Irish Lesson 29

 

Pronunciation review

The letter "r" is pronounced with two principal sounds in Irish, and both sounds differ from the American pronunciation. If the "r" begins a word and is followed by an "a, o, u", roll the sound by placing the tongue tip near enough to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth to make the tongue vibrate as you say the "r". Examples: rás, ramhar (ROU-wuhr), raca (RAHK-uh), ród, roc (rohk), rún (roon), rud (ruhd).

Give "r" the same sound when it begins a word and is followed by "e, i", as in: réim (ray*m), reilig (REL-ig), (ree), riamh (reev), rith (ri).

The broad "r" sound inside a word or at the end, and near "a, o, u", is not as likely to be rolled. It often resembles the American pronunciation. A double "r" near "a, o, u", is rolled, however, as in: barr (bahr), cearr (kyahr), carraig (KAHR-rig), bearraim (BYAHR-rim), borradh (BOHR-ruh).

Next to an "e, i" inside or at the end of a word, the "r" gets its slender sound. This is perhaps the most difficult Irish sound for Americans. Place the tongue tip near the top of your upper front teeth and form a shallow pocket in the tongue front. Then pronounce "r". The air should blow downwards toward the lower lip as you drop the tongue. Try: fir (fir), beirim (BER-im), litir, féir (fay*r), Máire (MAW*-re), creid (kred), Bríd (breed). Compare "féar" with "féir". The former word has an "r" like the American "r" at its end.

The slender "r" faintly resembles a "d" or "zh" sound in English. In parts of Ireland, a word like "Máire" may sound like (MAW*-zhe).

Slender "r" after a consonant sometimes seems to add a syllable, as in: breá(bir-RAW*). In Irish, "r" is pronounced in the front of the mouth, never in the back with a guttural rolling as in some other European languages.

 

Grammar

Up to now, all the verbs that you have studied, with one exception, have been "regular". In a regular verb, the forms are based on the imperative, which you can always recognize in the verb form. For instance, "cuir" (kir) means "Put!" In the past tense, "chuir " (k*ir shay*) means "he put". "Chuireann (KIR-uhn) " means "he puts", and "chuirfinn" (K*IR-hin) means "I would put". All forms are easily recognizable as belonging to "cuir".

The irregular verbs change more in going from tense to tense, and some change going from affirmative to negative. One irregular verb is "". It becomes "níl" and "an bhfuil" in the present, and then changes to "bhí", "níraibh", and "an raibh" in the past. About ten other Irish verbs are irregular, many fewer than in English, but the Irish verbs change more. We will learn them gradually. The first two are "come" and "go", in the past tense.

"Came" is:

tháinig (HAW*-nig may*), I came

tháinig , you came

tháinig , he came

tháinig , she came

thángamar (HAW*NG-uh-muhr), we came

tháinig sibh (shiv), you came

tháinig siad (SHEE-uhd), they came

níor tháinig , I didn't come

níor thángamar, we didn't come

níor tháinig , etc.

ar tháinig ?, did I come?

ar thángamar?, did we come?

nár tháinig ?, didn't I come?

nár thángamar?, did we come? etc.

"Went" is:

chuaigh (K*OO-ig may*), I went

chuaigh , you went

chuaigh , he went

chuaigh , she went

chuamar (K*OO-uh-muhr), we went

chuaigh sibh, you went

chuaigh siad, they went

(The word "chuaigh" is pronounced (K*-OO-uh) in parts of Ireland.)

nídheachaigh (nee YAK*-hee may*), I didn't go

nídheachaigh , you didn't go

nídheachaigh , he didn't go

nídheachaigh , she didn't go

nídheachamar (nee YAK*-uh-muhr), we didn't go

nídheachaigh sibh, you didn't go

nídheachaigh siad, they didn't go

an ndeachaigh ? (un NYAK*-hee may*), did I go?

an ndeachamar? (unNYAK*-uh-muhr), did we go?

an ndeachaigh ?, did you go?, etc.

nach ndeachaigh ? (nahk* NYAK*-hee may*), didn't I go?

nach ndeachamar? (nahk* NYAK*-uh-muhr), didn't we go? etc.

Remember that the "ch" next to an "a, o, u" is pronounced by dropping the back of the tongue somewhat while you pronounce the "c" that is in "coat". The result is a guttural sound like that in the German "ach". Don't drop the tongue so far that all you get is an "h" sound. Our phonetic guide employs (k*) for the sound.

 

Drill

Go through a progressive drill with each of these two verbs. Start with: Ar tháinig ? Níor tháinig . Tháinig . Ar tháinig ? Níor tháinig . Tháinig . Continue to the last phrase: Tháinig . "Went" requires some alertness. Start with: An ndeachaigh ? Nídheachaigh . Chuaigh . An ndeachaigh ? Nídheachaigh . Chuaigh . Continue to the last phrase: Chuaigh .

Then join the following phrases to all forms to make sentences: amach; isteach; suas an staighre; síos an staighre; amach sa ghairdín; isteach sa teach; inné; abhaile; inniu.

Remember that "I was going" is "Bhíméag dúl", and that "I was coming" is "Bhíméag teacht". "I went" and "I came" are this lesson's subject.