Irish Lesson 64


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.

gleacaíocht (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:

cigire (KIG-i-re), 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), not (PING-gin).

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:

an ghé (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) sound:

oighear (EYE-uhr), 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 man.

Tabhair dom ceann níos láidre (TOO-ir duhm kyoun nees LAW*-dre), Give me a stronger one.

In the past, the forms change slightly:

Chonaic sé an fear ba láidre (k*uh-NIK shay* un far buh LAW*-dre), He saw the strongest man.

Fuair sé 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:

óg, young: 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:

Chuala sé an scéal ab aosta (K*OO-uh-luh shay* un shkay*l ahb AY*S-tuh), He heard the oldest story.

Shuigh sé ar an stól ab ísle (hee shay* er un stohl ahb EESH-le), He sat on the lowest stool.

Bhí mé ar an traein níb fhaide (vee may* er tray*n neeb A-de), I was on the longer train.

Tháinig sí ar an lá ab fhuaire (HAW*-nig shee er an law* ahb OO-i-re), She came on the coldest day.

Bhí duine níb oilte uainn (vee DIN-e neeb IL-te WOO-in), We wanted a more skilled person.


Masculine Nouns

féilire (FAY*-li-re), calendar; iasc (EE-uhsk). an t-iasc, fish; gnó (gnoh), business; paiste (PAHSH-te), patch; sort (sohrt), sort, kind

Feminine Nouns

móin, an mhóin (MOH-in, un VWOH-in), turf, peat; litir (LI-tir), letter; páirc, an pháirc (paw*rk, un faw*rk), grassy field, park

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).

Cheannaigh siad móin níba fhliche (HYAN-ee SHEE-uhd MOH-in NEE-buh LI-hye).

Leigh mé 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 ab óige?

Cá raibh 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 er).

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

Irish Lesson 63 Irish Lesson 65

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