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Lesson by "The Irish People"
of "l" in Irish differs somewhat from English pronunciation of "l".
If the "l" starts a word and is followed by "a", "o", or "u", the
tongue is spread wider than for English "l" and is pressed against
the upper front teeth. Try: lá (law*), lán (law*n),
lón (lohn), lúb (loob). This is the broad sound. In
English, you probably point the tongue and touch it to the hard ridge
behind the upper front teeth.
For an "l" that
starts a word but is followed by "e" or "i", hold the tongue with
the tip against the back of the lower front teeth and raise the front
of the tongue so that it touches the upper front teeth and the hard
ridge behind them. This is a slender "l". Try: léan (lay*n),
léir (lay*r) leis (lesh), leat (lat), lín (leen), lia
(LEE-uh), lios (lis), litir (LI-tir).
If inside a word,
"l' is more likely to be pronounced with the tongue tip on the hard
ridge, much as in English.
You should now
be able to understand why some Irish persons pronounce English words
with "l" as they do. Take "lovely" as an example. Remember what Lesson
5 told you--that in Irish the (uh) sound is not as common as in English.
Then try the word "lovely" with the broad "l" you have just learned
and with a vowel sound closer to (oh) than to (uh). For another example,
try pronouncing English "line" with either the broad "l" or the slender
"l" that you have just learned.
learning a foreign language tend to apply the sounds of their native
language to the new language.
This is what
gives us German, French, Russian and Spanish accents. The Irish, similarly,
have applied the sounds of Irish to English to create an Irish accent.
Do not call it a "brogue."
aon duine (ay*n DIN-e), anyone
aon rud (ay*n ruhn), anything
seomra *SHOM-ruh), room
bosca (BOHSK-uh), box
bord (bohrd), table
Éireannach, an t-Éireannach (AY*R-uh-nahk*, un TAY*R-un-nahk*),
Irishman or Irish person
Meiriceánach (mer-i-KAW*-nahk*), an American
oíche, an oíche (EE-hye, un EE-hye), night, the night
traein (tray*n) train
cathair, an chathair (KAH-hir, un K*AH-hir), city, the city
sa seomra (suh SHOHM-ruh), in the room
sa bhaile (suh VWAHL-e) at home
eile (EL-e), other
seo (shuh), this
sin (shin), there
anseo (un-SHUH), here
ansin (un-SHIN), there
ag teacht isteach (uh tyahk*t ish-TYAHK*) coming in
ag dul amach (uh duhl uh-MAHK*), going out
X?" (kaw* vwil eks) means "Wher is X?" "Nach bhfuil sé anseo?"
(nahk* VWIL shay* un-SHUH) means "Isn't he here?"
tense for the "nach bhfuil" form is:
Nach bhfuil mé?
(nahk VWIL may*) am I not?
Nach bhfuil tú?
(nahk VWIL too) are you (singular) not?
Nach bhfuil sé?
(nahk VWIL shay*) isn't he?
(nahk VWIL-i-mid) aren't we?
Nach bhfuil sibh?
(nahk VWIL shiv) aren't you (plural)?
Nach bhfuil siad?
(nahk VWIL SHEE-uhd) aren't they?
To make you more
proficient in the vocabulary and verb forms of this lesson, go through
this progressive drill:
Nach bhfuil Seán
anseo? (nahk* vwil SHAW*n un-SHUH) Isn't John here?
anseo (NEEL shay* un-SHUH). He's not here.
ansin (TAW* shay* un-SHIN) He's there.
Nach bhfuil Seán ansin? Níl sé ansin. Tá
sé sa seomra. Then continue with: sa bhaile, ag teacht isteach,
ag dul amach, ag teacht amach, ag dul isteach.
If you have time,
replace "Seán" by: an t-Éireannach, an Meiriceánach,
an bhean mhór, an fear mór.
For the form
"Cá bhfuil___?", go through this progressive drill:
mé? (kaw* vwil may*) Nach bhfuil mé sa chistin? (nahk*
VWIL may* suh HYISH-tin) Níl mé sa chistin (NEEL may*
suh HYISH-tin). tá tú sa chistin (TAW* too suh HYISH-tin).
Cá bhfuil tú?, and go through "sé", "sí",
"__ imid", "sibh", and "siad", coming back to "Tá mé
A Phádraig, cá bhfuil an fear a bhí sa seomra
eile? (uh FAW*-drig, kaw* vwil un far uh vee suh SHOHM-ruh EL-e)
is the man who was in the other room?
Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM). B'fhéidir go bhfuil
sé sa bhaile (BAY*dir goh vwil shay* suh VWAHL-e).
I don't know.
Perhaps he is home.
Brian: Nach bhfuil
tú féin ag dul abhaile anois? (nahk* VWIL too fay*n
uh duhl uh-VWAHL-e uh-NISH)
Aren't you yourself
going home now?
Is dócha (is DOHK*-uh). Féach! (FAY*ahk*) tá
bus ag teacht síos an tsráid (taw* BUS uh tyahk*t shees
I suppose so.
Look! There's a bus coming down the street.
leat, a mhic, (ish-TYAHK* lat, uh vik).
In with you,
Notes on conversation
fhios agam" means literally "There is not its knowledge at me." "Fios"
is "knowledge", and "agam" is "at me". Learn it as a phrase and use
it as a quick reply to questions.
is often followed by "go bhfuil." Learn it as a phrase, to which you
can add other phrases, such as " __ Seán ag teacht."
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.