &c. To express the trae 
sense, viz., it is he who will crovm thee, it ought to have been, se chrunas 
thu le coron graidh. So is mise an Tigheam a slanuicheas thu, I am the 
Lord that healeth thee, Exod. xv. 26 ; Ma ta e ann a fhreagaireas thu, IJ 
there he any that will answer thee. Job v. 1 ; Co e a bhrathas thu? Who 
is he that unll betray theet John xxi. 20., Comp. (Jen. xii. 3. and xxvii. 

{p) This use of the Pronoun of the 2d person plural is probably a 
Tuodem innovation, for there is notlung like it found in the more ancient 
Gaelic compositions, nor in the graver poetry even of the present age. 
As this idiom seems, however, to be employed in conversation with 
increasing frequency, it will probably lose by degrees its present import, 
and will come to be used as the common mode of addressing any individual ; 
in the same manner as the corresponding Pronouns are used in English, and 
other European languages. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 63 

and 3d persons singular, and 2d person plural ; ne with that 
of the 1st person plural, and san with that of the 3d person 
plural. These syllables are placed immediately after the 
nouns to which the possessive pronouns are prefixed, and 
connected by a hyphen. 

These Pronouns are as follow : — 
Simple. Emphatic. Simple. Emphatic. 

Singular. Plural. 

1. Mo, 772?/, mo mhac-sa 1. At, our, ar mac-ne 

2. Do, thy, do sa 2. Bhur, 'ur, your, bhur — sa 

o f A, his, a mhac-sa, san 1 „ * ,, . 

3. < . ' ' } 3. An,am,f^ir,an,am — sasan 
t A, her, a mac-sa, san J 

If the noun be followed by an adjective, the emphatic 
syllable is affixed to the adjective; as, do lamh gheal-sa 
thy white hand. 

The possessive pronouns mo, do, when followed by a 
vowel, commonly lose the o, whose absence is marked by an 
apostrophe ; as, m' aimn my name ; d' athair (2) thy father. 
The same pronouns when preceded by the preposition ann 
in J suffer a transposition of their letters, and are written am, 
ad, one broad vowel being substituted for another j as, ann ad 
chridhe in thy hearty 1 Sam. xiv. 7, ann am aire in my 

The possessive pronoun a his, is often suppressed alto- 
gether after a vowel ; as, na sanntaich bean do choimh- 
earsnaich, no oglach, no bhanoglach, no dhamh, no asal, covet 
not thy neighbour's wife, or his man-servant, or his 7naid-ser- 
vant, &c., Exod. xx. 17. In these and similar instances, as 
the tense is but imperfectly expressed (especially when the 
noun begins with a vowel), and cannot be gathered with cer- 
tainty from any other part of the sentence, perhaps it might 

(2) There seems hardly a sufficient reason for changing the d in this 
situation into t, as has been often done, as t'oglach for d'oglach thy servant, 
&c. The d corresponds sufficiently to the pronunciation, and being the 
constituent consonant of the pronoun, it ought not to be changed for 

64 OF THE PARTS [Paet II. 

bo an improvement to retain the pronoun, even at the expense 
of cutting off the final vowel of the preceding word ; as, n' a 
oglach, n' a bhanoglaich, &c. In many cases, however, this 
appears hardly practicable ; as, cha bheo athair his father is 
not alivey which could not with any propriety be written cha 
bheo a athair (r). 

The word fein corresponding to the English words selfj 
own, is subjoined occasionally both to the personal and pos- 
sessive pronouns : thus mi fein myself, mise fein / myself, 
thu fein tayself, thusa fein thou thyself, or thy own self, mo 
shluagh fein my own people. 

The other Pronouns are as follow : — 

Relative. Demonstrative. Interrogative. 

N. A, who, which, that. So, this, these. Co? who ? 
O.&D. An. Sin, that, those. Cia 1 which ? 

Nach, who not, Sud (s), ud, yon. Ciod, creud] what ? 

which not, 
Na, that which, 
what (t). 

Indefinite. Compound. 

Eigin, some. E so, this one, m. E sud, yon one, m. 

p. 1 , > whoever (u). I so, this one, f. I sud, yon one, i. 

(r) The Irish are not so much at a loss to avoid a hiatus, as they often 
use na for a his ; which the translators of the Psalms have sometimes 
judiciously adopted ; as, 

An talamh tioram le na laimh 

Do chruthaich e 's do dhealbh. Psal. xcv. 5. 

Is) In the North Highlands this Pronoun is pronounced sid. 

{t) This Pronoun occurs in such expressions as an deigh na chuala tu 
after what you, have heard ; their leat na th' agad, or na bheil agad, bring 
what you have. It seems to be contracted for an ni a the thing which. 

(w) There is reason to think that ge b'e is corruptly used for cia b* e. 
Of the former I find no satisfactory analysis. The latter cia b' e is literally 
which it he, or which it were ; which is just the French qui que ce soit, 
qui que ce fiLt expressed in English by one word whosoever, whichsoever. 
We find cia used in this sense and connection, Psal. cxxxv. 11. Glasg. 
1753. Gach uile rioghachd mar an ceadn' cia h-iomdha bhi siad ann, All 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 65 

Eile, other. lad so, these. lad sud, yon^ pi. 

Gach, ) each, I e sin, that me, m. Cach eile, the rest. 

Cach, j every (x). ) 

Cach, others, the rest. lad sin, those. Cach a ch^ile, each. 

Cuid, some. other (y). 



A WORD that signifies to be, to do, or to suffer anything, is 
called a Verb. 

The Verb in Gaelic, as in other languages, is declined by 
Voices, Moods, Tenses, If umbers, and Persons. 

The Voices are two : Active and Passive. 

The Moods are five : the Affirmative or Indicative, the 
Negative or Interrogative, the Subjunctive, the Imperative, 
and the Infinitive. Many, but not all. Transitive Verbs have 
a Passive Participle. 

The Tenses are three : the Present, the Preterite, and the 

The Numbers are two : Singular and Plural. 

The Persons are three : First, Second, and Third. The dis- 

kingdoms likemse, however numerous they be. See also Gen. xliv. 9, Kom. 
ii. 1. 

(a;) This pronoun is found written with an initial c in Lhuyd's " Archaeol. 
Brit." Tit. I. page 20. col. 2. ceach ; again Tit. X. voc. Bealtine ; cecha 
bliadna each year. So also O'Brien, cach all, every, like the French chaque. 
"Irish Diet." voc. cach. 

{y) The pronouns cax^h eile and cach a chMle are hardly known in Perth- 
shire. Instead of the former, they use the single word each pronounced 
long, and declined like a noun of the singular number ; and instead of the 
latter, a cheile, as in this example, choinnich iad a cheile ; thuit cuid, 
agus theich each, they met each other ; some fell, and the restfied. Here 
each may be considered as a simple pronoun ; but the first clause, choinnich 
iad a cheile, they met his fellow, hardly admits of any satisfactory analysis. 
The phrases, in fact, seem to be elliptical, and to be expressed more fully, 
according to the practice of other districts, thus : choinnich iad cach a 
chiele ; thuit, cuid, agus theich cach eile. Now, if cach be nothing else 
than gach every, (a conjecture supported by the short pronunciation of the 
a, as well as by the authorities adduced in the preceding note,) the expres- 
sions may be easily analysed : choinnich iad gach [aon] a cheile ; thuit 
cuid, agus theich gach [aon] eile ; they met every [owe] his fellow ; so)ru 
feUf and every other [one]Jkd. See 1 Thess. v. 11. 




[Part IL 

tinction of number and person takes place only in a few 

The inflections of Verbs, like those of nouns, are made by 
changes at the beginning, and on the termination. 

The changes on the termination are made according to one 
model, and by the same rules. But for the sake of stating 
some diversity in the initial changes, it may be convenient to 
arrange the verbs in two conjugations, whereof the first com- 
prehends those verbs which begin with a consonant, tho 
second, those verbs which begin with a vowel. Verbs begin- 
ning with /, followed by a vowel, are ranged under the second 
conjugation, along with verbs beginning with a vowel 

The verb Bi he, which is used as an auxiliary to other 
verbs, is declined as follows : — 

Bi, he. 

Affirmative or Indicative Mood. 







1. Ta mi, / am 

Bha mi, / waSf 

Bithidh mi, I will he, 

2. Tathu, 

Bha thu, 

Bithidh tu, 

3. Ta e ; 


Bithidh se ; 




1. Tasinn, 

Bha sinn. 

Bithidh sinn, 

2. Ta sibh. 

Bha sibh. 

Bithidh sibh, 

3. Taiad. 

Bha iad. 

Bithidh siad. 

Negative or Interrogative Mood. 





1 Bheil 

mi, / am not, 

Robh mi, / loas not, 


2 Bheil thu, 

Eobh thu. 


3 Bheil 


Robh e; 

nach • 




1 Bheil 


Eobh sinn, 


2 Bheil sibh, 

Robh sibh, 

3 Bheil iad. 

Robh iad. 

Pari II.] 






' Bi mi, / shall not he, 
Bi thu, 
Bi se; 

Bi sinn, 
Bi sibh, 
Bi siad. 

Subjunctive Mood. 
Preterite or Imperfect. 

1 Bhithinn, / would he, 

2 Bhitheadh tu, 

3 Bhitheadh e ; 


1 Bhitheadheamaid, 
Bhitheadh sinn, 

2 Bhitheadh sibh, 

3 Bhitheadh iad. 

Imperative Mood. 

1 Bitheam, let me he, 

2 Bi, bi thusa, 


Ma bhitheas mi. If I shall he, 
Bhitheas tu, 
Bhitheas e ; 

Bhitheas sinn, 

Bhitheas sibh, 

Bhitheas iad. 

Infinitive Mood. 

Bith, being, 

do bhith, ) , , 
> to bey 

3 Bitheadh e ; 


1 Bitheamaid, 

2 Bithibh, 

3 Bitheadh iad. 


Ta mi iar bith, 
/ have been, &c. 

a bhith, 

gu bhith, 

gu bith, 

iar bhith, 

iar bith, 

o bhith, from being, &c. 

Compound Tenses. 

Preterite. Future. 

> to be, 

> after being, been, 

Affirmative Mood. 

Bha mi iar bith, 
/ had been, &c. 

Bithidh mi iar bith, 
I shall have been, &c. 


ni, /B 

Negative Mood. 
Sing. Sing. Sing. 

Bheil mi iar bith, Robh mi iar bitb, Bi mi air bith, 
have not been. I had not been. I shall not have beefti. 

Subjunctive Mood. 
Preterite or Pluperfect. Future. 

Sing. Sing. 

1 Bhitliinn iar bith, / should Ma bhitheas mi iar bith, If I 
have been^ ^c. shall have been, ^c. 

The present aflQrmative ta is often written tha. This is one 
of many instances where there appears reason to complain of 
the propensity remarked in Part I. in those who speak the 
Gaelic, to attenuate its articulations by aspiration. Another 
corrupt way of writing ta which has become common, is ata. 
This has probably taken its rise from uniting the relative to 
the verb ; as, an uair ata mi ; instead of an uair a ta, &c., mar 
a ta, &c. Or perhaps it may have proceeded from a too com- 
pliant regard to a provincial pronunciation. 

The pret. neg. robh appears to be made up of the verbal 
participle ro, the same with do, and bha, throwing away the 
last vowel ; ro bha, robh. 

The verb and pronoun of the 1st per. sing, and 3d per. 
plur. are frequently incorporated into one word, and written 
taim / am, taid they are. 

The pres. neg. loses the initial bh after the participle cha 
not, mur if not, nach that not; n is inserted, euphoniae causa, 
betwixt the participle cha and the verb; as, cha n 'eil, mur 
'eil, nach 'eil. This Tense is often pronounced beil after the 
participle am ; as, am beil e'i is it? 

In the North Highlands, the pret. neg. often takes the 
common verbal participle do before it; as, cha do robh mi, 
or cha d'robh mi, / was not. 

Initial b of the fut. neg. is aspirated after the participle 
cha not ; as, cha bhi. 

Initial bh of the pret. subj. loses the aspiration after the 

Paet II.] 



participles ni Tiot, mur if not, nach that not, gu that, nam if ; 
as, mur bithinn, nam bitheadh tu. 

The subjunct. and imper. often suffer a contraction, by 
changing ithea into io ; as, biodh, biom, bios, &c. 

Some of the compound tenses of Bi are rarely if ever used. 
They are here given complete, because they correspond to the 
analogy of other verbs ; and show how accurately the various 
modifications of time may be expressed by the substantive 
verb itself. 

Example of a verb of the First Conjugation. Buail to 


Simple Tenses. 
Affirmative or Indicative Moods. 


Do bhuail mi, / struck, 
Bhuail mi, 
Bhuail thu, 
Bhuail e ; 

Bhuail sinn, 
Bhuail sibh, 
Bhuail iad. 

Buailidh mi, I will strike, 

Buailidh tu, 
Buailidh se ; 

Buailidh sinn, 
Buailidh sibh, 
Buailidh siad. 

Negative or Interrogative Mood. 








Do bhuail mi, / struck 

Do bhuail thu. 
Do bhuail e; 

Do bhuail sinn, 
Do bhuail sibh, 
Do bhuail iad. 

Buail mi, 

I will not strike. 

Buail thu, 
Buail e; 

Buail sinn, 
Buail sibh, 
Buail iad. 


Subjunctive Mood. 

[part n. 

Preterite. Future. 

Sing. Sing. 

1 Bhuailinn, I would strike, Ma bhuaileas mi, If I shall 


2 Bhuaileadh tu, 

3 Bhuaileadh e ; 


1 Bhuaileamaid, 
Bhuaileadh sinn, 

2 Bhuaileadh sibh, 

3 Bhuaileadh iad. 

Imperative Mood, 

1 Buaileam, let me strike, 

2 Buail, 

3 Buaileadh e ; 


1 Buaileamaid, 

2 Buailibh, 

3 Buaileadh iad. 

Bhuaileas tu, 
Bhuaileas e ; 

Bhuaileas sinn, 

Bhuaileas sinn, 
Bhuaileas iad. 

Infinitive Mood, 
Bualadh, striking, 
ag bualadh, a-s/riA:iW(7, striking, 
iar bualadh, struck, 
dobhualadh, U . ., 

-i-i Til f lO otrlKot 

a bhualadh, J ' 

ri bualadh, at striking, 
le bualadh, toith striking, 
bhualadh, from sinking, 

Compound Tenses. 

Affii'mative Mood. 

Present. Preterite. 

1. Camp. 1. Comp. 

Ta mi ag bualadh, Bha mi ag bualadh, 

I am striking, &c. I was striking, &c. 


1 Comp. 
Bithidh mi ag bualadh, 
/ will be striking, &c. 

Part II.] 




2 Gomp. 
Ta mi iar bualadh, 
/ have struck, &c. 


2. Gomp. 
Bha mi iar bualadh, 
/ had struck^ &c. 




2 Gomp. 

Bithidh mi iar bualadh, 

/ will have struck, &c. 

Negative Mood 
Present. Preterite. 

1. Gomp. 1. Gomp. 

Bheil mi ag bualadh, Eobh mi ag bualadh, 

/ am not striking, &c. / luas not striking, &c. 

1. Gomp. 

Bi mi ag bualadh. 

/ will not he striking, &c. 

Present. Preterite. 

2. Gomp. 2. Gomp. 

Bheil mi iar bualadh, Eobh mi iar bualadh, 

/ have not struck, vtec. / had not struck, &c. 


2. Gomp. 

Bi mi iar bualadh, 
I will not have struck, &c. 


1. Gomp. 
Bhithinn ag bualadh, 
I would he striking, &c. 

2. Gomp. 
Bhithinn iar bualadh, 
I would have struck, &c 

Subjunctive Mood. 


1. Gomp. 
Ma bhitheas mi ag bualadh, 
If I shall he striking, &c. 

2. Gomp. 
Ma bhitheas mi iar bualadh, 
If I shall have struck, &c. 



[part It 

Imperative Mood, 
1. Comp. 
Bitheam ag bualadh, 
Let me he striking^ &c. 

2. Comp. 
Bitheam iar bualadh, 
Let TKve have struck^ &c. 

Infinitive Mood. 

1. Comp. 
Do bhith ag bualadh, 
To he striking, &c. 
Iar bith ag bualadh, 
Been striking, &c. 

2. Comp. 

Do bhith iar bualadh, 
To have heen striking, &c. 




Do bhuaileadh mi, I was 

Bhuaileadh mi, 
Bhuaileadh thu, 
Bhuaileadh e; 

Bhuaileadh, sinn, 
Bhuaileadh sibh, 
BhuaDeadh iad. 

Affi>rmative Mood 
Simple Tenses. 

Buailear mi, / sJvall he struck. 

Buailear thu, 
Buailear e ; 

Buailear sinn, 
Buailear sibh, 
Buailear iad. 







Do bhuaileadh mi, 

was not struck, 
Do bhuaileadh thu. 
Do bhuaileadh e ; 

Do bhuaileadh sinn. 
Do bhuaileadh sibh, 
Do bhuaileadh iad. 

Negative Mood. 

Buailear mi, / shall not he 

Buailear thu, 
Buailear e ; 

Buailear sinn, 
Buailear sibh, 
Buailear iad. 

paet il] of speech. 73 

Subjunctive Mood, 
Preterite. Future. 

Sing. Sing. 

1 Bhuailteadh mi, I would he Ma bhuailear mi, If I shall he 

struck, struck. 

2 Bhuailteadh thu. Bhuailear thu, 

3 Bhuailteadh e ; Bhuailear e ; 

Plur. Plur, 

1 Bhuailteadh sinn, Bhuailear sinn, 

2 Bhuailteadh sibh, Bhuailear sibh, 

3 Bhuailteadh iad. Bhuailear iad. 

Imperative Mood. 

Sing. Plur. 

1 Buailtear mi, Let me he struck, 1 Buailtear sinn, 

2 Buailtear thu, 2 Buailtear sibh, 

3 Buailtear e. 3 Buailtear iad. 

Buailte, struck. 

Compound Tenses 

Affirmative Mood. 

Present. Preterite. 

1. Comp. 1. Camp. 

Ta mi buailte, / aw struck, &c. Bha mi buailte, I was struch, 

1. Comp. 
Bithidh mi buailte, / shall he sti'uck, &c 



[Part U. 


2. Comp. 


1 Ta mi iar mo bhualadh, 

/ have bee?i struck, 

2 Ta thu iar do bhualadh, 

3 Ta se iar a bhualadh ; 


1 Ta sinn iar ar bualadh, 

2 Ta sibh iar 'ur bualadh, 

3 Ta siad iar am bualadh. 

2. Comp. 
Bha mi iar mo bhualadh, 

/ had been struck, 
Bha thu iar do bhualadh, 
Bha se iar a bhualadh ; 

Bha sinn iar ar bualadh, 
Bha sibh iar 'ur bualadh, 
Bha siad iar am bualadh. 


2. Co7np. 


1 Bithidhmi iar mo bhualadh, I shall have been struck, 

2 Bithidh tu iar do bhualadh, 

3 Bithidh se iar a bhualadh; 


1 Bithidh sinn iar ar bualadh, 

2 Bithidh sibh iar 'ur bualadh, 

3 Bithidh siad iar am bualadh. 

1. Comp. 
Ni bheil mi buailte, 
lam, not struck, &c. 

Negative Mood. 

1. Comp. 
Ni'n robh mi buailte, 
/ was not struck, &c. 

1. Comp. 
Ni'm bi mi buailte, / shall not be struck, &c. 

Present. Preterite. 

2. Comp. 2. Comp. 

Ni' m bheil mi iar mo bhualadh, Ni'n robh mi iar mo bhualadh, 

/ have not been struck, &c. / had not been struck, &c. 

Part II.] 




2. Comp. 

Ni'm bi mi iar mo bhualadh, I shall not have been struck, &c 

Subjunctive Mood. 
Preterite. Euture. 

1. Comp. 1. Comp. 
Bhithinn buailte, Ma bhitheas mi buailte, 

/ would be struck, &c. If I shall be struck, &c. 

2. Comp. 2. Comp. 
Bhithinn iar mo bhualadh, Ma bhitheas mi iar mo bhualadh, 
I would have been struck, &c. If 1 shall havebeenstruck^&c. 

Imperative Mood, 

1. Comp. 
Bitheam buailte, 
Let me be struck, &c. 

2. Comp. 
Bitheam iar mo bhualadh, 
Let me have been struck, &c. 

Infinitive Mood. 

1. Comp. 
Do bhith buailte. 
To be struck, &c. 

2. Comp. 

Do bhith iar mo bhualadh, 
To have been struck, &c. 

Examples of Verbs of the Second Conjugation. 
Orduich, to appoint 




Simple Tenses 

Dh' orduich, 


Imperat. Orduicheam. 

Infinit. Orduchadh. 




Dh'orduicheadh, Orduichear, 

D'orduicheadh, Orduichear, 

Dh'orduichteadh. Dh'orduicheas. 

Imperat. Orduichear. 

Particip, Orduichte. 



Folaich, to hide 



Preterite. Future. 
Dh'fholaich, Folaichidh, 
D'fholaich, Folaich, 
Dh'fholaichinn. Dh'fholaicheaa. 
Folaicheam. Injinit. Folachadh. 


Affirmat. Dh'fholaicheadh, Folaichear, 

Negat. D'fholaicheadh, Folaichear, 

Subjunct. Dh'fholaichteadh. Dh'fholaichear. 

Imperat. Folaichtear. Particip. Folaichte. 

The Compound tenses may be easily learned from those of 
the Verb Buail in the first Conjugation, being formed exactly 
in the same manner. 

Formation op the Tenses. 
0/ the Initial Form. 

An Initial Consonant is aspirated in the Preterite Tense, 
through all the Moods and Voices, except in the Preterite 
Subjunctive after the Particles ni, mur, nach, gu, an, aiu. 
An initial Consonant is occasionally aspirated in the Future 
Tense, and in the Infinitive and Participle, indicating their 
connection with the preceding word. 

In the first Conjugation, do is prefixed to the Pret. Aft 
and Neg. Active and Passive. However, it often is, and 
always may be, omitted before the Pret. AS. It is some- 
times omitted in the Pret. N"eg. in verse, and in com- 
mon conversation. In the second Conjugation, the same 
Particle do is prefixed to the Preterite through all the 
Moods and Voices, and to the Fut. Subj. excepting only the 
Subjunctive Tenses after ni, mur, nach, gu, an, am. In this 


Part II.] OF SPEECH. 77 

Conjugation, do always loses the o to avoid a hiatus, and 
the d is aspirated in the Affirm, and Subjunct. Moods {z). 

Of the Termination. 

In all regular Yerhs, the Terminations adjected to the Eoot 
are, strictly speaking, the same in Verbs characterised by a 
small vowel. But where the first vowel of the Termination 
does not correspond in quality to the last vowel of the Eoot, 
it has become the constant practice to insert in the Termina- 
tion a vowel of the requisite quality, in order to produce this 
correspondence. Thus a variety has been introduced into 
the Terminations even of regular Yerbs, prejudicial to 
the uniformity of inflection, and of no use to ascertain 
either the sense or the pronunciation {a). In the foregoing 
examples of regular Yerbs, the common mode of Orthography 
has been followed, but in the following rules the simple 
Terminations only are specified. 


Simple Tenses. 

The Theme or Eoot of the Yerb is always found in the 
second Per. sing, of the imperative. 

The Preterite Affirm, and Negat. is like the Eoot, and 
has no distinction of Number or Person. In most of the 
editions of the Gaelic Psalms, some inflections of the Pre- 

(z) In the older Irish MSS. the Particle do appears under a variety of 
forms. In one MS. of high antiquity it is often written dno. This seems 
to be its oldest form. The two consonants were sometimes separated by a 
vowel, and the n being pronounced and then written r, (See Part I. p. 19.) 
the word was written doro. (See Astle's Hist, of the Orig. and Progr. of 
Writing, pf^ge 11Q, Irish Specimen, No. Q.) The Consonants were some- 
times transposed, suppressing the latter Vowel, and the Particle became 
nod (0 Brien's Ir. Diet. voc. Sasat, Treas,) and rod id. voc. Ascaim. Fial.) 
Sometimes one of the syllables only was retained ; hence no (O'Br. voc. 
No,) ro (id. voc. Ko,) and do in common use. Do likewise suffered a trans- 
position of letters, and was written sometimes ad. (O'Br. voc. Do.) 

(a) This correspondence of the Termination with the Koot was over- 
looked in the older editions of the Gaelic Psalms ; as pronnfidh, cuirfar, 
molfidh, innsara, guidham, coimhdar, sinnam, gluaisfar, &c. 

78 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

terite have been admitted, with good effect, from the Irish 
Verb ; such as, bhuaileas / struck, bhuailis thou didst strike^ 
bhuaileamar we struck, bhuaileadar they struck. The Pret. 
Subj. is formed by adding to the Root inn for the first pers. 
sing., and adh for the other persons. The first pers. pliir. 
ako terminates in amaid. 

The Future Affirm, adds idh to the Root ; in the Negat. 
it is like the Root ; and in the Subjunct. it adds as. A 
poetic Future Tense terminating in ann or onn, is frequent in 
the Gaelic Psalms ; as, gairionn will call, seasfann will stand, 
do bheirionn, will give, &c. The Future has no distinction of 
Number or Person. The Termination of the Future Affirm, 
and Negat. in many Verbs was ioimeilj fidh, like the Irish ; 
of which many examples occur in the earlier editions of the 
Gaelic Psalms. In later Gaelic publications, the/ has been 
uniformly set aside (6). The Termination of the first pers. 
and third pers. plur. is often incorporated with the 
corresponding Pronoun ; as, seinnam cliu / will sing praise, 
PsaL Ixi. 8., Ni fuigham bas, ach mairfam beo, / shall not die, 
hut shall remain alive, Ps. cxviii. 17., Ithfid, geillfid, innsid, 
they will eat, they will submit, they unit tell, Ps. xxii. 26, 29, 
31. (c). 

(b) The disposition in the Gaelic to drop articulations has, in this instance, 
been rather unfortunate ; as the want of the / weakens the sound of the 
word, and often occasions a hiatus. There seems a propriety in retain- 
ing the/ of the Future, after a Liquid, or an aspirated Mute ; as, cuirfidh, 
luairfidh, raolfidh, geillfidh, pronntidh, brisfidh, &c., for these words lose 
much in sound and emphasis by being changed into caithidh, mairidh, 

(c) The incorporation of the Verb with a Personal Pronoun is a manifest 
improvement, and has gradually taken place in almost all the polished 
languages. There is incomparably more beauty and force in expressing 
the energy of the Verb, with its personal relation and concomitant circum- 
stances, in one word, than by a periphrasis of pronouns and auxiliaries. 
The latter mode may have a slight advantage in point of precision, but the 
former is greatly superior in elegance and strength. The structure of the 
Latin and Greek, compared with that of the English Verb, affords a striking 
illustration of this common and obvious remark. Nothing can be worse 
managed than the French Verb ; which, though it possesses a competent 
variety of personal inflections, yet loses all the benefit of them by the 
]ierpetual enfeebling recurrence of the personal Pronouns. 

Part IL] OF SPEECH. 79 

In the Imperative Mood, the second pers. sing, is the 
Koot of the Verb. The other persons are distinguished by 
these Terminations ; 1st pers. sing, am, 3d pers. sing, adh^ 
1st pers. plur. amaid, 2d pers. plur. ibh, 3d pers. plur. adh. 

The Terminations peculiar to the 1st pers. sing, and plur. 
of the Pret. Subj. and of the Imperat. supply the place of 
the Personal Pronouns ; as does also the Termination of the 
2d pers. plur. of the Imperative. 

The Infinitive is variously formed. 

General Rule. The Infinitive is formed by adding adh 
to the Eoot ; as, aom how, incline, Infin. aomadh ; ith eat, 
Infln. itheadh. 

