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Lesson by "The Irish People"
This week we return to consonants. You learned in Lesson 2 that each
Irish consonant has
A broad sound
if the nearest vowel in the word is "a", "o", or "u".
A slender sound
if the nearest vowel in the word is "e", or "i".
related consonants, "p" and "b", are a good example of this. They
are closely related because they are pronounced in the same way except
that the vocal cords are vibrated for the "b" but mot for the "p".
You can feel the vibration or humming in your vocal cords as you start
to say "bet" but not as you start to say "pet".
broad "b" or "p", extend your lips much farther than for the English
sounds and round the opening. Then pronounce the letter. Try: bád,
bó, bun (bun), bláth (blaw*), blúire (BLOO-i-re),
bróg, brú, brád, pá, post, punt (punt),
plúir (PLOO-ir), práta (PRAW*-tuh).
For the slender
sound of "b" and "p", spread the lips somewhat, as if you were beginning
to smile. Try: bean, beir (ber), bí (bee), bith (bi), bliain
(BLEE-in), breá (bir-RAW*), bris (brish). Then try "b" next
to "eo", which usually gets a (yoh) sound: beo (byoh), alive.
You can now
realize the clear difference in Irish between "brách" (braw*k*),
meaning "ever", and "breá" (bir-RAW*), meaning "fine". "Erin
go bragh" is actually a badly anglicized form of "Éire go brách",
meaning "Ireland forever".
In going from
a broad "b" or "p" sound to a slender vowel such as "i", you will
naturally make a sound somewhat like English "w". Try: buí
(bwee), bain (bwin). Notice that the "u" and "a" in these words are
there chiefly to tell you to make the broad "b" sound instead of the
slender, as in bí (bee), beir (ber). Last, try: buíochas
The sounds for
"m" are akin to those for "b", except that air is expelled through
the nose for "m". Protrude and round the lips, then try: mó
(moh), mór (mohr), má (maw*), mála (MAW*-luh)
múch (mook*), múin (MOO-in), mná (muh-MAW*),
"m", hold the lips as for slender "b" and "p" Try: mín (meen),
minic (MIN-ik), méad (may*d), Meiriceá (MER-i-kaw*).
bidh (tree VAY*L-uh bee) three meals
na prátaí (PRAW*-tuh, nuh PRAW*-tee), potato, the potatoes
feoil, an fheoil
(FYOH-il, un OH-il), meat
mias, an mhias,
na miasa (MEE-uhs, un VEE-uhs, nuh MEE-uhs-uh) dish, the dishes
ith (i), eat
nigh (ni), wash
To help you
learn the difference between "is" and "tá", do the following
drill, either alone or with classmates:
"Céard é seo? (kay*rd ay* shuh), pointing to an object
or person mentioned in the Vocabularies of the previous lessons. Use
drawings if necessary.
"Is ____ é", or "Is ___ í". Use some adjectives, too.
"Nach ___ é?"
"Ní hea, ach ____." (nee HA, ahk*)
"Cá bhfuil sé?", or Cá bhfuil sí?", meaning
"Where is it?"
"Tá sé ___." Use phrases from past vocabularies.
for at least ten objects or persons. Some words are: arán,
feoil, bainne, uisce, cupán, spúnóg, fear, bean,
cailín, páiste, feirmeoir, dochtúir, lámh,
Here are additional
expressions that you should learn for quick use in conversation and
Ceart go leor
(kart goh lohr), Right enough
anois (ish-TYAHK* lat uh-NISH), In with you now.
Ar chor ar bith
(er HUHR er BI), at all. (Put at sentence end.)
An bhfuil an bricfeasta réidh? (un vwil un brik-FAS-tuh ray*)
Is the breakfast ready?
Tá, ach níl na miasa ar an mbord fós (taw*, ahk*
neel nuh MEE-uhs-uh er un mohrd fohs) It is, but the dishes are not
on the table yet. Cuir ar an mbord iad (kir er un mohrd EE-uhd). Put
them on the table.
Déanfaidh mé sin (DAY*N-hee may* shin). I'll do that.
go raibh maith agat (gu-ruh MAH huh-guht). Tá mé an-ghnóthach
anois (taw* may* AHN-gnoh-huhk* uh-NISH). Faigh spúnóg
mhór dom (feye spun-OHG vwohr duhm), más é do
thoil é (MAW* shay* duh HIL ay*). Thank you. I am very busy
now. Get me a big spoon, please.
Seo duit é (shuh git ay*). Here it is.
Go raibh maith agat (gu-ruh MAH huh-guht). Cad ba mhaith leat le haghaidh
an dinnéir? (kahd buh vwah lat le HEYE-ee un din-YAY*R) Thank
you. What would you like for dinner?
Ba mhaith liom feoil, prátaí, agus cabáiste (buh
vwah luhm FYOH-il, PRAW*-tee, AH-guhs kuh-BAW*SH-te). I would like
meat, potatoes, and cabbage. Nach maith an dinnéar é
sin? (nahk* mah un din-YAY*R ay* shin) Isn't that a good dinner?
Nach agatsa atá an ceart? (nahk* uh-GUHT-suh uh-TAW* un kart)
Aren't you the one who's right?
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.