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Oiban Gaelic (Gaoiligh [ˈgɯɫɪç] or Gaoiligh n'Aoibannaigh [ˈgɯɫɪç nɯibəɲɪç]) or Islands Gaelic, sometimes also referred to simply as Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, native to the Gaels of the Northern Isles (Shetland and Orkney). As a Goidelic language, Oiban Gaelic, like Modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx, developed out of Old Irish. It became a distinct spoken language sometime in the 8th or 9th century, although a common literary language was shared by Gaels in both Ireland and Scotland down to the 16th century. Unlike the other Goidelic languages, Oiban Gaelic has a heavier influence from Old Norse.

In the 2011 census of Scotland, 27,035 people (60.73% of the Northern Isles) reported as able to speak Gaelic, 765 fewer than in 2001. The highest percentages of Gaelic speakers were in the Orkney. Nevertheless, the language is strong and being taught to younger children; the number of speakers of the language under age 20 did not decrease between the 2001 and 2011 censuses.

Oiban Gaelic is not an official language of either the European Union or the United Kingdom. However, it is classed as an indigenous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which the British government has ratified, and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 established two language-development bodies, Bòrd na Gàidhlig for Scottish Gaelic and Bórd na Gaoilighe for Oiban Gaelic.


Oiban Gaelic
Gaoiligh (n'Aoibannaigh)
Type Celtic (Goidelic)
Alignment Nominative-Accusative
Head direction Initial
Tonal No
Declensions Yes
Conjugations Yes
Genders Yes
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect
Meta-information
Progress 0%
Statistics
Nouns 0%
Verbs 0%
Adjectives 0%
Syntax 0%
Words of 1500
Creator exospheric-pressure


Classification and Dialects[]

Oiban Gaelic is represented by three traditional dialects: Shetlandic (tengheig na Sealtanní), Orcadian (tengheig na hArgabh), and the moribund Highlander (tengheig na hAlban). The largest distinction between dialects, which are largely mutually intelligible, is vowel quality, though some vocabulary also varies.

Shetlandic (Tengheig na Sealtanní)[]

This dialect has the most vowel qualities and the most Norse loans. Shetlandic dialects have the rounded front vowels influenced by Norse and Norwegian, as well as the /æ/ vowel.

Orcadian (Tengheig na hArgabh)[]

Orcadian dialects have no front rounded vowels and lack the /æ/. Their dialect is much more likely to take English loans as well as root Gaelic terms.

Highlander (Tengheig na hAlban)[]

With only about 100 elderly speakers left in Caithness, Highlander Oiban is the smallest dialect of Oiban Gaelic. Despite its size, its historical influence on Oiban orthography and literature cannot be understated. It is phonetically similar to Orcadian, but is often called "the middle ground of the Gaels" since it is considered to be about halfway between Oiban and Scottish Gaelics.

Phonology[]

Consonants[]

Bilabial Labio-dental Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ1
Stop p b t d c
Fricative f v θ ð ʃ ç x ɣ h
Approximant j w2
Trill r3
Flap or tap
Lateral fric. ɬ4
Lateral app. ɫ ʎ1

1 There is ongoing debate on whether this is a palatalized sonorant or a true palatal. No variation between dialects.

2 Found in some older speakers of Orcadian. Also found in English loanwords.

3 Normally a trill in stressed environments and a flap in peripheral syllables. Shetlandic dialects have a full trill in all environments.

4 Not found in the Highlander dialect. Some linguists analyze it as /l̥/, but it is widely regarded as [ɬ].

Vowels[]

Writing System[]

Consonants[]