1. Some Verbs suffer a syncope in the penult syllable, 
and are commonly used in their contracted form ; as, 

Imper. Infin. 

Caomhain, sparey Caomhnadh. 

Coisin, loin, Coisneadh, Cosnadh, 

Diobair, deprive, Diobradh. 

r6gair, remove, F6gradh. 

Foghain, suffice, Foghnadh. 

Fosgail, open, Fosgladh. 

Innis, tell, Innseadh. 

lobair, sacrifice, lobradh. 

Mosgail, awake, Mosgladh. 

Seachain, avoid, Seachnadh. 

Tionsgain, heginy Tionsgnadh. 

Togair, desire, Togradh. 

Observe that Verbs which thus suffer a syncope in forming 

In comparing the Scottish and Irish dialects of the Gaelic, it may be 
inferred that the former, having less of inflection or itworporation than the 
latter, differs less from the parent tongue, and is an older branch of the 
Celtic, than its sister dialect. It were unfair, however, to deny that the 
Irish have improved the Verb, by giving a greater variety of inflection to 
its Numbers and Persons, as well as by introducing a simple Present Tense. 
The authors of our metrical version of the Gaelic Psalms were sensible of 
the advantage possessed by the Irish dialect in these respects, and did not 
scruple to borrow an idiom which has given grace and dignity to many of 
their verses. 



[Part II. 

the Infinitive, suflfer a like syncope in the Preterite Sub- 
junctive, and in the Imperative Mood ; as, innis tell, Infin. 
innseadh, Pret. Subj. innsinn, innseadh, innseamaid, Imperat. 
innseam, innseamaid, innsibh. 

2. A considerable number of Verbs have their Infinitive 
like the Koot ; as, 

Caoidh, lament. 
Deamiad, neglect. 
Fas, grow. 
Gairm, call. 
Meas, estimate. 

3. Polysyllables in ch, whose characteristic Yowel is small, 
either throw it away, or convert it into a broad Vowel and 
add adh', as, 

Ceannaich, buy, Ceannachadh. 

Smuainich, thi7i'k, Smuaineachadh. 

Most Monosyllables in sg^ and a few others, follow the 

01, drink. 
Euith, 7'un 
Snamh, swim. 
Sniomh, ttcijie. 

same Kule ; as, 





Coisg, cheeky 


Naisg, bindf 


Faisg, wring f 


Paisg, wrap. 


I.oisg, burn. 


Blais, taste, 


liUaisg, roch. 


Buail, strike. 


4. Many Verbs, whose 

characteristic Vowel is small, 

either throw it away, or convert it into a broad 

Vowel, with- 

out adding adh , 






Amhairc, looh^ 


lomain, drive, 


Amais, reachj 


Leighis, cure, 


Caill, lose. 


Sguir, cease, 


Ceangail, bindf 


Siubhail, travel, 


Cuir, put, 


Tachrais, wind. 


Coimhid, keep. 


Tiondaidh, turn, 


Fulaing, suffer^ 


Toirmisg, forbid, 


Fuirich, stay^ 


Toinail, gather. 


Guil, weepf 


Tionsgail, contrive, TionsgaL 



Part II.] 



5. The following Verbs in air add t to the Eoot 

Agair, claim, 
Bagair, threaten, 
Casgair, slaughter, 
Freagair, answer, 
lomair, itse, 
Labhair, speak, 
Lomair, shear, 
Saltair, trample, 
Tabhair, give, 
Tachair, meet. 


6. These Monosyllables add sinn to the Eoot : — 

Beir, hear, 
Creid, believe, 
Faic, see, 
Goir, crow, 
Mair, continue, 
Saoil, think, 
Treig, forsake, 
Tuig, understand, 
Kuig, reach. 








Tuigsinn, or TuigeiL 

Kuigsinn, or Euigheachd. 

7. These Monosyllables add tuinn or tinn to the Eoot; 

Bean, touch, 
Buin, take away, 
Can, say, sing, 
Cinn, grow, 
Cluinn, hear, 
Fan, stay. 
Gin, produce, 
Lean, follow. 
Meal, enjoy. 
Pill, return, 
SeaU, look, 







Giontuinn, or Gionmhuin. 

Leantuinn, or Leanmhuin. 






[Pabt H, 

8. The following Monosyllables add ail to the Root: — 
Imper. Iiifin. Imper. Infin. 

Cum, holdy Cumail. Leag, cast down, LeagaiL 

Gabh, take, GabhaiL Tog, raise, Togail 

Fig, leave, F.Hgail. 

Tuig, understand, TuigeiL 

9. These Monosyllables add amh to the Root : — 



Caith, spend, 


Dean, do, make. 


Feith, wait, 


Seas, stand, 


10. The following Verbs form the Infinitive irregularly :- 

Beuc, roar, 


Biiir, bellow, 


Geum, low, 


Glaodh, cry, 


Caisd, listen. 


Eisd, hearken. 


Marcaich, ride. 


Thig, come, 

Teachd, tighinn. 

Faigh, Ji7id, 

Faghail, faotainn. 

Eirich, 7^ise, 


larr, request. 


Taisg, lay up. 


Coidil, sleep, 


Fuaigh, sew, 


Gluais, move. 

Gluasad, gluasachd. 

Tuit, fall. 


Teirig, wear out. 


Teasairg, deliver, 


Compotmd Tenses. 

The compound Tenses of the first order are made up of the 

several simple Tenses of the auxiliary verb Bi he, and the 

Infinitive preceded by the Preposition ag at. Between two 

Consonants, ag commonly loses the g, and is written a ; as, 

Paet II.] OF SPEECH. 83 

ta iad a' deanamh they are doing. Between two Vowels, the 
a is dropped, and the g is retained ; as, ta mi 'g iarruidh / 
am asking. When preceded by a Consonant, and followed 
by a Vowel, the Preposition is written entire ; as, ta iad ag 
iarruidh they are asking. When preceded by a Vowel, and 
followed by a Consonant, it is often suppressed altogether ; 
as, ta mi deanamh / am doing (d). 

The compound Tenses of the second order are made up of 
the simple Tenses of Bi and the Infinitive preceded by the 
Preposition iar after (e). 


Simple Tenses. 

The Preterite Affirm, and Negat. is formed from the same 
Tense in the Active, by adding adh. The Preter. Subj. adds 

The Future is formed from the Put. Act. by changing the 
Terminations in the Affirm, and Subj. into ar, (more properly 
far, as of old) and adding the same syllable in the 

The Imperative is formed from the Imperat. Act. by 
adding to the second pers. sing, tar, thar, or ar. (/) 

{d) Such at least is the common practice in writing, in compliance with 
the common mode of colloquial pronunciation. It might perhaps be better 
to retain the full form of the Preposition, in grave pronunciation, and 
always in writing. It is an object worthy of attention to preserve radical 
articulations, especially in writing ; and particularly to avoid every 
unnecessary use of the monosyllable a, which, it must be confessed, recurs 
in too many senses. 

(e) The Preposition iar has here been improperly confounded with air on. 
I have ventured to restore it, from the Irish Grammarians. Iar is in 
common use in the Irish dialect, signifying after. Thus, iar sin after that, 
iar leaghadh an tshoisgeil after reading the Gospel, iar sleachdadh do 
niomlan after all have kneeled down, iar seasamh suas after standing up, 
&c. See " Irish Book of Common Prayer. " Air, when applied to time, sig- 
nifies not after, but at or on : air an am so, air an uair so at this time, 
air an la sin on that day. There is therefore sufficient reason to believe 
that, in the case in question, iar is the proper word ; and that it has been 
corruptly supplanted by air. 

(J) The Imperative seems to have been anciently formed by adding tar 
to the Root. This form is still retained in Ireland, and in some parts of 

84 OF THE PARTS [Pakt II. 

The Participle is formed by adding te to the Eoot {g). 

There is no distinction of Number or Person in the Tenses 
of the Passive Voice. 

Verbs which suffer a syncope in the Infinitive, suffer a 
like syncope in the Pret. Aff. and Neg. throughout the 
Future Tense, and in the Imperative. 

Compound Tense. 

The compmmd Tenses of the first order are made up of the 
simple Tenses of the auxiliary Bi and the Passive Participle. 

Scotland, chiefly in verbs ending in a Lingual ; as, buailtear, deantar. 
(S«e the Lord's Prayer in the older editions of the Gaelic Version of the 
Assembly's Catechism; also, the ** Irish N. Test. " Matt. vi. 10. Luke xi. 2.) 
In other verbs, the t seems to have been dropped in pronunciation. It 
•was, however, retained by the Irish in writing, but with an aspiration to 
indicate its being quiescent ; thus, togthar, teilgthear. " Ir. N. T." Matt, 
xxi. 21, Mark xi. 23, crochthar. Matt, xxvii. 22. So also the "Gaelic 
N. T. " 1767, deanthar, Matt. vi. 10, Luke xi. 2. In the later publica- 
tions the t has been omitted altogether, with what propriety may be well 

ig) To preserve a due correspondence with the pronunciation, the Pass. 
Part, shoxild always terminate in te^ for in this part of the verb, the t 
has always its small sound. Yet in verbs whereof the characteristic 
vowel is broad, it is usual to write the termination of the Pass. Part, ta; as, 
togta raised, crochta sxLspended. This is done in direct opposition to the 
pronunciation, merely out of regard to the Irish Rule of Leathan ri leaihan, 
which in this case, as in many others, has been permitted to mar the 
genuine orthography. 

When a verb, whose characteristic vowel is broad, terminates in a Liquid, 
the final consonant coalesces so closely with the t of the Pass. Part, that 
the sTuall sound of the latter necessarily occasions the like sound iu 
pronouncing the former. Accordingly the smaU sound of the Liquid is 
properly represented in writing, by an i inserted before it. Thus, ol drink, 
Pass. Part, oilte ; pronn ^Jowwc?, proinnte ; crann 6ar, crainnte ; sparr rawi^ 
spain-te ; trus pack, truiste. But when the verb ends in a nmte, whether 
plain or aspirated, there is no such coalescence between its final consonant 
and the adjected t of the Participle. The final consonant if it be pronoimced 
retains its broad sound. There is no good reason for maintaining a 
correspondence of vowels in the Participle, which ought therefore to be 
written, as it is pronounced, without regard to Leathan ri leathan ; as, tog 
raise. Pass. Part, togte ; croch hang, crochte ; sath thrust, sithte ; cnamh 
chew, cnamhte. 

The same observations apply, with equal force, to the Pret. Subj. in 
which the t of the termination is always pronounced with its small sound, 
and should therefore be followed by a small vowel in writing ; as, thogteadh, 
chrochteadh, not thogtadh, chrochtadh. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 85 

The compound Tenses of the second order are made up of 
the simple Tenses of Bi and the Infinitive preceded by the 
Preposition iar and the Possessive Pronoun corresponding in 
Person to the Pronoun, or to the Noun, which is th,A l^om- 
inative to the verb. 

Use and Import of the Moods and Tenses. 

The Affirmative or Indicative Mood expresses affirmation, 
and is used in affirmative propositions only ; as, Do bhuail 
mi I struck, bha mi ag bualadh / was striking. 

The Negative or Interrogative Mood is used in negative 
propositions and interrogative clauses, after the Particles ni 
not, cha not, nach which not, that not, not ? mur if not; also, 
gu, gur, that, an, am, whether used relatively or interroga- 
tively ; as, cha d'fholaich mi / did not hide, mur buail sinn if 
we shall not strike, nach robh iad that they ivere not, gu robh 
iad that they were ; am buail mi? shall I strike? It is used 
in the Future Tense after ged although ; as, ged bhuail e mi, 
though he strike me (h). 

The Subjunctive Mood is used in the Preterite, either with 
or without conjunctions ; as, bhuailinn I would strike, na'm, 
mur, nach, &c., buailinn ^/j unless, ^c, I should strike. In 
the Future it is used only after the conjunctions ma if, o, o'n 
since, and the Eelative a expressed or understood; as, ma 
bhuaileas mi if I shall strike, am fear a bhuaileas mi the man 

(h) In all regular verbs, the difference between the Affirmative and the 
Negative Moods, though marked but slightly and partially in the Preterite 
Tense, (only in the initial form of the 2d Conjugation,) yet is strongly 
marked in the Future Tense. The Fut. Aff. terminates in a feeble vocal 
sound. In the Fut. Neg. the voice rests on an articulation, or is cut short 
by a forcible aspiration. Supposing these Tenses to be used by a speaker 
in reply to a command or a request ; by their very structure, the former 
expresses the softness of compliance ; and the latter, the abruptness of a 
refusal. If a command or a request be expressed by such verbs as these, 
tog sin, gabh sin, ith sin, the compliant answer is expressed by togaidh, 
gabhaidh, ithidh ; the refusal, by the cha tog, cha ghabh, cha n-ith. May 
not this peculiar variety of form in the same Tense, when denoting affirma- 
tion, and when denoting negation, be reckoned among the characteristic 
marks of an original language ? 

80 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

who will stnke me, or the man whom I shall strike; an uair | 
bhuaileas mi, tra bhuaileas mi the time [m] which I shall 
strike y i. e., when I shall strike ; c'uin [cia iiine] a bhuaileas 
mi 1 what [2*5] the time [in] which I shall strike ? i. e., when 
shall I stnke ? 

The Imperative Mood expresses desire, whether purpose, 
command, or request; as, buaileam let me strike^ buailibh 
strike ye. 

The Infinitive (i) is, in all respects, a noun, denoting the 
action or energy of the verb, and commonly preceded by a 
Preposition which marks the time of the action; as, ag 
bualadh at striking^ am bualadh the striking, the threshing. 
It assumes a regular genitive case, bualadh g. s. bualaidh ; 
jis, urlar-bualaidh a threshing fioor. The Infinitive some- 
times loses the termination, and is regularly declined in its 
abridged form ; thus, cruiunich assemble, inf. cruinneach-adh 
per. apocop. cruinneach g. s. cruinnich ; hence, aite-cruinnich 
a place of meeting, Acts xix. 29, 31, so, fear-criochnaich, Heb. 
xii. 2, fear-cuidich, Psalm XXX. 10, liv. 4, ionad-foluich. Psalm 
xxxiL 7, cxix. 114, litir-dhealaich, Matt. v. 31 {k). 

There is no part of the Active Voice that can, strictly speak* 
ing, be denominated a Participle. The Infinitive preceded 
by the Preposition ag at, corresponds in meaning to the pre- 
sent Participle ; and preceded by iar after, it corresponds to 
the participle of the past time ; as, ag bualadh at striking, or 
striking ; iar bualadh after striking y or struck {J). 

(%) This part of tlie verb, being declined and governed like a noun, bears 
a closer resemblance to the Latin Gerund than to the Infinitive ; and might 
have been properly named the Gerund. But as Lhuyd and all the later 
Irish Grammarians have already given it the name of Infinitive, I choose 
to continue the same appellation rather than change it. 

{k) The Editor of the Gaelic Psalms printed at Glasgow, 1753, judging, 
as it would seem, that cuidich was too bold a licence for cuideachaidh, 
restored the gen. of the full form of the Infinitive ; but in order to reduce 
it to two syllables, so as to suit the verse, he threw out the middle syllable, 
and wrote cuid'idh. 

{t) I have met with persons of superior knowledge of the Gaelic who 
contended that such expressions as — ta mi deanamh 1 am doing, ta e bualadh 
he i3 striking (see page 83), are complete without any Preposition under- 
stood ; and that in such situations deanamh, bualadh, are not infinitives or 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 87 

Many words, expressing state or action, take the Preposi- 
tion ag before them, and may be considered as Infinitives of 
Verbs, whereof the other parts are not in use ; as, ag atharrais 
mimicJcing, ag g^ireachdaich laughing, a' fanoid, a' maga Ih 
mocking, jeering. 

nouns, "but real participles of the Present Tense. With much deference to 
such authorities, I shall here give the reasons which appear to me to sup- 
port the contrary opinion. 

1. The form of the supposed Participle is invariably the same with that 
of the Infinitive. 

2. If the words deanamh, bualadh, in the phrases adduced, were real 
Participles, then in all similar instances, it would be not only unnecessary, 
but ungrammatical, to introduce the preposition ag at all. But this is far 
from being the case. In all verbs beginning with a vowel, the preposition 
ag or its unequivocal representative g is indispensable ; as, ta iad ag 
ian-uidh, ta mi 'g iarruidh. Shall we say, then, that verbs beginning with a 
consonant have a present participle, while those that begin with a vowel 
have none ? But even this distinction falls to the ground, when it is con- 
sidered that in many phrases which involve a verb beginning with a con- 
sonant, the preposition ag stands forth to view, and can on no account be 
suppressed; as, ta iad 'g a bhualadh they are striking him, ta e 'g ar bualadh 
he is striking us. From these particulars it may be inferred that the 
preposition ag must always precede the infinitive, in order to complete the 
phrase which corresponds to the English or Latin pres. participle ; and 
that in those cases where the preposition has been dropped, the omission 
has been owing to the rapidity or carelessness of colloquial pronunciation. 

3. A still stronger argument, in support of the same conclusion, may be 
derived from the regimen of the phrase in question. The infinitive of a 
transitive verb, preceded by any preposition, always governs the noun, 
which is the object of the verbal action, in the genitive. This is an 
invariable rule of Gaelic Syntax ; thus, ta sinn a' dol a dh' iarruidh na 
spreidhe, we are going to seek the cattle ; ta iad ag iomain na spreidhe, they 
are driving the cattle; ta iad iar cuairteachadh na spreidhe, they have 
gathered the cattle. This regimen can be accounted for on no other 
principle, in Gaelic, than that the governing word is a noun, as the 
infinitive is confessed to be. Now, it happens that the supposed participle 
has the very same regimen, and governs the genitive as uniformly as the 
same word would have done, when the presence of a preposition demon- 
strated it to be a noun ; so, ta mi bualadh an doruis, 1 am knocking the 
door; ta thu deanamh an uilc, you are doing mischief. The inference is, 
that even in these situations, the words — bualadh, deanamh, though accom- 
panied with no preposition, are still genuine nouns, and are nothing else 
than the infinitives of their respective verbs, with the preposition ag under- 
stood before each of them. 

4 The practice in other dialects of the Celtic, and the authority of 
respectable grammarians, affords collateral support to the opinion here 
defended. Gen. Vallancey, the most copious writer on Irish grammar, 
though he gives the name of participle to a certain part of the Gaelic verb, 


The Participle passive is an adjective, denoting the com- 
pletion of the action or energy expressed by the verb ; as, 
arbhar buailte threshed com. 

The Simple Tenses which belong to all verbs are the Pre 
terite or Future, besides which the verb Bi to 6e, and the 
defective verb Is I am, have a Present Tense (m). 

The Present expresses present existence, state, or energy. 

The Preterite Affirmative and Negative expresses past time 
indefinitely. The Preterite Subjunctive corresponds to the 
English Tenses formed by the auxiliaries would, coidd, &c. 
In general it denotes that the action or energy of the verb 
takes place eventually or conditionally. The Pret. Afi*. or 

because it corresponds, in signification, to a part of the Latin verb which 
has obtained that name, yet constantly exhibits this participle, not as a 
single word, but a composite expression ; made up of a preposition and 
that part of the verb which is here called the infinitive. The phrase is 
fully and justly exhibited, but it is wrong named ; unless it be allowed to 
extend the name of Participle to such phrases as inter arribulandum^ 
€v T(p ircpiirar€iv. — Lhuyd, in his Cornish Grammar, informs us, with 
his usual accuracy, that the Infinitive Mood, as in the other dialects of 
the British, sometimes serves as a Substantive, as in the Latin ; and by the 
help of the participle a [the Gaelic ag] before it, it supplies the room of the 
participle of the present tense, &c. Archaeol. Brit." page 245, col. 3. 
This observation is strictly applicable to the Gaelic verb. The infinitive, 
with the particle, ag before it, supplies the room of the present Participle. 
The same judicious writer repeats this observation in his "Introduction to 
the Irish or Ancient Scottish Language ' ' : The Participle of the Present Tense 
is supplied by the Participle ag before the Infinitive Mood ; as, ag radh 
saying, a{f cainni talking, ag teagasg teaching, ag dul going, &c. "Arch. 
Brit." page 303, col. 2. 

(m) It may appear a strange defect in the Gaelic, that its Verbs, except- 
ing the substantive verbs Bi, Is, have no simple Present Tense. Yet this 
is manifestly the case in the Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish dialects (see 
"Arch. Brit." page 246, col. 1, and page 247, col. 1.) ; to which may be added 
the Manks. Creidim I believe, guidheam I pray , with perhaps one or two 
more Present Tenses, now used in Scotland, seem to have been imported 
from Ireland, for their paucity evinces that they belong not to our dialect. 
The want of the simple Present Tense is a striking point of resemblance 
between the Gaelic and the Hebrew verb. 

I am indebted to a learned and ingenious correspondent for the follow- 
ing important remark ; that the want of the simple Present Tense in all 
the British dialects of the Celtic, in common with the Hebrew, while the 
Irish has assumed that Tense, furnishes a strong presumption that the 
Irish is a dialect of later growth ; that the British Gaelic is its parent 
tongue ; and consequently that Britaui is the mother country of Ireland. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 89 

'Neg. is used sometimes in this sense, like the English, when 
thePret. Subj. occurred in the preceding clause of a sentence; 
as, na'm hiodh tas' an so, cha d' fhuair mo bhrathair bks, if 
thou hadst been here^ my brother had not [would not have] 
died ; mur bitheamaid air deanamh moille bha sinn a nis air 
pilltinn air ar n-ais, if we had not lingered, we had [should 
have] now returned, Gen. xliii. 10. 

The Future makes future time indefinitely. This Tense is 
used in a peculiar sense in Gaelic, to signify that an action 
or event takes place uniformly, habitually, according to 
ordinary practice, or the course of nature. Thus ; Blessed 
is he that considereth the poor, expressed according to the 
Gaelic idiom, would be. Blessed is he that will consider, &c. 
A wise son maJceth a glad father, in Gaelic would run, A wise 
son will make, &c. Your patient, I am told, is in a bad way; 
he neither enjoys rest, nor takes medicine. IsTay, his situation 
is worse than you know of ; yesterday, he became delirious, 
and is now almost unmanageable j he tosses his arms, and endea- 
vours to beat every one within his reach. In Gaelic, will enjoy 
— loill take — will toss — will endeavour. In like manner, a great 
many Gaelic Proverbs express a general truth by means of 
the Future tense ; e.g., bithidh dMl ri fear feachd, ach cha 
bhi duil ri fear lie. There is hope that a man may return from 
loar, but there is no hope that a man may return from the 
grave ; literally, there will be hope — there will be no hope. 
Teirgidh gach ni r' a chaitheamh, every thing wears out in the 
using literally, — will wear out (n). 

The Compound Tenses mark different modifications of time, 

(n) From observing the same thing happen repeatedly or habitually it 
is naturally inferred that it will happen again. When an event is predicted 
it is supposed that the speaker, if no other cause of his foreknowledge 
appears, infers the future happening of the event from its having already 
happened in many instances. Thus the Future Tense, which simply fore- 
tells, conveys to the hearer an intimation that the thing foretold has already 
taken place frequently and habitually. In Hebrew, the Future Tense is 
used with precisely the same effect. In the law of Jehovah he will medi- 
tate; i.e., he does meditate habitually. Psal. i. 2. See also Psal. xlii. 1; 
Job ix, 11, xxiii. 8, 9, &c., passim. 

90 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

which will be easily understood by analysing their component 

In the Active Voice, the compound tenses of the first order 
denote that the action is going on, but not completed at the 
time specified by the auxiliary verb, or its adjuncts ; as, ta 
mi ag bualadh, / am at striking, i.e., / am striking ; bha mi 
ag buaiadh an d^ / was striking yesterday. 

Those of the second order denote that the action is newly 
completed and past, at the time marked by the auxiliary 
verb; ta mi iar bualadh, / am after striking, i.e., / Jiave 
struck, Je viens de f rapper ; Bha mi iar bualadh, / was strilc- 
ing, i.e., Ihad struck. 

In the Passive Voice, the compound tenses of the first order 
denote that the action is finished at the time marked by the 
auxiliary verb ; ta mi buailte, I am struck. 

Those of the second order denote that the action is newly 
finished at the time marked by the auxiliary (o) ; ta mi iar 
mo bhualadh, / am after my striking, or, / am after the strik- 
ing of me, which has always a passive signification ; that is, 
it is always understood, from this form of expression, that 
striking is the action of some agent difi'erent from the person 
struck. It is equivalent to I have been struck, Je viens dUetre 

A set of Compound Tenses, of a structure similar to these 
last, having the preposition ag, in place of iar, is sometimes 
used, and in a passive sense, denoting that the action is going 
on at the time marked by the auxiliary; as, tha 'n tigh 'g a 
thogail, the house is at its building, i.e., a-building ; sea 
bliadhna agus da f hichead bha 'n teampuU 'g a thogail, forty 
and six years was this temple in building. John ii. 20, 1 Kings 
vi. 7. Bha an crodh 'g an leigeadh, tJie coios were a-milking ; 
bidh deudaichean 'g an rusgadh. " Gillies' Collect." p. 82. So 

(o) Though this be the precise import of the Compound Tenses of the 
second order, yet they are not strictly confined to the point of time stated 
above ; but are often used to denote past time indefinitely. In this way, 
they supply the place of the Compound Tenses of the first order in those 
verbs which have no passive participle. 

Part IL] OF SPEECH. 91 

in English, the book is a-printing ; the deed's a-doing now, 
"Douglas," Actl. 

The following scheme shows the different modifications of 
time, as expressed by the several Tenses of the Gaelic Verb, 
brought together into one view, and compared with the cor- 
responding Tenses of the Greek Verb in Moor's Greek Gram- 


Indicative or Affirmative Mood, 

Present Tense. 
Ta mi ag bualadh, rvTrrw, I strike, or am striking. 

Bha mi ag bualadh, ctvtttoi/, I was striking. 


Buailidhmi J fIwmstrike,orbestrilu 

Bitliidh mi ag buai- V rvj/ro), < . 

adh, j t 1 g- 

Aorist or Preterite. 
Bhuail mi, ^rvxpa, I struck. 

Ta mi iar bualadh renx^a^ I have struck. 

Bha mi iar bualadh, irervcfieLv, I had struck. 

Interrogative or Negative Mood. 
Am bheil mi ag bualadh 1 Am I striking? 

An robh mi ag bualadh 'i Was I striking % 

Am buail mil Shall I strike? 

92 OF THE PARTS [Paet II. 

Aorist or Preterite. 
An do bhuail mi? Did I strike 1 

Am bheil mi iar bualadh t Have I struck ? 

An robh mi iar bualadh ? Had I struck f 

Subjunctive Mood. 

T»i--ii.- ' -u 1 ju > ervTiTov av, I would strike. 
Bhithinn ag bualadh, j * 

Ma bhuaileas mi, If I sball strike. 

Bhithinn iar bualadh, irvif/a dv, I would have struck. 

Imperative Mood. 


Let me strike. 
Tinrre, Strike. 

Am bualadh, 
A' bhualaidh, 
Ag bualadh, 

Infinitive Mood. 
TO TVTrrcLv, The striking. 
Tov TvrrreLv, Of the striking. 
€1/ TO) TUTTTctv, A-striking. 


Indicative or Afiirmative Mood. 

Ta mi 'g am bhualadh, Tomrofucuy I am in striking {p). 

Bha mi'g am bhualadh, eTVTrro/jirjv, I was in striking. 

(p) See Moor. So tha 'n tigh 'g a thogail, the house is in UvUdimg, 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 9? 


Bithidh mi buailte, } ^^^Wofiat I shall be struck. 

Aorist or Preterite. 
BhuaUeadh mi, iTv<f>Or]v, I was struck. 

