Dwelly-d Faclair Dwelly air loidhne Dwelly's Gaelic Dictionary Online


neg particle, also eug-, ea-, ei-, and a-. The following remarks about the distinguishing features between the North and South Dialects of Scottish Gaelic through the occurrence of eu or ia in various words, are extracted from an article by Rev. C. M. Robertson, in Celtic Review, October, 1906. Most Gaelic Grammars and Dictionaries say that the North and South dialects of Gaelic are distinguishable by their respective uses of eu and ia in certain words, but no detailed list is ever given.
“Dr. MacBain says the crucial distinction between the two main dialects of Gaelic consists in the different way in which the dialects deal with é derived from compensatory lengthening — in the South it is eu, in the North ia. Another characteristic of the words in which this change is found is that their original stems ended in o or a. There are exceptions, drawn in, perhaps, by the influence of analogy.
The vowel that changes to ia in the North is usually written eu. But it occurs also as èa, èi and è. In Southern pronunciation it generally has the sound that is called open e and that resembles, except that it is long, that of e in English let. The close sound e, like that of e in English whey or of a in English fate, occurs occasionally in words that have ia in the North but in general is confined to those words in which diphthongisation is not found, as, beum, ceum, treun, beud. In contact with nasals diphthongisation is found as a rule only in those instances in which the vowel is nasalised in the South, e.g. in eun, meur but not in beum, treun.
Of the words that have ia in the North, the following are found with é in the South — Ceudna 'ceunna,' 'féirseag ' (for feursann), geur, reustladh (for reusladh), sleuchd, in Arran.
Deug, feun, geug, leubh, in Arran & Islay.
Feudail, gleus, reul, in Arran, Islay & Perth.
Peur (a pear), in Arran, Islay & Glenlyon, eud in Arran & East Perth, Seumas in Arran & Glenlyon.
Sgeun ('sgéan') and déabh in Islay, geuban in Islay & Perth.
Céud (first) and céud (hundred) in Mid-Argyll.
Créadhach (crè), in Perth.
In Strathspey and in Sutherlandshire there are fewer instances of é than in Arran. The only words showing the change to ia, that are not known to have è, in place of é, in some district or other are ceud, ceudna, deug, feudail, feun, geuban, peurtag, reul, reusail and reusan and of these, three are borrowed words, while the diphthongisation of at least two others, feudail and reul, is local and exceptional. The association of the change to ia with the open sound è is thus very close. The tendency, apparently, when the vowel happens to be left undiphthongised in the North, is to sound it é and further, the vowel is apt in such cases to be é also in Arran and Islay but è in Perth, Strathspey and Sutherland. Beurla. e.g. is Béurla in Arran, Islay, North Argyll, part of Skye, North Inverness and West Ross but Bèurla in Perth and Sutherland; geug is géug in Arran, Islay, part of Skye and Lewis, but gèug in Perth, Strathspey and Sutherland.
The vowels that are subject to diphthongisation are arranged in the following groups to show the occurrence of the change in the southern dialect, in Arran, Islay and Perthshire and in the Northern dialect in the following districts in order. North Argyll (Appin and Sunart), Skye (Sleat), North Inverness-shire (the Aird, south and east of Beauly), West Ross-shire, and Lewis. The pronunciation given in Mac Alpine's Dictionary is, in general, that of his native island and is that, given here under the name Islay. The absence of a word from the list for any particular district does not in all cases imply non-diphthongisation of the vowel in that district; it may mean that there is some other alteration on the word or that the attempt to ascertain its pronunciation has not been attended with success. Smeuraich, for example, is smeòraich in Sutherland and Lewis. Feusgan, mussel; fè, a cairn; and muir-tèachd, a jellyfish, (II. iii. below), are not in Dr. Henderson's list for the Aird and were unfamiliar as Aird words to an aged farmer from the district. Cè, cream, is unknown in several districts, uachdar or bàrr being used instead and smeur, bramble, is unfamiliar in Lewis. Geug, branch, no doubt owes its non-diphthongisation in parts of the Northern Hebrides to its disuse during a treeless period and its subsequent adoption from literature. In West Ross-shire, giag was not disused but was degraded during the treeless period and now means, in part at least of the district, a stalk of heather, while a branch of a tree is called meur ('miar').
Southern Dialect

I. Ceud (hundred), ceud (first), DiCeudaoin, ceutach, ceutadh (sense, impression), ceudna, deug, brèagh.
North Argyll et seq.

