Irish Lesson 55

Pronunciation Exercise

Sound out these phrases, while trying to remember the rules you have learned in previous lessons;

Laisteas de; daoine eile; an daoine dhaonna; seasca faoin gcéad; ba mhaith liom é; ní bhfaighfeá é; cara; na cairde; dlúthchara.

The pronunciation key and translation for these expressions are: (LASH-tuhs de), south of; laisteas de Luimneach: south of Limerick. (DEEN-uh EL-e), other persons. The "d" is broad, with tongue tip against the upper front teeth.

(un DEEN-e GAY*-nuh), the human race. The first "d" is slender, with tongue tip against the ridge behind the upper front teeth. The second "d" is aspirated broad "d" and gets a (g) sound, with a trace of sound resembling English "w" after it.

(SHAS-kuh fween gay*d), sixty percent. Pronounce the "f" with lips out, and a sound resembling English "w" will naturally follow it.

(buh VWAH luhm ay*), I would like it.

(nee VWEYE-faw* ay*), you wouldn't get it. "Aigh" often takes the sound (eye).

(KAH-ruh), friend. The "r" is broad, rolled somewhat.

(nuh KAHR-de), the friends. The "d" here is slender and may sound as if a "y" followed it: (KAHR-dye).

(dloo-K*AH-ruh), close friend. The "ch" sounds like the German "ach" sound that you know from radio and television imitations.


The Irish word "baile" (BAHL-e) has several meanings: town, village, farm, home, small settlement. "Sa bhaile" (suh VWAHL-e) or "ag baile" (eg BAHL-e) means "at home". "Baile" is often part of the name of Irish towns. It is anglicized as "Bally". Mispronunciations of this type were often deliberate and had the purpose of ridiculing and disparaging the central cultural legacy of Ireland, its language. One way to help in maintaining the language is to give Irish towns their Irish names at all times.

Some examples of "baile" in town names:

An Baile Mór (un BAHL-e mohr), the big town. Ballymore is the anglicized version.

Baile an Tobair (BAHL-uhn TOH-bir), town of the well. "Tobar" is "well", and "tobair", with a slender "r", is the possessive case, meaning "of the well". Ballintober is the anglicized verison.

Baile na Sionnaine (BAHL-e nuh SHUHN-in-e), town of the Shannon. "An tSionnain" is the "the Shannon", and "na Sionnaine" is the possessive case, meaning "of the Shannon". Ballyshannon is the anglicized version.

Do not confuse "baile" with "béal" (bay*l), mouth or entrance: Béal Átha na Sluaighe (bay*l aw* nuh SLOO-e), mouth of the ford of the hosts. The anglicized version is Ballinasloe.


Here is a recognition review of some of the vocabulary and grammar from past lessons. Read the essentials aloud. If you do not grasp the meaning immediately, look at the translation below. This is not a translation exercise, so do not translate word for word.

Rith amach agus faigh an madra. Rith sé isteach chun an leabhar a léamh. An labhraíonn sí leis an múinteoir? Béarfaidh mé ar an mbuachaill sin. Nár fhill siad abhaile fós? Bíonn siad ag stopadh ag an stáisiún gach oíche. Ná coimeád iad. Aontaím leat, a Mháire. Nach raibh tú i do sheasamh in aice na tine tamall?

Chailleamar an t-airgead go léir. Dúirt sé nach ndearna sé é. Is é sin an fear. Is dochtúir é. Dochtúir, an ea? Sea. Nach raibh mála aici? Sílim nach raibh. Bhuail muid é. Chuala mé nach raibh sé chomh maith leat. Is é Seán é. Nach í Bríd í? An bhfuil an bainne ólta agat?

Key to some of the above words: (ri uh-MAHK*; feye; LOU-uhr; BAY*R-hee; EE-huh; kim-AW*D).

Translation: Run out and get the dog. He ran in to read the book. Does she talk with the teacher? I will catch that boy. Didn't they return home yet? They usually stop at the station every night. Don't keep them. I agree with you, Mary. Weren't you standing next to the fire for a while?

We lost all the money. He said that he didn't do it. That is the man. He is a doctor. A doctor, is it? It is. Didn't she have a bag? I think that she didn't. We struck him. I heard that he wasn't as good as you. It's John. Isn't it Bridget? Have you drunk the milk?

If you found some of these sentences difficult, you may profit from a review of past lessons.

Where You Stand

At the present stage of your study, you know the basic forms of the verbs. You lack only the conditional, exemplified by "I would go", the habitual past, some of the imperative mood, which gives commands, and also the free form or impersonal, which will allow you to say such thoughts as "It is bought here" or "people buy it here". There are still many verbs that you need to bring your vocabulary up to the desired level, but you are well into the language now.

Noun plurals are a topic that must come soon. We will work slowly into this, with the objective of developing your ability to sense what a plural form should be from the singular form of the word.

Once we have given you a good vocabulary of verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, we will begin on idioms, which are speech forms whose meaning is not readily apparent from the individual words. All languages have these. An example: "Cuireann sé isteach air" means "He interferes with him", not "He puts in on him". Many of these idioms, or cora cainte (KOH-ruh KEYENT-e), make use of prepositions, such as "ag", "ar", "le", and others that you will soon learn. You know a number of idioms already, as you will discover.

(c) 1998 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.

Irish Lesson 54 Irish Lesson 56

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