Ta mi buailte, \ 

Ta mi iar mo bhual- y^'^H'f^^<>^ \ j have been struck, 
adh, j "-^'^ f 

Bha mi buailte, 

Bha mi iar mo bhual- V ^^^^/^/^^^^^ j^ j ^^^ ^^^^ struck, 

( T€TVIXfJL€VO<; ) 

Interrogative or Negative Mood, 

Am buailear mi ? Shall I be strack 'i 

Aorist or Preterite. 
An do bhuaileadh mi ? Was I struck 1 


Am bheil mi buailte ? ) „ ^ , , , « 

A 11 1 • ■ 1.V 1 jv } Have I been struck? 

Am bheil mi iar mo bnualadh ? j 


An robh mi buailte 1 ) -rr i t , . i « 

A w •• VI. 1 J1.0 > Had I been struck 1 

An robh mi iar mo bhualadh ? I 

Subjunctive Mood, 
Bhuailteadh mi, iTVTrrofirjv dv, I should be struck. 

Ma bhuailtear m\, Tf I shall be struck. 



Bhithinn buailte, 'i , t i. u i. 

r,i i.! • I . ./I , f I should have been 

Ehithinn lar mo V €Tv<f)6rjv dv,< f v 

bhualadh, j ^ '*''^^^- 

Imperative Mood. 
Buailtear mi, Let me be struck. 

Buailtear thu, tutttov, Be thou struck. 

Buailte, rirufi/xevo^ Struck. 

It wMl afford satisfaction to the grammatical reader, to see 
how correctly the various modifications of- time, as dis- 
tinguished and arranged by Mr Harris, are expressed in the 
Gaelic verb, by the auxiliaries, hi 6e, and dol going See 
Hermes B. I. c. 7. 

Aorist of the Present. 
TvTTTft), I strike, — 

Aorist of the Past. 
FiTviJ/df I struck, Bhuail mi. 

Aorist of the Future. 
Tvj^w, I shall strike, Buaihdh mi 

Inceptive Present. 
McXAw TVTrrciv, I am going to strike, Ta mi dol a bhualadli. 

Middle or extended Present. 
Tvyxa»'<«> Timrcav, I am striking, Ta mi ag bualadh. 

Completive Present. 
T€tv«/kx, I have struck, Ta mi iar bualadh. 

Inceptive Past. 
EacXXov TVjrrdVf I was going to strike, Bha mi dol a bhualadh 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 95 

Middle or extended Past. 
ErvirroVf I was striking, Bha mi ag bualadh. 

Completive Past. 
'ET€Tv<f)eLv, I had struck, Bha mi iar bualadh 

Inceptive Puture. 

MiXXrja-u) rvm-fiiv, I shall be going to Bithidh mi dol a 
strike, bhualadh. 

Middle or extended Future. 

Ecro/tat tvtttiov, I shall be striking, Bithidh mi ag bual- 

Completive Future. 

Eo-o/^at T€Tvcfio}?f I shall have struck, Bithidh mi iar bual- 

Irregular Verbs op the First Conjugation. 
Beir, bear. 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Do rug, Beiridh. 

Negat. D' rug, Beir. 

Suhjunet. Bheirinn, Bheireas. 

Jmperat. Beiream. Injin. Beirsinn, breith. 


Affirm. Do rugadh, Beirear. 

Negat. D' rugadh, Beirear. 

Suhjund. Bheirteadh, Bheirear. 
Imperat. Beirthear 

96 OF THE PARTS [Paet H. 

Cluinn, hear. 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Do chuala, Cluinnidh. 

Negat. Cuala, Cluinn. 

Suhjwnct. Chluinnin, Chluinneas. 

Imperat. Cluinneam. Infin. Cluinntiun. 


Affirm. Do Chualadh, Cluinnear. 

Negat. Cualadh, Cluinnear. 

Suhjund. Chluinnteadh, Chluinne&i. 
Imperat. Cluinntear. 

Dean, do or make. 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Do rinn, Wi. 

Negat. D' rinn, Dean. 

Subjunct. Dheanainn, Wi. 

Imperat. Deanam. Infin. Deanamh. 


Affirm. Do rinneadh, Nithear. 

Negat. D' rinneadh, Deanar. 

Suhjund. Dheantadh, Nithear. 

Imperat Deantar. Particip. Deanta. 

Each, go. 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Do chaidh, Theid. 

Negat. Deachaidh, Teid {q). 

Suhjund. Eachainn, Th^id. 

Imperat. Racham. Infin. Dol. 

(2) Teid the Fut. Negat. of Each io goy has been generally written 

Part IL] 



Ruig, reach. 




Affirm, Do rainig, 
Negat D' rainig, 
Suhjund. Euiginn, 
Imperat. Ruigeam. 

Infin. Ruigsinn, ruigheachd. 

Tabhair, (r) give. 


Affirm. Do thug, 
Negat. D' thug, 
Subjund. Bheirinn, tabhairinn, 
Imperat. Tabhaiream, thugam. 

Infin, Tabhairt. 


Affirm. Do thugadh, Bheirear. 

Negat. D' thugadh, Tabhairear. 

Subjund. Bheirteadh, tugtadh. Bheirear. 
Imperat. Thugthar. 

Thig, come. 


Affirm. Do thainig, 
Negat. D' thainig, 
Subjund. Thiginn, 
Imperat. Thigeam. 


Tig {sy 

Infin. Tighinn, teachd. 

d'theid ; from an opinion, it would seem, that the full form of that Tense 
is do theid. Yet as the participle do is never found prefixed to the Future 
Negative of any regular verb, it appears more agreeable to the analogy of 
conjugation to write this tense in its simplest form teid. See ** Gael. New 
Test." 1767, and 1796, Mat. xiii. 28. xiv. 15. A diflferent mode of writing 
this tense has been adopted in the edition of the "^Gael. Bible," Edin. 1807, 
where we uniformly find dtheid, dthoir, dthig. 

(r) Throughout the verb tabhair, the syllables abhair are often contracted 
into oir ; as, toir, toirinn, &c. Acts xviii. 10. Sometimes written d'thoir, 
d'thoirinn ; rather improperly. See the last note {q). 

(s) Tig rather than d'thig. See the last note (g-). 

98 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

Iriiegular Verbs of the Second Conjugation. 
Abair, (t) say. 


Preterite. Future. 

A^m. Thubhairt, dubhairt, Their. 

Negat. Dubhairt, Abair. 

Svhjunct. Theirinn, abairinn, Their. 

Imperat. Abaiream. Jjijin. Radh. 


Affiiin. Dubhradh, Theirear. 

Negat Dubhradh, Abairear. 

Sabjund. Theirteadh,abairteadh, Theirear. 
Imperat. Abairear {u). 

Faic, see, \ 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Do chunnaic, Chi. 

Negat. Faca, Faic. 

Suhjund. Chithinn, faicinn, Chi. 

Imperat. Faiceam. Iiifin. Faicsinn. 


Affirm. Do chunnacadh, Chithear. 

Negat. Facadh, Faicear. 

Suhjund. Chiteadh, faicteadh, Chithear. 
Imperat. Faicthear. Injin. Faicsinn. 

(<> A Pres. AfF. of this "Verb, borrowed from the Irish, la often used in 
the O. SS. Deiream / aay, deir e he saith, deir iad timf say. 

(m) Dubhairt, dubhradh, are contracted for do thubhairt, &c. Abairinn, 
abaiream, abairear, are often contracted into abrainn, abram, abrar. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 99 

Faigh, get. 


Preterite. Future. 

Affirm. Fhuair, Gheibh. 

Negat. D 'fhuair, Faigh. 

Suhjunct Gheibhiun, faighinn, Gheibh. 

Imperat. Faigheam. Injin. Faghail, faotainn. 


Affir7n. Fhuaradh, Gheibhear. 

Negat. D' fhuaradh, Faighear. 

Subjund. Gheibhteadh, faighteadh, Gheibhear. 
Imperat. Faightear. 

The verbs Tabhair, Abair, Faic, Faigh, have a double 
Preterite Subjunctive. The latter form of it, which is de- 
rived regularly from the Eoot, is used after the same particles 
which are prefixed to the Negative Mood, viz. ni, cha, nach, 
miir, gu, an, am. 

Op Defective Verbs. 

The following defective verbs are in common use. 

Arsa said, quoth, indeclinable ; used only in the Pret. Aff. 
through all the persons ; arsa Donull, quoth Donald. 

Tiucainn come along, tiucainnibh come ye along, used only 
in the 2d pers. sing, and plur. of the Imperative. 

Theab mi I was near to, I had almost ; used through all 
the persons of the Pret. Aff. and Neg. ; as, theab iad bhith 
caillte they had nearly perished. 

Is mi 7 am, used in the Pres. and Pret. Tenses, wliich aro 
declined as follows : — 



Affinnative Mood. 





1 Is mi, / amy it is 


Bu mhi, / wa^i it was I. 

2 Istu. 



3 Ise. 




1 Is sinu. 

Bu sinn. 

2 Issibli. 

Bu sibh. 

3 Isiad. 

B' iad. 

Negative Mood. 



' 1 mi, I am 

not, &c. 

Bu mhi, / was not, &c. 

2 tu. 

Bu tu. 


3 e. 


cha, < 




1 sinn. 

Bu siniL 

2 sibh. 

Bu sibh. 

^3 lad. 

B' iad. 


ive Mood. 



1 Ma'smi, ///6e, 

iY be L 

Nam bu mhi, If I were, it 
icere I. 

2 's tu. 


3 'se. 




1 's sinu. 

Bu sinn. 

2 '8 sibh. 

Bu sibh. 

3 '8 iac 



The only varieties of form which this Verb admits of, are 
the two syllables is and hu. Each of these syllables com- 

Part II.J OF SPEECH. 101 

nionly loses the vowel when it comes in apposition with 
another vowel. 

It is remarkable, that in the Pres. N'eg. the Verb 
disappears altogether, and the preceding Particle, ni, cha, 
nach, gur, &c., and the subsequent Pronoun, or JS'oun, are 
always understood to convey a proposition, or a question, 
as unequivocally as though a Verb had been expressed ; as, 
cha tu tliou art not, nach e % is he not ? is it not he ? am mise e '? 
is it I? cha luchd-brathaidh sinn loe are not spies, Gen. 
xlii. 31. Amm6thusana Abraham? Art thou greater than 
Abraham ? gur c6ir urnuigh a dheanamh that it is proper 
to pray, Luke xviii. 1 (x). 

(x) It may appear an odd peculiarity in the Gaelic, that in many of the 
most common phrases, a proposition or question shoiild thus be expressed 
without the least trace of a Verb. It can hardly be said that the Substan- 
tive Verb is understood, for then there would be no impropriety in express- 
ing it. But the fact is, that it would be completely contrary to the idioin 
and usage of the language, to introduce a Substantive Verb in these plirases. 
It will diminish our surprise at this peculiarity to observe that in the 
ancient languages numerous examples occur of sentences, or clauses of 
sentences, in which the Substantive Verb is omitted, without occasioning 
any obscurity or ambiguity ; and this in Prose as well as in Verse. Thus 
in Hebrew ; Gen. xlii. 11, 13, 14. We [are] all one man's sons — we [are] 
true men — thy servants [are] twelve brethren — the youngest [is] with his 
father — ye [are] spies — &c. 

'OvK kyaQov iroAvKoipavir}. — Iliad, B. 204. 

KttKa KepS^a la' aT7i<n. — lies. E. Kai H. d. 
iyo) Se Tisov raxvTreidrjs. — Theoc. Idyl. 7. 
Et mi genus ab Jove summo. — Virg. ^n. VI. 123. 
Variumet mutabile semper Femina. — ^n. IV. 569. 

Omnia semper suspecta atque sollicita ; nullus locus amicitiae. Clc. de 
Amic. 15. 

Fennis mira feritas, foeda paupertas ; non arma, non equi, non penates ; 
victui herba, vestitui pelles, cubile humus ; sola in sagittis spes, &c. — 
Tacit, de. inor. Germ. Cap. idt. In these and the like examples, the 
Substantive Verb might have been expressed, if with less elegance, yet 
without grammatical impropriety. What has been frequently done in other 
languages, seems, in Gaelic, to have been adopted, in certain phrases, as 
an invariable mode of speech. 

The omission of the Substantive Verb is not unknown in English ; as, 

"In winter awful thou." — Thomson. 
" A ministering angel thou." — Scott. 
"A cruel sister she." — Mallet. 

102 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

Of the Eeciprocating State of Verbs. 

Any transitive Verb may be so combined with a Pronoun, 
either Personal or Possessive, that it shall denote the agent 
to be also the object of the action. This may be called the 
reciprocating state of the Verb. It is declined as follows : — 

Buail thu fein, strike thyself. 

active voice. 

Simple Tenses. 

Affirmative Mood. 
Preterite. Future. 

Sinrj. Sing. 

1 Do bhuail mi mi fein, Buailidh mi mi fein, 
Bhuail mi mi fein, / will strike myself. 

I struck myself. 

2 Do bhuail thu thu fein, Buailidh tu thu fein. 

3 Do bhuail ss e fein ; Buailidh se e fein. 

Plur. Plur. 

1 Do bhuail sinn sinn fein, Buailidh sinn sinn fein. 

2 Do bhuail sibh sibh fein, BuaQidh sibh sibh fein. 

3 Do bhuail siad iad fein. Buailidh siad iad fein. 

Negative Mood. 
Preterite. Future. 

Sing. Sing. 

cha, j 1 Do bhuail mi mi fein, Bhuail mi mi fein, 
&c. ( / struck not myself. I shall not strike myselj. 

Subjunctive Mood. 
Sing. Sing. 

1 Bhuailinn mi fein, 1 Bhuaileas mi mi fein, 

/ would strike myself. I shall strike myself 

Taut IL] 

Imperative Mood. 


1 Buaileam mi feirv, 

Let me strike myself. 

2 Buail thu fein. 

3 Buaileadh e e fein. 

Buaileamaid siiin fein. 

Buailibh sibh fein. 
Buaileadh iad iad fein. 

Infinitive Mood. 

*g am bhualadh fein, striking myself. 

'g ad bhualadk fein, striking thyself. 

'g a bhualadh fein, striking himself. 

'g ar bualadh fein, striking ourselves. 

*g 'ur bualadh fein, striking yourselves. 

*g am bualadh fein, striking themselves, 

iar mo bhualadh fein, after striking myself ^c. 

gu mo bhualadh fein, to strike myself ^ ^c. 

Compound Tenses. 

Affirmative Mood. 


1. Comp. 

Ta mi 'g am bhualadh fein, 

I am striking myself . 

1. Comp, 
Bha mi 'g am bhualadh fein, 
/ was striking myself. 


1. Comp. 
Bidh mi 'g am bhualadh fein, 
/ will be striking myself. 

2. Comp. 
Ta mi iar mo, &c. 
/ have struck myself. 

2. Comp. 
Bha mi iar mo, &c. 
/ had struck myself. 

104 OF THE PARTS [Paet U 

2. Co7np. 
Bidh mi iar mo, &c. 
I shall have stiruck, <fec. 

Negative Mood. 
Present. Preterite. 

1. Camp. 1. Camp. 

Ni bheil mi 'g am, &c. Ni robh mi 'g am, &c. 

/ am not striking myself. I was not striking myself. 


1. Camp. 

Ni'm bi mi 'g am bhualadh fain. 
I shall not he striking myself. 

Present. Preterite. 

2. Comp. 2. Comp, 

Ni bheil mi iar mo, &c. Ni robh mi iar mo, &c. 

/ have not struck myself. I had not struck myself. 


2. Comp. 
Ni'm bi mi iar mo, &c. 

/ shall not have struck myself. 

Subjunctive Mood. 
Preterite. Future. 

1. Comp. 1. Comp. 
Bhithinn 'g am, &c. Ma bhitbeas mi 'g am, 

/ toould he striking J &c. // / shall he striking^ &c. 

2. Comp. 2. Comp. 
Bhithinn iar mo, &c. Ma bhitheas mi iar mo, <fec. 

/ would have struck, &c. If I shall have struck, &c. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 105 

Imperative Mood. Ivfinitive Mood. 

1. Comp. Do bhith 'g am bhualadh fein, 

To he striJdng myself. 
Bitheam 'g am bhualadh fein, lar bith 'g am bhualadh fein. 
Let me be striking myself. To have been striking myself. 

From the foregoing example it appears that the Verb, in 
its reciprocating state, retains its original form throughout 
its several Moods, Tenses, and Persons. In the simple Tenses, 
the Personal Pronoun immediately following the Verb is the 
Nominative to the Verb. The same pronoun repeated is to 
be understood as in the objective state. The word fein, corre- 
sponding to the English self, accompanies the last Pronoun. 

In the compound Tenses, the auxiliary Verb, as usual, is 
placed first; then follows the Personal Pronoun as its Nom- 
inative ; then the Prep, ag abridged to 'g in the compound 
Tenses of the first order, iar in those of the second order ; 
after which follows the Possessive Pronoun, corresponding in 
Person to that which is the Nominative to the Verb ; and 
lastly the Infinitive, which is the noun to the Possessive 
Pronoun. Mo and do are here changed, by Metathesis and 
the substitution of one broad vowel for another, into am and 
ad. Ta mi 'g am bhualadh fein, rendered literally, is, / aw 
at my own striking, i.e., I am at the striking of myself, 
equivalent to, / am striking myself. The reciprocal fein 
is sometimes omitted in the compound Tenses, but is 
generally retained in the 3d Persons, to prevent their being 
mistaken for the same persons when used without recip- 
rocation : ta e 'g a bhualadh, he is striking him, ta e 'g a 
bhualadh fein, he is striking himself. 

Of the Impersonal Use of Verbs. 

Intransitive Verbs, though they do not regularly admit of 
a Passive Voice, yet are used impersonally in the 3d Pers. 
Sing, of the Passive Tenses. This impersonal use of the 
Passive of intransitive Verbs is founded on the same prin- 
ciple with the Latin Impersonals concurritur, pugnatum est, 

106 OF THE PARTS [Part IT. 

&c., which are equivalent to concursus fity pugna facta ed. 
So in Gaelic, gluaisfear learn, / loill move, Psal. cxvi. 9 ; 
gliiaisfear leo, they will movCy Psal. cxix. 3; ghuileadh leinii, 
we did toeepy flebatur a nobis, Psal. cxxxvii. 1, Edit. Edinb. 
1787; cha bhithear saor o pheacadh, there icanteth not dn^ 
Prov. X. 19. 

To the class of Impersonals ought to be referred a certain 
part of the Verb which has not yet been mentioned. It 
resembles in form the Put. Negat. Passive ; buailear, faicear, 
faighear, &c. In signification, it is Active, Present, and 
Affirmative. In the course of a narrative, when the speaker 
wishes to enliven his style by representing the occurrences 
narrated as present, and passing actually in view, instead of 
the Preterite Tenses, he adopts the Part of the Verb now 
described, employing it in an impersonal acceptation, with- 
out a Nominative to it expressed. One or two examples 
will serve tt) exhibit the use and effect of this anomalous 
Tense : — Shuidh an 6g bhean air sgeir, is a siiil air an lear. 
Chunnaic i long a' teachd air barraibh nan tonn. Dh' 
aithnich i aogas a leannain, is chlisg a cridhe 'n a com. Gun 
mhoille gun tamh, buailear dh* fhios na traighe ; agus faighear 
an laoch, 's a dhaoine m' a thimchioll. In English thus : The 
young woman sat on a rock, and her eye on the sea. She 
spied a ship coming on the tops of the waves. She per- 
ceived the likeness of her lover, and her heart bounded in 
her breast. Without delay or stop, she hastens to the shore ; 
and Jinds the hero, with his men around him. Again : 
Mar sin chuir sinn an oidhche tharuinn. 'S a' mhadainn dh* 
imich sinn air ar turns. bha sinn 'n ar coigrich anns an tir, 
fjabhar suas gu mullach an t-sleibh, direar an tulach gu grad, 
agus seallar mu 'n cuairt air gach toabh. Faicear thall fa *r 
comhair sruth cas ag ruith le gleann cumhann, &c. Thus 
we passed the night. In the morning we pursued our 
journey. As we were strangers in the land, we strike up to 
the top of the moor, ascend the hill with speed, and look 
around us on every side. "We see over against us a rapid 
stream, rushing down a narrow valley, &c. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 107 

The scrupulons chastenesss of style maintained in the 
Gaelic version of the Sacred Scriptures, has totally excluded 
this form of expression. It is, however, universally known 
and acknowledged, as an established idiom of the Gaelic, 
very common in the mouths of those who speak it, and in 
animated narration almost indispensable (y). 

Of Auxiliary Verbs. 

It has been already shown how bi he, is used as an 
Auxiliary in the declension of all verbs. There are two 
other verbs which are occasionally employed in a similar 
capacity ; the one with an Active the other with a Passive 
effect. These are dean to do or make, and rach to go. 

The simple tenses of dean combined with the Infinitive 
of any verb, correspond to the English auxiliary do, did. It 
sometimes adds to the emphasis, but not to the sense. The 
following are examples of this Auxiliary combined with the 
Infinitive of an Intransitive verb : — Einn e seasamh he made 
standing, i.e., he did stand ; dean suidhe make sitting, i.e., 
sit down ; dheanainn gul agus caoidh / would make weeping 

(y) The effect of this Teuse in narration seems to be very nearly, if not 
precisely, the same with that of the Present of the Infinitive in Latin ; as 
in these passages : 

" misere discedere quaerens, 

Ire modo ocius ; interdum consistere ; in aurem 

Dicere nescio quid puero." Hor. Sat. 1. 8. v. 9. 

" At Danaum proceres, Agamemnoniseque phalanges 
Ingenti trepida/re metu ; pars vertere terga, 
Ceu quondam petiere rates ; pars tollere vocem." 

^neid. VI. 492. 

-nihil illi tendere contra ; 

Sed celerare fugam in sylvas, etjidere nocti.' 

jEneid. IX. 378. 

** Tarquinius fateri amorem, orare, miscere precibus minas, versare in 
omnes partes muliebrem animum." — Liv. I. 58. 

" Neque post id locorum Jugurthae dies autnox uUa quieta fuere : neque 
loco,|neque mortali cuiquam, auttempori satis credere; cives, hostes, juxta 
metuere ; circumspectare omnia, et omni strepitu pavescere; alio atque alio 
loco, saepe contra decus regium, noctu requiescere; interdum somno excitus, 
arreptis armis, tumultum facere ; ita formidine quasi vecordia exagita/ri'* 
—Sail. Bell. Jugur. 72. 

108 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

a7id lamentation^ i.e., I would weep and lament. The same 
arrangement takes place when the Auxiliary is combined 
with the Infinitive of a Transitive verb, accompanied by a 
possessive pronoun ; as, rinn e mo bhualadh he made my 
striking, Le., he made [or caused] the striking of me, or, he 
did strike me ; cha dean mi do mholadh, / will not make your 
•praising, i.e., / will not praise you ; dean do gharadh, make 
your warming, dean do gharadh fein, make your oion loarmingj 
i.e., warm yourself. 

The Simple Tenses of rach, combined with the Infinitive 
of a transitive verb, correspond to the Passive Voice of the 
verb ; as, chaidh mo bhualadh my striking went, i.e., came to 
pass, or happened, equivalent to / was struck; rachadh do 
mharbhadh your killing loould happen, i.e., you loould be 

In phrases where either of the auxiliaries dean or rach is 
combined with a transitive verb, as above, the possessive 
pronoun may be exchanged for the corresponding person il 
pronoun in the emphatic form, followed by the preposition 
do before the Infinitive. The preposition in this case is 
attenuated into a, which, before a verb of the second con- 
jugation is dropped altogether. Thus, rinn e mo bhualadh 
he struck me, rinn e mis' a bhualadh he struck me, chaidh 
mo bhualadh I loas struck, chaidh mis' a bhualadh I myself 
was struck. In like manner, a noun, or a demonstrative 
pronoun, may occupy the place of this personal pronoun; 
as, chaidh an ceannard a mharbhadh (z), agus na daoine 
chur san ruaig, the leader teas killed, and the men put to 
flight; theid am buachaill a bhualadh, agus an trend a 
sgapadh, the shepherd will he smitten, and the sheep scattered ; 
is math a chaidh sin innseadh dhuit, that loas well told 

(«) **An ceannard a mharbhadh " may be considered as the nominative to 
the verb chaidh ; and so in similar phrases ; much in the same way as we 
find in Latin, an Infinitive with an accusative before it, become the nomi- 
native to a verb; as,*'Aowimemhominisincommodo suum augere commodum 
est contra naturam." Cic. de. Offic. III. 5. " Turpe est eos qui bene nati 
sunt turpiter vivere.'' 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 109 



An Adverb, considered as a separate part of speech, is a 
single indeclinable word, significant of time, place, or any 
other circumstance or modification of an action or attribute. 
The number of simj)le Adverbs in Gaelic is but small. 
Adverbial phrases, made up of two or more words, are 
sufficiently numerous. Any adjective may be converted 
into an adverbial expression, by prefixing to it the preposition 
gu to ; as, firinneach true, gu firinneach \corresponding\ to 
[what is] true, Kara to akr]6e<s, i.e., truly. Adverbs of this form 
need not be enumerated. It may be useful, however, to give a 
list of other adverbs and adverbial phrases, most commonly 
in use; subjoining, where it can be done, a literal trans- 
lation of their component parts, and also the English 
expression which corresponds most nearly to the sense of 
the Gaelic phrase. 

Adverbs of Time. 

A cheana ; already, truly. 
A chianamh ; a little while ago. 
A chlisge ; quickly, in a trice. 
A choidhche, ) „ 
Choidh; I for ever. 

A nis, ) 
Nise; r°"'- 
A ris, ) 

Ainmic, ) , , 
A • 1 ^ seldom. 

Ainmeach; f 

Air ball; on \tlie'\ spot, immediately. 

Air dheireadh ; hindmost. 

Air thoiseach; foremost. 

Air tiis ; in the beginning, at first. 

Air uairibh ; at times, sometimes. 

110 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

Am bliadhna ; this year. 

Am feadh ; whilst. 

Am feasd ; for ever. 

Am maireach ; to-morrow. 

An ceart uair ; the very hour, presently. 

An comhnuidh ; in continuatimiy continually. 

An d^ ; yesterday. 

An deigh laimh ; behind hand, afterwards. 

An diugh ; the [present] day, to-day (a). 

A 'j.\ Mu' >the after time, the day after to-morrow. 
An laT-thraith; J "^ ' j 

An noehd ; the [present] night, to-night. 

An sin ; in that [time], then. 
An trath ; the time, when. 
An trath so, ) ., . . . , , 

A i h ^ ' \ ' present. 

An uair ; the time, when. 

An uiridh ; last year. 

Aon uair; one time, once. 

Cia fhada ; how long. 

Cia minic, ) , », 

r^' . • r flow often. 
Cia trie j J 

C'uine ; what time, when. 

Bh' oidhche ; by night (6). 

Do ghnath ; [according] to custom, always. , 

Fa dheoidh ; at the end, at last. 



> yet, still. 

(a) So in Hebrew, the article prefixed to the nouns day, nighty iinports 
the present day or night. See Exod. xiv. 13. 

(6) Perhaps the proper Prep, in these phrases is de^ not do — see the Pre- 
positions in the next Chap. — as we find the same Prep, similarly applied 
in other languages ; de nuit hy night, John iii. 2 ; de nocte, Hor. Epis. 1 . 
2, 32; de tertia .'igilia, Ca;s. B, O. 


> to the general conflagration, for ever. 

Gu bratli (c), 

Gu la bbrath 

Gu dilinn (c); to the expiration oftiine, or till thedeluge^ for ever. 

Gu minic ; often. 

Gu siorruidh ; to ever-flowing, for ever. 

Gu suthainn ; for ever. 

Gu trie ; often. 

Idir ; at all. 

Mar tha ; as it is, already. 

Mu dheireadh ; at last. 

cheann tamuill ; a while ago. 