Letter Environment Phoneme Example
b all environments /b/ baoth [bɯθ] "foolish; stupid"
bh /v/ bhót [vot] "vote"
c broad /k/ cøl [køɫ] "song; music"
slender /c/ ceann [caɲ] "head"
ch broad /x/ dóchas [doxəʃ] "hope"
slender /ç/ cheomh [çɔ̃] "sword"
d broad /d/ éad [jad] "jealousy; envy"
slender /ɟ/ deogh [ɟoɣ] "drink (n.)"
dh all environments /ð/ dhá [ða] "two"
f /f/ féin [fe(ː)n] "self"
fh /∅/ or an fhaon [or an ɯn] "on the phone"
g broad /g/ georseam [gørʃəm] "treasure"
slender /ɟ/ geal [ɟɑɫ] "white; bright; clear"
gh broad /ɣ/ aghadh [əɣað] "face; surface"
slender /ç/ inghénn [ɪɲçeɲ] "girl"
h broad /h/ i haimh [ihɛ̃] "immediately; at once"
slender /ç/ farahéll [farəçeɫ] "departure"
l broad /ɫ/ [ɫɑ] "day"
slender /ʎ/ leann [ʎaɲ] "beer"
ll broad /ɫ/ úbhall [uvɑɫ] "apple"
slender /ʎ/ iolle [ɪʎ] "ugly"
lh all environments /ɬ/ an lhaí [an ɬaɪ̯] "of the day"
m /m/ Manainn [manɪɲ] "Isle of Man"
mh /◌̃/ am mhuir [amɔ̃r] "the sea"
n broad /n/ náir [ne(ː)r] "shame; humiliation"
slender /ɲ/ nead [ɲad] "nest"
nn all environments /ɲ/ senn [ʃɛɲ] "old"
p /p/ pléodagh [pʎeodɑɣ] "snowflake"
ph /f/ am phóg [aɱ fog] "the kiss"
r /r/ [ri] "king"
s broad /s/ sødhall [søðəɫ] "saddle"
slender /ʃ/ cáise [cɪʃ] "cheese"
ss all environments /s/ leoss [ʎos] "obvious; conspicuous"
sh broad /h/
slender /ç/ sheas mé [ças me] "I stood"
t broad /t/ tídh [tið] "common; average"
slender /c/
th all environments /θ/

Vowels[]

Letter Environment Phoneme Example
a unstressed /ə/ beatha [beθə] "life"
stressed before velars /ɑ/ agam [ɑgm̩] "at me"
elsewhere /a/ na hAlban [nə haɫbən] "of Scotland"
ai unstressed /ɪ/ obair [ob(ɪ)r] "work"
/∅/ is [s] "is"
stressed single syllables /ɪ/ ait [ɪt] "place; situation"
elsewhere /i/ comhairle [kɔ̃virʎ] "council; advice"
á unstressed /ə/ álainn [əɫɪɲ] "beautiful; fair; lovely"
stressed before velars /ɑ/ fág [fɑg] "(to) leave"
elsewhere /a/ [ta] "is"
ái all environments /e(ː)/1 pógaidh [poge(ː)ð] "will kiss"
/aɪ̯/ an lhaí [an ɬaɪ̯] "of the day"
ao unstressed /ə/ faoléne [fəʎeɲ] "seagull"
stressed initial position /ɤ/ aodhair [ɤð(ɪ)r] "shepherd"
elsewhere /ɯ/ caol [kɯ(ː)ɫ] "thin; narrow"
aoi unstressed braoisgáil [brɯʃke(ː)ɫ] "grin; smile (n.)"
stressed /ɯi/ Aoibannach [ɯibənɑx] "Oiban (n.)"
æ unstressed /(ʲ)ɛ/ ætlaon [ɛtɫɯn] "opinion"
stressed /e(ː)/1 ærait [e(ː)rɪt] "plenty; enough"
e in Ce(V) permutations /ʲ/ gile [gɪʎ] "boy"
stressed /(ʲ)ɛ/ tech [cɛx] "house; home"
é all environments /(ʲ)e/ [me] "I; me"
ea stressed before velars /(ʲ)ɑ/ seacal [ʃɑkəɫ] "jackal"
elsewhere /(ʲ)a/ isean [iʃan] "in the"
éa unstressed final position /i.ə/ Namaibéa [nəmɪbiə] "Namibia"
stressed initial position /ja/ éasgao [jaʃkə] "moon"
before velars /jɑ/ éalla [jɑɫə] "discourse; discussion"
ei all environments /aɪ̯/ greim [graɪ̯m] "pneumonia"
éi /e(ː)/1 céile [ke(ː)ʎ] "neighbor"
eo /(ʲ)o/ deogh [ɟoɣ] "drink (n.)"
éo /jo/ Éonna [jonə] "Jonah"
i unstressed initial position /i/ innéa [iɲə] "compassion; emotion"
elsewhere /ɪ/ tinnas [tɪnəʃ] "soreness; ache"
stressed /i/ mis [miʃ] "me (oblq.)"
í all environments cír [kir] "comb; jaw; teeth of a key"
ía /ja/ sgían [skjan] "knife"
io /ɪ/ iond [ɪnd] "into it"
ío unstressed /i/ síonopsass [sinopsəs] "synopsis"
stressed /i.ə/ cíoch [kiəx] "(female) breast"
o unstressed /ə/
stressed /ɔ/ loch [ɫox] "loch"
ó all environments /o/ brónach [bronax] "sad; morose"
oi /ɤ/
ói /ɯi/ póig [pɯig] "kiss (acc.)"
ø stressed initially /ø/ ølas [øɫəʃ] "knowledge; -ology"
elsewhere /(ʲ)ø/ iontinnølas [ɪɲcɪɲøɫəʃ] "psychology"
u unstressed /ʊ/ cummaidh [kʊmɪð] "shape; form"
stressed single syllables
elswhere /u/ urlar [urɫar] "floor; basis"
ú all environments dúbh [duv] "black"
ui unstressed /ʊ/ uisgé [ʊʃke] "water"
stressed /ɯi/ buidh [bɯið] "yellow"
y unstressed /ʏ/2 ybhiormádh [ʏvɪrmað] "mayor; alderman"
stressed /y/ lys [ɫyʃ] "(to) begin"

