Irish Lesson 31

PRONUNCIATION

Pronounce the letter combination "ng" in Irish with the same two sounds that you use in English. The word "longing" has these two sounds. The first "ng" sound is the broad, near "a, o, u". The second is the slender, near "e, i". Examples: long (lohng), ship; ceangail (KYANG-il), bind; teanga (TANG-uh) tongue, language; pingin (PEENG-in), penny.

Do not add a "g" after the "ng" sound in Irish, even though you often do that in English, as in the words "English" (ING-glish) and "finger" (FING-guhr).

The "ng" sound can start a word in Irish, if eclipsis of a "g" occurs. For this sound, add the "ng" sound to the previous word and then pronounce the rest of the second word without the "g" or the "ng". Examples: i ngairdín (ing ahr-DEEN), in a garden; ár ngeata (aw*rng AT-uh), our gate; a ngúnaí (uhng OON-ee), their dresses; an nglanann sé é? (uhng LUHN-uhn shay* ay*) Does he clean it? Finally, try a more difficult one: nach nglanann sé é? (nahk*ng LUHN-uhn shay* ay*) Doesn't he clean it?

GRAMMAR

We continue with ways to use "le", meaning "with". This preposition may serve exactly as it does in English. Examples: tháinig sé liom (HAW*nig shay* luhm), he came with me; chuaigh sí libh (K*OO-ig shee liv), she went with you. We will next look at four ways that differ from English.

Possession -- "I own it" - is one use. (Do not confuse "having" something with owning it. "Tá carr agam", I have a car, may not mean that you own it or possess title to it.)

Is liom é (is luhm ay*) means "I own it". Learn these examples: Cé leis (kay* lesh) an carr seo? Whose car is this? Is liomsa é (is LUHM-suh ay*) It is mine. An leatsa (LAT-suh) é? Is it yours? Ní liomsa é, ach le Seán; It's not mine, but Seán's. Is le Seán é; It's Seán's. Cé leis é seo? Whose is this? An leis an bhfear seo é; Is it this man's? Ní leis é, ach leis an gcailín (gah-LEEN) atá sa teach (TAHK*) sin; It's not, but it belongs to the girl who is in that house. Nach leatsa é? Isn't it yours? Ní liomsa; it isn't mine.

Practice with objects near you. "Liomsa" and "leatsa" are merely emphatic forms of "liom" and "leat", said without raising the voice.

Liking -- "I like it" -- is another use. Is maith (mah) liom é; I like it. Ní maith leis é; he doesn't like it. An maith le Nóra an bhróg (vrohg) sin? Does Nora like that shoe? Ní maith leí (lay*); she doesn't. Nach maith leat an bord seo? Don't you like this table?

The verbal noun is handy here. An maith leat léamh (LAY*-uhv)? Do you like to read? Ní maith liom siúl (shool); I don't like walking. Is maith liom feoil a ithe (FYOH-il uh I-he); I like to eat meat. Nach maith le Seán litreacha a scríobh? (LI-trahk*-uh uh shkreev) Doesn't Seán like to write letters? Notice that the object, "feoil" or "litreacha", come ahead of the verbal noun.

Preferring -- "I prefer this" -- is a third use. It is very similar to the "liking" use, but with "fearr" instead of "maith". "Is fearr liom é" (is fahr luhm ay*); I prefer it. The word "fearr" has a slightly more rolled "r" than does "fear", man, and sometimes there is a trace of (y) sound in it as if it were (fyahr). Examples: An fearr leat an leabhar seo? Do you prefer this book? Ní fearr leis siúl; he doesn't prefer walking. Is fearr leo léamh ná caint (keyent); they prefer reading to talking. Nach fearr le Seán bainne le té? Doesn't Seán prefer milk to tea? Cé acu is fearr leat, bheith anseo no bheith abhaile? (kay* ah-KUH is fahr lat, ve un-SHUH noh ve uh-VWAHL-e) Which do you prefer, being here or being home? Cé acu is fearr le Séamas, bainne nó tea? Which does Séamus prefer, milk or tea?

Being able -- "I can" -- is a fourth use. The verbal noun can serve here, too. "Is féidir (FAY*-dir) liom an leabhar a léamh" means "I can read the book". The object is ahead of the verbal noun.

Study these examples: An féidir leat rince? Can you dance? Ní féidir le Nóra mé a thuiscint (HISH-kint); Nora can't understand me. Nach féidir leo snámh? (snaw*v) Can't they swim? Is féidir leis an mbuachail (MOO-uhk*-il) é sin a dhéanamh (YAY*N-uhv); the boy can do that.

CONVERSATIONAL EXERCISE

In this conversation, read what Seán says, then follow the general instructions for what you, "Tú", are to say. If you can not think of suitable phrases, be sure to say something that would be considered appropriate, in Irish, before you look down at the key. Cover the key below the line that you need.

Seán: Dia duit, a chara (K*ahr-uh).

Tú: (Answer him.)

Seán: Conas tá tú inniu?

Tú: (Tell him you are well, and ask him how he is.)

Seán: Tá mé go maith leis. Nach breá an lá é?

Tú: (Agree with him and ask him where he was yesterday.)

Seán: Bhí mé istigh sa teach, ag obair an lá go leir.

Tú: (Sympathize with him. Then tell him that you went to the city and bought a coat.)

Seán: Conas a tháinig tú abhaile?

Tú: (You came home on the bus, of course. There weren't many people on the bus last night either.)

Seán: Nach fearr leat dul ar an traein?

Tú: (You prefer the train to the bus, but there was no train in the station then.)

Key:

Dia's Muire duit, a Sheáin.

Tá mé go maith, agus conas tá tú féin?

Is breá, go deimhin (DEYE-in). Cá raibh tú inné, a Sheáin?

Nach mór an trua é sin, anois? Chuaigh mé chuig an gcathair agus cheannaigh (HYAN-ee) mé cóta nua.

Tháinig mé abhaile ar an mbus, ar ndóigh (er NOH-ee). Ní raibh mórán duine ar an mbus aréir (uh-RAY*R) ach oiread (IR-uhd).

Is fearr liom an traein ná an bus, ach ní raibh traein ar bith ag an stáisiún ansin.

(c) 1997 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.


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