Irish Lesson 6
The pronunciation of "l" in Irish differs somewhat from English pronunciation of "l". If the "l" starts a word and is followed by "a", "o", or "u", the tongue is spread wider than for English "l" and is pressed against the upper front teeth. Try: lá(law*), lán (law*n), lón (lohn), lúb (loob). This is the broad sound. In English, you probably point the tongue and touch it to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth.
For an "l" that starts a word but is followed by "e" or "i", hold the tongue with the tip against the back of the lower front teeth and raise the front of the tongue so that it touches the upper front teeth and the hard ridge behind them. This is a slender "l". Try: léan (lay*n), léir (lay*r) leis (lesh), leat (lat), lín (leen), lia (LEE-uh), lios (lis), litir (LI-tir).
If inside a word, "l' is more likely to be pronounced with the tongue tip on the hard ridge, much as in English.
You should now be able to understand why some Irish persons pronounce English words with "l" as they do. Take "lovely" as an example. Remember what Lesson 5 told you--that in Irish the (uh) sound is not as common as in English. Then try the word "lovely" with the broad "l" you have just learned and with a vowel sound closer to (oh) than to (uh). For another example, try pronouncing English "line" with either the broad "l" or the slender "l" that you have just learned.
Most persons learning a foreign language tend to apply the sounds of their native language to the new language.
This is what gives us German, French, Russian and Spanish accents. The Irish, similarly, have applied the sounds of Irish to English to create an Irish accent. Do not call it a "brogue."
aon duine (ay*n DIN-e), anyone
aon rud (ay*n ruhn), anything
seomra *SHOM-ruh), room
bosca (BOHSK-uh), box
bord (bohrd), table
Éireannach, an t-Éireannach (AY*R-uh-nahk*, un
Meiriceánach (mer-i-KAW*-nahk*), an American
oíche, an oíche (EE-hye, un EE-hye), night, the night
traein (tray*n) train
cathair, an chathair (KAH-hir, un K*AH-hir), city, the city
sa seomra (suh SHOHM-ruh), in the room
sa bhaile (suh VWAHL-e) at home
eile (EL-e), other
seo (shuh), this
sin (shin), there
anseo (un-SHUH), here
ansin (un-SHIN), there
ag teacht isteach (uh tyahk*t ish-TYAHK*) coming in
ag dul amach (uh duhl uh-MAHK*), going out
"Cábhfuil X?" (kaw* vwil eks) means "Wher is X?" "Nach bhfuil séanseo?" (nahk* VWIL shay* un-SHUH) means "Isn't he here?"
The complete tense for the "nach bhfuil" form is:
Nach bhfuil mé? (nahk VWIL may*) am I not?
Nach bhfuil tú? (nahk VWIL too) are you (singular) not?
Nach bhfuil sé? (nahk VWIL shay*) isn't he?
Nach bhfuilimid? (nahk VWIL-i-mid) aren't we?
Nach bhfuil sibh? (nahk VWIL shiv) aren't you (plural)?
Nach bhfuil siad? (nahk VWIL SHEE-uhd) aren't they?
To make you more proficient in the vocabulary and verb forms of this lesson, go through this progressive drill:
Nach bhfuil Seán anseo? (nahk* vwil SHAW*n un-SHUH) Isn't John here?
Níl séanseo (NEEL shay* un-SHUH). He's not here.
Táséansin (TAW* shay* un-SHIN) He's there.
Continue with: Nach bhfuil Seán ansin? Níl séansin. Tásésa seomra. Then continue with: sa bhaile, ag teacht isteach, ag dul amach, ag teacht amach, ag dul isteach.
If you have time, replace "Seán" by: an t-Éireannach, an Meiriceánach, an bhean mhór, an fear mór.
For the form "Cábhfuil___?", go through this progressive drill:
Cábhfuil mé? (kaw* vwil may*) Nach bhfuil mésa chistin? (nahk* VWIL may* suh HYISH-tin) Níl mésa chistin (NEEL may* suh HYISH-tin). tátúsa chistin (TAW* too suh HYISH-tin).
Continue with: Cábhfuil tú?, and go through "sé", "sí", "__ imid", "sibh", and "siad", coming back to "Támésa chistin."
Brian: (BREE-uhn): A Phádraig, cábhfuil an fear a bhísa seomra eile? (uh FAW*-drig, kaw* vwil un far uh vee suh SHOHM-ruh EL-e)
Patrick, where is the man who was in the other room?
Pádraig: Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM). B'fhéidir go bhfuil sésa bhaile (BAY*dir goh vwil shay* suh VWAHL-e).
I don't know. Perhaps he is home.
Brian: Nach bhfuil túféin ag dul abhaile anois? (nahk* VWIL too fay*n uh duhl uh-VWAHL-e uh-NISH)
Aren't you yourself going home now?
Pádraig: Is dócha (is DOHK*-uh). Féach! (FAY*ahk*) tábus ag teacht síos an tsráid (taw* BUS uh tyahk*t shees un traw*d).
I suppose so. Look! There's a bus coming down the street.
Brian: Isteach leat, a mhic, (ish-TYAHK* lat, uh vik).
In with you, son.
Notes on conversation
"Níl a fhios agam" means literally "There is not its knowledge at me." "Fios" is "knowledge", and "agam" is "at me". Learn it as a phrase and use it as a quick reply to questions.
"B'fhéidir" is often followed by "go bhfuil." Learn it as a phrase, to which you can add other phrases, such as " __ Seán ag teacht."