1 Long vowels correspond to Highlander dialects, short vowels correspond to Orcadian dialects, though both sometimes realize the vowel as a diphthong [eɪ̯]. Realized as /æ/ in Shetlandic dialects.

2 Unstressed /y/ is realized as [ɪ] outside of Shetland.

Vowel-Consonant Combinations[]

VC Environments
Category Combination Phoneme Example
nasalization amh /ã/ pógamh [pogã] "I kiss"
ámh
éimh
áimh /ɛ̃/
emh
émh
iomh
aoimh
omh /ɔ̃/
ómh
umh /ũ/
úmh
ymh thrymh [θrũ] "thunder"
aomh /ʊ̃/ caomh [kʊ̃] "kind; dear; beloved"
eómh
palatalization aigh /ɪç/

Nasal Vowel Realizations[]

Oral Vowel Nasal Vowel
a
á

Nouns[]

Nouns in Oiban Gaelic take four cases and are separated into five declensions, which each have sub-categories for differing phonetic structures.

First Declension (O-stem)[]

The first declension is made up of masculine nouns. The nominative singular ends in a broad consonant, which is made slender in the genitive singular. The genitive singular is identical to the nominative plural, as is the accusative singular and genitive plural. The plural can be formed in any of a variety of ways, which can be grouped into two basic types: the weak plural forms and the strong plural forms.

With Vowel Change
fear "man" m Singular Plural
Nominative fear fir
Accusative fira
Genitive fir fear
Dative fiur fearaibh
Without Vowel Change
sgél "story; news" m

Singular

Plural

Nominative sgél sgéil
Accusative sgéla
Genitive sgéil sgél
Dative sgeól sgélaibh
Palatal Forms

céile "neighbor" m

Singular

Plural

Nominative céile céilí
Accusative céilea
Genitive céilí céile
Dative céilea céilibh

Second Declension (Á-stem)[]

póg "kiss" f

Singular

Plural

Nominative póg póga
Accusative póig
Genitive póige póg
Dative póg pógaibh

Third Declension (IÁ-stem)[]

aithirgh "repentance, regret" f Singular

Plural

Nominative aithirgh aithirghí
Accusative aithirghí
Genitive aithirgh
Dative aithirghí aithríbh

Fourth Declension (I-stem)[]

Masculine

arsaidh "veteran" m

Singular

Plural

Nominative arsaidh arsadhaí
Accusative
Genitive arsadha
Dative arsaidh arsaibh
Feminine
ríghainn "queen" f Singular

Plural

Nominative ríghainn ríghnea
Accusative ríghnea
Genitive
Dative ríghainn ríghnaibh

Fifth Declension (U-stem)[]

Unpalatalized
guth "voice, vote" m Singular

Plural

Nominative guth gutha
Accusative
Genitive
Dative guibh
Palatalized

neamh "heaven, sky"1 m

Singular Plural
Nominative neamh nimh
Accusative
Genitive
Dative nimh níbh

1 Heaven (i.e., Kingdom of God) always takes the definite article, but phrases of comparison (i.e., feels like heaven) generally do not.

