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Lesson by "The Irish People"
In this issue,
we rerun the full pronunciation guide and study method, for the purpose
of review and for those readers who have joined recently and need
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 instructions
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
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 usages, to make
it easier to talk with all speakers.
- Learn the pronunciation-guide
system and do the practice work for English words that we will give
- 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 mental picture in your
mind. Although this is difficult with some single words, persist
and it will become easier as the phrases and sentences become longer.
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 statrt 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:
Symbols and pronunciations:
(ah) as in English
(a) as in English
(aw*) as in English
"tot", but held for a longer time
(ay*) as Irish
pronounce English "say", without a trace of (ee) sound at the end
(e) as in English
(ee) as in English
(i) as in English
(eye) as in English
(oh) as in English
"toe", but without the trace of (oo) sound at the end
(oo) as in English
(uh) as in English
(u) as in English
(ou) as in English
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: boat, hammer, 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.
you like to learn Irish Gaelic with audio pronunciation?
can really start to learn to speak Irish with Bitesize Irish.
It's a full online learning program.
Then take the free
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it difficult to learn from reading only text?
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.