O chian ; from far, of old, long ago. 

Ee seal, ) » 

-i^^ X -n . >ior a time. 

Ee tamuill j J 

Eiamh ; ever, said of past time only. 

Eoimh laimh ; before hand. 

Uair eigin ; some time. 

Adverbs of Place. 

^ ' I on this side, here below. 
Jihos ; J 

A letli taobh ; to one side, aside. 

. • ^ r without, out. 
A muigh ; ) 

A nihan (d) ; downwards, down. 

An aird ; to the height, upwards, up. 

t ^f^' \ to this side. 
Nail; j 

A nuas ; from above, down hitlier. 

T^T ,, ' ["to the other side. 

Null, nunn ; I 

(c) These expressions are aflSrmed, not without reason, to refer to the 
supposed destruction of the world by fire, or by water ; events which were 
considered as immeasurably remote. (See Smith's "Gal. Antiq." pp. 59. 60). 
Another explanation has been given of dilinn, as being compounded of 
dith, want, failure, and linn an age ; qu. dbsumptio sceculi. 

{d} Perhaps am fan, from fan or fanadh a descent. (See Lhuyd's "Arch. 
Brit." tit. X. in loco.) 

112 OF THE PARTS [lAai IL 

A thaobh ; aside. 

Air aghaidh, ) m i ^ r i 

Air adhart ; / ^^ t'^^'] -^^^^ ^°'^*^^- 

Air ais ; backwards. 

Air dheireadh ; hindmost. 

Air thoiseach : foremost. 

Am fad, | 
An c^in ; J 


An gar ; close to. 
An laimh ; in hand, in custody. 
An sin ; in that [place], there. 
An so ; in this [place], here. 
An sud ; in yon [place], yonder. 
An taice; close adjoining, in contact. 
Asteach, \ , . .^, . 
Astigh; I W within, m. 

C kite ; what place, where. 

Cia an taobh ; what side, whither. 

C ionadh ; what place, whither. 

Fad as ; afar oflF. 

Fad air astar ; far away. 

Far ; where, — relatively. 

Fogus, ) 

. ° - /- near. 

Am fogus ; J 

H-uig* agus uaith ; to and fro. 

J ' [ below there, below yonder. 

Le leathad ; by a descent, downwards. 

Leis ; along with it, down a stream, declivity, <fec. 

Mu 'n cuairt ; hy the circuit, around. 

Ri bruthach ; to an ascent, upwards. 

Ris ; in an exposed state, bare, uncovered, 

Seachad; past, aside. 

Sios, a sios ; downwards. 

Suas, a auas ; upwards. 

(e) i.e. anns an teach, arms an tigh, im, the house. So in Hebrew, n*3D 
toithin. Gen. vi. 14. 


Part IL] OF SPEECa 113 

Shios ; below there, below yonder. 

Shuas ; above there, above yonder. 

Tarsuing; across. 

Thairis; over. 

Thall ; on the other side. 

Uthard ; above there, above yonder. 

Deas (/) ; south. 
Gu deas ; southward. 
A deas ; from the south. 

lar (q\ ) 

Gus an aird an iar ; westward!. 
O'n iar ; from the west. 

Tuath ; north. 

Gu tuath ; northward. 

A tuath ; from the north. 

Ear, Oir, Soir; east. 

Gus an aird an ear ; eastward. 

O'n ear ; from the east. 

Adverbs of Maiiueu 
Air achd ; in a manner. 
Air a' chuthach, ) , . 
Airboile; | distracted, mad. 

Air chall ; lost. 

Air choir ; aright. 

Air chor ; in a manner. 

Air chor eigin ; in some manner, somehow. 

Air chuairt ; sojourning. 

Air chuimhne ; in remembrance. 

Air eigin ; with difficulity, scarcely. 

Air fogradh ; in exile, in a fugitive state. 

ir) Deas, applied to the hand, signifies the right hand. So in Hebrew, 
V'O'' signifies the right hand and the South. 

(g) Iar, as a Preposition, signifies after or behind. In like manner in 
Hebrew, irifc^ signifies after, or the West. 


114 OF THE PAKTS [Part II. 

Air ghleus ; in trim. 

Air iomadan ; adrift. 

Air iomroll ; astray. 

Air iunndrain ; amissing. 

. . , , f trimmed for action, as a bow bent, a firelock 

^"^^S^>\ cocked, &c. 

Air leth ; apart, separately. 

Air seacharan ; astray. 

Air sgeul ; found, not lost. 

Amhkin; only. ^ 

Amhuil, I ,., K 

Amhiudh; r^'"^- I 

Am bidheantas ; customarily, habitually. ^ 

Am feabbas ; convalescent, improving. 

An coinnimh a chinn ; headlong. 

An coinnimh a chiiil ; backwards. 

An deidh, ) , . , 

. ,1 > desirous, enamoured. 

An nasgaidh ; for nothing, gratis. 

An t6ir ; in pursuit. 

Araon; together. 

As an aghaidh ; out of the face^ to the face, outright. 

As a cheile ; loosened, disjointed. 

Car air char ; rolling, tumbling over and over. 

Cia mar ; as how, how. 

C arson ; on account of what, why, wherefore. 

C ionnas ; what manner, how. 

Cha, cho ; not. 

Comhla (h), mar chomhla, ) , ,, 

Cuideachd; ' | together, in company. 

C'uime ; for what, why. 

Do dheoin, a dheoin ; spontaneously, intentionally. 

Dh' aindeoin ; against one's will. 

Do dhith, a dhlth ; a-wanting. 

Do lireadh ; really, actually, indeed. 

(h) Probably co luath equally quick, with cq^iialpace. 

I'AiiT II.] ' OF SPEECH. 115 

Fa leth ; severally, individually. 

Gle; very. 

Gu beachd ; to observation, evidently, clearly. 

Gu buileach ; to effect, thoroughly, wholly. 

Gu dearbli ; to conviction, truly, certainly. 

Gu deimhin ; to assurance, assuredly, verily. 

Gu leir ; altogether. 

Gu leor ; to sufficiency, enough. 

Gun amharus ; withoiit doubt, doubtless. 

Gun chkird ; without rest, incessantly, without hesitation. 

Leth mar leth ; half and half. 

Le cheile ; with each other, together. 

Maraon ; as one, together, in concert. 

Mar an ceudna ; in like manner, likewise. 

Mar sin ; as that, in that manner. 

^lar so ; as this, thus. 

Mar sud ; as yon, in yon manner. 

IMu seach ; in return, alternately. 

ISTa, Nar ; let not, — used optatively, or imperatively. 

Nach ; that not, who not, not t 

M; not. 

Ni h-eo.dh (i) ; it is not so. 

Os aird ; openly. 

Os barr ; on tojo, besides. 

Os iosal ; secretly, covertly. 

Eo ; very. 

Eoimh a cheile ; prematurely, too hastily. 

Seadh (i) ; it is so. 

TroTmVa chlile ; } ^^ ^^i^order, in confusion, stirred about. 

Theagamh; perhaps. 

Uidh air 'n uidh ; stage ly stage, gradually. 

(i) The probable analysis of seadh is, is e, it is, pronounced in one 
syllable, 's e. When this syllable was used as a responsive, and not followed 
by any other word ; the voice, resting on the final sound, formed a faint 
articulation. This was represented in writing by the gentle aspirate dh ; 
and so the word came to be written as we find it. In like manner ni li- 
eadh is probably nothing else than a substitute for ni he, it is not. 

116 OF THE PARTS [Part IL 



The Prepositions, strictly so called, are single words, 
most of them monosyllables, employed to mark relation. 
Relation is also expressed by combinations of words which 
often correspond to simple prepositions in other languages. 
These combinations are, not improperly, ranked among the 
prepositions. The following lists contain first the Prepo- 
sitions properly so called, which are all simple; secondly, 
improper Prepositions, which, with one or two exceptions, 
Rcem all to be made up of a simple Preposition and a Noun. 

Proper Prepositions. 
Aig, Ag, at. Gu, Gus, to. Roinih, before. 

Air, on. Gun, icithout. Tar, Thar, over, accross. 

Ann, in. lar, after. Tre, ^ 

As, A, out of. Le, Leis, with, by. Troimh, I through, 
De, of Mar, like to. Throinih, ) 

Do, to. Mu, about. Seach, past, in compari- 

Eadar, between. 0, Ua, from. [son with. 

Fa, upon. Os, above. 

Fuidh, Fo, under. Re, Ri, Ris, to. 

The Preposition ann is often written double, ann an 
eolas, in knoioledge; ann an gliocas, in idsdom. The final n 
or nn is changed into in before a labial; as, am measg, 
among; ann am meadhon, in midst. Before the Article or the 
Relative, this Preposition is written anns; as, anns an toiseach, 
in the beginning; an cor anns am bheil e, the condition in which 
he is ; and in this situation the letters ann are often dropped, 
and the s alone retained, *8 an toiseach, in the beginning. 

Do, so far as I know, is found in no Scottish publications. 
The reasons which have induced me to assign it a place among 
the prepositions will be mentioned in treating of the combina- 
tions of the Proper Prepositions with the Personal Pronouns. 

The Preposition do, like the verbal particle, and the Pos- 
eessive Pronoun of the same sound, lojes the o before a vowel, 
and the consonant is aspirated; thus, dh' Albainn, fo Srot- 


paet ii.] of speech. 117 

land. It is also preceded sometimes by the vowel a when it 
follows a final consonant ; as, dol a dh' Eirin, going to Ireland. 
This a seems to be nothing else than the vowel of do trans- 
posed j just as the letters of the pronouns mo, do, are in certain 
situations transposed, and become am, ad. In this situation, 
perhaps it would be advisible to join the a, in writing, to the 
dh thus, dol adh Eirin. This would rid us of one superfluous 
a appearing as a separate inexplicable word. The same re marks 
apply to the prep, de ; e.g., armailt mh6r de dhaoinibh agus a 
dh eachaibh, « great army of men and of horses , Ian do [de] 
reubainn agus a dh' aingidheachd,/wZ/ of ravining and wicked- 
ness, Luke xi. 39. Do, as has been already observed, often loses 
the d altogether, and is written a; as, dol a Dhuneidin, going 
to Edinburgh. When the preposition is thus robbed of its ar- 
ticulation, and only a feeble obscure vowel sound is left, another 
corruption very naturally follows, and this vowel, as well as the 
consonant, is discarded, not only in speaking, but even in 
writing; as, chaidh e Dhuneidin, he ivent to Edinburgh; 
chaidh e thir eile, lie went to another land; where the nouns ap- 
pear in their aspirated form, without any word to govern them. 

Fa has been improperly confounded with fuidh or fo. 
That fa signifies upon, is manifest from such phrases as fa 
'n bhord, upon the board, said of a dead body stretched upon 
a l)oard; leigeader fa lar, dropped on the ground, Carswell : fa 
'n adhbhar ud, on that account, equivalent to air an adhbhar 
ud, see Psal. cvi. 42, and xlv. 2, metr. version. 

The reason for admitting iar after, has been abeady given 
in treating of the Compound Tenses of Verbs in Chap. Y. 

The manner of combining these prepositions with nouns 
will be shown in treating of Syntax. The manner of combin- 
ing them with the personal pronouns must be explained in 
this place, because in that connection they appear in a form 
somewhat different from their radical form. A Proper Pre- 
position is joined to a Personal Pronoun by incorporating 
both into one word, commonly with some change on the 
Preposition, or on the Pronoun, or on both. 

The following are the Prepositions which admit of this kind of 
combination, incorporated with the several Personal Pronouns: 





\st Pers. 2d Pcrs. 

[Part II. 

at mCy 


at thee. 












f dhomh, ) 
\ dhom, j 





Fo, Fiiidh; 















Re, Ri; 









Troimh ; 



M Pers. 
m. aige, 
at him; 
f. aice, 
at her. 
m. air. 
f. oirre. 


m. ann. 
f. innte. 
111. as. 
f. aisde. 
m. dhetlL 
f. dh'i. 
m. dha. 
f. dh'i. 

ra. fodha. 
f. fuidhpe 
m. h-uige. 
f. h-uice. 
m. leis. 
f. leatha. 
m. uimo. 
f. uimpe. 
m. uaith. 
f. uaipe. 
m. ris. 
f. rithe. 
m. roimhe. 
f. roimpe. 
f. thairte. 
m. troiinho. 
f. troimpe. 

LllT IL] 


1st Pers. 

2d Pers. 

M Pe, 

at us. 

at you. 

at them. 















































120 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

In most of these compound terms, the fragments of the 
Pronouns which enter into their composition, especially those 
of the first and second Persons, are very conspicuous (J). 
These fragments take after them occasionally the emphatic 
syllahles sa, san^ we, in the same manner as the Personal 
Pronouns themselves do : ns, agamsa at ME, aigesan at HIM, 
n&mne from US. 

The two prepositions de and do have long been confounded 
together, both being written do. It can hardly be supposed 
that the composite words dhiom, dhiot, &c. would have 
been distinguished from dhomh, dhuit, &c., by orthography, 
pronunciation, and signification, if the Prepositions, as well 
as the Pronouns, which enter into the composition of these 
words, had been originally the same. In dhiom, &c., the initial 
(Jonsonant is always followed by a small vowel. In dhomh, 
^c, with one exception, it is followed by a broad vowel. 
Hence it is presumable that the Preposition which is the 
root of dhiom, &c., must have had a small vowel after d, 
whereas the root of dhomh, &c., has a broad vowel after d. 
De is a preposition preserved in Latin (a language which has 
many marks of affinity with the Gaelic), in the same sense 
which must have belonged to the root of dhiom, &c., in Gaelic. 
The preposition in question itself occurs in Irish, in the name 
given to a Colony which is supposed to have settled in Ireland, 
A.M. 2540, called Tuath de Danann. (See Lh. "Arch. Brit." 
tit. X. voc. Tuath ; also Miss Brooke's " Keliques of Iris! 
Poetry," p. 102.) These facts aiford more than a presumption 
that the true root of the Composite dhiom, &c., is de^ and 
that it signifies of. It has therefore appeared proper to 
separate it from do, and to assign to each its appropriate 
meaning (k). 

(j) This mode of incorporating the Prepositions with the personal pro- 
nouns will remind the Orientalist of the Pronominal Affixes, common in 
Hebrew and other Eastern languages. The close resemblance between the 
Gaelic and many of the Asiatic tongues, in this particular, is of itself an 
almost conclusive proof that the Gaelic bears a much closer affinity to the 
parent stock than any other living European language. 

{k) " In corroboration of this (Mr. S.'s) hypothesis, I have frequently met 


Faut II.] OF SPEECH. 121 

Dhiom, dhiot, &c., and dhomh, dhuit, &c., are written with 
a plain d after a Lingual; diom, domh, &c. 

Eadar is not incorporated with the pronouns of the singular 
number, but written separately; eadar mis agus thusa, between 
me and thee. 

In combining gu and mu with the pronouns, the letters 
of the Prepositions suffer a transposition, and are written ug^ 
nm. The former of these was long written with ch pre- 
fixed, thus chugam, &c. The translators of the Scriptures, 
observing that ch neither corresponded to the pronunciation, 
nor made part of the radical Preposition, exchanged it for 
th, and wrote thugam. The th, being no more than a simple 
aspiration, corresponds indeed to the common mode of pro- 
nouncing the word. Yet it may well be questioned whether 
the t, even though aspirated, ought to have a place, if g be 
the only radical consonant belonging to the Preposition. 
The component parts of the word might be exhibited with less 
disguise, and the common pronunciation (whether correct or 
not), also represented, by retaining the h alone, and connect- 
ing it with the Preposition by a hyphen, as when written 
before a !N'oun; thus h-ugam, h-ugaibh, &c. 

Improper Prepositions. 
Air cheann; at \tlie\ end, against a certain time. 

Airfeadh, I throughout, during. 
Air fad; j o ' o 

Air muin; on the hack, mounted on. 

Air sgath; for the sake, on pretence. 

Air son ; on account. 

Air toir ; in pursuit. 

Air beulaobh; on the fore side, before. 

Air culaobh ; on the hack side, behind. 

Am fochair ; in presence. 

Am measg ; in the mixture, amidst, among. 

de in old MSS. I have therefore adopted it in its proper place." — E. O'C.'s 
'■'' Gri-ammar of the Irish Gaelic." Dublin, 1808. 


An aghaidh, in the faeej against, in opposition. 

An ceann ; in the end, at the expiration. 

An comhail, ) . 

An coinmmh;;*""^'"^'*" ■"*«'• 

An cois, ) .7 - . . 1 , , 

A h • I ^^ •'^^ ' ''^^^'^ » y* 

An d^il ; in the rencounter^ to meet. 

An diaigh, \ 

An deigli, f prol3ably for ) . , , , 

An deaghaidh, fan deireadh; } '° the end, alter. 

An deis, / 

An eiric; in return, in requital. 

Am fianuis, ) . 


An lorg ; in the tracks in consequence. 

As ealhuidh ; } *" ''<'«'' ^"^°"'- 

As loth ; in behalf, for the sake. 

A los j in order to, with the intention of. 

Car ; during. 

Do bhrigh, a bhrigh ; hj virtue^ because. 

Do ch6ir, a ch6ir; to the presence, near, implying motion. 

Do chum, a chum {I) ; to, towards, in order to. 

Do dhith, a dhith, ) „ 

Dh'easbhuidh; / ^^^ ^^nt. 

Dh' fhios ; to the knowledge, to. 

Dh* ionnsuidh, to the approach, or onset, toward. 

Do reir, a reir ; according to. 

Do tliaobh, a thaobh ; on the side, with respect, concerning. 

Fa chilis ; by reason, because. 

Fa chomhair ; opposite. 

Mu choinnimh ; opposite, over against. 

Mu thimchoill, timchioll ; hy the circuit, around, 

bharr, bharr ; from the top, olf. 

Os ceann ; on the top, above, atop. 

{I) In many places, this Prep, is pronounced hun. 

Part II.] OF SPEECH. 123 

Ee ; duration, during. 
Tar6is ; after {m). 
Trid ; through, by means. 

It is evident, from inspection, that almost all these improper 
Prepositions are compounded ; and comprehend, as one of 
their component parts, a ^oun, which is preceded by a simple 
or Proper Preposition ; like the English, on account, with 
respect, &c. The words ceann, aghaidh, lorg, barr, taobh, 
&c., are known to be real JS'ouns, because they are employed 
in that capacity in other connections, as well as in the phrases 
here enumerated. The case is not so clear with regard to son, 
cum, or cun, reir, which occur only in the above phrases ; 
but it is probable that these are nouns likewise, and that, when 
combined with simple Prepositions, they constitute phrases 
of precisely the same structure with the rest of the foregoing 
list in). Comhair is probably comh-aire mutual attention. 
Dail and coir, in the sense of proximity, are found in their 
compounds comh-dhail and fochair [fa ch6ir.] Toir, in like 
manner, in its derivative toireachd, the act of pursuing. Dh* 
fhios, to the knowledge, must have been originally applied to 
persons only. So it is used in many Gaelic songs : beir mo 
shoiridh le diirachd dh' fhios na cailinn, &c., hear my good 
wishes with cordiality to the knowledge of the maid, &c.,i.e., 
present my affectionate regards, &c. This appropriate mean- 
ing and use of the phrase came by degrees to be overlooked ; 
and it was employed, promiscuously with do chum and dh* 
ionnsuidh, to signify unto in a more general sense. If this 
analysis of the expression be just, then ghios (o) must be 
deemed only a different, and a corrupt manner of writing dh' 

In the improper preposition os ceann, the noun has almost 

(m) Tar eis, on the track or footstep. See O'Brien's ** Ir. Diet." voc. i\a. 

(n) On consul ting O'Brien's " Ir. Diet." we find son translated ^ro/E? 
advantage, cum a fight, corribat, reir will, desire. From these significations 
tlie common meaning of air son, do chum, do reir, may perhaps be derived 
without much violence. 

(o) See Gaelic Poems published by Doctor Smith, pp. 8,9, 178, 291. 

124 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

always been written cionn. Yet in all other situations, the 
same noun is uniformly written ceann. Whence has arisen 
this diversity in the orthography of a simple monosyllable '? 
And is it maintained upon just grounds? It must have 
proceeded either from a persuasion that there are two distinct 
nouns signifying top, one of which is to be written ceann, 
and the other cionn {p) ; or from an opinion that, granting 
the two words to be the same individual noun, yet it is 
proper to distinguish its meaning when used in the capacity 
of a preposition, from its meaning in other situations, by 
spelling it in different ways. I know of no good argument 
in support of the former of these two opinions ; nor has it 
probably been ever maintained. The latter opinion, which 
seems to be the real one, is founded on a principle subversive 
of the analogy and stability of written language, namely, 
that the various significations of the same word are to be 
distinguished in writing, by changing its letters, the con- 
stituent elements of the word. The variation in question, 
instead of serving to point out the meaning of a word or 
phrase in one place, from its known meaning in another 
connection, tends directly to disguise it ; and to mislead the 
reader into a belief that the words, which are thus presented 
to him under different forms, are themselves radically and 
essentially different. If the same word has been employed 
to denote several things somewhat different from each other, 
that does by no means appear a sufficient reason why the 
writers of the language should make as many words of one 

{p) There is in Gaelic a Noun cion or cionn, signifying cause ; which 
occurs in the expressions a chionn gu because that, cion-fath a reason or 
ground. But this word is entirely different from ceann end or top. 

{q) Some confusion has been introduced into the Grammar of the Latin 
language, by imposing different grammatical names on words, according to 
the connection in which they stood, while they retained their form and 
their signification unchanged ; as in calling quod at one time a Relative 
Pronoun, at another time a Conjunction ; post in one situation a Preposition, 
in another, an Adverb. An expedient was thought requisite for distinguish- 
ing, in such instances, the one part of speech from the other. Accordingly 
an accent, or some such mark, was, in writing or printing, placed over th«» 


Pakt 11.] OF SPEECH. 125 

The use of the proper Prepositions has been already shown 
in the composition of adverbial phrases, and of the improper 
Prepositions. The following examples show the further use 
of them in connection with Kouns and Verbs, and in some 
idiomatic expressions which do not always admit of being 
literally rendered in English. 

Ag, aig. 
At: aig an dorus, at the door ; aig an tigh, at the house, at 

B>i reason of : aig ro mheud aighir 's a sholais, hy reason of his 

great joy and satisfaction, Smith's Seann dana, p. 9; 

ag meud a mhiann through intense desire, Psal. 

Ixxxiv. 2, metr. vers.; ag lionmhoireachd, Psal. xl. 

Signifying possession : tha tuill aig na sionnaich, the foxes 

have holes ; bha aig duine araidh dithis mhac, a 

certain man had two sons; cha n'eil fhios agam, / 

have not the knowledge of it, I do not know it. 
Chaidh agam air, I have prevailed over him, Psal. xiii. 4, metr. 

Joined to the Infinitive of Verbs : ag imeachd, a-iualking, 


On, upon : air an l^r, on the ground ; air an la sin, on that 

day ; air an adhbhar sin, on that account, for that 

the last vowel of the word, when employed in what was reckoned its 
secondary use ; while, in its primary use, it was written without any 
distinguishing mark. So the conjunction quod was distinguished from the 
relative g-iwc? ; and the adverb ^Josi! from the preposition ^05^. The distinc- 
tion was erroneous ; but the expedient employed to mark it was, at least, 
harmless. The word was left unaltered and undisguised ; and thus succeed- 
ing grammarians had it the more in their power to prove that the relative 
quod and the conjunction quod are, and have ever been, in reality, one 
and the same part of speech. It would have been justly thought a bold 
and unwarrantable step, had the older grammarians gone so far as to alter 
the letters of the word, in order to mark a distinction of their own 

126 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

Denoting claim of debt : ioc dhomh na blieil agam ort, imij 
me what thou oivest me^ Matt, xviii. 28 ; cia mend 
ata aig mo thighearn ortsa ? how much owest thou 
unto my lord ? Luke xvi. 57. (r) 

Denoting an oath : air m' fhocal, upon my word ; air Ikimh d* 
athar 's do sheanathar, hy the hand of your father 
and grandfather. 

Tha eagal, mulad, sgios, ocras, &c., air, he is afraid, sadjatigued, 
hungry, &c. 

Thig mo bheul air do cheartas, is air do chliii, my mouth 
shall speak of thy justice and thy praise, Psal. xxxv. 
28. metr.; thig mo bheul air gliocas, my mouth shall 
speak of vnsdom, Psal. xlix. 3, metr. v.; sin ciiis air 
am bheil mi nis a' teachd, that is the matter of which 
I am 71010 to treat. 

Tog ort, rouse thyself, bestir thyself, Psal. Ixxiv. 22, metr. v. 

Chaidh agam air, I prevailed over him, Psal. xiii. 4.; metr.; 
'S ann ormsa chaidh, it was I that was worsted. 

Thug e am monadh air, he betook himself to the mountain. 

In respect of : cha 'n f haca mi an samhuil air olcas, / never saw 
their like for badness. Gen. xli. 1 9 ; air a lughad, how- 
ever small it be. 

Joined with, accompanied by: m6ran iamiinn air bheag faobhar, 
much ironicith little ec?<7«°,M'Intyre's Songs. Oidhche 
bha mi 'n a theach, air mhoran bidh 's air bheagan 
eudaich, / was a night in his house, with plenty of 

(r) From this use of the preposition air arises the equivoque so 
humorously turned against Mr James Macpherson by Maccodrura the poet, 
as related in the Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scot- 
land on the authenticity of Osian's Poems, Aj)pend, p. 95. Macpherson 
asked Maccodrum, "Am bheil dad agad air an Fheinn ?" literally,"Have you 
anything on the Fingalians ?" intending to inquire whether the latter had 
any poems in his possession on the subject of the Fingalian history and 
exploits. The expression partakes much more of the English than of the 
Gaelic idiom. Indeed, it can hardly be understood in Gaelic, in the sense 
that the querist intended. Maccodrum, catching up the expression in its 
true Gaelic acceptation, answered, with affected surprise, " Bheil dad agam 
air an Fheinn ? Ma bha dad riamh agam orra, is fad o chaill mi na 
cdirichean." " Have I any claim on the Fingalians ? If ever I hod, it is 
lent; since I lost my voucher." 

Part 11.] OF SPEECH. 127 

. food, hut scanty clothing ; air letli laimh, having 

hut one hand. 
Denoting measure or dimension : da throidh air airde, two 

feet in height. 
01c air mhath leat e, whether you talce it well or ill. 

Ann, ann an, aims. 

In. : Anns an tigh, in the house; anns an oidliche, in the night ; 
ann an d6chas, in hope ; anns a' bharail sin, of that 

Denoting existence : ta abhainn ann, there is a river, Psal. 
xlvi. 4, metr. ; nach bithinn ann ni 's mo, that I 
should not he any more ; b' fhearr a bhi marbh na 
ann, it were better to he dead than to he alive ; ciod 
a th' ann? lohat is it ? is mise th'ann, it is I ; mar 
gu b' ann, as it icere ; tha e n a dhuine ionraic, he 
is a just man ; tha i 'n a bantraich, she is a icidow 


]Marking emphasis : is ann air eigin a thar e as, it was with 
difficulty he got off; an kite seasamh is ann a theich 
iad, instead of standing {keejmig their ground) they 
fled ; nach freagair thu 1 f hreagair mi ann, will you 
not answer ? I have answered. 


Oat of : as an diithaich, out of the country. 

