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Lesson by "The Irish People"
We will now look
more closely at some vowel sounds before taking up any more consonants.
First comes "o".
its sound by (oh) for simplicity, but the actual Irish sound is noticeably
different from English "oh". To see this, stand before a mirror and
watch your lips as you pronounce the word "oh" slowly. You will see
them contract and move out to make an (oo) sound at the end. English
"oh" is really a diphthong, a close combination of two vowels.
The Irish sound
is a single vowel, made with lips held rounded. Watch you lips again
as you say English "oak" slowly. Then try to say it without contracting
your lips. You will have the distinctive sound that has sometimes
come into English. Try: óg, ól, ón, ór,
ós. This vowel sound should be held longer than in English.
If there is no
síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh FAH-duh) over an "o" which is nevertheless
stressed in a word, pronounce it in the same way but do not hold it
as long. Try: obair (OH-bir), oscail (OH-skil), ocht (ohk*t). Notice
that this shorter sound may resemble (uh), but in Irish you should
not make the error of saying (uh) for this shorter "o". Keep your
lips more rounded and contracted than for (uh). Next, try "ocht" and
then "ucht" (uk*t), and notice the difference.
In everyday speech
in any language, there are certain phrases or sentences with which
a speaker reacts instantly to given situations. The expressions are
closer to reflex action than to careful selection of words. "Níl
a fhios agam" (neel is uh-GUHM) is one example. You must learn some
of these to be fluent in speech and to understand written and spoken
leis (naw* bahk lesh), never mind, don't worry about it.
le Dia (BWEE-uhk*-uhs le DEE-uh), Thanks be to God, thank Heaven.
maith (taw* goh mah), All right.
Is cuma liom
(is KUM-uh luhm), I don't care, it's all the same to me.
tú liom é? (un NAY*R too luhm ay*), You don't say (literally:
Do you say it to me?
Fan go fóill
(fahn goh FOH-il), Wait a minute, take it easy.
- Are you working
on your pronunciation of d, t, c, and g, with the instructions in
Lesson 2 and 3?
- Are you reading
- Do you translate
back and forth from Irish to English and then from English to Irish
in the Vocabulary and Conversation?
- Do you form
a picture in your mind every time you say an Irish word or phrase?
If you answered
"No" to any of these questions, you can benefit from reading Lessons
1 to 3 over again.
GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY
To give a command
to another person, you must know the imperative form of the verb.
This form is almost always the shortest and most basic part of the
verb. Later on, you will learn how to change and add to this basic
part to tell, for example, that an action happened in the past or
will happen in the future.
Here are some
imperatives to learn. Note that if you want to tell a person not to
do something, you put "Ná" (naw*) before the imperative.
(day*n ay*), Do it.
é (naw* day*n ay*), Don't do it.
é (lay* ay*), Read it.
é (naw* lay* ay*), Don't read it.
é (shkreev ay*), Write it.
é (naw* shkreev ay*), Don't write it.
Cuir ar an mbord
é (kir er un mohrd ay*), Put it on the table.
an bosca ar an mbord (naw* kir un BOHSK-uh er un mohrd), Don't put
the box on the table.
(ay*sht luhm), Listen to me.
leis (naw* hay*sht lesh), Don't listen to him
bainne (ohl un BAHN-ye), Drink the milk.
an tae (naw? hohl un tay?), Don't drink the tea.
precedes a verb that starts with a vowel, an "h" is put before the
verb, as in two examples above. Note also that "é" (ay*), which
means "him" or "it", and "í" (ee), which means "her" or "it",
are usually put at the end of the sentence.
(MAW*-re): Ar chuala tú mo chat aréir, a Sheoirse? (er
K*OO-uh-luh too muh k*aht uh-RAY*R, uh HYOHR-she) Did you hear my
cat last night, George?
Chuala mé é, go cinnte (K*OO-uh-luh may* ay*, goh KIN-te).
I heard it, certainly.
ag screadadh an oíche go léir (vee shay* uh SHKRAD-uh
un EE-huh goh lay*r).
It was screeching
the whole night.
cat eile ann, freisin (AH-guhs vee kaht EL-e oun, FRESH-in).
And there was
another cat there, too.
Maire: Cara leis,
is dócha (KAH-ruh lesh, is DOHK*-uh)
A friend of his
sámh agat anocht (KUHL-uh saw*v uh-GUHT uh-NOHK*T).
Sound sleep to
Notes: In pronouncing
"Máire", you must put a faint (i) sound between the (maw*)
and the (re) sounds. This makes the word sound somewhat like "Moyra"
or "Moira", English attempts to represent the sound.
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.