Sixth Declension (Velar-stem)[]

Masculine
"king" m Singular Plural
Nominative rígh
Accusative rígh
Genitive
Dative ríbh
Feminine
cathair "town, city" f Singular

Plural

Nominative cathair cathraigh
Accusative cathraigh cathrach
Genitive cathrach
Dative cathraigh cathraibh

Seventh Declension (Dental-stem)[]

Masculine
cær "hero, warrior" m Singular Plural
Nominative cær cæraidh
Accusative cæraidh curth
Genitive curadh
Dative cæraidh
Feminine
luch "mouse" f Singular

Plural

Nominative luch lochaidh
Accusative lochaidh lochtha
Genitive lochadh
Dative loidh

Eighth Declension (N-stem)[]

Masculine
"dog" m Singular

Plural

Nominative cóin
Accusative cóin con
Genitive con
Dative cóin conaibh
Feminine
faostea "confession" f Singular Plural
Nominative faostea faostín
Accusative faostín
Genitive faosten
Dative faostín faostnibh

Ninth Declension (S-stem)[]

teach "house" m Singular Plural
Nominative teach tiogh
Accusative
Genitive tiogh
Dative toibh

In general, the initial mutations for the following word follow this pattern:

Masc Sing Masc Pl Fem Sing Fem Pl
Nominative h-prosthesis lenition h-prosthesis
Accusative eclipsis h-prosthesis eclipsis
Genitive lenition eclipsis
Dative lenition

Adjectives[]

dúbh "black" Masculine Feminine Masculine Plural Feminine Plural
Nominative dúbh dhúbh dhúbha dúbha
Accusative ndúbh dúbha
Genitive dhúibh ndúbha
Dative dhúbh dhúbh dúibh

Articles[]

Masculine Feminine Plural
Nominative before vowel an+T an na+H
before labials am am+L na
before s an an+T na+T
other environments an+L na
Accusative before vowel an na+H
before labials am na
before s an na+T
other environments na
Genitive before vowel an+T na+H na+H
before labials am+L na na+E
before s an+T na+T
other environments an+L na+E
Dative unbound

preposition1

before vowel an na+H
before labials am+L na+E
before s an+T na+T
other environments an+L na+E

1 See below for bound forms of dative articles

Prepositions[]

Definite Singular1 Plural Relative Case
1s 2s 3sm 3sf 1p 2p 3p
ú+L "from/of (origin)" úan/ón úaom/

óm

úaod/

ód

úaodh/

ódh

úaodhí/

ódhí

úaonn/

ónn

úaobh/

óbh

úaoibh/

óibh

dative
i+E "in"2 isean ionam ionad and ionde ionane ioneabh ionseam dative
iond ionté iontea accusative
og "at" agan agam agad og agach againn agabh aga dative
or "on/over" or an orm ort or aoire orne orbh oraobh orsea dative
aor ore orra accusative

1 This is also used for possessive pronouns (i.e., agam = "at me," "at my")

2 i has two separate forms for the possessive forms im (1s) and inna (3s)

Verbs[]

Verbs have been significantly simplified from the original Old Irish lexicon. Under influence of the Scottish Gaelic in the 12th century, the language began a simplification towards a more isolating verbal structure, thus changing it from a pro-drop language to what it is today. Verbs have only a few synthetic forms, but the complexities of its verbal structure can be expressed through periphrasis. The basic forms are as follows:

póg "to kiss" Singular Plural Autonomous
1s 2s 3s 1p 2p 3p
Indicative Present pógamh1 póg pógaim pógan pógar
Past phóg phógar
Future/Habitual pógaidh pógar
Subjunctive Present go bóg go bógadh go bógar
Past da bóg da bógadh da bógh
Verbal Noun pógadh
Past Participle pódh2

1 Development of Old Irish -agm [-aɣm̩]

Tá mé og caint ri d'ath or an fhaon.

I'm talking to your father on the phone.

Da bóg tú mis, maraidh an gradh go agam ort go bragh.

If you kiss me, I'll love you forever.

Syntax[]

Oiban Gaelic is VSO and head initial.

