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> Irish Gaelic Pronounciation Guide, How do you say...
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Danann 
Posted: 02-Aug-2004, 03:16 PM
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Pronunciation

The Irish language, though in the distant past written in "ogham" characters, has used the Latin alphabet for most of its history. The Irish version of this alphabet contains five vowels -- a, e, i, o, and u -- and thirteen consonants: b, c, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, and t. But other letters such as "v" and "x" show up in foreign loan-words.

This is only intended to be a *rough* guide to pronunciation, just to give an idea and what Irish sounds like. But I highly recommend buying a tape of people speaking Irish to pick up the accent and also to pick up what I've had to leave out here.

a) Vowels

There are two classes of vowels, the broad and the slender. The broad vowels are a, o, and u. The slender vowels are e and i. (This distinction is important to the pronunciation of the consonants that surround the vowels). In addition, each vowel has a long and a short form, the long form usually being marked with an accent. The approximate pronunciations of the vowels are as follows:


user posted image


b) Consonants

Consonants each have two pronunciations, broad and slender, depending on whether they are next to a broad vowel (a, o, u) or slender vowel (e, i), respectively. (Because of the Irish grammatical rule "broad with broad and slender with slender", a vowel on one side of a consonant has to be the same kind as a vowel on the other side of it). In some cases, these broad and slender pronunciations are *clearly* different, and where are they I've marked it down on the table below. But a couple of letters have differences that are more subtle and not expressible in writing, and these involve sounds that will have to be picked up by listening to an Irish-speaker. Because of this, I haven't marked the different pronunciations of these letters in the table -- just for the time being pronounce them as they are in English.

user posted image



(Diphthongs and Triphthongs)

Diphthongs and triphthongs are combinations of two and three vowels, respectively. Sometimes they act as one sound (like the diphthong "au" in the English name "Paul", for instance).

(diphthongs)

user posted image

(triphthongs)


user posted image



Although all of this can be very daunting, it isn't particularly important to memorize it right away. I'll be giving approximate pronunciations for many of the words and phrases in the lessons, so you'll get the sense of what the words sound like over time in any case, and you'll also know roughly what to expect when you listen to people speaking Irish.


Word Stress

Stress generally falls on the first syllable of the word, except when any of the other syllables contains a long vowel, in which case the stress falls on that syllable instead.

Aspiration and Eclipsis

You might have heard these dreaded words before -- they're the two reasons most often given for not learning Irish! But they really are not very difficult at all. Aspiration and eclipsis are simply two ways in which some of the consonants in Irish can be altered to show grammatical change. This is done for exactly the same reasons that (for example) in English we put "-ed" at the end of a verb to show that it happened in the past (e.g. "walked"), or put "s" at the end of a noun to show a plural. However, in Irish, as in the rest of the Celtic languages, these changes are made not at the end of words but at the beginning of them. And these changes cause regular and predictable changes in pronunciation as well.

a) Aspiration

The consonants that can be aspirated are b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, and t. They are aspirated by having "h" put after them.


user posted image

Note: both "dh" and "gh" have broad and slender forms, just like the regular consonants.

Here's an example of how aspiration works to show a grammatical change. In Irish the word "mo" means "my" and the word "bróg" (pronounced "brok") means "shoe". But "mo" always aspirates the first letter of a word that follows it (if that word starts with a letter that can be aspirated, of course). So if you want to say "my shoe", you say "mo bhrog" (pronounced "mo vrok").


b) Eclipsis

Eclipsis looks more difficult than aspiration, but is in fact easier because the pronunciation is always the sound of the first letter in the pair:


user posted image



An example of eclipsis at work: the Irish word for "in" is "i" (pronounced like the "i" in "tin"), and it regularly causes eclipsis. So if we want to say "in Paris", in Irish it would be "i bParis" (pronounced "i barrish" -- note how the "p" sound in "Paris" is lost and "eclipsed" by the letter "b"; also note that "s" in Paris is pronounced "sh" because it follows a slender vowel, "i".)

Similar examples would be "i dToronto", "i gCalifornia", "i bhFresno" etc. Naturally, because not all consonants are eclipsable, some would be unaffected: "i Nua Eabhrac" (in New York), "i Louisiana", etc.


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Also, for original storys or thoughts from me, check out my blog: Dannah's Blog
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Ceciliastar1 
Posted: 02-Aug-2004, 06:54 PM
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Wow, this is a ton of info! Thanks! So the phrase "I love you" would be pronounced : May graw too...(mé gra tu)?
Thanks this is awesome!


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And the sun of his labour with pleasure did smile,
And with dew from his eye often wet it.
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Mireland, and they call it the dear little shamrock of Ireland.
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Mise 
Posted: 02-Aug-2004, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (Ceciliastar1 @ 02-Aug-2004, 06:54 PM)
Wow, this is a ton of info!  Thanks! So the phrase "I love you" would be pronounced :  May graw too...(mé gra tu)?
Thanks this is awesome!

