We’ve learnt names but now we are going to learn how to address people or call them by their name. The fancy, official name for this is the vocative case.
If you want to summon someone, use ‘a’ before any name – the official title is the vocative particle and tells someone that we are summoning them. But wait, what is this? This doesn’t exist in English? Oh yes, it does. Think of the O in “O Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou, Romeo” or the O used in religious texts and services.
We’ll look at the other factors that affect the vocative case.
Is the name in Scottish Gaelic?
If not, it remains unchanged.
Mohammed -> Mohammed
Sunita -> Sunita
Nikki -> Nikki
Zac -> Zac
Is it a female name?
Calling on people with feminine names in Gaelic depends on a number of factors. We’ll look at these and start with the simplest first.
Does the Scottish Gaelic name begin with a vowel?
It remains unchanged.
Anna -> Anna
Eilidh -> Eilidh
The vocative particle a is commonly swallowed up by the vowel in modern spoken Gaelic, so remains unchanged.
Does the Scottish Gaelic feminine name begin with any of these consonants L, N, R, or the combinations Sg, Sm, Sp, or St?
If so, just add the a before the name.
Raonaid –>a Raonaid
Does the feminine name start with a consonant which does take lenition (such as B, C, D, F, G, H, M, P, S, T)?
Add an a before the name and lenite (add an h after the first letter) of the name.
Màiri – >a Mhàiri
Does the feminine name start with an F + vowel?
Just lenite (add an h after the first letter) the name.
Fionnghal -> Fhionnghal
Note: Fhionnghal! As Fh is totally silent, it’s as if the name started with a vowel, so no initial A needed.
Exactly the same rules, but also, if the name ends in a broad consonant (one written with an a or u before it), its sound is changed to a slender consonant (written with an i before it). So:
Aonghas → Aonghais!
Fionnlagh → Fhionnlaigh!
As Fh is totally silent, it’s as if the name started with a vowel, so no initial A needed.