Denoting extinction : tha an solus, no an teine, air dol as, the 

lights or the fire, is gone out. 
As an alt, out of joint; as a' ghualainn, as a' chruachainn, as an 

uilinn, &c., dislocated in the shoulder, hip, el bote- 


{s) This use of the preposition aim in conjunction with a possessive 
Pronoun, is nearly akin to that of the Hebrew 7, [for] in such expressions 
as these : ' He hath made me [for] a father to Pharaoh, and [for] lord of 
all his house ;" rinn e mi 'n am athair do Pharaoh, agus 'n am thighearn as 
ceann a thighe uile, Gen. xlv. 8. ' Thou hast taken the wife of Uriah to 
be [for] thy wife ;' ghahh thu lean Uriah gu hi 'n a mnaoi dhuit fein. 
2 Sam. xii.'lO 

128 OF THE PARTS [Paet IL 

Chaidh e as, he escaped. 
Cuir as da, deatroy hiirif or it. 
Chaidh as da, he is peiishedy undone. 
Thug e na buinn as, he scampered off, 
Dubh as, blot out. 


Of: Armailt mh6r de dhaoinibh agus a dh* eachaibh, a great 

army of men and horses. 
Off: Bha na geugan air an sgathadh dheth, the branches were 

lopped off; thug iad an ceann deth, they beheaded 

Dh aon riin, mth one consent^ toith one puipose ; dh' 

aon bharail, with one mind, judgment. 
A Ik agus a dh' oidhche, ^.e., de 1^ agus de oidhche, 

by day and by night. Lat. de uocte, Hor. 
Saidhbhreas m6r d'a mheud, riches hoicever great, 

Psal. cxix. 14, metr. 


To : Tabhair dhomh, give to me, give me ; thug sinn a bos 
min do Dhearg, we gave her soft hand to Dargo. 

Dh' eirich sud dha gu h-obann, that befell him sud- 
denly. Mar sin duinne gu latha, so it fared, with us 
till day, so we passed the night; ma 's olc dhomh, 
chan-fhearr dhoibh, if it goes ill with me, they fare 
no better. 

Latha dhomhsa siubhal bheann, one day as I travel- 
led the hills ; latha dhuinn air machair Alba, one 
day when we were in the lowlands of Scotland ; on 
Scotia! s plains. 


Between : eadar an dorus agus an ursainn, between the door and 
the post. 
Dh* eirich eadar mi agus mo choirahearsnach, a 
quairel arose betwixt me and my neighbour. 


Part II.] OF SPEECH. 129 

Eadar mli6r agus bheag, hotJi great and small, Psal. 
xlix. 2, metr. ; Eev. xix. 5, eadar bhochdagus nochd, 
both the poor and the naked. 

Upon: Fa 'n bhord, ?/^c»7i the hoard; leigeadar fa Ikr, was 
dropped on the ground, omitted, neglected. Carswcl. 
Fa'n adhbhar ud, on that account; creud fa 'n abradli 
iad ? wherefore should they say ? 
Fa sheachd, seven times, Psal. vii. 6, metr. j fa cbeud, 
a hundred times, Psal. Ixii. 9, metr. 

Fuidh, fo. 
Under: Fuidh 'n hhovdi, under the hoard; fuidh bhlath in 
hlossom ; tha an t-arbliar fo dheis, the corn is in the 
ear ; fuidh smuairean, under concern ; fo ghruaim, 
gloomy; fo mhi-ghean, in had humour ; fuidh mhi- 
chliu, under had report. 
Denoting intention or purpose : air bhi fuidhe, it 
heing his purpose. Acts xx. 7; tha tighinn fodham, 
it is my intention or inclination 

Gu, Gus. 
To: thigh gu tigh, from house to house; gu crich mo 
shaoghail fein, to the end of my life ; gus an crioii 
gu luaithre a' chlach, until the stone shall crumhle 
to dust. Sm. Seann dana. 

A' bhliadhna gus an am so, this time twelvemonthy 
a year ago ; a sheachduin gus an de, yesterday se' en- 

Mile gu leth, a mile and a half ; bliadhna gu leth, 
a year and a half. 

Without: Gun amharus, ^^Y^owif c?o?^&i^; gun bhrogan, without 
shoes ; gun f hios, without knowledge, unwittingly ; 
gun fhios nach faic thu e, in case you may see him, 


130 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

if perhaps you may see him ; gun f hios am faio 
thu e, // 2^^haps yoa may not see him. Gim 
chomas aig air, without his being able to prevent if, 
or avoid it; involuntarily. Gniomh gun chomain, 
an unmerited^ or unjyrovoked deed. Dh' ^ithn e dlia 
gun sin a dheanamh, he ordered him not to do that. 
Fhuair lad rabhadh gun iad a philltinn, they wer-z 
warned not to return. 


After: lar sin, after that ; iar leughadh an t-Soisgeil, after 
the reading of the Gospel ; iar tuiteam sios da aig 
a chosaibh, having fallen down at his feet; bha mi fl 
iar mo mhealladh, / teas 7'eceived. 

Le, leis. 
With : Chaidh mi leis a' chuideachd mh^ir, / went with the 

Denoting the instrument : mharbh e Eoin leis a* 
chlaidheamh, he killed John with the sword. 

Denoting the agent : thomhaiseadh le Diarmid an tore, 
the boar loas measured by Diarmid. 

Denoting possession : is le Donull an leabhar, the 
book is Donald's ; cha leis e, it is not his. 

Denoting opinion or feeling : is fada leam an la gu 
h-oidhche, I think the day long, or tedious, till night 
come ; is cruaidh leam do chor, / think your case a 
hard one; is d6cha leam, I think it probable ; is 
doilich leam, lam sorry; is aithreach leis, he repents. 
Along: leis an t-sruth along the stream ; leis an leathad, 
down the declivity. 

Leig leam, let me alone ; leig leis, let him alone, 

About: ag iadhadh mu a cheann, vnnding about his head; 
labhair e mu ludas. he spoke about Judas ; nuair 
smacliduichear duine leat mu 'lochd, ichen thou cor- 

Paut II.] OF SPEECH. 131 

rectest a man for his stUj Psal. xxxix. 11, metr. ; 
sud am f ath mu'n goir a' chorr, that is the reason of 
the heron's cry. Seann dana. Sud ikth. mu 'n 
guidheann ort na naoimh, for this reason will i/ie 
saints make supplication to Thee. 

From : bhaile gu baile, from town to town ; o mhadainn 
gu feasgar, from, morning to evening ; o 'n Ik thain- 
ig mi dhachaidh,/rom the day that I came home ; 
'n la, is often abridged into la; as, la thainig mi 
dhachaidh, since I came home. 
Since, because: thugamaid nil' oirnn a* bhanais, o fhuair 
sinn cuireadh dhol ann, let us all to the wedding, 
since we have been hidden to it. 
Denoting want in opposition to possession, denoted 
by aig : na tha uainn 'sab' fheairrd sinn againn, 
ivhat we want and should be the better for having. 
Implying desire: ciod tha uait? ichat tvould you have? 
Tha claidheamh nam, I want a sivord. 


Ahnve : Mar togam os m' uU' aoibhneas ard cathair lerusaleim, 
if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy, Psal. 
cxxxvii. 6, metr. ; os mo cheann, above me, over me. 

Ei, lis. 

To: cosmhuil ri mac righ, like to the son of a king; chuir 
iad teine ris an tigh, they set fire to the house. 

Maille ri, together with. 

Laimh ris a' bhalla, nigh to the wall 

Ei Id gaoithe, on a day of wind ; ri fad mo re 's mo 
la, during all the days of my life ; ri linn Eigh 
Uilliam, in the reign of King William. 

Na bi rium, don't molest me. 

Feuch ris, try if. 

Cuir ris, ply your work, exert yourself; cuirear na 

132 OF THE PARTS [Part II. 

nithe so ribh, these things shall he added unto youj 
^latt. vi. 33. Tha an Spiorad ag cur ruinn na saorsa, 
the Spirit applieth to us the redemption, Assemb. 
Sh. Catech. 
Exposed : tha an craicionn ris, t?ie skin ?!,s exposed j or bare; leig 
ris, expose or make manifest. 


Before: roimh 'n charbad, before the chaHot; roimh 'n chamh- 

air, before the dawn; roimh na h-uile nithibh, before, 

in 'preference to, all things ; chuir mi romhara, / set 

before me, purposed, intended. 

Imich romhad, go forward; dh' fhalbh e roimhe, lie 

went his loay, he went off. 


Post: chaidh e seach an dorus, he passed by the door. 
In comparison with : is trom a' chlach seach a' cMoineag, the 
stone is heavy compared with the dozen. 

Tar, thar. 

Over, across : chaidh e thar an amhainn, thar a' mhonadh, he 
went over the river, over the mountain ; tha sin thar 
m' eolas, thar mo bheachd, &c., that is beyond my 
knowledge, beyond my comprehension, &c. 

Tre, troimh, th roimh. 

Through : tre uisge is tre theine, through loater and through 

Of Inseparable Prepositions. 

The following initial syllables, used only in composition, 
are prefixed to nouns, adjectives, or verbs, to modify or alter 
their signification : — 


Part II.] OF SPEECH. 133 

An (t), D'l, Ao, ea, eu, eas, Mi, jS'eo : — Privative syllables 
signifying not, or serving to change the signification 
of the words to which they are prefixed into its con- 
trary; as, socair ease, anshocair distress, uneasiness; 
ciontach guilty, dichiontach innocent; treabh to 
cultivate, dithreabh an uncultivated place, a desei't ; 
dionach tight, close, aodionach leaky ; c5ir justice, 
eucoir injustice; sUn whole, in health, easlan sick; 
caraid a friend, eascaraid an enemy ; huidheachas 
gratitude, mibhuidheachas ingratitude; claon av^ry, 
neochlaon unbiassed, impartial; duine a man 
neodhuine a icorthless unnatural creature. 

An, ain, intensitive, denoting an immoderate degree, or 
faulty excess ; as, tighearnas dominion, aintighearn- 
as tyranny ; tromaich to make heavy, antromaich 
to make very heavy, to aggravate; teas heat, ainteas 
excessive heat ; miann desire, ainmhiann inordinate 
desire, lust. 

Ais, ath, again, hack; as, eirigh rising, aiseirigh resurrec- 
tion; beachd view, ath-bheachd retrospect; fas 
groioth, ath-fh^s after-growth. 

Bith, continually ; as, bithdheanamh doing continually, busy; 
am bithdheantas incessantly. 

Co, com, comh, con, together, equally, mutually ; as, 
gleacadh fighting, co-ghleacadh fighting together ; 
lion to fill, colion to fulfil, accomplish; ith to eat , 
comith eating together; radh saying, comhradh 
conversation, speech; trom weight, cothrom equal 
weight, equity ; aois age, comhaois a contemporary. 

Im, about, round, entire ; as, Ian fidl, iomlan quite complete ; 
gaoth loind, iomghaoth a whirlwind ; slainte health, 
iom-shlainte perfect health. 

(pl This syllable assumes various forms. Before a broad vowel or con- 
sonant an, as, anshocair ; before a small vowel or consonant ain, as, 
aineolach ignorant, aindeoin unwillingness ; before a labial avi or aim, as, 
aimbeartach poor ; sometimes with the m avSpirated, as, aimhleas detriment, 
ruin, aimh-leathau narrow. 

134 01 THE PAHTS [Part IL 

In, or ion, worthy) as, ion-mholta worthy to he praised ; ion- 
roghnuidh worthy to he chosen, Psal. xxv. 12, metr. 

So, easily, yenthj ; as, faicsin seeing, so-fhaicsin easily seen; 
sion weather, soinion [so-shion] calm weather; 
sgeul a tale, soisgeul a good tale, gospel. 

Do, with difficulty, evil ; as, tuigsin understanding, do-thuig- 
sin difficidt to he understood ; domion stormy xoea- 
ther ; heart deed, exploit, do-bheart evil deed. 


Under this class of words, it is proper to enumerate not 
only those single Particles which are usually denominated 
Conjunctions ; hut also the most common phrases which are 
used as Conjunctions to connect either words or sentences. 

Ach ', hut. 

Agus, is j and. 

A chionn gu ; because that. 

A chum as gu ; in order that. 

A chum as nach ; that not. ♦ 

Air chor as gu ; so that. 

Air eagal gu. 

Aireagalgu, 1 ^^^ ^^^^ 

D' eagal gu ; j -^ -^ ' 

Air son gu, ) , , , , 

-nw -ut. • V t hy reason that 

Du hhrigh gu ; J •' 

Bheil f hios, '1 f hois 1 is there knowledge ? is it known % a'li ^; 

expression of curiosity, or desire to know. 
Co; as. 
Ged, giodh ; although (u). 

(w) The conjunction ged loses the d when written before an adjective of 
(I personal pronoun; as, ge binn do ghuth, though your voice be sweet; 
ge h-ard Jehovah, Psal. cxxxviii. 6. 

The translators of the Scriptures appear to have erred in supposing ge 
to be the entire Conjunction, and that rf is the verbal particle do. This has 
led them to write ge d' or ge do in situations in which do alters the sense 


Part II.] OF SPEECH. 135 

Ged tha, ge t-a ; tliough it he, notwithstanding- 

Gidheadh; yet, nevertheless. 

Gu, gur ; that. 

Gun fhios ; without Imowledge, it being uncertain whether 

or not, in case not. 
lonnas gu ; insomuch that, so that. 

from what was intended, or is totally inadmissible. Ge do ghluais mi, 
Deut. xxix. 19, is given as the translation of though 1 walk, i.e. though 
I shall walk ; but in reality it signifies though I did walk, for do ghluais 
is past tense. It ought to be ged ghluais mi. So also ge do ghleidh thu 
mi, Judg. xiii. 1 6, though you detain me, ought rather to be ged ghleidh 
thu mi. Ge do ghlaodhas iad rium, Jer. xi. 11, though they cry to me, is 
not agreeable to the Gaelic idiom. It ought rather to be ged ghlaodh iad 
rium, as in Hosea, xi. 7. Ge do dh fheudainnse muinghin bhi agam, 
Phil. iii. 4, though I might have confidence. Here the verbal particle is 
doubled unnecessarily, and surely not according to classical precision. 
Let it be written ged dh fheudainnse, and the phrase is correct. Ge do 's 
eigindomh am bas fhulang, Markxiv. 31, though I must suffer death: ge 
do tha aireamh chloinn Israel, &c., Rom. ix. 27, though the number 
of the children of Israel he, &c. The present tenses is and tha 
never take the do before them. Ged is eigin, ged tha, is liable to no 
objection. At other times, when the do appeared indisputably out of place, 
the d has been dismissed altogether, contrary to usual mode of pronuncia- 
tion ; as, ge nach eil. Acts xvii. 27, 2 Cor. xii. 11, where the common 
pronunciation requires ged nach eil. So, ge d' nach duin' an t-aodach, &c. 
ge d' nach biodh ann ach an righ &c. (M'Intosh's " Gael. Prov." pp. 35, 36), 
where the d is retained even before nach, because such is the constant way 
of pronouncing the phrase. 

These faulty expressions which, without intending to derogate from the 
high regard due to such respectable authorities, I have thus freely ventured 
to point out, seemed to have proceeded from mistaking the constituent 
letters of the conjunction in question. It would appear that d was 
originally a radical letter of the word ; that through time it came, like 
many other consonants, to be aspirated ; and by degrees became, in some 
situations, quiescent. In Irish it is written giodh. This manner of writing 
the word is adopted by the translator of Baxter's "Call." One of its com- 
pounds is always written gidheadh. In these, the d is preserved, though 
in its aspirated state. In Scotland it is still pronounced, in most situations, 
ged, without aspirating the d at all. These circumstances put together 
seem to prove the final c? is a radical constituent letter of this Conjunc- 

I have the satisfaction to say that the very accurate Author of the Gaelic 
Translation of the Scriptures has, with great candour, acknowledged the 
justice of the criticism contained in the foregoing note. It is judged 
expedient to retain it in this edition of the Grammar, lest the authority of 
that excellent Translation might perpetuate a form of speech which is 
confessed to be faulty. 


Ma; if. 

Mar ; as, like as. 

!^^a^ sud agus ; so also. 

Ma seadh, ) _ . . .^ , ., 

Ma ta ; j '-^ ^^' ^^ *^ ^^ ^^' *^^^ 

Mur ; if not. 

]\Iur bhiodh gu ; were it not that. 

]\Ius an, mu 'n ; before that, lest. 

Na; than. 

Xach ; that not. 

^a'n, na'm; if. 

No; or. 

; since, because. 

Oir; for. 

Os ban* ; moreover. 

Sol, suil ; before that 

Tuille eile ; further. 

Uime sin ; therefore. 



The syllables or sounds, employed as expressions of variotis 
emotions or sensations, are numerous in Gaelic, but for themost 
part provincial, and arbitrary. Only one or two single 
vocables, and a few phrases, require to be noticed under this 

Och I Ochan ! alas ! 

Ochan nan och ! alas and well-a-day / 

Fire faire ! what a pother ! 

Mo thniaighe ! my misery . ! ' t 

.. !"• 

Mo chreachadh ! my despoilinrji 

Mo nkire ! my shame, for shame ! fy ! 

H-ugad, at you, take care of yourself, f/anhz-vou8. 

Feuch ! behold ! lo ! 



Syntax treats of the connection of words with each other iu 
a sentence; and teaches the proper method of expressing 
their connection by the Collection and the Form of the words. 
Gaelic Syntax may be conveniently enough explained under 
the common divisions of Concord and Government. 



Under Concord is to be considered the agreement of the 
Article with its Noun ; — of an Adjective with its Noun ; — 
of a Pronoun with its Antecedent; — of a Verb with its 
Nominative ; — and of one Noun with another. 

Section I. 

Of the Agreement of the Article with a Noun. 

The article is always placed before its Noun, and next to 
it, unless when an Adjective intervenes. 

The article agrees with its Noun in Gender, Number, and 
Case. Final n is changed into m before a plain Labial ; as, 
am baile the town, am fear the man. It is usually cut off 
before an aspirated Palatal, or Labial, excepting fh ; as, a' 
chaora the sheep, a' mhuc the soiv, a' choin of the dog. In the 
Dat. Sing, initial a is cut off after a Preposition ending in a 
Vowel; as, do 'n chloich to the stone (v). 

h) To avoid, as far as may be, the too frequent use of a by itself, perliaps 
it would be better always to write the article full, an or am : and to api^ly 

138 OF SYNTAX. [part IIL 

A Noun, when immediately preceded by the Article, suffers 
some changes in Initial Form : — 1. With regard to Nouns 
beginning with a Consonant, the aspirated form is assumed 
by a mas. Noun in the gen. and dat. singular ; by a fem. noun 
in the nom. and dat. singular. If the Noun begins with s 
followed by a vowel or by a Liquid, instead of having the .v 
aspirated, t is inserted between the Article and the Noun, in 
the foresaid cases ; and the s becomes entirely quiescent {w). 
2. With regard to Nouns beginning with a Vowel, ^ or /i is in- 
serted between the Article and the Noun in certain Cases, viz. 
t in the Nom. sing, of mas. Nouns, h in the gen. sing, of fem. 
Nouns, and h in the nom. and dat. plur. of Nouns of either 
gender. Throughout the other sing, and plur. Cases, all 
Nouns retain their Primary form. 

The following examples show all the varieties that take 
place in declining a Noun with the Article. 

Nouns beginning with a Labial or a Palatal, 

Bard, mas. a Poet. 
Sinr/. Plur. 

N. am Bard, na Baird, 

G. a' Bhaird, nam Bard, 

D. a', 'n Bhard (x). na Bardaibh. 

Cluas, fem. an Ear. 
Sing. Plur. 

N. a! Chluas, na Cluasan, 

G. na Cluaise, nan Cluas, 

D. a', 'n Chluais. na Cluasaibli. 

the above rules, about the elision of its letters, only to regulate the pro- 
nunciation. Irish books, and our earlier Scottish publications, have the 
article written almost always full, in situations where, according to the 
latest mode of Orthography, it is mutilated. 

(w) The practice of suppressing the sound of an initial consonant in certain 
situations, and supplying its place by another of a softer sound, is carried 
to a much greater extent in the Irish dialect. It is termed eclipsis by the 
Irish grammarians, and is an evidence of a nice attention to euphonia. 

(x) The Dat. case is always preceded by a Preposition, ris a' bhard, do 'n 
bhard, aig na bardaibh ; in declining a Noun with the article, any Proper 
Preposition may be supplied before the Dative case. 

P.m;t III. I OF SYNTAX. 139 

Nouns beginning with f. 

Fleasgach, m. a Bachelor. 

Sing. Plur. 

N, am Fleasgach, na Fleasgaicli, 

G^. an Fhleasgaich, nam Fleasgach, 

D. an, 'n Fhleasgach. na Fleasgaicli. 

Foid. f. a Turf. 

Sing. Plur. 

N. an Fhoid, na Foidean, 

G. na F6ide, nam Foid, 

D. an, 'n Fhoid. na Foidibh. 

Nouns leg inning with a Lingual. 

Dorus, m. a Door. 

Sing. Plur. 

N. an Dorus, na Dorsan, 

G. An Doriiis, nan Dorsa, 

D. an, 'n Dorus, na Dorsaibh. 

Teasach, f. a Fever. 

Sing. Plur. 

N. an Teasach, na Teasaichean, 

G. na Teasaich, nan Teasach, 

D. an, 'n Teasaich. na Teasaichibh. 

Nouns beginning with s. 

Sloe, mas. a Pit. 

Sing. Plur. 

N. an Sloe, na Sluic, 

G. an t-Sluic, nan Sloe, 

D. an, 'n t-Sloc. na Slocaibh. 



Siiil, fern, an Eye, 

Sing. Plur, 


an t-Sha, na Suilean, 


na Siila nan SM, 


an, *n t-Stiil. na Suilibh. 

Nouns beginning with a Vowel, 

lasg, m. a Fish. 

Sing. Plur. 


an t-Iasg, na h-Iasga, 


an Eisg, nan lasg, 


an, 'n lasg. na h-Iasgaibh. 

Adharc, f. a Horn. 

Sing. Plur, 


an Adharc, na li-Adhaircean, 


na h-Adhairc, nan Adharc, 


an, 'n Adhairc. na h-Adhaircibh. 

The initial Form of Adjectives immediately preceded by 
the Article, follows the same rules with the initial Form of 

Besides the common use of the Article as a Definitive to 
ascertain individual objects, it is used in Gaelic — 

1. Before a Noun followed by the Pronouns so, sin^ or 
ud; as, am fear so, this man; an tigh ud, yon liovse. 

2. Before a Noun preceded by the Verb is and an Ad- 
jective ; as, is maith an sealgair e, he is a good huntsman; 
bu luath an coisiche e, he was a swift footman. 

3. Before some names of countries ; as, righ na Spainne, 
the king of Spain; chaidh e do 'n Fhrainc, he toent to France ; 
but righ Bhreatain, the Icing of Britain; chaidh e dh' Eirin, he 
went to Ireland, without the Article. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 141 

Section XL 
Of the Agreement of an Adjective with a Noun. 


When an Adjective and the Noun which it qualifies are 
in the same clause or member of a sentence, the Adjective 
is usually placed after its Noun ; as, c6ann liath, a hoary 
liead; duine ro ghlic, a very wise man. If they be in dif- 
ferent clauses, or if the one be in the subject, and the other 
in the predicate of a proposition, this rule does not apply ; 
as, is glic an duine sin, that is a ivise man; cha truagh learn 
do choi', / do not tkinlt your case unfortunate. 

1. Numerals, whether Cardinal or Ordinal, to which 
add, iomadh many, gach every, are placed before their Nouns; 
as, tri lathan, three days; an treas latha, the third day; iomadh 
duine, many a man; gach eun g' a nead, every bird to its nest. 
— Except such instances as the following : Eigh Tearlach a 
h-Aon, King Charles the First; Eigh Seumas a Cuig, King 
James the Fifth. 

2. The possessive pronouns mo, do, &c., are always placed 
before their nouns ; as, mo lamh, my hand. The interro- 
gatives co, cia, &c., are placed before their nouns, with the 
article intervening ; as, cia am fear? which man ? 

3. Some adjectives of one syllable are usually placed 
before their Nouns; as, deadh dhuine, a good man; droch 
ghniomh, a had action; seann sluagh, old people. Such 
Adjectives, placed before their Nouns, often combine with 
tliem, so as to represent one complex idea, rather than two 
distinct ones ; and the adjective and noun, in that situation, 
may rather be considered as one complex term, than as two 
distinct words, and written accordingly; as, oigfhear, a young 
man; ogbhean, a young woman; garbhchriochan, rude re- 
gions (y). 

(y) So in English, Grandfather, Highlands, sometimes ; in Latin, Res- 
piiblica, Decemviri ; in Italian, Primavera; in French, Bonheur, Malheur^. 

142 OF SYNTAX. Part III.] 


Though a Gaelic Adjective possesses a variety of Forms, 
yet its Form is not always determined by the Noun wliose 
signification it modifies. The Form of the Adjective de- 
pends on its Noun, when it immediately follows the Noun, 
or only with the intervention of an intensitive Particle, ro, 
gle, &c., and when both the Noun and the Adjective are in 
the Subject or both in the Predicate, or in the same clause 
or member of a sentence. In all other situations, the form 
of the Adjective does in no respect depend on the Noun ; or, 
in other woitls, the Adjective does not agree with the Noun (z). 

To illustrate this rule, let the following examples be at- 
tentively considered : — Is beag orm a' ghaoth fhuar, / dislike 
the cold wind ; is beag orm fuaim na gaoithe fuaire, / dislike 
the sound of the cold wind ; is beag orm seasamli anns a' 
ghaoith fhuair, / dislike standing in the cold wind. In 
these examples, the Adjective and the Noun are both in the 
same clause or member of a sentence, and therefore they must 
agree together. In the following examples the Adjective and 
the Noun do not necessarily agree together : — Is fuar a' ghaoth 
4 tuath, cold is the wind from the north; is trie leis a' ghaoith 
a tuath bhi fuar, it is usual for the wind from the north to he 
cold. In these examples, the Noun is in the Subject, and the 
Adjective in the Predicate of the proposition. 

&c. from beiug an adjective and a noiin, came to be considered as a single 
complex term, or a compound word, and to be written accordingly. 

A close analogy may be traced between the Gaelic and the French in the 
collocation of the Adjective. In both languages, the Adjective is ordinarily 
placed after its Noun. If it be placed before its Noun, it is by a kind of 
poetical inversion; dorchadas tiugh, des tenses epaisses ;hy inversion, 
tiugh dhorchadas, d' epaisses tenehres ; fear m6r, un homTne grand ; 
by inversion, in a metaphorical sense, m6r fhear, un grand homnie. A 
Numeral Adjective, in both languages, is placed before its Noun ; as also 
iomadh, plusieurs; except when joined to a proper name, where the 
Cardinal is used for the Ordinal ; Seumas a Ceithir, Jaques Quatre. 

(z) The same seems to be the case in the Cornish Language, See Lhuyd's 
•♦Arch. Brit." p. 243, col. 3. 

When an Adjective precedes its Noun, it undergoes no change of termina- 
tion ; as, thig an Tiglieam a nuas le ard iolaich, the Lord vnll descend wiVb 
a great shout, 1 Thes. iv. 16; mar ghuth mor shluaigh, as the voice, of a great 
muUitude. Rev. xix. 6. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX 143 

The grammatical distinction observable in the following 
examples is agreeable to the strictest philosophical propriety: — 
Kinn mis an scian gheur, / made the sharp hnife : here the 
Adjective agrees with the Noun, for it modifies the Noun, 
distinguishing that knife from others. Einn mis an scian 
geur, / QJiade the knife sharp : here the Adjective does not 
agree with the Noun, for it modifies not the Noun but the 
Verb. It does not characterize the object on which the 
operation is performed, but it combines with the Verb in 
specifying the nature of the operation performed. The expres- 
sion is equivalent to gheuraich mi an scian, I sharpened the 
linife. So also, mhothaich mi a' ghaoth fhuar, I felt the cold 
wind; but mhothaich mi a' ghaoth fuar, I felt the wind 
cold. In the former of these examples the Adjective 
modifies the Noun, and agrees with it ; in the latter it does 
not agree with the Noun, for its use is to modify the Verb, 
or to specify the nature of the sensation felt. In like manner, 
dh' f hag iad an obair criochnaichte, theij left the loork finished ; 
f huaradh an oigh sinte, marbh, the maid was found stretched 
out dead. And so in other similar instances. 

