The purpose of
the course is to give people, whether of Irish descent or not, a working
knowledge of the Irish language. This course begins with the basics
and is entirely self-contained. We have planned it especially for
persons who are studying alone or in small groups without a teacher,
books or recordings.
To keep your
past study lessons handy, each week remove the lesson from the paper
and paste or staple it into a notebook, so that you will have the
lessons available for review or reference.
and study methods are important for you who are learning Irish in
this way. We will say a few words about these two subjects first.
Americans studying Irish have always learned pronunciation from either
an Irish speaker or from one of several recordings accompanying textbooks.
Because we will not be able to teach pronunciation in these ways,
we will give you a simple pronunciation guide system and then extra
instruction from time to time. If you have the chance to listen to
a native speaker, however, do so. There are differences in regional
pronunciation in Irish, as in other languages, but if the speaker
talks slowly and clearly, you should have little trouble in understanding
the words you know.
given in the guide for this lesson series is not based exclusively
on any one region of Ireland. Where the differences are significant,
we will give you some of the other pronunciations and usage, to make
it easier to talk to all speakers.
- Learn the pronunciation
guide system and do the practice work for English words that we
will give you.
- For each Irish
word, phrase, or sentence, first look at the pronunciation guide
(which will always be in parentheses) and say the word or words
several times out loud. Then look at the Irish word and pronounce
it several more times. After you have gone over the lesson in this
way, write the Irish words, copying them from the lesson and saying
them out loud as you copy them.
- Each time you
say an Irish word or phrase, try to form a picture in your mind
of the meaning. Although this is difficult with some single words,
persist and it will become easier as the phrases and sentences become
is the next step. Read the Irish word or phrase out loud and then
translate it into English. Do this several times, until you are
sure that you know it. Then translate the English into Irish several
times. If you are learning Irish with others, each person can give
another a word or phrase to translate and can take a part in the
conversation in the lessons.
- In the conversation
exercises, look first at the pronunciation and meaning, then look
up from the lesson before you say the Irish words out loud. Work
phrase by phrase at first, until you can memorize entire sentences.
If you study with others, take turns in reading what each character
- In the conversation
exercises, you will see words and phrases that will seem difficult
at first. Memorize them and don't worry about the grammar. It will
be explained later.
Most of the symbols are letters and letter groups for sounds common
in familiar English words. If you pronounce them in that way for the
first few lessons, you will be close enough for a beginning. We will
gradually correct you and improve your pronunciation as you advance,
so that you will soon have a genuine Irish pronunciation.
For most consonants,
such as b, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t we will use the letters
themselves as pronunciation symbols. In the lessons you will get instructions
on how to pronounce these sounds in the Irish way. Nearly all these
consonants have two sounds in Irish, depending on what vowels are
next to them. (English "c" and "g" also have this
characteristic. Notice how you start to pronounce "king"
and "coat", and then "give" and "go".)
The vowel symbols
may need some explanation, so here are the symbols and description
of their pronunciation:
(ah) as in English "ah-hah".
(a) as in English "at".
(aw*) as in English "tot". but held for a longer time
(ay*) as Irish pronounce English "say" without a trace of
(ee) as in English "mean".
(i) as in English "pin".
(eye) as in English "eye".
(oh) as in English "toe", but without the trace of (oo)
sound at the end as in English "food".
(oo) as in English "food".
(u) as in English "put".
(uh) as in English "but".
(ou) as in English "shout"
We will capitalize
the letters in the accented part of the word or phrase. We will use
asterisks, as in some symbols above, to indicate a sound fairly different
from usual English sounds. Remember, too, that many Irish sounds are
not exactly like their English counterparts. Some English sounds,
such as "z" and "th" are not in Irish.
Now try these
English words as practice in using the pronunciation guide system:
(kin) (KUH-stuhm-ayr-ee) (de-LIV-uh-ree) (giv) (trans-LAYT) (ad-MEYE-uhr)
(ful-FIL) (fuhn-duh-MENT-uhl) (wohnt) (wawnt) (tawt).
The actual English
words for these are:
kin, customary, delivery, give, translate, admire, fulfill, fundamental,
won't, want, taught. These sounds are not always exact, as you can
see, but are close enough to be understood. With these important preliminaries
taken care of, you will make your entry into Irish next week.
you like to learn Irish Gaelic with audio pronunciation?
can really start to learn to speak Irish with Bitesize Irish Gaelic.
It's a full online learning program.
Then take the free
for Beginners email course by Bitesize Irish Gaelic. Every couple
of days, you'll get a mini-series of free Irish language lessons. Each
lesson is full of interactive audio recordings.
- Would you like
to make a connection with Ireland?
- And speak the
native language of the Irish?
- Do you find
it difficult to learn from reading only text?
Irish with Irish for Beginners, by Bitesize Irish Gaelic.