II, i. Beul, breug, deuchainn, deur, dreuchd, eudach (jealousy), eulaidh (stalk game, &c), eun, feuch, feur, feusag, freumh, geuban (ciaban in Skye and onwards), geur, greusaich, leugach (clammy, &c. leug, leugaire), leus (torch, &c), meud or meudachd, cia meud, meur, neul, reub, seud (hero), seun, breac-sheunain, sgeul, sgreuch, crè (clay), dèan, èasgaidh, gèadh, lèad, mèanan, sé (six), sglèata, tèarainn.
North Argyll et seq. except Lewis —

II. ii. Beuc, ceus (ham, coarse part of fleece), geug, reusail (ill-use), smeur (bramble), smeuraich (grope), speuc, sèap.
North Argyll et seq. except Inverness —

II. iii. Feusgan, fè (calm), lèana or lèanag, rèap (a slattern, rèapach adj., rèapail verb), muir-tèachd.
Skye et seq.

III. Loch-bhléin or dubh-chléin (flank, loin), sgeun (fright), smeur or smiùr (to smear), méith, séamarlan.
North Inverness et seq.

IV. Feursann (warble), speuclan (spectacles), teuchdaidh (viscid, &c, 'tiachaidh' N. Inverness).
North Inverness &c.

V. i. Feunaidh (peat-cart, from feun), peurtag (partridge), cè (cream).
V. ii. Peuras (a pear), seum or seumaich (enjoin, &c), Seumas (James), leugh (read) clach-nèaraidh (grindstone), trèasg (shrivel). V. iii. Sleuchd, nèarachd.

