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Lesson by "The Irish People"
When a "g"
is near "a", "o" or "u" in an Irish
word, it is called a broad "g". Pronounce it like the "g"
in the English words "go" and "good," but try
to press the sides of the tongue against the upper back teeth and
use more force than with the English equivalent.
a need; gairdín (gahr-DEEN), garden; gó (goh), a doubt;
gual (GOO-uhl), coal; gabhar (GOU-uhr), goat; gáire (GAW*-i-re),
laughter; gadhar (GEYE-uhr), dog; gann (goun), scarce; gob (guhb),
beak; glám (glaw*m), a group; glan (gluhn), clean; glaise (GLASH-e),
greenness; glór (glohr), a voice; glúin (GLOO-in), knee;
gnáth (gnaw*), usual; gnó (gnoh), business; gnús
(gnoos), grunt; grá (graw*), love; gradam (GRAH-duhm), an honor;
gró (groh), crowbar; grod (gruhd), hasty; gruaig (GROO-ig),
If the broad "g" comes just before a slender vowel, there
is often a sound like English (uh) or (w) between the two. Examples:
"ae" and "ao" are pronounced (ay*), so "gaelach"
Irish or Gaelic, may sound somewhat like (GWAY*-luhk*), and "gaoth"
wind, may resemble (gway*), but the "g" is nevertheless
pronounced as for "gá".
In the word "goid",
to steal, the "o" tells you that "g" gets its
broad sound. The "o" is not pronounced. The word sounds
slightly like (gwid), although our simplified pronunciation guide
gives (gid); you must remember to give the "g" its broad
to pray, is similar. The broad "g" sound causes the word
to resemble (gwee) somewhat, although our pronunciation guide gives
like "gl", "gn" and "gr", this effect
is not as apparent. "Gloine" (GLIN-e), glass; "gnaoi"
(gnee), affection; "groí" (gree), sturdy, are examples.
All have the broad "g", of course.
Pronounce an aspirated
broad "g" at the beginning of a word as if it were unaspirated:
gairdín (gahr-DEEN); mo ghairdín (muh gahr-DEEN). Sometimes
the back of the tongue is lowered slightly to let a little air past,
but this is not very noticeable in most modern pronunciation.
An aspirated broad
"g" inside a word is usually part of a letter group with
a special sound which has no (g) in it: togha (TOU-uh), election;
faghairt (FEYE-irt), eagerness.
In English, you
can say either "The son pays the bill" or "The bill
is paid by the son". In Irish, you know how to say only "Íocann
an mac an bille" (EEK-uhn un MAHK un BIL-e). In Irish, this is
the most common and the preferred way to express the English form.
If, however, you
don't want to say who pays the bill, or don't know, there is another
form that can be used and is common in Irish. It is the free form
or autonomous form. Examples:
an bille (EEK-tuhr un BIL-e), the bill is paid (meaning that someone
pays the bill).
an doras (DOON-tuhr un DUH-ruhs), the door is closed (meaning that
someone closes the door).
(KLISH-tuhr ay*), he is heard.
na nuachtáin (BAHL-ee-tuhr nuh NOO-uhk*-taw*-in), the newspapers
are collected (meaning that someone collects them).
Feictear iad (FEK-tuhr
EE-uhd), they are seen.
The rule: Add "tear" or "tar" to the imperative
or basic part of the verb. "Tear" if the nearest vowel is
"e" or "i"; "tar" if it is "a",
"o" or "u". Examples:
é (kir, KIR-tuhr ay*), it is put
é (gluhn, GLUHN-tuhr ay*), it is cleaned
For verbs like
"ceannaigh" and "deisigh":
é (KAN-ee-tuhr ay*), it is bought
é (DESH-ee-tuhr ay*), it is repaired
For verbs like
"oscail" and "freagair":
é (OH-sklee-tuhr ay*), it is opened
é (FRAG-ree-tuhr ay*), it is answered
Learn the proverb: Ní mar a shíltear, bítear
(nee muhr HEEL-tuhr, BEE-tuhr). Containing two of these free forms,
it means "Not as it is thought, does it be", or "Things
are not as they seem". "Bítear" is the free
form of "bíonn" (BEE-uhn); "bím breoite"
(beem BROY-te) means "I am ailing" or "I am continually
Cuir Gaeilge ar
na h-abairtí seo leanas (kir GAY*-lig-e er nuh HAH-bir-tee
shuh LAN-uhs), put Irish on the following sentences:
He is listened
to; letters are written daily; much milk is drunk here; work is done
in the other room; autos are repaired there; people come here often;
Irish is spoken here; it is believed; people go there now and again.
Key: Éistear leis (AY*SH-tuhr lesh); scríobhtar litreacha
gach lá (SHKREEV-tuhr LI-trahk*-uh gahk* law*); óltar
mórán bainne anseo (OHL-tuhr moh-RAW*N BAHN-ye un-SHUH);
déantar obair sa seomra eile (DAY*N-tuhr OH-bir suh SHOHM-ruh
EL-e); deisítear gluaisteáin ann (DESH-ee-tuhr GLOOSH-taw*-in
oun); tagtar anseo go minic (TAHG-tuhr un-SHUH goh MIN-ik); labhraítear
Gaeilge anseo (LOU-ree-tuhr GAY*-lig-e un-SHUH); creidtear é
(KRED-tuhr ay*); téitear ann anois agus arís (TAY-tuhr
oun un-NISH AH-guhs uh-REESH).
Note that in English you cannot say, "It is come here often".
Instead, you must use some expression such as "People come here"
or "This place is frequented", etc. The Irish free form
corresponds largely to the English passive but is perhaps more useful.
Note also that
what you have learned in this lesson covers only the present tense.
The free form for past and future differ in the word ending, as you
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.