1. When an Adjective and Noun are so situated and re- 
lated, that an agreement takes place between them, then 
the Adjective agrees with its noun in Gender, Number, 
and Case. A Noun preceded by the Numeral da two, 
though it be in the Singular Number, [see conclusion of 
Part II. Chap I.] takes an Adjective in the Plural ; as, 
da iasg bheaga, two small fishes, John, vi. 9. The Initial 
Perm of the Adjective depends partly on the Gender of the 
Noun, partly on its Termination, and partly on its being pre- 
ceded by the Article. 

The following examples of an Adjective declined along 
with its Noun, exhibit the varieties in the Initial Form, as 
well as in the Termination of the Adjective : — 

144 OF SYNTAX. [Paut III 


Fear m6r, mas. a Great Man. 

Without the Article. 



N. Fear m6r, 

Fir mhora, 

G. Fir nili6ir, 

Fheara m6rci, 

D. Fear ni6r, 

Fearaibh mora, 

V. Fhirmhoir. 

Fheara mora. 

With the Article. 

N. Am Fear m6r, 

Na. Fir mli6ra, 

G, An Fhir mh6ir, 

Nam Fear mora. 

D. An Fhear mh6r. 

Na Fearaibh m6ra. 

Slat ghecl, fern, a white rod. 

Without the Article. 
N. Slat gheal, Slatan geala, 

G. Slaite gile, Shlatan geala, 

D. Slait ghil, Slataibh geala, 

V. Shiat gheal. Shlata geala. 

With the Article. 

N. An t-Slat gheal, Na Slatan geala, 

G. Na Slaite gile, Nan Slata geala, 

D. An t-Slait ghil. Na Slataibh geala. 


Oglach diieas, m. a Faithful Servant. 

Without the Article. 

N. Oglach diieas, Oglaich dhileas, 

G. Oglaich dhilis, Oglach diieas, 

D. Oglach diieas, Oglachaibh diieas, 

V. Oglaich dhilis. Osrlacha diieas. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 145 

With the Article. 
N. An t-Oglach dileas, N'a h-Oglaich dhileas. 

G. An Oglaich dhilis, Nan Oglach dileas. 

D. An Oglach dhileas, Na h-Oglachaibh dileaa. 

Clarsach f honnmhor, f. a Tuneful Harp. 

Without the Article. 
N. Clarsach fhonnmhor, Clarsaichean fonnmhor. 

G. Clarsaich fonnmhoir, Chlarsach fonnmhor. 

D. Clarsaich fhonnmhoir, Clarsaichibh fonnmhor. 

V. Chlarsach fhonnmhor, Chlarsaiche fonnmhor. 

With the Article. 
N. A' Chlarsach fhonnmhor, Na Clarsaichean fonnmhor. 
G. Na Clarsaich fonnmhoir, Nan Clarsach fonnmhor. 
D. A', 'n Chlarsaich fhonnoir, Na Clarsaichibh fonnmhor. 

An Adjective, beginning with a Lingual, and preceded by 
a Noun terminating in a Lingual, retains its primary Form 
in all the Singular cases ; for the sake, it would seem, of 
preserving the agreeable sound arising from the coalescence 
of the two Linguals ; as, nighean donn a broivn maid, instead 
of nighean dhonn ; a' choin duibh of the black dog, instead of 
a' choin dhuibh ; air a' chois deis on his right foot, instead of 
air a chois dheis. 

IL A Noun preceded by an Adjective assumes the aspi- 
rated Form j as, ard bheann a high hilly cruaidh dheuchainn 
a hard trial. 

1. A Noun preceded by a Numeral is in the primary Form ; 
as, tri meoir three fingers ; to which add iomadh many, gach 
every ; as, iomadh fear many a man; gach craobh every tree, 
— Except aon one, da two ; ceud first ; as, aon f hear one man, 
da chraoibh two trees. 

2. A Noun preceded by any of the following Possessive 
Pronouns, a her, ar our, bhur your, an their, is in the primary 


148 OF SYNTAX. [Part III. 

Form; as, a mathair her mother^ ar brathair our brotJier. 
When the Possessive Pronoun a her, precedes a Noun or an 
Adjective beginning with a vowel, h is inserted between them; 
as, a h-athair, her father, a h-aon mhac Iter only son. The 
Possessive Pronouns ar our, bhur your, usually take n between 
them and the following Noun or Adjective beginning with a 
vowel ; as, ar n-athair our father, bhur n-aran your bread. 
Perhaps a distinction ought to made, by inserting ji only 
after ar, and not after bhur (d). This would serve often to 
distinguish the one word from the other in speaking, where 
they are ready to be confounded by bhur being pronounced 

3. A Noun beginning with a Lingual, preceded by an 
Adjective ending in n, is in the primary Form ; as, aon duine 
one man, seann sluagh old people. 

Section III. 

Of the Agkeement of a Pronoun with its Antecedent. 

The Personal and Possessive Pronouns follow the Number 
of their Antecedents, i.e. of the Nouns which they represent. 
Those of the 3d Pers. Sing, follow also the Gender of their 
antecedent ; as, sheas a'bhean aig a chosaibh, agus thoisich i air 
am fliuchadh leis a deuraibh, agus thiormaich i lad le gruaig 
a cinn, the woman stood at his feet, and she began to icet them 
loith her tears, ajid she iviped them with the hair of her head, 
Luke vii. 38. They follow, however, not the Gender of the 
Antecedent, but the sex of the creature signified by the 
Antecedent, in those words in which Sex and Gender disagree, 
as, an gobhlan-gaoithe mar an ceudn' dosliolairnead dh'i fein 
the swallow too hath provided a nest for herself, Psal. Ixxxiv. 
3. Gobhlan-gaoithe a stoalloio, is a mas. Noun, as appears 
by the mas. Article : but as it is the dam that is spoken of, 
the reference is made by the Personal Pronoun of the fem. 
gender. Ta gliocas air a fireanachadh leis a cloinn Wisdom 

(d) Thus, bhur inntino your mind, Acts xv. 24. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 147 

h Jicstified hy her children^ Matt. xi. 19. Gliocas is a mas. 
noun ; but as Wisdom is here personified as a female, the 
regimen of the Possessive Pronoun is adapted to that idea 
(e). See also Prov. ix. 1-3. In this sentence Och nach b' 
i mhaduinn e, Deut. xxviii. 67, the former pronoun i is cor- 
rectly put in the fern, gender, as referring to the fern, noun 
madainn ; while the latter pron. e is put in the mas. gend. 
because referring to no expressed antecedent. 

If the Antecedent be a sentence, or clause of a sentence, 
the Pronoun is of the 3d Pers. Sing, masculine ; as, dh' ith na 
bd caola suas na ba reamhra, agus cha n-aithnichteadh orra e, 
the lean cattle ate up the fat cattle^ and could not he known hy 

If the Antecedent be a collective Noun, the Pronoun is of 
the 3d Pers. Plur. as, thoir kithne do 'n t-sluagh, d' eagal gu m 
bris iad asteach charge the people lest they hreah in, Exod. xix. 

An Interrogative combined with a Personal Pronoun, asks 
a question without the intervention of the Substantive verb ; 
as, comise^ loho [ani]!? co iad na daoinesin? who [are] 
those men ? cia i a' cheud kithne 1 lohich [is] the first command- 
ment? In interrogations of this form, the noun is some- 
times preceded by the Personal Pronoun, and sometimes not ; 
as, CO e am fear 1 ivho ps] the man ? co am fear 1 tvhat 
man? Co am fear? is evidently an incomplete sentence, 
like what man ? in English. The ellipsis may be 
supplied thus ; co e am fear a ta thu ciallachadh 1 who is the 
man ichom you mean ? This example may be abridged into 
another common interrogation, in which the Interrogative is 
immediately followed by the Eelative ; as, co a ta thu cial- 
lachadh 1 who \is he\ whom you mean ? ciod a ta thu faicinn? 
what \is it\ that you see ? 

In an interrogative sentence including a Personal Pronoun 
and a Noun, as, co e am fear sin 1 if the Noun be restricted in 

(e) This, however, does not happen invariably. "Where the Sex, though 
specified, is overlooked as of small importance, the Personal or Possessive 
Pronouns follow the Gender of the Antecedent. See 2 Sam. xii. 3. 

148 OF SYNTAX. [Part III. 

its signification by some other words connected with it, such 
as the Article, an Adjective, another Noun in the Genitive, 
or a relative clause, then the Pronoun usually follows the 
Gender of the Noun, or the Sex of the object signified by the 
Noun, if the Gender does not correspond to it; as, co e am 
fear a theid a suas 1 who is the man that shall ascend ? co i 
am boirionnach sin? tvho is that woman ? cia i a' cheud kithnel 
which is the first commandment ? If the Noun be not so re- 
stricted, the Pronoun is of the laasculine gender ; as, ciod e 
uchdmhacachd % what is adoption ? ciod e urnuigh 1 what is 
2)rayer? (/) 

(f) I am aware of the singularity of asserting the grammatical propriety 
of such expressions as ciod e Uchdmhacachd ? ciod e Urnuigh ? as, the 
nouns uchdmhacachd, urnuigh are known to be of the feminine Gender ; and 
as this assertion stands opposed to the respectable authority of the Editor 
of the Assembly's Catechism in Gaelic, Edin. 1792, where we read, Ciod i 
urnuigh? &c. The following defence of it is offered to the attentive 

In every question the words which convey the interrogation must refer 
to some higher genus or species than the words which express the subject 
of the query. It is in the choice of the speaker to make that reference to 
any genus or species he pleases. If I ask ' Who was Alexander ?' the 
Interrogative who refers to the species man, of which A lexander, the subject 
of the query, is understood to have been an individual. The question is 
equivalent to * What man was Alexander ?' If I ask 'What is Man ?* the 
Interrogative what refers to the genus of Existence or Being, of which Man 
is considered aa a subordinate genus or species. The question is the 
same with 'What Being is Man?' I may also ask *What was 
Alexander V Here the Interrogative what refers to some genus or species 
of which Alexander is conceived to have been an individual, though the 
particular genus intended by the querist is left to be gatliered from the 
tenor of the preceding discourse. It would be improper, however, to say 
'Who is man?' as the Interrogative refers to no higher genus than that 
expressed by the word Man. It is the same as if one .should ask * Wliat 
man is Man V 

In the question * What is Prayer V the object of the querist is to learn 
the meaning of the term Prayer. The Interrogative what refers to the 
genus of Existence, as in the question * What is Man ?' not to the word 
Prayer, which is the subject of the query. It is equivalent to 'What is 
[that thing which is named] Prayer ?' In those languages where a variety 
« f gender is prevalent, this reference of the Interrogative is more con- 
spicuously marked. A Latin writer would say ^ Quid est Oratio*?' A 
Frenchman, *Qu' est-ce que la Pri^re ?' These questions, in a complete 

* Sec a short Latin Catechism at the end of Mr Ruddiman's Latin Rudiments, 
when; many similar expressions occur; aa Quid est fides? 'Quid est Lex ? Quid est 
KaptismuB? * Quid Sacrament a? Ac' 


Section IV. 

Of the Agreement of a Yerbwith its Nominative. 

As the Verb has no variation of form corresponding to the 
Person or Number of its Nominative, the connection between 
a Verb and its Nominative can be marked only by its colloca- 
tion. Little variety therefore is allowed in this respect. The 
Nominative, whether Noun or Pronoun, is ordinarily placed 
after the Verb ; as, ta mi / am, rugadh duine-cloinne a man- 
child is horn (g). The Article or an Adjective, is frequently 

form, would run thus ; ' Quid est [id quod dicitur] Oratio ?' * Qu' est-ce 
que [I'on appelle] la Priere V On the same principle, and in the same sense, 
a Gaelic writer must say, * Ciod e urnuigh V the Interrogative Ciod e re- 
ferring not to urnuigh but to some higher genus. The expression, when 
completed, is * Ciod e [sin de 'n goirear] urnuigh V 

Is there then no case in whloh the Interrogative may follow the gender 
of the subject ? If the subject of the query be expressed, as it often is, by 
a general term, limited in its signification by a noun, adjective, relative 
clause, &c. ; the reference of the Interrogative is often, though not always 
not necessarily, made to that term in its general acceptation, and consequently 
be ' "What is the Lord's Prayer V Here the subject of the query is not 
Prayer, but an individual of that species, denoted by the term prayer 
limited in its signification by another noun. The Interrogative what may 
refer, as in the former examples, to the genus of Existence ; or it may refer 
to the species Prayer, of which the subject of the query is an individual. 
That is, I may be understood to ask either ' What is that thing which is 
called the Lord's Prayer V or 'What is that prayer which is called the Lord's 
Prayer V A Latin writer would say, in the former sense, ' Quid est Oratio 
Dominica* V in the latter sense, 'Quaenam est Oratio Dominica V The former 
of these expressions is resolvable into * Quid est [id quod dicitur] Oratio 
Dominica? 'the latter into 'Quaenam [oratio] est Oratio Dominica?' The same 
diversity of expression would be used in French : ' Qu' est-ce que I'Oraison 
Dominicale?' and 'Quelle est I'Oraison Dominicale ?' The former resolvable 
into *Qu' est-ce que [I'on appelle] I'Oraison Dominicale? the latter into 
'Quelle [oraison] est I'Oraison Dominicale ? So also in Gaelic, 'Ciod e 
Urnuigh an Tighearna?' equivalent to ' Ciod e [sin de'n goirear] Urnuigli 
an Tighearna ?' or, which will occur oftener, ' Ciod i Urnuigh an Tig- 
hearna ?' equivalent to * Ciod i [an urnuigh sin de 'n goirear] Urnuigh 
an Tighearna?' 

(g) The same arrangement obtains pretty uniformly in Hebrew, and 
seems the natural and ordinary collocation of the Verb and its Noun in 
that language. When the Noun in Hebrew is placed before the Verb, it 
will generally be found that the Noun does not immediately connect with 
the Verb as the Nominative to it, but rather stands in an absolute state; 
* So Ruddiman, 'Quid est Sacra Coena?' 

150 OF SYNTAX. [part III. 

placedbetweenthe Verb and its Is^ominative; as,thainigan uair, 
the hour is come ; aithrisear iomadh droch sgeul, immy an evil 
tale will be told. Sometimes, but more rarely, circumstances 
are expressed beween the Verb and its I*^ominative ; as, 
rugadh dhuinne, an diugh, ann am baile Dhaibhi, an 
Slanuighear, there is horn to us, this day, in David^s town, 
the Saviour. 

The word denoting the object of the verbal action, can 
never, even in poetry, he placed between the Verb and its 
Nominative, without altering the sense. Hence the arrange- 
ment in the following passages is incorrect: — Ghabh domblas 
agus fiongeuriad, they took gall and vinegar. "Buch. Gael. 
Poems," Edin. 1767. p. 14. The collocation should have been 
ghabh iad domblas, &c. Do chual e 'n cruinne-ce, the world 
heard it, id. p. 15, ought to have been, do chual an cruinne-c6 
6. So also, do ghabh truaighe, losa dhoibh, Jesus took 'pity 

and that it is brought forward in that state by itself to excite attention, 
and denotes some kind of emphasis, or opposition to another Noun. Take 
the following examples for illustration : Gen. i. 1, 5. * In the beginning 
God created [q"h-|^j,5 5^-)2 in the natural order] the Heaven and the Earth.' 
nnin J^'li^m > ^°t and the Earth was, &c., but 'and with respect to the 
Earth, it was without form,' &c. Thus expressed in Gaelic : *agus an talamh 
bha e gun dealbh,' &c. Gen. xviii. 33. 'And the Lord went his way 
[nin"" 1^"*1 i^ t^6 natural order] as soon as he had left communing with 
Abraham;' 265^ Dm J0 1> not simply 'and Abraham returned,' &c., but 
and Abraham — he too returned to his place.' In Gaelic, * agus Abraham, 
phill esan g' aite fein.' See also Num. xxiv. 25. — Gen. iii. 12. ' And the 
man said, the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, "»^ n^flJ KIH ^'^* 
it was that gave me of the tree, and I did eat.' Gen. iii. 13. 'And the 
woman said, ^Jj^'iCJ^n K^n3n> ^^t merely ' the Serpent beguiled me,' but Hhe 
Serx>ent was the cause; it beguiled me, and I did eat.' Exod. xiv. 14. 
* Jelwvah — he will fight for you ; but as for yow, ye shall hold your peace.* 
This kind of emphasis is con-ectly expressed in the Eng. translation of 
Psal. Ix. 12, 'for he it is that shall tread, down our enemies.' Without 
multiplying examples, I shall only observe that it must be difficult for the 
English reader to conceive that the Noun denoting the subject of a pro- 
l)Osition, when placed after its Verb, should be in the natural order ; and 
v/hen placed before its Verb, should be in an inverted order of the words. 
To a person well aquainted with the Gaelic, this idiom is familiar ; and 
therefore it is the easier for him to apprehend the effect of such an aiTange- 
ment in any other language. For want of attending to this peculiarity in 
the structure of the Hebrew, much of that force and emphasis, which in 
other languages would be expressed by various particles, but in Hebrew 
depend on the collocation alone, must pass unobserved and uiifelt. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 151 

on them. Matt. xx. 34, Irish vers. It ought to have been, do 
ghabh losa truaighe> &c. (h). 

The Eelatives a who, nach who not, are always put before 
the verb; as, am fear athuit, the man ivho fell ; am fear nach 
dean beud, the man who will not commit a fault. 

In poetry, or poetical style, where inversion is allowed, the 
N"ominative is sometimes placed before the Verb ; as doimh- 
neachd na talmhain ta 'n a laimh, in his hand is the depth of 
the earth. Psal. xcv. 4. 

Oigh cha tig le clar 'n an comhdhail. 

No virgin with harp ivill come to meet them. 

Smith's "Ant. Gal. Poems," p. 285. 

Gach doire, gach coire, 's gach eas, 
Bheir a' m' chuimhne cneas mo Ghraidh. 

Each grove, each dell, and each waterfall, loill bring to my 
remembrance the form of my love. Id. p. 30. 

An la sin cha tigh gu brath, 

A bheir dearrsa mo ghraidh gu tuath. 

That day shall never come, which shall bring the sun-heam of 
my love to the North. Fingal II. 192. 

Am focail geilleam do Mhorlamhj 
Mo lann do neach beo cha gheill. 

In words I yield to Morla; my sword to no living man 
shall yield. Ping II. 203. This inversion is never admitted 
into plain discourse or unimpassioned narrative. 

In those Persons of the Verb in which the terminations 
supply the place of the Personal Pronouns, no JSTominative is 
expressed along with the Verb. In all the other Persons of 
the Verb, a Noun or a Pronoun is commonly expressed as its 
Nominative. In sentences of a poetical structure, the Nom- 
inative is sometimes, though rarely, omitted; as, am fear nach 

{h) I am happy to be put right, in my stricture on the above passage, by 
E. O'C, author of a Gaelic Grammar, Dublin, 1808, who informs us that 
tiuaighe is here the Nominative, and losa the Accusative case ; and that 
the meaning is not Jesvs took jpity on them, hxxipity seized Jesus for them. 

152 OF SYNTAX. [Part III. 

gabh *nuair gheibh, cha 'n fhaigh 'nuair 's aill, tlie man wlio 
will not take token \he^^ can get, will not get wJien [he] wishes. 

A Gharna, cuiin a sheas'? a Ghuill, cuim a thiiit? 
GamOf why stoodst ? Gaul, why didst fall ? 

Smith's ** Ant. Gal. Poems," p. 153. 

The Infinitive often takes before it the Nominative of the 
Agent ; in which case the Preposition do is either expressed 
or understood before the Infinitive ; as, feuch, cia meud a 
mhaith, braithre do bhi 'n an comhnuidh ann sith ! behold hoio 
great a good it is, that brethren dwell in peace! Psal. cxxxiii, 
1. Is e ni dh' fhantuinn 's an f heoil, a 's feumaile dhuibhse, 
my abiding in the flesh is more needful for you, Phil. i. 24, 
Cha n'eil e iomchuidh sinne dh' fhagail focail D^, agus a 
fhrithealadh do bhordaibh, it is not meet that we should 
leave the word of God, and serve tables, Acts vi. 2. The Pre- 
position do, being softened as usual into a, readily disappears 
after a Vowel ; as, air son mi bhi a ris a lathkir maille ribh, by 
my being again present with you, Phil. i. 26 (i). 

Section V. 

Of the Agreement of one Noun with Another. 

When in the same sentence two or more Nouns, applied 
as names to the same object, stand in the same grammatical 
relation to other words, it should naturally be expected that 
their Form, in so far as it depends on that relation, should 
be the same; in other words, that Nouns denoting the same 
object, and related alike to the governing word, should agree 
in Case. This accordingly happens in Greek and Latin. 
In Gaelic, where a variety of form gives room for the appli- 
cation of the same rule, it has been followed in some instances; 
as, Doncha mac Chailain mhic Dhonuil, Duncan the son of 

(i) This constniction resembles that of the Latin Infinitive preceded by 
the Accusative of the Agent. 

Mene desistere victam, 

Nee posse Italia Tencrorum avertere regem ? 

I. JEnid 28. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 153 

Colin the son of Donald; where the words Chailain and mhic 
denoting the same person, and being alike related to the pre- 
ceding ISToun mac are on that account both in the same Case. 
It must be acknowledged, however, that this rule, obvious 
and natural as it is, has not been uniformly observed by the 
speakers of Gaelic. For example ; instead of mac loseiph an 
t-saoir, the son of Joseph the carpenter, many would more 
readily say, mac loseiph an saor j instead of thuit e le laimh 
Oscair an laoich chruadalaich, he fell hy the hand of Oscar 
the hold hero, it would rather be said, thuit e le laimh Oscair 
an laoch cruadalach. The latter of these two modes of 
expression may perhaps be defended on the ground of its 
being elliptical; and the ellipsis may be suppHed thus: mac 
loseiph [is e sin] an saor; laimh Oscair [neach is e] an laoch 
cruadalach. Still it must be allowed, in favour of the rule 
in question, that the observance of it serves to mark the 
relation of the Nouns to each other, which would otherwise 
remain, in many instances, doubtful. Thus in one of the 
foregoing examples, if we should reject the rule, and write 
mac loseiph an saor; it would be impossible to know, from 
the form of the words, whether Joseph or his son were the 

The translators of the Scriptures into Gaelic, induced pro- 
bably by the reasonableness and utility of the rule under 
consideration, by the example of the most polished Tongues, 
and by the usage of the Gaelic itself in some phrases, have 
uniformly adhered to this rule when the leading Noun was 
in the Genitive; as, do mhacaibh Bharsillai a' Ghileadaich, 
1 Kings ii. 7; righ-chathair Dhaibhi athar, 1 Kings ii. 12 ; 
do thaobh Bheniamin am brathar, Judg. xxi. 6; ag gabhail 
nan clar chloiche, eadhon chlar a' cho-cheangail, Deut. ix. 9. 
The rule seems to have been disregarded when the leading 
Noun was in the Dative. See 1 Kings i. 25, Euth iv. 5 
Acts xiii. 33. 

154 OF SYNTAX. [Part IIL 



Under this head is to be explained the Grovernmenb of 
Nouns, of Adjectives, of Verbs, of Prepositions, and of Con- 

Section I. 
Op the Government of Nouns. 

One Noun governs another in the Genitive. The Noun 
governed is always placed after that which governs it; as, 
ceann tighe, the head of a house or family; solus na gr^ine,. 
light of the sun; bainne ghabhar milk of goats. 

The Infinitives of Transitive Verbs, being themselves 
Nouns, (See Part II. Chap. V. p. 86.) govern in like manner 
the Genitive of their object; as, ag cursil, sowing seed; a dh' 
fhaicinnant-sluaigh, to see the people; iar leughadh an t-soisgeil, 
after reading the gospel (k). 

Although no good reason appears why this rule, which is 
common to the Gaelic with many other languages, should 
ever be set aside, yet it has been set aside in speaking, and 
sometimes in writing Gaelic. 

1. When the Noun governed does in its turn govern 
another Noun in the Genitive, the former is often put in the 
Nominative instead of the Genitive case. The following 
instances of this anomaly occur in the Gaelic Scriptures : — Guth 
briathran an t-sluaigh, instead of, bhriathran, the voice of the 
words of the people, Deut. v. 28; do mheas craobhan a' gharaidh, 
instead of, chraobhan, of the fruit of the trees of the garden, 

{k) So in English, the Infinitive of a Transitive Verb is sometimes used 
instead of the Present Participle, and followed by the Preposition of; as, 
•the woman was there gathering of sticks.' 1 Kings xvii. 10. 

some sad drops 

Wept at completing of the mortal sin. 

"Parad. Lost." 

See more examples, Num. xiii. 25, 2 Sam. IL 21, 2 Chron. xx. 26, XXXY, 
14. Ezek. xxxix. 12. 


Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 155 

Gen. iii. 2 ; ag itheadh tighean bhantrach, for thighean, devour- 
ing widows^ houses, M.diit. xxiii. 14; ag nochdadh obair an lagha, 
for oibre, shoioing the work of the law, Eom. ii. 15; ag cuimhn- 
eachadh gun sgur obair bhur creidimh, agus saothair bhur 
graidh, for oibre, saoithreach, remembering without ceasing your 
worJc of faith, and labour of love, 1 Thess. i. 3; trid fuil is 
fearta Chriost, through the blood and merits of Christ, Gael. 
Paraph. 1787, p. 381, for trid fola Chriost, as in Eph. ii. 13; 
ag aiteach sliabh Shioin, for sleibh, inhabiting the hillof Zion, 
Psal. ix. 11. metr; air son obair Chriosd, Phil. ii. 30, 1767, 
according to the usage of the language, but changed to oibre, 
in Edit. 1796, to suit the Grammatical Eule (l). Eor the 
most part, however, the general rule, even in these circum- 
stances^ is followed; as, guth fola do bhrathar, t?Le voice of thy 
brother's blood, Gen. iv. 10; amhainn duthcha cloinne a shluaigh 
the river of the land of the children of his people, Numb, 
xxii. 5 ; a' nigheadh chos sheirbhiseach mo thighearna, to wash 
the feet of the servants of my lord, 1 Sam. xxv. 41. 

2. Such expressions as the following seem to be exceptions 
to the rule: — Dithis mac, 2 Sam. xv. 27, 36; ceathrar mac, 
1 Chron. xxi. 20; leanabaibh mac. Matt. ii. 16. In the 
following similar instances, the rule is observed : — Dithis mhac, 
Gen. xli. 50; dithis fhear, 2 Sam. xii. 1; ceathrar fhear. Acts 
xxi. 23; ceathrar mhaighdiona. Acts xxi. 9. 

The same anomaly takes place in the regimen of the 
infinitive, as in that of other Nouns. Though an Infinitive 
be in that grammatical relation to a preceding Noun which 
would require its being put in the Genitive, yet when itself 
also governs another noun in the Genitive, it often retains 
the form of the Nominative. The Infinitives naomhachadh, 
gnathachadh, briseadh, admit of a regular Genitive, naomh- 
achaidh, gnathachaidh, brisidh. In the following examples, 

{I) On the same principle it is that in some compound words, composed 
of two Nouns whereof the former governs the latter in the Genitive, the 
former Noun is seldom itself put in the Genitive case. Thus, ainm tean-na- 
bninse, the brides name; it would sound extremely harsh to say ainm niua- 
na-bainse; clach ceann-an-teine, not clacli cinn-an-teine, the stone wliich 
supports a hearth fire. 