VI. i. Beurla, eud, m' fheudail, càl-feurain (chives), gleus (trim, &c), spleuc (stare), teuchdadh (parching), lèabag, piata, trèan-ri-trèan.
VI. ii. Éarlais (arles), reusan (reason).
Group I. contains words that are diphthongised in the South; all have ia (or iao) in Perthshire, all but the last in Islay, and all but the last three in Arran. MacAlpine gives 'a cheud ' or 'a' chiad.' The diphthong is ia in all the instances in Arran and in Glenlyon in Perthshire; in East Perthshire and in the North generally in those words, with the exception of brèagh, it is iao, i.e. the second constituent of the diphthong is not a but the Gaelic ao sound. Ceudna varies; 'ciaodna' N. Argyll, 'cianda' N. Inverness, West Ross, Sutherland, 'ciaont' Lewis, 'ciaodain' East Perth, Strathspey, 'céunna' Arran, 'ciaonna' Skye. MacAlpine gives 'cianna' and apparently 'ceudna.'
In addition, dreuchd, omitted by MacAlpine, has ia in Arran and èarlais and reusan, Group VI. ii., have ia, the former in Arran and Islay and, the latter throughout Argyll and in West Perth ('riaosan' in N. Argyll). Nèaraidh (V. ii). has ia in Perthshire.
Groups I. and II. i. have the diphthong in N. Argyll, Skye, N. Inverness, W. Ross and Lewis; Group II. ii. in N. Argyll et seq., except Lewis and Group II. iii. in N. Argyll et seq. except N. Inverness. Group III. falls to be added to the number in Skye and onwards and Group IV. in N. Inverness and onwards. The words in V. i. ii. and iii. all have ia in N. Inverness and those in V. ii. in West Ross also. Trèasg in N. Argyll and sleuchd in Skye have ia. Nèarachd is 'niarachd' in N. Argyll, 'miarachd' in Skye and 'meurachd' according to MacAlpine (sub néarachd) in Argyll.
The words of VI. i. have ia as follows:— Eud (and eudmhor, 'iadar') càl-feurain, spleuc and lèabag in N. Argyll.
Spleuc, teuchdadh, lèabag and trèan-ri-trèan ('trianaidh-trian') in Skye.
Beurla ('biaorla' or 'biaolla' so also Lochbroom), eud ('iad' in Barra also) m' fheudail, gleus and teuchdaidh in Lewis.
'Piata' a puny child, N. Inverness and W. Ross, has been explained by Dr. Henderson as a by-form of peata, English 'pet'; in Lewis 'piatan' is used affectionately of one craving for a drink.
Eud in the North generally means zeal, while jealousy is 'iadach' (in Glenlyon 'eudach'). Diphthongisation of the vowel è thus appears to be most prevalent in the central Highlands and somewhat less so in N. Argyll and Lewis. It has extended strongly into Rannoch which breaks away from the rest of Perthshire in this respect and is sharply distinguished from Glenlyon and the parish of Blair Atholl, bounding it respectively on the South and East and is in full force in Badenoch and Strathdearn, its Eastern limits. On the other hand, Strathspey, which means in local usage the part of the Valley of the Spey below Rothiemurchus and lies in an angle between Badenoch on the South-West and Strathdearn on the North-West, differs from both districts and agrees closely with the South. Far north Sutherlandshire also, with the exception perhaps of the Assynt quarter of the county, claims to stand with Strathspey and the South in this matter. The words in which ia has been found in Strathspey are:—
Ceud, ceud, ceudna, DiCeudain, deug, sgreuch, brèagh, sè, ceutach, seun. With the exception of the two last, those words are diphthongised in Sutherlandshire — Creich, Kildonan and Strathy — and with the following list, they exhaust the known instances of that vowel change in the South-East and in the North of that county:—
Deuchainn, feuch, feusgan, cia meud, reul, crè.
Beul, neul, sgeul, 'cial.'
Ceutach and feusgan have the diphthong in Creich, deuchainn and feuch in Creich and Kildonan, reul ('rialt' or more frequently 'rialtag') in Kildonan and crè ('criaodhach') in Kildonan and Strathy. Ceutach and ceutadh apparently are diphthongised by some speakers and not by others ('ceutach' and cèutu') in the Strathy district.
The Southern è of beul, neul and sgeul is changed in Sutherland, not into ia but into à, so that the words would be written respectively, beàl, neàl, and sgeàl and are pronounced byàl, nyàl, sgyàl. Cial, brim of a vessel, is also changed into ceàl in Sutherland. Though this resembles in the result the change in Arran of brèagh, cè cream, crè, gèadh and sè, respectively into breàgh (brè or bryà, MacAlpine), ceà, creà, geàdh, seà (bryà, cyà, cryà, gyà, shyà), it is no doubt to be compared rather with the transference in Gaelic generally, of the pronunciation from e to a in such words as geal, ('gyal,') seal, ('shal,') &c.
A substitution of other sounds for è sometimes occurs. Lèabag is leóbag ('lyóbag') in N. Inverness, W. Ross, Lewis and Sutherland; feusag is feòsag (fyòsag) in Sutherland and rèapach is reòpach in N. Inverness. Teuchaidh viscid, in N. Inverness tiachaidh, is teaochaidh in Creich and Beurla is Beaorla in Strathspey and in parts of Skye and Lewis. The name tor the landrail — trèan-ri-trèan — is traon in Lewis and according to MacAlpine, in Skye; in Ireland it is traona, [but pronounced treyna, in Uist treona].
It is not an unknown thing that a word should come to have two pronunciations accompanied by some differentiation in meaning or usage. In N. Argyll, Skye, N. Inverness, W. Ross and Lewis, seud, when it means jewel, is 'séud' but when it means hero it is 'siad.' The word is everywhere in those districts familiar in the latter sense. As seud, jewel, it is not at all so frequently used and may have been adopted from literature. Meud is undiphthongised throughout Sutherland, except in the phrase 'có miad' how much. The phrase is 'ce mìod' in Skye and Lewis, while the word otherwise is both 'miìd' and 'miad' in Lewis and 'miadachd' in Skye and also in N. Argyll. MacAlpine gives 'meud' and 'mìod.' The undiphthongised form of deug is kept in Perth, Strathspey, W. Ross, and Lewis in 'dà uair dhéug,' often preceded by the article and compressed 'an da'réug' the twelve o' clock; in Sutherland 'an da riaog.' In Irish 'dáréag' means twelve persons.
Similar diphthongisation is found in Munster in such words as céad (ceud), déag (deug), éan (eun), féach (feuch), féar (feur) and also in words in which it is unknown in Scotland, as bréan (breun), éag (eug), tréan (treun) and even éadóchas (eudochas), éadrom (aotrom), light, éagóir (eucoir), injustice, éagmais (eugmhais), want and others. To Scottish Gaels the diphthongisation of eucoir and eugmhais, not to speak of eudochas or aotrom (for eutrom), seems a sheer impossibility and yet it is found with us in the word èasgaidh, i.e. eu-sgìth, of exactly similar formation.”

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