No, 'I love you' in Irish is 'mo ghrá thú' (muh gHraw hoo) or 'tá grá agam duit' (taw graw og-gum ditch). gH is a throaty g sound.
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Danann 
Posted: 03-Aug-2004, 10:00 AM
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Mise is right, except, I don't think that "mó ghra thú" is used as much as "Tá grá agam duit" . In foreign languages you usually put the subject of the verb first... you I love. or you have love of me. agam is used when you are combining at (ag) with me (mé) to form a phrase that means "having'.
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Mise 
Posted: 12-Aug-2004, 06:10 PM
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QUOTE (Danann @ 03-Aug-2004, 10:00 AM)
Mise is right, except, I don't think that "mó ghra thú" is used as much as "Tá grá agam duit" . In foreign languages you usually put the subject of the verb first... you I love. or you have love of me. agam is used when you are combining at (ag) with me (mé) to form a phrase that means "having'.

You're right that "Tá grá agam duit" is more grammatical, but "mo ghrá thú" is more colloquial. "Tá grá agam duit" is used to express a love or fondness for anyone, a child, parent, lover, sibling, etc, but "mo ghrá thú" is more for use with a lover ("you are my love").
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Danann 
Posted: 12-Aug-2004, 10:46 PM
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Thanks Mise! please add local venacular in at any time! We'd hate to get over to the Isle and sound like textbooks!
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krmsmax 
Posted: 13-Aug-2004, 06:26 AM
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Thank you, thank you , thank you. I have been waiting for something like this.


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Brid 
Posted: 13-Aug-2004, 01:32 PM
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Hi,

I'm a native speaker from Donegal and up there we would say gráim thú (grah'm hoo). I've often heard "mo ghrá thú" used by Conamara folk to mean "fair play to you" for example to show their appreciation when someone is singing.

QUOTE
Thank you, thank you , thank you. I have been waiting for something like this.

It would be a perfect way to translate krmsmax's message. (Is that an American name? wink.gif)

Slán,
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Mise 
Posted: 14-Aug-2004, 01:22 PM
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QUOTE (Brid @ 13-Aug-2004, 01:32 PM)
Hi,

I'm a native speaker from Donegal and up there we would say gráim thú (grah'm hoo). I've often heard "mo ghrá thú" used by Conamara folk to mean "fair play to you" for example to show their appreciation when someone is singing.


It would be a perfect way to translate krmsmax's message. (Is that an American name?  wink.gif)

Slán,
Bríd

www.brid.at

Hi!
I'm not a native speaker (just a Dubliner biggrin.gif ). I'd definitely believe a native speaker over my knowledge, but could this be a dialectal difference? (never could understand those Northern accents! biggrin.gif I'm more of a Munster speaker, but with the caighdeán, im a bit all over the place! rolleyes.gif )
'Gráim thú' looks very archaic to me though, I didnt think gráigh was used any more, and I've always heard 'mo ghrá thú' for 'I love you'
I dont mean to argue, just wondering what you thought wink.gif
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Brid 
Posted: 15-Aug-2004, 03:37 PM
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QUOTE
please add local venacular in at any time! We'd hate to get over to the Isle and sound like textbooks!


Just adding some local vernacular! wink.gif
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Danann 
Posted: 15-Aug-2004, 10:20 PM
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Trust me! Always glad to have "vern" thrown in. In fact, if anyone wants to post a thread on Irish or Scottish slang terms and colloquial saying, I think it'd go over terrific. Thanks for all the contributions!
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Athalay 
Posted: 29-Oct-2004, 03:41 PM
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Please help me. I want to learn the irish language (gael), but there aren't any books in my country (hungary). If someone know a book, that is in hungarian or english language, please write to me. I can send the money and the post price for this.... thanks!

[email protected][FONT=Times][COLOR=DarkGreen]


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Danann 
Posted: 01-Feb-2005, 10:34 PM
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Sorry I took so forever long to answer this.

There are several books on the Irish language available in english. The best place to start is to go to www.amazon.com and do a search for Irish Languages. The best I have delt with so far is the Beginner's audio guide to Irish. Its a 4 CD set that gives you 8 lessons on speaking Irish. The good about this is you hear it... the bad is when you see it, you don't recognize it, which is why getting the edition with the book to go along with it is better if you can afford it.

Here are some links:

Teach yourself Irish

Learning Irish along with the audio cassettes Learning Irish Cassettes

And here it is in a bundle

Combined Learning Irish

And for the software goobs out there (yes... me): Learn Irish 9.0
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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 02-Feb-2005, 07:11 PM
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Hi Danann!

Thank you so much for catching that one! smile.gif I have no Irish, so I could use all of the help I can get with questions dealing with the Irish! I'm so glad you are back! I've missed you! smile.gif I hope married life is treating you well!


--------------------
Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba tìr mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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susieq76 
Posted: 14-Feb-2005, 11:11 AM
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Hey all! Here is a website that I had saved in my Favorites folder from when I was trying to learn Gaelic. It was very easy to understand. Hope it helps!

Summerlands


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"Alas for those who never sing and die with all their music left in them" - Oliver Wendell Holmes
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