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Lesson by "The Irish People"
In Irish, any
"r" beginning a word gets the broad sound. Roll this "r"
by placing the tongue tip near the hard ridge behind the upper front
teeth as you pronounce "r. The tongue should vibrate during
the sound. Practice on: ré (ray*), rá (raw*), rí,
rás, rón, rún (roon), rud (ruhd), reatha (RA-huh),
raca (RAHK-uh), reic (rek).
If an "r" is inside or at the end of a word, and if the
nearest vowel is "a", "o", or "u", the
"r" sound may be closer to the English sound. Examples:
ordóg (ohr-DOHG), daor (day*r), port (pohrt), sráid
(SRAW*-id). In other cases, the "r" is rolled to varying
degree. Examples: orm (OH-ruhm), crua (KROO-uh), doras (DUH-ruhs).
near an "a", "o", or "u" with the rolled
sound, as in carr (kahr), carraig (KAHR-rig), tarraing (TAHR-ring).
When an "r" is inside or at a word end and the nearest vowel
is "e" or "i", pronounce the "r" with
its slender sound. Although this is a difficult sound to describe,
you have heard it from Irish persons and, on radio and television,
from performers seeking to imitate Irish accents. You should be able
to recognize it when you have it correctly.
One way of forming
the sound is to make a shallow pocket in the tongue tip, curling the
tongue and placing the tongue tip near the top rear of your upper
front teeth. Pronounce "r", and you should feel air blow
down against your lower lip as your tongue drops. Do not let the tongue
tip go forward as it drops, or you will make a sound like English
on English "where", "Mary", and "we're here",
pronouncing these with the Irish slender "r". Then try:
fir (fir), féir (fay*r), féirín (fay*r-EEN),
préachán (pray*-K*AW*N), péire (PAY*R-e).
If a slender "r"
follows a consonant, a sound like (i) may come between the consonants.
For example, "breá" may sound like (bir-RAW*), and
"preab" may sound like (pir-RAB).
(say*r-VREE-huhr) or free form exists in all tenses. We will study
the past tense of it now. In Irish, "It was put on the table"
is "Cuireadh (KIR-uh) ar an mbord é. The negative
is "Níor (NEE-uhr) cuireadh ar an mbord é",
meaning "it was not put on the table". The questions are:
Ar (er) cuireadh ar an mbord é?; Was it put on the table?
cuireadh ar an mbord é?; Wasn't it put on the table?
For many verbs, form the past-tense saorbhriathar by adding "_
_ _ adh" or "_ _ _ eadh" to the root, which is the
singular imperative. For "tóg", it becomes "Tógadh
é (TOHG-uh ay*), meaning "It was taken".
(BRISH-uh ay*); it was broken
é; it was not broken
ar briseadh é;
was it broken?
(TIG-uh ay*); it was understood
é; it was not understood
é; wasn't it understood?
Notice that in
this form there is no aspiration by "ar", "níor",
The two-syllable second-conjugation verbs, such as "ceannaigh"
(KAN-ee), "cosain" (KUH-sin), "oscail" (OH-skil),
and "freagair" (FRAG-ir), form the past-tense saorbhriathar
a little differently. Learn these examples:
é (KAN-ee-ohk* ay*), it was bought
é (KUHS-nee-ohk* ay*), it was defended
é (OHSK-lee-ohk* ay*), it was opened
é (FRAG-ree-ohk* ay*), it was answered
Go through a progressive
drill with the saorbhriathar of these verbs and words:
an doras; close, the door
cas (KAHS), an
cúinne (KOON-ye); turn, the corner
carr; stop, car
an scéal; believe, the story
(MEEN-ee), an cheist (hyesht); explain, the question
Examples: Ar dúnadh
an doras? Níor dúnadh an doras. Nár dúnadh
an doras? Dúnadh an doras.
When you have finished, check your sentences against these key words:
casadh, stopadh, creideadh, míníodh (MEEN-ee-ohk*).
(The effort to
improve television reception continues.)
Pól (pohl): Ná bíodh eagla ort (naw* BEE-ohk*
AH-gluh OH-ruht). Oibreoidh mé an-chúramach (ib-ROH-ee
may* AHN-k*oor-uh-mahk*). Don't be afraid. I will work very carefully.
(BLAW*-nid): Suas leat, mar sin. Tá súil agam -- go
bhfuil gach rud i gceart. Up with you then. I hope that everything
is in order.
Is fusa an obair seo -- ná an druileáil (DRIL-aw*-il)
a rinne mé (RIN-ye may*) -- ar an gcúldoras (GOOL-duh-ruhs)
-- anuraidh (uh-NOOR-ee). Níl an t-adhmad seo (TEYE-muhd shuh)
chomh crua (hoh KROO-uh) -- agus a bhí an t-adhmad sa chúldoras.
This work is easier than the drilling I did on the back door last
year. This wood isn't as hard as the wood in the back door.
Ná sleamhnaigh, mar sin féin (naw* SHLOU-nee, mahr shin
fay*n). Níl mórán árachais (AW*-ruh-k*ish)
agam ort. Don't slip, just the same. I don't have much insurance on
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(c) 1998 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.