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Lesson by "The Irish People"
In this lesson,
we will begin a review of the elements of Irish pronunciation that
you learned in the first 20 lessons. This will help those of you who
did not join the lesson series at the beginning or who missed some
of the lessons.
Those who have
followed all the lessons may benefit from the review, too, because
additional notes and pointers will be given.
next week, the complete pronunciation guide (from Lesson 1) will be
guide (always in parentheses) represents Irish sounds by closely related
English sounds. Where the difference is significant, an asterisk (*)
will follow the letter symbol to let you know. Capital letters in
the pronunciation guide mean an accented syllable or word. For example,
our pronunciation guide would represent the English word "pronunciation"
b, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t, the letters themselves serve.
(k) is used for "c" where the "c" is pronounced as in English "cold".
All these consonants except "h" have at least two sounds in Irish,
depending on whether the nearest consonant is either a, o, u, or else
e or i. You will learn these sounds as we progress.
Since our pronunciation
guide is a simplified compromise, we will run into odd-looking cases
at times. For example, (keyent) may look strange at first, but a second
look will tell you that it rhymes closely with English "pint". Then,
too, (byuhg) is not (BEYE-uhg) but is closer to (bee-UHG) with a very
short (ee) sound.
have a little more complicated system. Learn these first:
(ah) as in English
(a) as in English
(e) as in English
(ee) as in English
(i) as in English
(eye) as in English
(oh) as in English
"toe" but with out the trace of (oo) at the end
(oo) as in English
(uh) as in English
(u) as in English
(ou) as in English
Two other vowel
sounds are followed by asterisks to indicate difference from the common
English pronunciation of the letters. The first sound is (ay*). Pronounce
this like the first part of the vowel group in the English word "say",
but omit the second part, a trace of (ee). Irish persons often carry
this pronunciation into English. Recall to yourself how they would
pronounce "say", "day", "pray".
The second is
(aw*). This sound is close to the way many Irish persons pronounce
the vowel in "thaw", "awful", or "saw", although most Americans do
not pronounce those three words that way. For Americans, the sound
(aw*) in words like "tá" is closer to the "o" in "otter", "top",
or "tot" but is held longer. In Irish spelling, the sound is represented
Another way to
get the (aw*) pronunciation is to watch your lips in a mirror as you
say "awful", noticing that the lips are pushed far out. If you try
the word with your lips help in closer and more rounded, you will
be very close to the (aw*) in words like "tá".
(aw*) in these words:
(AW*-buhl-tuh) able, capable
In Lessons 10
to 12, you learned how to answer the questions:
é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh) what is this?
é sin? (kay*rd ay* shin) what is that?
and to classify,
that is, to say that a person or object is in some class or group.
For example: "is dochtúir í" (is dohk*-TOO-ir ee ) means
"She is a doctor", and "is bord é" (is bohrd ay*) means "it
is a table".
To identify a
person or object as having a name or being the particular one that
you are talking about, Irish has a slightly different form. Learn
these examples by heart:
Is mise Seán
(is MISH-e shaw*n), I am John. ("Mise" is the emphatic form of "mé".)
Is tusa Séamus
(is TU-suh SHAY*-muhs), You are James. ("Tusa" is the emphatic form
Is sinne na dochtúirí
(is SHIN-ye nuh dohk*-TOO-i-ree), We are the doctors.
Is sibhse na
scoláirí (is SHIV-she nuh skoh-LAW*-ree), You (plural)
are the pupils.
Note that the
word order is reversed from: Is dochtúir mise (is dohk*-TOO-ir
MISH-e), I am a doctor.
The same is true
of "é seo" or "í seo" meaning "this", and or "é
sin" and "í sin" meaning "that". For example:
Is é seo
Brian (shay* shuh BREE-uhn), This is Brian.
Is í sin
Bríd (shee shin breed), That is Bridget.
This also holds
true for "iad seo" (EE-uhd shuh), these, and "iad sin" (EE-uhd shin),
those. An example is: Is iad sin Cormac agus Una (SHEE-uhd shin KOHR-muhk
AH-guhs OON-uh), Those are Cormac and Una.
part, however, is that with "é", "í", and "iad" alone,
a doubling of the pronoun occurs, as in:
Is é Brian
é (shay* BREE-uhn ay*), It's Brian
Is í Máire
í (shee MAW*-re ee) It's Mary.
Is iad na fir
iad (SHEE-uhd nuh fir EE-uhd), They are the men.
Is iad Peadar
agus Dónall iad (SHEE-uhd PAD-uhr AH-guhs DOHN- uhl EE-uhd),
They are Peter and Donald.
This will be
clumsy and annoying to you at first, but persevere and you will develop
the proper thought pattern, so that the right phrase will come to
you quickly in any situation.
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.