Gaelic Lesson – 3 – Names and Lenition

In Gaelic names, “Mac” means “Son of” and “Nic” means ” daughter of”.

So in a name like “MacDonald” – it literally means son of Donald. In Gaelic culture there is a female equivalent but it is not seen much in the English world “NicDonald” for example.

Gaelic has many first names which translate into English,, you may know some of them already, like Seamus, Iain, Catriona. Calum (James, John, Catherine, Malcolm).

The strange thing about names in Gaelic is that they change a little bit when people are addressed, an “H” is added after the first letter and usually with men´s names an extra “I” is put in near the end:

Is Mise Mairi ….

Hallo, a Mhairi…… (notice the sound is now Vari, not Mairi)

Is Mise Calum ….

Hallo, A Chaluim

Now, this happens not only in names but also in other parts of the language. It is never inserted after L, N or R, or after the S in the following SG, SM, SP, ST.

The rules concerning lenition (changing the word with an H) are complex but we will begin looking at them here.

In the these lessons you will find lenition occurs with:A,  Gle, Do and Mo.

Gle Bhath – very good

Hallo, A Sheosaidh ….. Hallo Joseph…….

Do Ghlaschu…..to Glasgow

Mo Bhean (My wife)














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