156 OF SYNTAX. [Part III. 

these Infinitives, because they govern a subsequent Noun in 
the Genitive, are themselves in the Nominative, though their 
relation to the preceding word naturally requires their being 
put in the Genitive Case. Tha an treas aithne a' toirmeasg 
mi-jiELomhsLchadh no mi-ghnathacha(i^ ni sam bith, &c., the 
third commandment forbids the profaning or the abusing of 
any thing, &c. Assem. Cat. Gael. Edin. 1792, Answer to Q. 
55. Ged fheud luchdbriseacZTt na h-aithne so dol as, &c., id. 
Q. 56., though the transgressors of this commandment may 
escape, &c. Cuis cratha^^ cinn is casadh b6il, Psal. xxii. 7, 
as it is in the older edition of the Gaelic Psalms. An deigh 
leugha<i/2 an lagha, after the reading of the Law, Acts, xiii. 15; 
luchd cuxnadh uilc, Rom. i. 30 {m). 

The Infinitive is not put in the Genitive, when preceded 

(m) These examples suggest, and seem to authorise a special use of this 
idiom of Gaelic Syntax, which, if uniformly observed, might contribute 
much to the perspicuity and precision of many common expressions. When 
a compound term occurs, made up of a Noun and an Infinite governed by 
that Noun, it often happens that this term itself governs another Noun in 
the Genitive. Let the two parts of the compound term be viewed separately. 
If it appear that the subsequent Noun is governed by the former part of 
the compound word, then the latter part should remain regularly in the 
Genitive Case. But if the subsequent Noun be governed by the latter part 
of the compound word, then, agreeably to the construction exemplified in 
the above passages, that latter part, which is here supposed to be an Infini- 
tive, should fall back into the Nominative Case. Thus tigh-coimhid an 
Kigh, the King's store house, where the Noun Righ is governed by tigh, tlio 
former term of the compound word ; but tigh comhead an ionrahais, John 
viii. 20, the house for keeping the treasure, where ionmhais is governed by 
coimhead, which is therefore put in the Nominative instead of the Genitive. 
So luchd-coimhid. Matt, xxviii, 4, when no other Noun is governed ; but 
fear-coimhead a' phriosuin, Acts, xvi. 27, 36, where the last Noun is 
governed in the Genitive by coimhgad, which is therefore put in the Nomina- 
tive. So also fear-coimhid, Psal. cxxi. 3, but fear-coimhead Israeli, Psal. 
cxxi. 4. Edin. 1799. Tigh-bearratdh nam buachaillean, the sheari7ig-house 
belonging to the shepherds, 2 King, x. 12, but tigh-l)earradh nan caorach, 
the hou8efor shearing the sheep. Luchd-brathatdh an Righ the King's 
spies ; but luchd-brathadh an Righ, the betrayers of the King. Luchd- 
mort-aidh Heroid, assassins employed by Herod ; but luchd-mortadh Eoin, 
the mwrderers of John. 

I am aware that tliis distinction has been little regarded by the trans- 
lators of the Scriptures, It appeared, however, worthy of being suggested, 
on account of its evident utility in point of precision, and because it is 
supported by the genius and practice of the Gaelic language. 


Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 157 

by a Possessive Pronoun, because it is in the same limited 
state as if it governed a Noun in tbe Genitive Case ; as, a 
chum am marbhadh 's na beanntaibh, to kill them in the 
viountains, Exod. xxxii., not marbha^dh, which is the Case 
regularly governed by chum. Co tha 'g iarraidh do mharbhadh'? 
John vii. 20, not do mharbhaidh. Thug iad leo e chum a 
cheusacZ/i. Matt, xxvii. 31. Chum an cruinneacha^^^ gucath. 
Rev. XX. 8 {n). 

This coincidence in the Regimen of the Infinitive in two 
similar situations, viz., when limited by a Possessive Pronoun, 
and when limited by a subsequent Noun, furnishes no slight 
argument in support of the construction defended above, of 
putting the Infin. in the Nom. case when itself governs a 
Noun in the Genitive; for we find the Infin. is invariably 
put in the Nom. when limited in its signification by a Possess. 

When one Noun governs another in the Genitive, the 
Article is never joined to both, even though each be limited 
in its signification; as, mac an righ, the son of the king, not 
am mac an righ; taobh deas a' bhaile, the south side of the 
toivn, not an taobh deas a' bhaile (o). For the most part, the 
Article is thus joined to the latter Noun. Sometimes it is 
joined to the former Noun; as, an ceann tighe, the head of 
i he family; an ceann iuiJ, the pilot; but in such instances the 
two Nouns figure as one complex term, like paterfamilias, 
rather than as two terms. The following examples, in which 
the Article is joined to both Nouns, seem to be totally repug- 
nant to the Gaelic idiom : cuimhneachadh nan ciiig aran nan 
ctiig mile, Matt. xvi. 9 ; nan seachd aran nan ceithir mile, 
Matt. xvi. 10 {p). 

(n) For this reason, there seems to be an impropriety in writing chum ft 
losgaidh, 1 Cor. xiii. 3, instead of chum a losgadh. 

(o) The same peculiarity in the use of the Article takes place in Hebrew, 
and constitutes a striking point of analogy in the structure of the two 
languages. See Buxt. Thes. Gram. Heh. Lib. II. Cap. V. 

{p) This solecism is found in the Irish as well as in the Scottish Gaelic 
translation. The Manks translation has avoided it. In the Irish version 
and in the Scottish Gaelic version of 1767, a similar instance occurs in 

158 OF SYNTAX. [Part m. 

A Possessive Pronoun joined to the Noun governed ex- 
cludes, in like manner, the Article from the Noun governing; 
as, barr-iall a bhrbige, the latchet of his shoe, not am barr-iall 
a bhr6ige; obair bhur lamh, the work of your handSj not an 
obair bhur lamh. 

The Noun governed is sometimes in the Primary, sometimes 
in the Aspirated Form. 

Proper Names of the Masculine Gender are in the Aspirated 
Form; aSjhTkih&iTDhoiim]!, Donald's brotJier; uaigh Choluim, 
Columho-s grave. Except when a final and an initial Lingual 
meet ; as, clann Donuill, Donald! s descendants; beinn Deirg 
Dargds hill. 

When both Nouns are Appellatives, and no word inter- 
venes between them, the initial Form of the latter Noun 
follows, for the most part, that of an Adjective agreeing with 
the former Noun. See p. 144. 

Thus, d' a ghkradh/iona, g' a ghkradh /iona, without the 
Article, Matt. xx. 1, 2, like do dhuine wiaith; but do 'n gharadh 
/Aiona, with the Article v. 4, 7, like do 'n duine wi/iaith. 
So we should say do 'n ard fhear-c7iiuil, rather than do 'n 
ard fhear-ciuil, as in the title of many of the Psalms. 

Except. — If the latter Noun denote an individual of a 
species, that is, if it take the Article a before it in English, 
it is put in the primary form, although the former Noun be 
feminine ; as, s^il caraid, the eye of a friend, not siiil c7« araid, 
like siiil mhov; duais /aidh, a prophet's reward, Matt. x. 4, 
not duais/Akidh, like duais mhhT. Chum maitheanais /^eacaidh, 
Acts, ii. 38, signifies /or the remission of a sin; rather chum 
maitheanais ^i^eacaidh for the remission of sin. 

Acts, ii. 20, an la mor agus oirdheirc sin an Tigheama. In the Scottish 
edition of 1796, the requisite coirection is made by omitting the first Article. 
It is omitted likewise in the Manks N. T. On the other hand, the Article, 
which had been rightly left out in the Edition of 1767, is properly intro- 
duced in the Edition of 1796, in 1 Cor. xi. 27, an cupan so an Tigheama. 
It is proper to mention that, in the passage last quoted, the first article an 
had crept, by mistake, into a part of the impression 1796, but was corrected 
in the remaining part. 


Part IJL] OF SYNTAX. 159 

Section II. 
Of the Government op Adjectives. 

Adjectives of fulness govern the Genitive; as, Ikn uamhainn 
full of dread, Acts, ix. 6, buidheach beidh, satisfied with 

The first Comparative takes the Particle na than, before 
the following Noun ; as, ni 's gile na an sneachdadh, whiter 
than the snow ; b' fhaide gach mios na bliadhna, each month 
seemed longer than a year. Smith's " Ant. Poems," p. 9. 

The second Comparative is construed thus : is f eairrd mi 
so, / am the better for this; bu mhisd e am buille sin, he loas 
the worse for that hloiv; cha truimid a' choluinn a ciall, /^e 
hody is not the heavier for its understanding. 

Superlatives are followed by the Preposition de or dhe of; 
as, am fear a 's airde dhe 'n triuir, the man who 'is tallest of the 
three, the tallest man of tlie three. 

Section III. 
Of the Government of Verbs. 

A Transitive Verb governs its object in the Nominative 
or Objective Case; as, mharbh iad an righ, they hilled the 
king ; na buail mi, do not strike me. The object is commonly 
placed after the Verb, but never between the Verb and its 
Nominative. [See Part III. Chap. I., Sect. IV,] Sometimes 
the object is placed, by way of emphasis, before the Verb; 
as, mise chuir e ris ann am aite, agus esan chroch e, me he 
put again in my place, a7idhim he hanged, Gen. xli. 13. An 
t-each agus a mharcach thilg e 's an fhairge, the horse and his 
rider hath he cast into the sea, Exod. xv. 1. 

Many Transitive Verbs require a Preposition before their 
object ; as, iarr air DonuU, desire Donald ; labhair ri DonuU, 
speak to Donald ; leig le Donull, let Donald alone ; beannuich 
do Dhonull, salute Donald; fiosraich de Dhonull, enquire of 

160 OF SYNTAX. [Part m. 

Bu waSf requires the following initial Consonant to be 
aspirated ; as, bu mhaitli dhuit, it was good for you ; bu 
chruaidh an gnothuch, it was a hard case ; except initial d, 
and t which are not aspirated ; as, bu dual duit, it was natural 
for you ; bu trom an eallach, the burden was heavy ; bu ghearr 
a lo, *s bu dubh a sgeul, short was her course, and sad was her 
story. Smith's "Ant. Poems." 

Section IV. 
Op the Government of Adverbs. 

The collocation of Adverbs is for the most part arbitrary. 

The Adverbs ro, gle, very, are placed before the Adjectives 
they modify, and require the following initial Consonant to 
be aspirated ; as, ro bheag, very little; gle gheal, very white. 

The Negative cha or cho notj when followed by a word 
beginning with a Labial or Palatal, requires the initial 
Consonant to be aspirated ; as, cha mhor e, it is not great : 
cha bhuail mi, / will not strike ; cha chuala mi, / did not hear ; 
but an initial Lingual remains unaspirated ; as, cha dean mi, 
I will not do; cha tog e, he tvill not raise; cha soirbhich iad, 
they will not prosper. N is inserted between cha and an 
initial Vowel or an aspirated /; as, cha n-e, it is not ; cha 
n-^igin, it is not necessary; cha n-f haca mi, / saw not. 

The Negative ni requires h before an initial Vowel ; as, 
ni h-iad, they are not; ni h-eudar, it may not. 

Section V. 

Of the Government of Prepositions. 

The Proper Prepositions aig, air, &c., govern the Dative ; as, 
aig mo chois, at my foot; air mo laimh, on my hand. They are 
always placed before the word they govern. The following 
Prepositions require the Noun governed to be put in the 
Aspirated Form, viz., de, do, fuidh, fo, fa, gun, mar, mu, o, 
tie. Air sometimes governs the Noun in the Aspirated Form ; 
as air, bharraibh sgiath na gaoithe, on the extremities of the 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 161 

wings of the wind, V&dl. xviii. 10. Gun governs either the 
Nominative or Dative ; as, gun chrioch, without end, Heb. vii. 
16 j gun cheill, without understanding, Psal. xxxii. 9; gun 
chloinn, Gen. xv. 2. Mar, and gus or gu, when prefixed to 
a Noun without the Article, usually govern the Dative case ; . 
as, mar nighin, as a daughter, 2 Sam. xii. 1 3; mar amhainn 
mh6ir, like a great river, Psal. cv. 41; gu crich mo shaoghail 
fein, to the end of my life-time, Psal. cxix. 33, xlviii. 10. 
But if the Article be joined to the Noun, it is governed in the 
Nominative; as, mar a' ghrian, like the sun, Psal. Ixxxix. 36, 
37; gus an sruth, to the stream, Deut. iii. 16 ; gus a' chrioch 
to the end, Heb. iii. 6, 14. Eadar governs the Nom.; as, eadar 
a' chraobh agus a' chlach, between the tree and the stone. 
Eadar, when signifying between, requires the Primary Form ; 
as, eadar maighstir agus muinntireach, between a master and a 
servant; when it signifies both, it requires the Aspirated Form; 
as, eadar shean agus 6g, both old and young ; eadar fheara 
agus mhnai, both men and women, Acts viii. 12. 

The Prepositions as, gus, leis, ris, are used before the Mono- 
syllables an, am, a'. The corresponding Prepositions a, gu, 
le, ri, often take an h before an initial Vowel; as, a h-Eirin, 
out of Ireland; guh-ealamh, readily ; le h-eagal, with fear. 

The Improper Prepositions govern the following Noun in 
the Genitive; as, air feadh na tire, throughout the land; an 
aghaidh an t-sluaigh, against the people ; r6 nah-iiine, during 
the time. It is manifest that this Genitive is governed by the 
Noun feadh, aghaidh, r6, &c., which is always included in the 
Preposition. See Part II. Chap. VII. 

Prepositions are often prefixed to a Clause of a sentence; 
and then they have no regimen ; as, gus am bord a ghiulan, 
to carry the table, Exod. xxv. 27 ; luath chumfuil a dhortadh, 
swift to shed blood, Rotn. iii. 15. Edit. 1767; an deigh an obair 
a chriochnachadh, after finishing the work. 

162 OF SYNTAX. [Pakt III. 

Section VI. 
Op the Government op Conjunctions. 

The Conjunctions agus and, no or, couple the same Cases 
of Nouns; as, air feadh chreagan agus choilltean, through rocks 
and woods ; ag reuhadh nam bruach 's nan crann, tearing the 
hanks and the trees. When two or more Nouns, coupled by 
a Conjunction, are governed in the Dative by a Preposition, 
it is usual to repeat the Preposition before each Noun; as, air 
fad agas air leud, in length and in hreadth ; 'n an cridhe, 'n 
an cainnt, agus 'n am beus, in their heart, in their speech, and 
in their hehaviour. 

Co a£, prefixed to an Adjective, commonly requires the 
initial consonant of the Adj. to be aspirated ; as, co mhaith, 
as good, co ghrinn, as fine. But sometimes we find co mor, cw 
great, co buan, as durable, &c., without the aspirate. Some- 
times the aspirate is transferred from the Adj. to the Conjunct. 
as, cho beag, as little, for co bheag. In the North Highlands, 
an adjective preceded by co is commonly put in the Compari- 
tive form ; as, co miosa, as had ; co treise, as strong. 

The Conjunctions mur if not, gu, gur that, are always joined 
to the Negative Mood; as, mur 'eilmi, if I he not ; gu robh 
e, that he was. M ov n is often inserted, euphonim causa, 
between gu and an initial Consonant ; viz., m before a Labial, 
n before a Palatal or Lingual ; as, gu-m faca tu, that you saw ; 
gu-n dubhairt iad, that they said (q). 

The Conjunctions ma if, o, o'n hecause, since, are joined to 
the Pres. and Pret. Affirmative, and Fut. Subjunctive ; as, 
ma ta e, if he he; o'n tha e, since he is ; ma bhuail e, if he 
struck ; o'n bhuail e, hecause he struck ; ma bhuaileas tu, // 
you strike ; o bhitheas sinn, since we shall he. 

Na'm, na'n if, is joined only to the Pret. Subjunctive. 

(q) The inserted m or n is generally written with an apostrophe before it, 
thus gu'ra, gu'n. This would indicate that some vowel is here suppressed 
in writing. But if no vowel ever stood in the place of this apostrophe, 
■which seems to be the fact, the apostrophe itself has been needlessly and 
improperly introduced. 

Part III.] OF SYNTAX. 163 

The initial Consonant of the Verb loses its aspiration after 
this Conjunction ; as, na'm hithinn, if I were; nan tuiteadh 
a' chraobh, if the tree should fall. 

Ged although, is used before the Present and Preterite 
Affirmative, the Fut. Negative, and the Pret. Subjunctive; 
as, ged tha e, though he be; ged bha mi, though I was ; ge do 
bhuail thu mi, though you struck me ; ged bhuail thu mi, 
though you strike me ; ged bheireadh e dhomh, though he 
should give me (r). 

(r) I much doubt the propriety of joining the Conjunction ged to the 
Fut. AflBrm. ; as, ge do gheibh na h-uile dhaoine oilbheum, though all men 
shall he offended, Matt. xxvi. 33. It should rather have been, ged fhaigh na 
h-uile dhaoine, &c. The Fut. Subj. seems to be equally improper ; as, ge do 
ghlaodhas iad rium, though they shall cry to me, Jer. xi. 21, Edit. 1786. 
Rather, ged ghlaodh iad rium, as in Hosea, xi. 7. So also, ged eirich 
dragh, 's ged bhagair bas, though trouble shall arise, and though death shall 
ifireaten. Gael. Paraph, xlvii. 7. Edin. 1787. See page 134. Note (x). 



The Parts of Speech which are formed by derivation from 
other words are Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs. These are 
chiefly derived from Nouns and Adjectives, and a few from 

I. Nouns. 
Derivative Nouns may be classed as follows, according to 
the varieties of their termination. 

1. Abstract Nouns in as, formed from Adjectives or 
Nouns j as, from ceart J7ist, ceartas justice ; from diomhan 
idle, vain, diomhanas idleness, vanity; from caraid a friend, 
cairdeas contracted for caraideas friendship; from namhaid 
an enemy, naimhdeas contracted for namhaideas enmity. 

2. Abstract Nouns in achd, formed from Adjectives, and 
sometimes, though more rarely, from Verbs and Nouns; as, 
from naomh holy, naomhachd holiness; from domhain deep, 
doiuihneachd contracted for domhaineachd depth; from 
ligh a king, rioghachd a kingdom; coimhid to keep, coim- 
headachd keeping; clachair a mason, clachaireachd mason- 
work; gobhain a smith, goibhneachd contracted for gobh- 
aineachd iron-work, or riather the trade or occupation of a 

3. Abstract Nouns formed from the genitive of Adjec- 
tives, by adding e; as, from dall gen. doill blind, doille 
blindness; from geal gen. gil white, gile whiteness; from 
leasg gen, leisg lazy, leisge laziness; tearc gen. teirc rare, 
teirce rarity; trom gen. truim heavy, truime heaviness; 
truagh gen, truaigh unhappy, truaighe misery; uasal gen. 


uasail noUef uasaile contr. uaisle or by metath. uailse 

4. Abstract Nouns in ad, formed from the Comparative of 
Adjectives, and used in speaking of the degree of a quality; 
as, gilead whiteness, boidhchead beauty, doimhnead depth, 
lughad smallness, tainead thinness; these are construed with 
the Prepositions de, air; as, cha n-fhaca mi a samhuil air 
bhoidhchead, I have not seen her match for beauty; air a lughad 
or d' a lughad, however small it be. 

5. Nouns in air or oir, ach, iche, derived, most of them, 
from nouns, and signifying persons or agents; as, piobair a 
player on the pipe, from piob a pipe; clarsair a player on the 
harp, from clarsach a harp; cealgair or cealgoir a deceiver, 
from cealg deceit; sealgair or sealgoir a huntsman, from sealg 
hunting; marcach a rider, from marc a horse; athach a man 
of terror, a gigantic figure, from atha fear; oibriche a work- 
man, from obair work; sgeulaiche a reciter of tales, from 
sgeul a tale; ceannaiche a merchant, from ceannaich to 
buy (s). 

6. Diminutives in an, and in ag or og, formed from Nouns 
or Adjectives; as, lochan a small lake, from loch a lake; 
from braid theft, bradag a thievish girl; from ciar dark- 
coloured, ciarag a little dark-coloured creature. These 
Diminutives are often formed from the Genitive of their 
Primitives; as, from feur gen. feoir grass, feoirnean a pile of 
grass; moll gen. muill chaff, muillean a particle of chaff; folt 
gen. fuilt Jiair, fuiltean a single hair; clag gen. cluig a bell, 
cluigean a little bell; gual gen. guail coal, guailnean a cinder; 
smiir gen. smMr dust, smiiirnean a particle of dust, a mote; 
cl6imh plumage, cloimhneag a small feather, a flake of snow. 

Some Nouns are formed in an, which are not Diminutives; 
as, from liib to bend, liiban a bow; from buail to beat, thresh, 

(s) The terminations air, oir, seem from their signification as well as form, 
to be nothing else than fear 7nan, in its aspirated form f hear. From these 
terminations are derived the Latin terminations or, orator, doctor, &c. , ariua 
8icarius,essedarius, &c. ; the French eur, vengeur, createur, &c. ; aire, com- 
missaire, notaire, &c. , ter, chevalier, charretier, &c. ; the English er, maker, 
lover, &c., ar^/, prebendary, antiquary, &c,, eer, volunteer, &c. 


buailtean a heater y or thresher y applied to that part of the flail 
which threshes out the grain. 

7. Collective ^N'oiins in ridh or ri, derived from Nouns or 
Adjectives; as, from 6g young, 6igridh youth, in the collective 
sense of the word; from mac a son, macruidh sotis, young 
men, Psal. cxlviii. 12; (t) from laoch a hero, laochruidh a 
band of heroes, Psal. xxix. 1. Macfarlan's Paraph, vi. 15, 
from ceol music, ceolraidh the muses. A. Macdonald's Songs, 
p. 7, from cos the foot, coisridh infanti^j, a party on foot. 
M'Intyre's Songs, Edin. 1768, p. 110, from gas a lad, gasradh 
a hand of domestic attendants. O'Brien's Ir. Diet. voc. gas; 
eachradh, eachruith cavalry. Fingal. IV. 299, Carthon, 59. 
— This termination is probably the Noun ruith a troop. See 
Lhuyd et O'Brien, in voc. (u) 

8. Nouns in ach, chiefly Patronymics, formed from Proper 
Names, thus; from DonuU Donald, is formed DonuUach a 
man of the name of Macdonald; from Griogar Gregor, 
Griogarach a Macgregor; so Leodach a Macleod, Granntach 
a Grant, &c., from Albainn Scotland, Albannach a Scotsman; 
from Eirin Ireland, Eirineach an Irishman. These Nouns 
form their Plural regularly, DonuUaich, Leodaich, Albannaich, 
Eirinich. So the following Gentile Nouns, which occur in 
the Gaelic Scriptures, are regularly formed from their respec- 
tive Primitives, Partuich Parthians, Medich Medes, Elamuich 
Elamites, Acts ii. 9. Macedonaich Macedonians, 2 Cor. 
ix. 2, 4. See also Gen. xv. 19, 20, 21; Exod. xxiii. 23, 
28. (4>). 

{() Timcheal na macraidhe beside the young men, Lhuyd, O'Brien, voc. 
timcheal. This passj^e proves macraidh to be a singular Noun of the 
fem. gender, not, as might be thought, the Plural of mac. So laochruidh, 
madraidh, &c. , may rather be considered as collective Nouns of the singular 
Number than as plurals. 

(m) The same termination having the same import, is found in the French 
words cavalerie, infanterie, and in the English cavalry, infantry, yeomanry. 

(v) In the Gaelic N.Test, the Gentile Nouns Kopivdios, TaXarai, E<p«rioif 
are rendered Corintianaich, Galatianaich, Ephesianaich. Would it not 
be agreeable to the analogy of Gaelic derivation to write Corintich, Galataich, 
Ephesich, subjoining the Gaelic termination alone to the Primitive, rather 
tlian by introducing the syllable an, to form a Derivative of a mixed and 
redundant structure, partly vernacular, partly foreign ? The word Samari- 


9. Collective I^ouus in ach; as, duille a leaf^ duilleach 
Joliage; giuthas fir, giuthasach a fir loood; iughar yew, 
iugharach a yew cojyse; fiadh a deer, fiadhach deer, a herd 
of deer; crion diminutive, shrunk, crionach decayed wood. 

II. Adjectives. 

1. Adjectives in ach, formed generally from Nouns; as, 
from firinn truth, f irinneach true, faithful; from sunnt glee, 
sunntach cheerful; cradb pain, crkiteach painful; togradh. 
desire, togarrach willing, desirous. 

2. Adjectives in mhor or or, derived from ITouns; as, 
from adh felicity, adhmhor happy, blessed; from feoil 
flesh, feolmhor carnal; from neart strength, neartmhor 

3. Adjectives in ail derived from Nouns; as, from fear 
man, fearail manful; from caraid a friend, cairdail contr. 
for caraidail friendly; from namhaid an enemy, naimhdail 
contr. for namhaidail hostile; from surd alertness, surdail 
alert (w). 

4. A few Adjectives in ta or da, derived from ISTouns; as, 
Gaelta belonging to the Gael; Eireanda Irish; Eomhanta 
Roman; Kirk, fireanta righteous, Matt, xxiii. 35. 

III. Verbs. 

Yorbs in ich, for the most part Transitive, and implying 
causation, derived from Nouns or Adjectives ; as, from geal 

tanaich, John iv. 40, is remarkably redundant, having no fewer than three 
Oentile Terminations. From ^afiapeia is formed, agreeably to the 
Greek mode of derivation, 'Safiapeirai. To this the Latins added their own 
termination, and wrote Samaritani; which the Irish lengthened out still 
further into Samaritanaich. The proper Gaelic derivation would be 
Samaraich, like Elamaich, Medich, Persich, &c. The Irish Galileanach is, 
in the Scottish Translation 1796, properly changed into Galileach, Acts 
V. 37. 

{w) The termination ail is a contraction for amhuil like. In Irish this 
termination is generally written full, fearamhuil, geanamhuil, &c. From 
the Gaelic termination ail, is derived the Latin termination alis, fatalis, 
hospitalis, &c., whence the English a^, final, conditional, &c. See page 35. 
Note {y). 


whitey gealaich to whiten; naomh holy^ naomhaich to sanctify ; 
cruinn rounds cruinnich to gather together ; lamh the hand^ 
laimhsich to handle; cuimhne inemorg, cmmhnich to remem- 
ber. A few are Intransitive ; as, from crith tremor ^ criothnuich 
to tremble ; fsmn feeble y fannuich to faint. 


All compound words in Gaelic consist of two component 
parts, exclusive of the derivative terminations enumerated in 
the preceding Chapter. Of these component parts, the 
former may be conveniently named the Prepositive, the latter 
the Subjunctive term. It sometimes happens, though rarely, 
that the Subjunctive term also is a compound word, which 
must itself be decompounded in order to find out the Root. 

In compounding words, the usual mode has been, to prefix 
to the term denoting the principal idea the word denoting 
the accessory idea or circumstance by which the signification 
of the principal word is modified. Accordingly we find 
Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs modified by prefixing to them 
a Noun, an Adjective, a Verb, or a Preposition. 

In forming compound words, a Rule of very general 
application is, that when the Subjunctive term begins with a 
Consonant, it is aspirated. From this Rule, however, are to 
be excepted, 1. Words beginning with s followed by a mute, 
which never admit the aspirate ; 2. Words beginning with a 
Lingual when the Prepositive term ends in n; 3. A few other 
iostances in which there is an euphonic agreement between 
the Consonants thus brought into apposition, which would 
be violated if either of them were aspirated. 

These observations will be found exemplified in the follow- 
ing Compounds : — 


I. Words Compounded with a Koun prefixed. 
Nouns Compounded with a Noun. 

Beart dress, equipage, ceann head — ceann-bheart head-dress, 

armour for the head. 
Fkinn a ring, cluas the ear — cluas-fhainn an ear-ring. 
Oalar a distemper, crith shaking — crith-ghalar distemper 

attended with shaking, the palsy. 
Oglach a servant, bean (in composition, ban) a woman — 

banoglach a female servant. 
Paidh a prophet, ban-f haidh a prophetess. 
Tigbearn a lord, baintigbeam a lady. 

