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Lesson by "The Irish People"
The letter "n" has two basic sounds. The broad sound, made
with the tongue spread soemwhat and pressed against the upper front
teeth, occurs when the "n" begins a word and the next vowel
is "a, o, u". Examples: ná, nó, nús,
nasc (nahsk), náisiún (naw*-SHOON), nocht (nohk*t).
The slender sound
of "n" occurs when "n" starts a word in which
the first vowel is "e, i". The "n' is pronounced with
the front of the tongue on the hard rim behind the upper front teeth.
There will be a faint sound resembling "yuh" at the end
as you begin to pronounce the rest of the word. Do not pronounce a
separate (yuh) sound, however. Examples: néid (nyay*d), ní
(nee), níl (neel), nead (nyad), neimh (nyev), neoin (NYOH-in).
Notice that in
"ní" and "níl", the (yuh) sound
is inside a word or at the end, the pronunciation is usually similar
to the American pronunciation of "n". Compare "ainm"
(AN-im) with "anam" (AH-nuhm). See Lesson 25 for the difference
in "m" pronunciation. The "m" is slender in "ainm"
and broad in "anam", but the "n" in both words
resembles the "n" you know from English.
"n" at a word end after "e, i" can be pronounced
either (n) or have a faint (y) sound at the end. The sound may resemble
the (ng) sound at the end of English "sing". Try: sinn (shin);
linn (lin), crainn (krin).
"n" broad like a broad "n" that starts a word,
such as "ná". Try: tagann (TAHG-uhn), donn (doun).
A slender double
"n" inside a word gets a clear (y) sound, as in bainne (BAHN-ye),
rinne (RIN-ye), fuinneog (fwin-YOHG).
A broad "n"
sound can begin a word in which the next vowel sound is slender, (ay*)
or (ee). "Naoi" and "naíonán" are
examples. A faint, short (uh) sound occurs between the (n) and (ee).
Try: naoi (nee), naíonán (NEE-uh-naw*n). This "n"
differs from the slender "n" in "ní" or
Although the ending
"-amar" or "eamar" is common for indicating "we"
in the past tense of verbs, the seperate word "muid" (mwid)
is used, too. For example: bhuail muid (VWOO-il mwid), we struck;
thuig muid (HIG mwid), we understood; cheannaigh muid (HYAN-ee mwid),
we bought. Both ways are acceptable. Most moden grammars give the
"-mar" ending for their examples, but you should be familiar
with the two forms.
fágáil (faw*g, uh FAW*G-aw*-il) leave. Also in: fág
fúmsa é (faw*g FOOM-suh ay*), Leave it to me.
deisigh, ag deisiú
(DESH-ee, uh DESH-yoo) repair, "fix"
tógáil (tohg, uh TOHG-aw*-il), take, raise
crith, ag crith
mag, ag magadh
(mahg, uh MAHG-uh) mock, "slag" As in: ag magadh fúm
(foom), making fun of me.
síleadh (sheel, uh SHEEL-uh), think
troid, ag troid
(trid, uh trid) fight
léim (lay*m, uh lay*m) jump
le tamall (le
TAH-muhl), for a while
sin (is FEE-uhr shin), That's true
le fada (le FAH-duh),
for a long time
saor go leor (SAY*-uhr
goh LOHR), cheap enough
(aw*t AY*-gin) some place
We will first
review the use of "is" (is). Repeat this sentence group:
Céard é seo? (kay*rd) Céard é sin? Is
leabhar é. Is sráid é. Ní scoil é.
An bosca é?
(BOHSK-uh) Ní hea, ach buidéal (nee ha, ahk* bwi- DAY*L).
An bord é seo? Is ea.
into the sentences Irish words for objects you know. Go through the
entire sequence for each word.
Next, repeat this
seo? (kay* hay* shuh) Cé hí seo? Cé hé
sin? Cé hí sin?
Is é Seán
é (shay* shaw*n ay*). Ní hí Nóra í.
Is é Seán
an fear (far). Is í Máire an dochtúir (dohk*-TOO-ir).
Is é sin
Brian (shay* shin BREE-uhn). Is í seo Cáit (kaw*t).
Is é seo
Liam. Is í sin Bríd (shee shin breed).
into the sentences Irish names that you know from the conversations,
and also nouns with "the" before them, such as: the room,
the road, the place, the table, the girl, the car, etc.
Then try to add
sentences in the past tense to: Is é Seán an fear a
--. Example: Is é Seán an fear a cheannaigh an carr
nua. Try verbs such as: caith, cuir, rith, scríobh, etc.
sa bhaile. Ní raibh sé amuigh inné. Bhí
sé ag scríobh litreach. Bhíomar ag féachaint
air (FAY*-uhk*-int er). Chuir sé an litir sa phost agus ansin
d'ith sé a shuipéar (hu-PAY*R). Thógamar ár
mbróga (MROHG-uh) chuig (hig) an gcathair (GAH-hir), agus dheisigh
an fear sin iad. D'imíomar linn abhaile ansin. Ag baile, bhí
an cat agus an madra ag troid. Throid siad cúpla nóiméad,
agus ansin chaitheamar amach iad.
[William is at
home. He wasn't out yesterday. He was writing a letter. We were watching
him. He put the letter in the post and then he ate his supper. We
took our shoes to the city, and that man repaired them. We departed
(departed with ourselves) homeward then. At home, the cat and the
dog were fighting. They fought for a couple of minutes, and then we
threw them out.]
(Note: Both "abhaile"
(uh-VWAHL-e) and "ag baile" (eg BAHL-e) mean "at home.")
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.