Like Irish, Oiban follows a syntactic hierarchy:

  1. Preverbal particle
  2. Verb
  3. Subject
  4. Direct object or predicate adjective
  5. Indirect object
  6. Location descriptor
  7. Manner descriptor
  8. Time descriptor

Lexicon[]

Nouns[]

Gaoiligh Gender Definition Declension Genitive Singular Nominative Plural
aithirgh f repentance; regret 3rd (iá-stem) aithirgh aithirghí
Alba f Scotland irregular (see below) na hAlba
Albannach m Scot(sman) 9th (s-stem) Albannaigh Albannaigh
arsaidh m veteran 4th (i-stem) arsadha arsadhaí
baile m town; village 1st (palatal o-stem) bailí bailí
bairg m citizen; townsman 5th (palatal u-stem) bairg bairga
beatha m life 7th (t-stem) beathadh beathaidh
bøll m dick; cock (vulg.) 1st (o-stem) buill buill
cathair f city; town
cær m hero; warrior 7th (t-stem) curadh cæraidh
céile m neighbor (all senses) 1st (o-stem) céilí céilí
dúchas m inheritance; birthright 1st (o-stem) dúchais
drú m group; squadron (mil.) 6th (g-stem) drúgh drúgh
each m horse 1st (o-stem) ich ich
éasga m moon irregular (see below) éasga éasga
fear m man; fellow 1st (o-stem) fir fir
fógra m sign; signal 4th (i-stem) fógra fógraí
frú f lady; Mrs 8th (n-stem) fron fróin
fyr m/f ex; former romantic partner 1st (masc)/2nd (fem) fuir (m/f) fuir (m)/fyra (f)
glúm m joyous occasion; merriment 5th (unpalatal u-stem) glúm glúma
guth m voice; vote 5th (unpalatal u-stem) guth gutha
ládh m pavement; sidewalk 5th (unpalatal u-stem) ládh ládha
muir f sea 4th (i-stem) mora muira
neamh m heaven; sky 5th (palatal u-stem) neamh nimh
nyr m scrap; donnybrook; melee 1st (o-stem) nuir nuir
póg f kiss 2nd (á-stem) póige póga
m king 6th (g-stem) rígh rígh
ríghainn f queen 4th (i-stem) ríghnea ríghnea
Sacsann f England 2nd (á-stem) Sacsainn
Sacsannach m Englishman 9th (s-stem) Sacsannaigh Sacsannaigh
sgæpaidh m closet 4th (i-stem) sgæpaidha sgæpaidhaí
sgél m story; news 1st (o-stem) sgéil sgéil
sgúab m broom 1st (o-stem) sgúaib sgúaib
slóghølas m politics 1st (o-stem) slóghølais
teach m house 9th (s-stem) tiogh tiogh
ychd f afternoon 2nd (á-stem) uichde ychda
Gaoiligh Definition Declension
Alba f moon

Sing

Nom

Alba

Acc

Gen

na hAlba

Dat (unbound)

Albainn
éasga m moon Sing Pl Sing Def Pl Def
Nom éasga éasga an éasga na h-éasga
Acc

Gen

na h-éasga
Dat (unbound) éasgeabh an éasga na h-éasgabh

Verbs[]

Gaoiligh Definition

Conjugation

Etymology

siubh to walk; to travel; to go; to leave; to die Singular Plural Autonomous OI ·cotli
1s 2s 3s 1p 2p 3p

Indicative

Present siubhamh siubh siubhaim siubhan siubhar
Past shiubh shiubhar
Future/Habitual siubhaidh siubhar
Subjunctive Present go siubh go siubhadh go siubhar
Past da siubh da siubhadh da siubh
Verbal Noun siubhadh

Past Participle

siudh

Example text[]

This is short poem written in 1922 by Albha MacDhomhnall called An Shlaodhadh na hÉasga "The Pull of the Moon."

Tá an mhuir ait innantach.

Ní na fiaraigh ar fád gean chíall liom. Tá fhios agam cyn tar iad.

Tá lhádir an shlaodhadh na héasga.

Thanag mé go Parais, agus thanag mé go Mosgo.

Da bóg tú mis, maraidh an gradh go agam ort go bragh.

The sea is a wonderful place.

Tides are no longer meaningless to me, because I know why they go.

The pull of the moon is strong.

I went to Paris, and I went to Moscow.

And everywhere I went, I saw the same moon as you.

And it led me back to you.

Here we are at the ocean's end.

The moon is guiding us again.

If you kiss me, I'll love you forever.

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