Irish Lesson 62
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Lesson by "The Irish People"

The letter "f" in Irish can have either a slender or broad pronunciation. If the nearest vowel in the word is "e" or "i", the "f" is slender. Pronounce it with the lower lip outside, and touching, the edges of the upper front teeth. Do not start with the lower lip behind the upper front teeth. Examples:


féin (fay*n), self; feicim (FEK-im), I see; fill (fil), return; fíor (FEE-uhr), true; fear (far), man; feachtas (FAK*-tuhs), campaign; feidhm (feyem), effect, use; feabhas (fous), improvement; feall (fyoul), treachery; fiú (fyoo), worth; feá (fyaw*), fathom; fleiscín (flesh-KEEN), hyphen; fleá (flaw*), festival; fliú (floo), influenza; frídín (free-DEEN), germ; freisin (FRESH-in), also; friotháil (fri-HAW*-il), serving; freagra (FRAG-ruh), answer.


Inside a word:

difríocht (DIF-ree-uhk*t), difference; diftéire (dif-TAY*R-e), diptheria; éifeacht (AY*-fuhk*t), effectiveness; gáifeach (GAW*-fuhk*), dangerous; paimfléid (pahm-FLAY*D), pamphlet; raidhfil (REYE-fil), rifle; taifeadán (TAF-uh-daw*n), tape recorder; teilifís (TEL-e-feesh), television.


Sometimes "f" inside a word is pronounced (h) or omitted. The future tense is an example:

feicfidh mé (FEK-hee may*), I shall see


Aspirated slender "f" has no sound: mo fhear (muh AR), my man.

 

Grammar

The equivalent of "John is the best driver here" is: "Is é Seán an tiománaí is fearr anseo" (shay* shaw*n un ti-MAW*-nee is fyaw*r un-SHUH), meaning literally, "Is he John the best driver here". Some other examples to familiarize you with this way of expressing what is called the superlative in English:

Is í Máire an cailín is éirimiúla sa rang (shee MAW*-re un kah-LEEN is ER-i-myool-uh suh rahng), Mary is the most intelligent girl in the class.

Is é sin an fear is airde san arm (shay* shin un FAR is AR-de suhn AHR-ruhm), That is the tallest man in the Army.

An é an bord is ísle é? (un ay* un BOHRD is EESH-le ay*), Is it the lowest table?

Ní hé Brian an t-oibrí is measa (TIB-ree is MAS-uh) de na páistí (PAW* shtee), Brian is not the worst worker of the children.

Is tusa an bádóir is cúramaí (is TU-suh un baw*-DOH-ir is KOOR-uh-mee), You are the most careful boatman.

Nach é seo an seomra is teo (tyoh) sa teach?, Isn't this the warmest room in the house?


Note that the adjective form (for example, "airde") is the same for the superlative as for the comparative. It is the difference in sentence form that indicates whether the comparative or the superlative is intended.

 

Vocabulary

amadán, un t-amadán (AHM-uh-daw*n, un TAHM-uh-daw*n), fool (man or boy)

amideach (AHM-i-dyuhk*), foolish; amaidí (AHM-i-dee), more foolish

aosta (AY*S-tuh), old; aosta, old

bog (bohg), soft; boige (BWIG-e), softer

ciallmhar (KEEL-vwuhr), sensible; ciallmhaire (KEEL-vwir-e), more sensible

íseal (EE-shuhl), low; ísle (EESH-le), lower

leathan (LA-huhn), wide; leithne (LE-ne), wider

glan (gluhn), clean; glaine (GLIN-e), cleaner

néata (NAY*-tuh), neat; néata, neater

riachtanach (REE-uhk*-tuhn-uhk*), necessary; riachtanaí (REE-uhk*-tuhn-ee), more necessary

 

DRILL

Form sentences based on the patterns: "Is airde Seán ná Séamas" and "Is é Seán an fear is airde sa seomra", using the following word groups:

amaideach, Nrian, Liam; buachaill, scoil.

aosta, Nóra, Diarmaid (DEER-mwid); an bhean (un van), cathair.

ciallmhar, Máire, Siobhán (shi-VAW*N); banaltra, ospidéal (OHS-pi-day*l).

néata, Seoirse (SHOR-she), Mícheál (MEE-haw*l); múinteoir, ar scoil.

bog, cathaoir (KAH-heer), tolg (TUHL-luhg); ceann, teach.

leathan, nuachtán, leabhar; páipéar, seomra.

íseal, bord seo, bord sin; ceann, cistin.

glan, cat, madra; rud, gairdín.


Key: Is amaidí Brian ná Liam; Is é Brian an buchaill is amaidí sa scoil.

Is aosta Nóra ná Diarmaid; Is í Nóra an bhean is aosta sa chathair.

Is ciallmhaire Máire ná Siobhán; Is í Máire an bhanaltra (VAHN-uhl-truh) is caillmhaire san ospidéal. ("Ospidéal" is "hospital".)

Is néata Seoirse ná Mícheál; Is é Seoirse an múinteoir is néata in ár scoil. ("in our school").

Is boige an chathaoir ná an tolg; Is í an chathaoir an ceann is boige sa teach ("the softest one in the house").

Is leithne an nuachtán ná an leabhar; Is é an nuachtán an páipéar is leithne sa seomra.

Is ísle an bord seo ná an bord sin; Is é an bord seo an ceann is ísle sa chistin.

Is glaine an cat ná an madra; Is é an cat an rud is glaine sa ghairdín (gahr-DEEN).


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