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Lesson by "The Irish People"
The Letter "f"
gets two slightly different sounds in Irish, depending on whether
the nearest vowel is "a, o, u" or "e, i". Each
sound differs a little from the usual English sound.
For the broad
sound, near an "a, o, u", start with the inside of the lower
lip against the edge of the upper front teeth. Then move the lips
out to an extended, rounded form as you make the sound. Try:
fód, fúm (foom), fuar (FOO-uhr), fáilte (FAW*L-
tye), faisean (FASH-uhn), folamh (FUHL-uhv), fud (fud).
Also: flaith (flah),
flós, flúr, fras (frahs), frog (frohg), scríofa
(SHKREE-fuh), tógfar (TOHK-fuhr).
For the slender
sound, near an "e, i", start with the lower lip in the same
position, but then draw it back slightly as you make the "f"
sound. Try: féin (fay*n), féach (FAY*-ahk*), fill (fil),
fear (far), feirm (FER-im) caithfear (KAH-fuhr).
If an (i) sound
is to follow a broad (f) sound, a "u" is placed between
the "f" and "i". In pronouncing the combination,
you will find that a sound resembling an English "w" comes
between. For example: fuil (fwil), fuinneog (fwin-YOHG), fuinneamh
Make sure you
go over the pronunciation sections regularly, so that you will improve
your pronunciation and develop the ability to pronounce new words
before you look at the pronunciation guide. By now you should be ready
to read most of the Irish in these lessons before you look at the
pronunciation guide. We will gradually drop more of the pronunciation
guide from the Irish words and sentences.
To express the
negative in the past tense for most verbs, you must put "níor"
(NEE-uhr) before the imperative, and you must also aspirate the imperative's
initial consonant, if possible. For example:
sé an bád (NEE-uhr yeel shay* un baw*d), He didn't sell
sé liom (NEE-uhr ahn shay* luhm), He didn't wait for me.
sé é, He didn't drink it.
To ask a question
in the past tense, put "ar" (er) before the imperative and
aspirate the imperative's initial consonant if possible. Some examples:
Ar thuig tú
í? (er hig too ee), Did you understand her?
Ar fhan sibh?
(er ahn shiv), Did you wait?
Ar ól siad
é? (er ohl SHEE-uhd ay*), Did they drink it?
To say "Didn't
she put it on the table?", which is the negative imperative,
put "nár" (naw*r) before the imperative and again
aspirate the initial consonant if possible, as in:
sí ar an mbord é? (naw*r k*ir shee).
The answer to
this question is either "Chuir sí" or "Níor
This is a suitable
time for a simultaneous drill on aspiration pronunciation and the
past tense of irregular verbs.
Here is a list
of verbs that includes all the aspirated sounds, both broad and slender.
Go over them until you can say the past-tense forms, having covered
the last three forms (in the third column) and looking only at the
imperative (in the second column).
(brish) Bhris mé níor bhris mé ar bhris mé
(BOO-il) Bhuail mé níor bhuail mé ar bhuail mé?
(KAN-ee) Cheannaigh mé níor cheannaaigh mé ar
(kir) Chuir mé níor chuir mé ar chuir mé?
(DEE-uhl) Dhíol mé níor dhíol mé
ar dhíol mé?
(doon) Dhún mé níor dhún mé ar
(FAY*-ahk*) D'fhéach mé níor fhéach mé
ar fhéach mé?
(fahn) D'fhan mé níor fhan mé ar fhan mé?
(DAHN may*; NEE-uhr AHN may*)
(gyahr) Ghearr mé níor ghearr mé ar ghearr mé?
(YAHR may*; NEE-uhr YAHR may*)
(gluhn) Ghlan mé níor ghlan mé ar ghlan mé?
(MEEN-ee) Mhínigh mé níor mhínigh mé
ar mhínigh mé?
(MOO-in) Mhúin mé níor mhúin mé
ar mhúin mé?
(PEE-uhn) Phian mé níor phian mé ar phian mé?
(pohs) Phós mé níor phós mé ar
(shas) Sheas mé nior sheas mé ar sheas mé?
(si) Shuigh mé níor shuigh mé ar shuigh mé?
(ti-MAW*-in) Thiomáin mé níor thiomáin
mé ar thiomáin mé?
(tohg) Thóg mé níor thóg mé ar
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.