Adjectives Compounded with a, Noun. 

•Geal white, bian the skin — biangbeal white-skinned. 

Lorn hare, cas the foot — caslom hare-foot ; ceann the head — 

ceannlom hare-headed. 
Bioracb pointed, sharp, cluas the ear — cluasbhiorach having 

pointed ears. 

Verhs Compounded with a Noun. 

Luaisg to rock or toss, tonn a ?(?a?;^— tonn-luaisg to toss on 

the waves. 
Sleamhnuich to slide, cul the hack — cM-sleamlmuich to hach- 

Polaich to hide, feall deceit — feall-fholaich to lie in wait. 

11, Words Compounded with an Adjective prefixed. 
Nouns Compounded with an Adjective. 

Uisge water, fior true, genuine — fioruisge spring-water, 

Airgiod silver, beo alive — beo-airgiod quick-silver. 

Sgolt a crack, crion shrunk, decayed — crionsgolt a fissure in 

wood caused by drought or decay ^ 
Criochan bounds, regions, garbh rough — garbhchriochan rude 

mountainous regions. 


Adjectives Compounded with an Adjective. 
Donn hroim^ dubh black — dubh-dhonn dark-hroion. 
Gorm hluCf dubh hlack — dubh-ghorm dark-blue. 
Briathrach (not in use) from briathar a word, deas 7'eady — 

deas-bhriathrach of ready speech, eloquent. 
Seallach (not in use) from sealladh sight, geur sharp — geur« 

sheallach sharp-sighted. 

Verbs Compounded with an Adjective. 

Ruith to run, dian keen, eager — dian-ruith to run eagerly. 
Lean to follow, geur sharp, severe — geur-lean to persecute. 
Buail to strike, trom heavy — trom-buail to smite sore, dis- 
Ceangail to bind, dliith closer — dltith-cheangail to bind fast, 

III. Words Compounded with a Verb prefixed. 

Art a stone, tarruing to draw — tarruing-art load-stone. 
Still the eye, meall to beguile — meaU-shuU a leering eye, 

IV. Words Compounded with a Preposition. 

Radh a saying, roimh before — roirah-radh preface, prologvs,. 
Solus light, eadar between — eadar-sholus twilight. 
Minich to explain, eadar-mhinich to inteipret. 
Gearr to cut, timchioll about — timchioll-ghearr circumcise. 
Lot to wound, troimh through — troimh-lot to stab, pierce 
Examples of words compounded with an inseparable Pre- 
position are already given in Part II. Chap. VII. 

Compound Nouns retain the gender of the principal Nouns 
in their simple state. Thus crith-ghalar j?a%, is masculine, 
because the principal Noun, Galar distemper, is masculine, 
although the accessary Noun crith, by which galar is qualified, 
be feminine. So cis-mhaor is masculine though cis be a 
feminine Noun, Luke xviii, 1 1 ; cis-mheasadh ought also to 
be masculine, Acts v. 37. Except Nouns compounded with 


Bean woman, which are all feminine, though the simple 
principal I^oun be masculine, because the compound word 
denotes an object of the female sex ; as, oglach a servant, 
masculine, but banoglach a maid-servant, feminine, caraid a 
friend, masculine, bancharaid a female friend, feminine. 

Compound words are declined in the same manner as if 
they were uncompounded. 

In writing compound words, the component parts are 
sometimes separated by a hyphen, and sometimes not. The 
use of the hyphen does not seem to be regulated by any 
uniform practice. In. the case of two vowels coming in 
apposition, the insertion of a hyphen seems indispensable ; 
because, by the analogy of Gaelic orthography, two Vowels, 
belonging to different syllables, are scarcely ever placed next 
to each other without some mark of separation (x). Thus so- 
aomaidh, easily induced, propense; so-iomchair, easily carried; 
do-innsidh, difficult to he told; and not soamaidh, doinnsidh, 
&c., without the hyphen. 

It was formerly remarked, Part I., that almost all Gaelic 
Polysyllables are accented on the first syllable. "When, in 
pronouncing compound words, the accent is placed on the 
first syllable, the two terms appear to be completely incor- 
porated into one word. When, on the other hand, the accent 
is placed, not on the first syllable of the Compound, but on 
the first syllable of the Subjunctive term, the two terms seem 
to retain their respective powers, and to produce their effect 
separately, and instead of being incorporated into one word, 
to be rather collaterally connected. A rule may then be 
derived from the pronunciation for the use of the hyphen in 
writing Compounds, viz., to insert the hyphen between the 
component parts, when the Prepositive term is not accented. 
Thus it is proposed to write aineolach ignorant, antromaich 
to exaggerate, comhradh conversation, dobheart a bad action, 

(x) Two or three exceptions from this rule occur ; as the Plurals die 
gods, mnai women, lai days. But these are so irregular in their form as well 
as spelling, that they ought rather to be rejected altogether, and their place 
supplied by the common Plurals diathan, mnathan, lath an or lathachan. 


soisgeul Ooapely banoglach a maidservant, &c., without a 
hyphen; but to write an-fhiosrach unacquainted, ban- 
f hiosaiche a female fortune-teller, co-f hreagarach correspondiiuj, 
so-fhaicsin easily seen, &c., with a hyphen (y). By this rule, 
a correspondence is maintained, not only between the writing 
and the pronunciation, but likewise between the written lan- 
guage and the ideas expressed by it. A complex idea, whose 
parts are most closely united in the mind, is thus denoted by 
one undivided word; whereas an idea composed of parts more 
loosely connected, is expressed by a word, whereof the com- 
ponent parts are distinguished, and exhibited separately to 
the eye. Thus also the Gaelic scholar would have one uniform 
direction to follow in reading, viz., to place the accent always 
on the first syllable of an undivided word, or member of a 
word. If any exception be allowed, it must be only in the 
case already stated of two vowels coming in apposition, as 
beo-airgiod quicksilver. 

Let it be observed that, according to this rule, an Adjec- 
tive preceding a Noun can never, but in the case just men- 
tioned, be connected with it by a hyphen. For if the accent 
be wholly transferred from the Noun to the Adjective, then 
they are to be written as one undivided word; as, garbhchrioch- 
an highlands; but if the accent be not so transferred, the 
Adjective and the Noun are to be written as two separate 
words; as, seann duine an old man, deagh chomhairle good 
advice, droch sgeul a had tale. 

It not unfrequently happens that two Nouns, whereof the 
one qualifies the meaning of the other, and connected by the 
common grammatical relation of the one governing the other 
in the Genitive, come through use to be considered as denot- 
ing only one complex object. The two Nouns in this case 
ere sometimes written together in one word, and thus form 
a Compound of a looser structure than those which have been 
considered. Such are ceann-cinnidh, the head of a tribe or 

(y) As if we should write in English impious impotent, without a 
hj'phen ; but im-penitent, im-probable, with a hyphen. 


clan; ceann-tighe, the head of a family; ceann-feadhna, the 
leader of an army; fear-turnis, a traveller; luchd-faire, 
watchmen; iobairt-pheacaidh, a sin-offering; urlar-bualaidh, 
a threshing-floor; fear-bainse, a bridegroom; crith-thahnhain, 
an earih-qiiahe ; crios-guailne, a shoulder-belt, &c. In writ 
ing Compound Nouns of this description, the two Nouns are 
never written in one undivided word, but always separated 
by a hypen. It comes to be a question, however, in many 
instances of one Noun governing another in the Genitive, 
whether such an expression is to be considered as a compound 
term, and the words to be connected by a hyphen in writing, 
or whether they are to be written separately, without any 
such mark of composition. An observation that was made 
in treating of the Government of Nouns may help us to an 
answer, and furnish an easy rule in the case in question. It 
was remarked that when one Noun governed another in the 
Genitive, the Article was never joined to both ; that for the 
most part, it was joined to the Noun governed, but sometimes 
to the Noun governing ; that in the latter case, the two 
Nouns seemed to figure as one compound term, denoting one 
complex idea. If this last remark hold true, it may be laid 
down as a rule that in every instance of a Noun governing 
another in the Genitive, where the Article is or may be pre* 
fixed to the governing Noun, there the two Nouns ought to 
be connected by a hyphen in writing ; otherwise not. Thus 
we can say, without impropriety, an ceann-feadhna, the com- 
mander; an luchd-coimhid, the keepers; and the Nouns are 
accordingly considered as Compounds, and written with a 
hyphen. But it would be contrary to the usage of the lan- 
guage to say, am mullach craige, the top of a rock; an 
t-uachdar talmhain, the surface of the ground. Accordingly 
it would be improper to write a hyphen between the Nouns 
in these and similar examples. 

The different effects of these two modes of writing, with 
or without the hyphen, is very observable in such instances 
as the following : — Ainm duthcha, the name of a country, as 
Scotland, Argyle, &c.; ainm-diithcha, a country name, or 


patronymiCf as Scotsman, Highlander, &c.; clann Donuill, 
Donald! 8 children; clann-Doniiill, the Macdonalds. 

Though lew have exerted themselves hitherto in explain- 
ing the structure of the Gaelic language, in respect of its 
inflections, construction, and collocation, this cannot be said 
to be the case with regard to Etymology. Much has been 
attempted, and something has been done, toward analysing 
single vocables, particularly names of places. But this 
analysis seems to have been too often made rather in a way 
of random conjecture than by a judicious regard to the 
analogy of Derivation and Composition. The passion for 
analysing has even induced some to assert that all true 
Graelic Primitives consist of but one syllable, that all Poly- 
syllables are either derived or compounded, and therefore 
that there is room to search for their etymon. This seems to 
be carrying theory too far. It appears a fruitless and rather 
chimerical attempt to propose a system of directions by 
which all Polysyllables whatever may be resolved into com- 
ponent parts, and traced to a root of one syllable. All I 
have thought it necessary to do is to methodize and exemplify 
those general principals of Etymology which are obvious and 
unquestioned, and which regulate the composition and 
derivation of those classes of words whereof the analysis may 
be traced with some probability of success. 





From an Address to the Soldiers of a Highland Regiment, by 
D. Smith, M.D. 

Theid an deadh shaighdear gu h-aobhach suilbhear an dail 
gach tuiteamais a thig 'n a cbrannchur. Ach 's e a's n6s 
do 'n droch shaighdear a bhi gearan 's a' talach air gach 
Ikimh; beadaidh ri linn socair, is diombach ann eiric caoimh- 
neis; lag-chridbeach ri h-am cruachais, agus diblidh ri 
h-uchd feuma. 

In^ English. 

The good soldier will advance, with spirit and cheerful- 
ness, to any service that falls in his way. But it is the 
practice of the bad soldier to be complaining and grumbling 
on all occasions ; saucy in time of ease, and peevish in return 
for kindness; faint-hearted under hardships, and feeble in 
encountering exigency. 


Theid. 3. per. sing. Fut. Affirm, of the irregular Verb Rack, 

An. Nom. sing, of the Article an, the. 

Deadh. An indeclinable Adjective, always placed before its 

Shaighdear. Nom. sing, of the mas. noun saighdear, a sol- 
dier, in the aspirated form, because preceded by the 
Adj. deadh. Gram. p. 145. 


On. A proper Preposition, to, for. 

AobhachJi. An Adject, of the first Declension, joyous, 
having an h before it, because preceded by the 
Prep. gu. Gram. p. 161. Gu h-aobhach, jojiuHyf 
cheerfully, an adverbial phrase. Gram. p. 109. 

Suilbhear. An Adject, cheerful. Ghi is to be supplied 
from the former phrase; gu suilbhear, cheerfully, 
an adverbial phrase. 

An ddil. An improper Proposition, to meet, to face, to 
encounter ; made up of the proper Prep, anriy in, 
and the Noun ddil, meeting. Gram. p. 121. 

Gach. An indeclinable Adj. Pronoun, each, every. 

Tuiteamais. Gen. sing, of the mas. Noun tuiteamasy an oc- 
currence, accident, governed in the Gen. case by the 
improp. Prep, an ddil (Gram. p. 161), derived 
from the Verb tuii, Infinitive tuiteam, to fall, 

A. Nom. sing. Eelative Pronoun, who, which. 

Thig. Put. Affirm, of the irregular Verb thig, come. 

'N. Contracted for ann, a proper Prep., in. 

A. Possessive Pronoun, his. 

Chrannchur. Mas. Noun, a lot; governed in the Dat. by 
the Prep, ann ; in the aspirated form after the ad- 
ject. Pron. a, 'his' — compounded of craww, a lot, 
and cur, casting, the Infinitive of the Verb cuir^ 
to put, cast. 

Ach. Conjunction, but. Hebr. IK. 

^8. for is, Pres. Indie, of the Verb is, I am. 
'>Si e a '5 it is [that] which is. 

Nb8. Noun mas., custom, habit. 

Do. Prep. to. 

An. the article, the. 

Droch. indeclinable Adject, bad; always placed before its 

Shaighdear. mas. Noun, soldier; govertied in the Dative 
by the Prep, do; in the aspir. form after the Adject. 



A bill for do bhi or do bhith, Infinit. of tlie irregular Verb 
bi, to be. 

Gearan. Infin. of the obsolete Verb gearain, to complain, 
ag being understood ; ag gearan equivalent to 
a present Participle, complaining. Gram. p. 

'S. for agus, conjunction, and. 

A' talach. for ag talach, complaining, repining; Infin. of 
the obsolete Verb talaich, to complain of a thing 
or person. 

Air. Prep. on. 

Gach. Adject. Pron. indeclin. each, every. 

Lhirtih. dat. sing, of the fem. Noun Ihmli, a hand ; governed 
in the Dat. by the Prep, air, on. Air gach laimh, 
on every hand. 

Beadaidh. Adject, nice, fond of delicacies, saucy, petu- 

Ri Prep, to, at. 

Lliin. Noun fem. an age, period, season. Ri lirm, during 
the time of any event, or currency of any period ; 
ri linn Fhearghuis, in the time, or reign of Fergus; 
gu faigheamaid slth f ar linn, that we may have 
peace in our time. 

Socair. Noun fem., ease, conveniency ; p-nverned in the Gen. 
by the Noun linn. 

Is. for agus, Conjunct, and. 

Diombach, or diitmach. Adject, displeased, indignant ; de- 
rived from the Noun diom or diiim, indignation. 

Aim. Prep, governing the Dat. in. 

Eiric. Noun femin., requital, compensation ; governed in the 
Dat. by the Prep. ann. 

Caoimhneis. Gen. sing, of the mas. Noun caoimhneas, kind- 
ness ; governed in the Gen. by the noun eiric 
derived from the Adject, caomli, gentle, kind. 

Lag-chridheach. Adject, faint-hearted; compounded of the 
Adject, lag, weak, and cridlie, the heart. 

Ri. Prep, to at. 


Am, Noun masc, time ; governed in the Dat. case by the 

Prep. W, and preceded by 7i, Gram. p. 161. 
Cruachais. Gen. sing, of the mas. Noun cruachas^ hardship, 

strait ; governed in the Gen. by the noun am ; 

compounded of the Adject, cruaidh, hard, and c^, 

danger, extremity. 
Agics. Conjunct., and. 
Diblidh. Adject., feeble, silly. 
Uclid. Noun mas. breast, chest ; hence it signifies an ascent, 

a steep ; in the Dat. case, preceded by 7^, after the 

Prep, ri: ri h-uchd, in ascending, breasting, 

encountering, assailing. 
Feuma. Gen. sing, of the Noun mas. feum, necessity, exigency; 

governed in the Gen. by the Noun uchd. 

Extract from an old Fingalian Tale or Legend. 

Dh' imich Garbli mac Stairn agus Dual a dh' fhaicinn 
Fhinn agus a threun fheara colgach, iomraiteach ann an 
gniomharaibh arm. Bha Fionn *s an km sin 'n a thigheadas 
samhraidh am Buchanti. 'N an turns d'a ionnsuidh, ghabh 
iad beachd air gach gleann agus faoin mhonadh, air gach allt 
ugas caol choiroan. Ghabh iad sgeul de gach coisiche 
agus gach fear a thachair 'n an coir. Ann an gleann nan 
ciiach agus nan Ion, chunnaic buth taobh sruthain ; chaidh 
a steach, dh' iarr deoch; dh' eirich ribhinn a b' aluinne 
snuadh a dh' fhaiiteachadh an turuis le sith. Thug i biadh 
dlioibh r'a itheadh, dibhe ri 61; dh' iarr an sgeul le cainnt 
thlk. Bhuail gaol o a siiil an Garbh borb, agus dh' innis 
cia as doibh. "Thainig sinn o thir nan crann, far an lionor 
sonn — mac righ Lochlainn mise — m' ainm Garbh na'm b* 
aill leat — esan Dual, o thir nam beann, a thuinich ann 
Albainn o thuath--a ghabhail cairdeis gun sgkth agus 
aoidheachd o 'n ard righ Fionn, sud fath ar turuis a Chiabh 
na maise — ciod am - jealach am buail sinn \ seol ar cos gu 
tt'iicli Fhinn, bi dhuinn mar iiil, is gabh duals." " Duals 


cha do ghahh mi riamli, ars an nighean bu bhlkithe suil 's 
bu deirge gruaidh ; cha b' e sud kbhaist Theadhaicli nam 
beann 6ilde, 'g am bn Honor dkimbeach 'n a thalla, 'g am bu 
trie tathaich o thuath — ni mise dhuibb iul." Gu gleann-sith 
tharladh na fir ; gleann an trie guth feidh is loin ; gleann 
nan glas charn is nan scor; gleann nan sruth ri uisg is 
gaoith. Thachair orra buaghar bho, is rinn dhoibh iiil ; 
thug dhoibh sgeul air duthaich nan creag, air fir agus air 
mnaibh, air iks shliabh agus charn, air neart feachd, air 
rian nan arm, air miann sloigh, agus craobhthuinidh nam 

In English. 

Garva the son of Starno and Dual, went to visit Fingal 
and his brave warriors, renowned for feats of arms. Fingal 
was at that time in his summer residence at Buchanti. On 
their journey thither, they took a view of every valley and 
open hill, every brook and narrow dell. They asked in- 
formation of every passenger and person that came in their 
way. In the glen of cuckoos and ouzlss they observed a 
cottage by the side of a rivulet. They entered ; asked 
drink ; a lady of elegant appearance arose and kindly 
bade them welcome. She gave the food to eat, liquor to 
drink. In mild speech she inquired their purpose. Love 
from her eye smote the rough Garva, and he told whence 
they were. " We are come from the land of Pines, where 
many a hero dwells — the son of Lochlin's king am I — my 
name is Garva, be pleased to know — my comrade is Dual, 
from the land of hills, his residence is in the north of 
Albion. To accept the hospitality and confidential friend- 
ship of the mighty prince Fingal, this is the object of our 
journey, Lady fair (z); say, by what pass shall we 
shape our course? Direct our steps to the mansion of Fingal, 
oe our guide, and accept a reward." "Eeward I never took," 
said the damsel of softest eye and rosiest cheek ; ** such was 
not the manner of [my father] Tedaco of the hill of hinds ; 

(«) beautiful ringlet. 


many were the guests in his hall, frequent his visitors from 
the North, — I will be your guide." The chiefs reach Glen- 
shee, where is heard the frequent voice of deer and elk ; 
glen of green mounts and cliffs ; glen of many streams in 
time of rain and wind. A keeper of cattle met them, and 
directed their course. He gave the information concerning 
the country of rocks ; concerning its inhabitants male and 
female ; the produce of moor and mount ; the military force , 
the fashion of the armour; the favourite pursuits of the 
people ; and the pedigree of the Fingalians. 

Extract from Bishop Carsuel's Gaelic translation of the 
Confession of Faithy Forms of Prayer, ^-c, used in the Re- 
formed Church of Scotland ; Printed in the year 1567. 

(From the Epistle Dedicatory,) 

Acht ata ni cheana is raor an leathtrom agas anuireas- 
bhuidh ata riamh orainde gaoidhil alban & eireand, tar an 
gcuid eile don domhan, gan ar gcanamhna gaoidheilge do 
chur agcl6 riamh mar ataid agcanamhna & adteangtha 
fein agcl6 ag gach uUe chinel dhaoine oile sa domhan, & 
ata uireasbhuidh is m6 ina gach uireasbhuidh oraind, gan 
an Biobla naomhtha do bheith agcl6 gaoidheilge againd, 
marta s^ agcl6 laidne agas bherla agas ingaoli teangaidh eile 
osin amach, agas f6s gan seanchus arsean no ar sindsear do 
bheith mar an gcedna agcl6 againd riamh, acht ^e td cuid 
eigin do tseanchus ghaoidheal alban agas eireand sgriobh- 
tha aleabhruibh lamh, agas adtamhlorgaibh fileadh & 
oUamhan, agas asleachtaibh suadh. Is mortsaothair sin re 
sgriobhadh do laimh, ag fechain an neithe buailtear sa 
chl(S araibrisge agas ar aithghiorra bhios gach 6n ni dhi 
mhed da chriochnughadh leis. Agas is mor an doille agas 
andorchadas peacaidh agas aineolais agas indtleachda do 
lucht deachtaidh agas sgriobhtha agas chumhdaigh na gaoidh- 
eilge, gurab m6 is mian leo agas gurab mo ghnathuidhois 
aiad eachtradha dimhaoineacha buaidheartha bregacha saogh- 


alta do cumadh ar thuathaibh dedhanond agas ar mhacaibh 
mileadh agas arna curadhaibh agas fhind mhac cumhaill gona 
fhianaibh agas ar mli6ran eile nach airbhim agas nach 
indisim andso do chumhdach, agas do choimbleasugbagh, 
do chiond luadhuidheachta dimbaonigh an tsaogbail dfbagbail 
doibhf^in, ina briatbra disle D6 agas slightbe foirfe na 
firinde do sgriobhadh, agas dheachtadh, agas do chumhdach. 

English Translation, 

[From the Report of the Committee of the Highland 
Society of Scotland, appointed to inquire into the 
nature and authenticity of the Poems of Ossian.] 

But there is one great disadvantage which we the Gaeil of 
Scotland and Ireland labour under, beyond the rest of the 
world, that our Gaelic language has never yet been printed, 
as the language of every other race of men has been. And we 
labour under a disadvantage which is still greater than every 
other disadvantage, that we have not the Holy Bible printed 
in Gaelic, as it has been printed in Latin and in English, and 
in every other language ; and also that we have never yet had 
any account printed of the antiquities of our country, or of 
our ancestors ; for though we have some accounts of the 
Gaeil of Scotland and Ireland, contained in manuscripts, and 
in the genealogies of bards and historiographers, yet there is 
great labour in writing them over with the hand, whereas the 
work which is printed, be it ever so greab, is speedily finished. 
And great is the bHndness and sinful darkness, and ignorance 
and evil design of such as teach, and write, and cultivate the 
Gaelic language, that, with the view of obtaining for them- 
selves the vain rewards of this world, they are more desirous, 
and more accustomed, to compose vain, tempting, lying, 
worldly histories, concerning the Tuath de dannan, and con 
cerning warriors and champions, and Fingal the son of 
Cumhal^ with his heroes, and concerning many others which 


I will not at present enumerate or mention, in order to main- 
tain or reprove, than to write and teach and maintain the 
faithful words of God, and of the perfect way of truth (a). 

Bh'om the Preface to a Metrical Version of the Book of Psalms 
in Gaelic^ hy Mr Egbert Kirk, ^Minister of the Gospel 
at Balquhidder; Printed in the year 1684. 

Ataid na Psalma taitneamhach, tarbhach: beag nach 
mion-fhlaitheas lAn dainglihh, Gill fhonnmhar le ceol 
naomhtha. Mur abholghort Eden, lionta do chrannaibh 
brioghmhoire na beatha, & do luibhennibh iocshlainteamh- 
ail, amhluidh an leabhar Psalmso Dhaibhioth, ata na liagh- 
ais ar uile anshocau* na nanma. Ata an saoghal & gach 
be6 chreatuir da bfail ann, na chlarsigh; an duine, se is 
Clairseoir & d'uanaire, chum moladh an mor-Dhia mirbh- 
uileach do sheinn ; & ata Daibhidh do ghnd mar f hear don 
chuideachd bhias marso ag caoin-chaint gu ceolmhar ma nard- 
Ri . . . Do ghabhas mar chongnamh don obairsi, 
dioghlum ughdairidh an uile chdil, ar sheannos, phriomh 
chreideamh & eachdardha na nGaoidheal, sgriobhta & cl6- 
bhuailte : achd gu ba reula iuil & soluis dhamh, bridh na 
nSalm fein. Anois maseadh a Chomharbadha ro chaomh, ata 
mar phlaneidi dhealroidh ag sdiurughadh na ngcorp ioch 
dardha gan mhonmar, is deaghmhaise dhaoibh an tsaothairse 
a sgmdadh & a ghnathughadh gu neimhfhiat, gan ghuth ar 
bheiginmhe & neimhnitheachd an tsaothairigh. Griosam 
oraibhse a Uaisle, & a Thuatha charthanacha araon, gun 

(a) The above is the passage so often referred to in the controversy concer- 
ning the antiquity of Ossian's Poems. It was natural enough for the 
zealous Bishop to speak disparagingly of anything -which appeared to him 
to divert the minds of the people from those important religious truths to 
which he piously wished to direct their most serious attention. But what- 
ever may be thought of his judgment, his testimony is decisive as to the 
existence of traditional histories concerning Fingal and his people ; and 
proves that the rehearsal of t\iose compo^utions was a common and favourite 
entertainment with the peopl throughout the Highlands at the time when 
he lived 


bheith murtliacbarain arluaidrean anunn & a nail go sbailpe 
breigi ; achd le gcroidhibh daingne, dosgartha, deagh-fhreumh- 
aighte, dmididh re Firinn, Ceart, & Ceannsachd, mar 
fhuraileas na psalma : Ata clu & tarbba a nsdriocadh don 
choir ; call & masladh a ntuitim le beugcoir. 

Imtbigh a Dbuilleachain gu dan, 

JjQ r)dn glan diagba duisg iad thall ; 
Cuir failte ar Fonn fial na bFionn, 

.Ar Gharbh cbriocba, 's Indseadh gall. 

In English. 

The Psalms are pleasant and profitable. A church resound- 
in f^ with sacred melody is almost a little Heaven full of 
angels. As the Garden of Eden, replenished with trees of life 
of potent efficacy, and with medicinal plants, so is this Book 
of the Psalms of David, which contains a remedy for all the 
diseases of the soul. The world and every living creature it 
contains are the Harp ; man is the Harper and Poet, who sings 
the praise of the great wonder-working God ; and David is 
ever one of the company who are thus employed in sweetly 
and tunefully discoursing about the Almighty King. . . . 
I was assisted in this work by culling from authors of every 
kind, who have treated of the ancient manners, the primitive 
religion, and the history of the Gaels, both in manuscript 
and in print : but the star and light by which I steered was 
the sense of the Psalms themselves. !Now, then, my very 
dear colleagues, who as shining luminaries guide the inferior 
bodies, it becomes you to examine and to use this work can- 
didly, without regarding the meanness and insignificancy of 
the workman. I beseech you, men of high and of low degree 
alike, that you be not, like weak silly creatures, tossed to and 
fro by false conceits ; but with firm, resolute, well-established 
hearts, adhere to Truth, Justice, and Temperance, as these 
Psalms exhort. There is honour and profit in complying 
with what is right, loss and disgrace in declining to what is 


Little Volume, move boldly on ; 

In pure godly strains awaken yonder people ; 

Salute the hospitable land of the Fingalians, 

The highland regions, and the Isles of strangers (6). 

(b) ue., the Hebrides. 


t3inuiiM\a 9tit^ I . ^\}i 'd- me