Irish Lesson 58

Pronunciation Review

Review the sounds of slender "c" this week. The slender sound, occurring when the nearest vowel in the word is "e" or "i", resembles the first sound in the English words "kin" or "keg." Hold the lips in and widen the corners of the mouth slightly. Try these words:

cé (kay*), who?; céim (kay*m), step, degree; cill (kil), cell, churchyard; citeal (KIT-uhl), kettle; clé (klay*), left; clis (klish), fail; cneas (ki-NAS), skin; creid (kred), believe; glic (glik), clever, cunning; feicim (FEK-im), I see; scian (SHKEE-uhn), knife; stailc (steyelk), strike (labor dispute).

Slender "c" tends to have a slight (y) after it. Before some vowel sounds, the (ky) sound will be more obvious than before others. Try:

ceann (kyoun), or -- in Connacht -- (kyawn), head; ceart (kyart), right; ceantar (KYAN-tuhr), district; ceol (kyohl), music; cion (kyun), affection: Tá cion agam air, I am fond of him; ciúin (KYOO-in), quiet.

Aspiration, a sound change occurring with several Irish consonants, gives slender "c" a sound resembling (he-YUH) said rapidly. We use (hy) as its symbol. Examples:

mo chiteal (muh HYIT-uhl), my kettle; do cheann (duh hyoun), your head; ar chéirnín (er hyay*r-NEEN), on a record.

Inside a word, aspirated slender "c" may sound like (h) or (hy), depending on the region of Ireland. Examples:

fiche (FI-he) or (FI-hye), twenty; droichead (DRUH-huhd), or (DRI-hyuhd), bridge; oíche (EE-he) or (EE-hye), night; inchinn (IN-hin) or (IN-hyin), brain; cluiche (KLI-he) or (KLI-hye), a game; dúiche (DOO-i-he) or (DOO-i-hye), a district; flichshneachta (fli-HNAHK*-tuh) or (fli-HNYUHK*-tuh), sleet.


The preposition "ó" (oh) means "from". It aspirates initial consonants following it: Is ó Chorcaigh dom (is oh K*OHRK-ee duhm), I am from Cork. It combines with the pronouns, so learn these forms next:

uaim (oo-IM), from me

uait (oo-IT), from you

uaidh (WOO-ee), from him

uaithi (WU-hee), from her

uainn (WOO-in), from us

uaibh (WOO-iv) from you (plural)

uathu (WOO-huh) from them

There are several common expressions or idioms making use of "ó". For example:

Cad tá uait? (kahd taw* oo-IT), What do you want? An answer can be: Tá leabhar uaim (taw* LOU-wuhr oo-IM), I want a book.

Cad a bhí uaidh? (kahd uh vee WOO-ee), What did he want? is another form of this.

A longer form is: Cad tá ag teastáil (uh TAS-taw*-il) uait?, What do you want? An answer is: Tá peann ag teastáil uaim (taw* pyoun uh TAS-taw*-il oo-im). I want a pen.

Leaving from a place or being from a place can be expressed with the help of "ó":

D'imigh sé ó Bhaile Átha Cliath.

Cad as duit? (kahd as dit), Where are you from? can be answered "Is ó Shligeach dom" (is oh HLIG-ahk* duhm), I am from Sligo.

In pronouncing combinations of "ó" with pronouns, the initial sound may resemble an English "w". "Uaim" may sound like (woo-IM) with the sounds run together, or even like (wim).


béasach (BAY*-suhk*), polite

deacair (DAK-uhr), difficult

ramhar (ROU-uhr), fat

dorcha (DUHR-uh-huh), dark

leathan (LA-huhn), wide

gann (goun), scarce

leisciúil (LESH-kyoo-il), lazy

tanaí (TAH-nee), thin

clé (klay*), left

deas (dyas), right, nice, pretty


Translate these expressions, remembering to aspirate after feminine nouns:

A polite man. A difficult question. The difficult question. Scarce food. A lazy mother. The lazy mother. A wide room. The left hand. The right hand. The fat cat. The thin girl. The dark office. A dark office. The thin woman. A thin woman.

Translation: Fear béasach. Ceist dheacair. An cheist dheacair. Bia gann. Máthair leisciúil. An mháthair leisciúil. Seomra leathan. An lámh chlé. An lámh dheas. An cat ramhar. An cailín tanaí. An offig dhorcha. Oifig dhorcha. An bhean thanaí. Bean thanaí.

Pronunciation key: (far BAY*-suhk*) (kesht YAK-uhr) (un hyesht YAK-uhr) (BEE-uh goun) (MAW*-hir LESH-kyoo-il) (un VWAW*-hir LESH-kyoo-il) (SHOHM-ruh LA-huhn) (un LAW*V hylay*) (un LAW*V yas) (un KAHT ROU-uhr) (un kah-LEEN TAH-nee) (un IF-ig GUHR-uh-huh) (IF-ig GUHR-uh-huh) (un VAN HAH-nee) (ban HAH-nee)


There are several aids in carrying on a conversation with someone more skilled than yourself. If he speaks too rapidly, tell him:

Labhair níos maille, más é do thoil é (LOU-ir nees MWIL-e, MAW* shay* duh HIL ay*), Speak more slowly, please.

Abair arís é sin (AH-bir uh-REESH ay* shin), Say that again, is another way to show that you are trying to understand.

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

Irish Lesson 57 Irish Lesson 59

Return to Lesson Index