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Lesson by "The Irish People"
The sound for
slender "g" in English resembles the English sound for "g"
in the words "give" and "get", except that the
Irish sound is pronounced with the point of the tongue lower in the
mouth and with the sides of the tongue pressed against the upper back
teeth. The slender sound occurs when the nearest vowel in the word
is "e" or "i". Examples of slender "g"
at the beginning of a word:
geit (get), a
sudden start; géar (gyay*r), sharp; gearr (gyahr), short; geoin
(GYOH-in), noise; gile (GIL-e), whiteness; giúis (GYOO-ish),
pine tree; gleic (glek), contest; glé (glay*), bright; glic
(glik), clever; gleann (gloun), glen.
(GLAK-ee-ohk*t), physical exercise; gleo (gloh), noise; gliúmáil
(GLOO-maw*-il), fumbling; gné (gnay), species; gníomhaire
(GNEEV-uh-re), agent; greim (grem), a bite; gréasaí
(GRAY*-see), shoemaker; gread (grad), thrash; grian (GREE-uhn), sun.
You will notice that in some of the words above, you tend to add an
additional (i) sound after the (g), as in "gréasaí".
Examples of slender
"g" inside or at the end of a word:
inspector; figiúr (fig-YOOR), figure; ligim (LIG-im), I allow;
léigear (LAY*-guhr), siege; smig (smig), chin; meirg (MER-ig),
rust; oifig (IF-ig), office; seilg (SHEL-ig), hunt.
Note that the combination "ng" has its own sound; the (g)
sound rarely follows it. "Pingin", a penny, is (PING-in),
When a slender
"g" at the beginning of a word is aspirated, as in "géag"
(GAY*-uhg), arm; "mo ghéag" (muh YAY*-uhg), my arm,
the sound is very close to English (y), but there should be a trace
of (g) in it, too. Examples, some of which are difficult to pronounce
at first, are:
(un YAY*), the goose; ghearr sé (YAHR shay*), he cut; bean
ghlic (ban ylik), a clever women.
If aspirated inside a word, slender "g" may have an (eye)
ice; leigheas (leyes), medicine, remedy.
A few final pointers
on comparative and superlative usage before we continue to other topics.
The phrases "níos láidre" (nees LAW*-dre)
and "is láidre" (is LAW*-dre) can serve in simple
sentences to indicate that something is "stronger" or "strongest".
The form is:
Feicim an fear
is láidre (FEK-im un far is LAW*-dre), I see the strongest
Tabhair dom ceann
níos láidre (TOO-ir duhm kyoun nees LAW*-dre), Give
me a stronger one.
In the past, the
forms change slightly:
an fear ba láidre (k*uh-NIK shay* un far buh LAW*-dre), He
saw the strongest man.
ceann níba láidre (FOO-ir shay* kyoun NEE-buh LAW*-dre),
He got a stronger one.
If an adjective
begins with a vowel or "f" before a vowel, the past forms
contain "ab" or "nib", as in:
ab óige, níb óige; (ahb OH-i-ge, neeb OH-i-ge);
maith, good: ab fhearr, níb fhearr (ahb AHR, neeb AHR).
Examples of sentences
with these forms:
an scéal ab aosta (K*OO-uh-luh shay* un shkay*l ahb AY*S-tuh),
He heard the oldest story.
ar an stól ab ísle (hee shay* er un stohl ahb EESH-le),
He sat on the lowest stool.
ar an traein níb fhaide (vee may* er tray*n neeb A-de), I was
on the longer train.
sí ar an lá ab fhuaire (HAW*-nig shee er an law* ahb
OO-i-re), She came on the coldest day.
níb oilte uainn (vee DIN-e neeb IL-te WOO-in), We wanted a
more skilled person.
(FAY*-li-re), calendar; iasc (EE-uhsk). an t-iasc, fish; gnó
(gnoh), business; paiste (PAHSH-te), patch; sort (sohrt), sort, kind
mhóin (MOH-in, un VWOH-in), turf, peat; litir (LI-tir), letter;
páirc, an pháirc (paw*rk, un faw*rk), grassy field,
aibí (A-bee), ripe; múinte (MOO-in-te), polite; ceanúil
(kan-OO-il), loving, fond; slán (slaw*n), safe
Form Irish sentences
from these elements:
We got: a better
calendar; the best calendar.
They bought: wetter
turf; the wettest turf.
I read (past):
a longer letter; the longest letter.
Did you ever see:
the younger girl; the youngest girl?
Where was: a dryer
field; the dryest field?
They asked him
for: the ripest apple; a riper apple.
Key: Fuaireamar féilire níb fhearr (FOO-ir-uh-muhr FAY*-li-re
neeb ahr); fuaireamar an féilire ab fhearr (ahb ahr).
móin níba fhliche (HYAN-ee SHEE-uhd MOH-in NEE-buh LI-hye).
litir níb fhaide (lay* may* LI-tir neeb A-de); leigh mé
an litir ab fhaide (ahb A-de).
An bhfaca tú
riamh an cailín níb óige? (un VAHK-uh too reev
un kah-LEEN neeb OH-i-ge); an bhfaca tú riamh an cailín
páirc ní ba thirime? (kaw* rev paw*rk NEE-buh HIR-i-me);
cá raibh an pháirc ba thirime? (un faw*rk buh HIR-i-me).
D'iarr siad an
t-úll ab aibí air (deer SHEE-uhd un tool ahb A-bee er);
d'iarr siad úll níb aibí air (ool neeb A-bee
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(c) 1997 The
Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.