Can anybody shed light on the rather confused situation which exists with
regard to the noun 'muileann' 'a mill'?
Dwelly gives the gender simply as masculine, and does not, as far as I am
aware, give alternative forms.
Most other dictionaries, however, give the gender as m/f, but without
In Litir 479 le Ruairidh MacIlleathain he has:
Puing-chànain na Litreach: muileann-cotain: cotton mill. A few words carry
different genders in different parts of the country and muileann is a good
example. In Lewis and Harris it is feminine and pronounced (and written)
muilinn ("the mill" is a' mhuilinn). This might be derived from the
genitive form of the more standard muileann, which is masculine ("the mill"
is am muileann). In most dialects "the mill-stream" is Allt a' Mhuilinn,
whereas in Lewis and Harris it would be Allt na Muilne. Don't be fazed by
such differences - follow local example or that of your teacher. I have
given a cotton mill as muileann-cotain (in the nominative). But for those
for whom the word is feminine would likely call it muilinn-chotain with the
second element lenited in agreement with the noun. The plural of both is
Now, while not saying that Ruairidh is wrong, I cannot find an example of
mhuilinn* being used for the nominative.
CORRECTION: I have found one in the novel AN NAIDHEACHD BHON TAIGH le
Eadar a' Mhuilinn agus taigh Sheonaidh Sgiogarstaidh (accusative case,
actually, but the same as the nominative)
I have found obvious feminine examples in the following:
DOMHNALL URCHARD le Seonag NicAsgail
Bha e fada fada den oidhche nis ach bha solas fhathast a' tighinn à uinneig
Bha a' mhuileann ri taobh an Uillt Tarsainn, far an robh e na chleachdadh
aige a bhith a' cur seachad na h-oidhche, a-nis a' tighinn san t-sealladh.
And obvious masculine examples in the dative case in the following two
'na ruith leis a' mhuileann ghaoithe 'na làimh.
Am muileann dubh (song)
Tha nead na circe-fraoich anns a' mhuileann dubh, sa mhuileann dubh,
tha nead na circe-fraoich anns a' mhuileann dubh o shamhradh.
In the passing, I noted the following in An t-Albannach:
Bidh 200 muileann-gaoithe ṃra àrda air a' mḥintich aca.
- where the sing. is used after a number (which is normal) but plural forms
of the adjectives are used. (which is common with collective nouns, though I
haven't noticed it before with numerals) - see 'clann' and 'luingeas' in my