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Lesson by "The Irish People"
The letter "i"
has several sounds in Irish. If there is a síneadh fada (SHEEN-uh
FAH-duh) over the "i", it will have an (ee) sound, resembling
the English sound in "bee". The tongue tip, however, should
be touching the lower front teeth, and the tongue center should arch
up to the hard ridge behind the upper front teeth. Examples: cailín
(kah-LEEN), mín (meen), bhí (vee), dílis (DEE-lish).
The sound is held for a longer time than in English.
If the "i"
has no síneadh fada, it may still get the (ee) sound, especially
if it is in an accented syllable. Examples: bia (BEE-uh), mian (MEE-uhn),
a pronounced "i" in an unaccented syllable will have a sound
between (i) of English "hit" and (ee) of English "heat".
Depending on the locality and the need to differentiate between similar
words, such as "briste" and "bríste", the
sound may be closer to (ee) or (i). It should never be exactly an
English (i) as in "hit", although in words like "sin"
(shin) and "cuir" (kir) it is close to that.
The letter (i)
may get the sound of (eye) in English "high" in some words
in certain parts of Ireland. "Binn" may be (beyen).
may be in a word merely to show you that you must give the consonant
next to it its slender sound. Examples: fuar (FOO-uhr), fuair (FOO-ir).
As you go from (FOO) to the slender "r", you make a gliding
sound. We represent the combination by (ir). "Áit"
is another example. In going from (aw*) to the slender "t",
you will make a sound that will cause the word to resemble "cynch"
to some extent. Pól (pohl), Póil (POH-il) is another
Sometimes we hear a person say "I be sick", indicating that
he is continually ailing, as contrasted with "I am sick",
indicating a present and temporary state. Irish has a form of "tá"
to indicate a continuing state. It is:
I am, I be
(BEE-uhn too), you are
sí; he is, she is
siad; you (plural) are, they are
The negative is:
ní bhím (nee veem), I am not; ní bhíonn
tú, you are not; etc. The question forms are: an mbím?
(un meem), am I; nach mbím? (nahk* meem), am I not?; etc.
For indirect speech:
deir sé go mbím; deir sé nach mbím.
Examples: Bím tinn (beem tin), I am sick, in poor health.
tinn; I am sick now.
ar scoil; he is usually or often at school.
ar scoil; he is at school at this moment.
go minic; we are often there.
ann anois; we are there now.
brúigh, ag brú (BROO-ee), uh BROO), press
(broon shay*), he presses
ag coimeád (kim-AW*D, uh kim-AW*D), keep
an tine, fire (in a fireplace)
grian, an ghrian
(GREE-uhn, un YREE-uhn), sun
aontaigh le, ag aontú le (AY*N-tee le, eg AY*N-too le), agree
leat (AY*N-teem lat), I agree with you
dúnadh (doon, uh DOON-uh) close
The next few lessons
will have reading exercises to illustrate usage of the grammar and
to review the vocabulary that you have learned. Read each exercise
over first, then verify the pronunciation against the key before you
look at the translation below the key.
D'eirigh Brian go moch inné, timpeall a sé a chlog.
Bhrúigh sé cnaipe ar an mballa chun an lampa a lasadh,
agus ansin d'fhéach sé ar a chlog. Amach as a leaba
leis. Amuigh, bhí sédorcha. Ní raibh an ghrian
sa spéir fós. Nigh sé é féin, agus
ansin chuir sé a chuid éadaí air. Tháinig
sé anuas an staighre ansin, agus fuair sé a bhricfeasta.
D'éist sé leis an raido, agus é ag ithe a bhricfeasta.
Clár nuachta agus ceol a bhí ann. D'éirigh an
ghrian ar leath-uair tar éis a sé, agus bhí an
tsráid geal ansin.
Key: DEYE-ree BREE-uhn goh mohk* in-YAY*, TIM-puhl uh shay* uh k*luhg.
VROO-ee shay* kuh-NAHP-e er un MAHL-uh k*un un LAHM-puh uh LAHS-uh,
AH-guhs un-SHIN DAY*-ahk* shay* er a k*luhg. un-MAHK* as un LA-buh
lesh. uh-MWEE, vee shay* DUHR-uh-huh. nee rev un YREE-uhn suh spay*r
fohs. ni shay* ay* fay*n, AH-guhs un-SHIN k*ir shay* uh k*wid AY*-dee
er. HAW*-nig shay* uh-NOO-uhs un STEYE-re un-SHIN, AH-guhs FOO-ir
shay* uh vrik-FAS-tuh. day*sht shay* lesh un RAH-dee-oh, AH-guhs ay*
eg I-he uh vrik-FAS-tuh. klaw*r NOO-uhk*-tuh AH-guhs kyohl uh vee
oun. DEYE-ree un YREE-uhn er la-OO-ir tuhr-AY*SH uh shay*, AH-guhs
vee un traw*d gal un-SHIN.
Translation: Brian got up early yesterday, around six o'clock. He
pressed a button on the wall to light the lamp, and then he looked
at the clock. Out of bed with him. Outside, it was dark. The sun wasn't
in the sky yet. He washed himself, shaved, and then put on his clothes.
He came down the stairs then, and got his breakfast. He listened to
the radio while he was eating his breakfast. There was a news program
and music. The sun rose at half past six, and then the street was
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.