Counting in Scottish Gaelic
The Scottish Gaelic language (Gàidhlig), or Scots Gaelic, belongs to the Celtic languages of the Indo-European languages family. Spoken in Scotland, and to some extent in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in Canada, it counts nearly 60,000 speakers.
Scottish Gaelic numbers list
- 1 – aon
- 2 – dhà
- 3 – trì
- 4 – ceithir
- 5 – còig
- 6 – sia
- 7 – seachd
- 8 – ochd
- 9 – naoi
- 10 – deich
- 11 – h-aon deug
- 12 – dhà dheug
- 13 – trì deug
- 14 – ceithir deug
- 15 – còig deug
- 16 – sia deug
- 17 – seachd deug
- 18 – ochd deug
- 19 – naoi deug
- 20 – fichead
- 30 – trìthead
- 40 – ceathrad
- 50 – caogad
- 60 – seasgad
- 70 – seachdad
- 80 – ochdad
- 90 – naochad
- 100 – ceud
- 1,000 – mile
- one million – millean
- one billion – billean
Traditional Scottish Gaelic numbers
Traditional Scottish Gaelic uses a full vigesimal system, hence based on twenty and its multiples, rather than on ten and its multiple (the decimal system actually used in Modern Scottish Gaelic). Its tens are: deich , fichead , deich air fhichead (ten on twenty) or fichead ’s a deich (twenty and ten) , dà fhichead (two twenties) , dà fhichead ’s a deich (two twenties and ten) or leth-cheud (half hundred) , trì fichead (three twenties) , trì fichead ’s a deich (three twenties and ten) , ceithir fichead (four twenties) , ceithir fichead ’s a deich (four twenties and ten) . This system goes on after one hundred too: sia fichead (six twenties) , seachd fichead (seven twenties) , ochd fichead (eight twenties) , naoi fichead (nine twenties) .
In the vigesimal system, compound numbers from 21 to 29 have three different forms:
- unit followed by air fhichead (on twenty), like in dà air fhichead ;
- unit followed by thar fhichead (over twenty), like in dà thar fhichead ;
- twenty followed by ’s (and), the counting particle a, then the unit digit, like in fhichead ’s a dhà .
Compound numbers from 31 to 39 have the same three different forms, using the teen numbers:
- teen followed by air fhichead (on twenty), like in dà dheug air fhichead ;
- teen followed by thar fhichead (over twenty), like in dà dheug thar fhichead ;
- twenty followed by ’s (and), the counting particle a, then the teen, like in fichead ’s a dà dheug .
Scottish Gaelic numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- Digits from zero to nine have specific names: neoni , aon (or h-aon when preceded by a) , dhà , trì , ceithir , còig , sia , seachd , ochd (or h-ochd when preceded by a) , and naoi .
- The tens in decimal Modern Scottish Gaelic are: deich , fichead , trìthead , ceathrad , caogad , seasgad , seachdad , ochdad , and naochad .
- Teens are formed by starting with the unit, followed by deug or dheug (for twelve) (e.g.: dhà dheug , còig deug ).
- Compound numbers beyond twenty-one are formed starting with the ten, followed by ’s (and), the counting particle a, then the unit (e.g.: fichead ’s a còig , ceathrad ’s a trì ).
- Hundreds are formed by stating the multiplier digit before the word for hundred (ceud), except for one hundred: ceud , dhà ceud , trì ceud , ceithir ceud , còig ceud , sia ceud , seachd ceud , ochd ceud , and naoi ceud .
- Thousands are formed by stating the multiplier digit before the word for thousand (mile, or mhile for 2,000), except for one thousand: mile [1,000], dhà mhile [2,000], trì mile [3,000], ceithir mile [4,000], còig mile [5,000], sia mile [6,000], seachd mile [7,000], ochd mile [8,000], and naoi mile [9,000].
- The word for million is millean, and billion (109) is billean.
Write a number in full in Scottish Gaelic
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Scottish Gaelic. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.
Colloquial Scottish Gaelic: The Complete Course for Beginners
by Katie Graham & Katherine Spadaro, editors Routledge (2015)
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Blas na Gàidhlig: The Practical Guide to Scottish Gaelic Pronunciation
by Michael Bauer, editors Akerbeltz (2011)
Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks
by Roibeard Ò Maolalaigh, editors Birlinn Ltd (2008)
1001+ exercices Français - gaélique écossais
by Gilad Soffer, editors CreateSpace (2016)
Other supported languages
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