Athbheochan / Rebirth
VOWEL SURPRISES (THE
OTHER VOWEL COMBINATIONS
THE LAST FEW RULES - MOPPING UP
PRACTICE - IRISH WORDS IN ENGLISH
Uimhir Bhuillí Ó
1 Samhain, 2004
Number Of Hits Since
November 1, 2004
HOW TO PRONOUNCE IRISH FOR BEGINNERS
(with your digitized host, Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh)
LE TACA Ó / WITH SUPPORT FROM
First, a word of encouragement. Let's face it - the only thing humans are really good at is talking.
We're not faster than the cheetah, stronger than the elephant, or smarter than dolphins (who long ago decided to bio-engineer technological wonders like sonar).
We used to try to claim that we're the only tool-users, but chimpanzees make straws to sip up ants, and seagulls open clams by dropping them onto highways which they somehow trick us into building for them.
We used to claim that we're the only ones who can put our thumb and forefinger together, but how many lobsters really actually have a problem with that?
So, the only thing we're really good at, and what we naturally, instinctively, inexorably can't stop ourselves from doing, is talking and learning more about how to talk.
Yak, yak, yak, every day you learn new names, new words, new people, new things, new pronunciations, new accents, new dialects - no matter how old you are, you're great at
it, and there's nothing you can do to stop yourself.
Millions of years of human development have seen to that. So, if you practice what is provided below, you will not fail to learn it.
The Irish Phonetic System Is Different
The Irish phonetic system is quite a bit different from the phonetic systems of other languages.
Therefore, for most students who set out to learn Irish, "How do you pronounce that?" is the biggest and most frequent question.
Once fully answered, students discover that Irish grammar is extremely well-ordered (unlike English), almost like a computer program, having been nearly perfected by our poets when they basically took on the task of creating Early Modern Irish in the 12th century.
In fact, a computerized Irish language dictionary developed with the help of our friend Barra Ó Donnabháin
(beannacht Dé ar a anam) in the mid-1990s in the U.S. was able to save extensive amounts of memory because it incorporated the extrapolation of Irish grammatical rules.
But back to pronunciation. At Scoil Ghaeilge Ghearóid Tóibín / The Gerry Tobin Irish Language School in Babylon, Long Island, New York, we fully and easily answer the pronunciation question by offering a phonetics class which allows our beginning students to become masters of about
90-95% of all Irish phonetic rules before they move on to learn conversation and grammar.
We offer this class in our fall and spring semesters and have had great success using the phonetic system laid out below.
By the time our students finish this class, they've memorized the system, can write phonetically whatever they hear, and can pronounce anything they read.
So learn this system, memorize it, and then move forward to learn Irish with pronunciation already mastered.
A Note About Dialect
Just as in English pronunciation, you'll run into variations in Irish pronunciation.
Imagine for a moment all the different ways an American can say a simple word like 'Boston' - Bahstin, Bawstin, Bohstin, etc.
Irish is a living language, so there are variations and exceptions. And every human naturally pronounces every word and sound slightly differently than every other human, unless they're making a living as an Elvis impersonator.
So don't worry if you don't sound exactly like anyone else. You're not supposed to.
Also, if you've memorized this system and somebody says to you "Your pronunciation is wrong, it should be said this way...," don't worry about it.
Most likely they just haven't heard another dialect's way of pronouncing it, and we teach
just about all the dialects here.
Also, you'll have the opportunity to make some choices in pronunciation. This is like the Cole Porter tune "You say tomAto, I say tomAHto, you say potAto, I say
potAHto..." In other words, eventually you're going to be able to make some choices to develop your own personal dialect, just like when you're talkin' American.
So lighten up! Relax! If you basically use this guide, Irish speakers will understand what you say in Irish, and you'll understand what they say in Irish.
You Already Know More Irish & Its Pronunciation Than You Realize
Lastly, in our Practice section below, you'll see over 100 Irish words which came into English 1) directly from Irish, or 2) from Norman French which got them from ancient Gaullish, a Celtic language closely related to Irish.
So you already know more Irish and Irish pronunciation than you think.
With that said, let's begin. And remember to click on the big blue letters so I can show you how to say this stuff.
A. THE VOWELS
B. VOWEL SURPRISES (THE "DIPHTHONGS")
C. OTHER VOWEL COMBINATIONS
D. THE CONSONANTS
E. THE LAST FEW RULES - MOPPING UP
F. PRACTICE - IRISH WORDS IN ENGLISH
Críoch / End
Well, that's it. You now know about 90-95% of all Irish pronunciation rules.
There are only a handful of dialect variations left.
As you go forward to learn Irish, keep your ears and eyes open and you'll pick them up.
Pay special attention to native speakers of Irish. In the meantime,
however, this system gives you more than a good start. In fact, you are now an expert in Irish pronunciation.
So get out of here and learn more Irish!
Mo bhuíochas le Séamas Ó Neachtain, Réamonn Ó Cléirigh, Stan Ó Faoláin, Pádraig Ó Clúmháin, Rita Bowden, Cathal
Mertens, Séamus Ó Maoláin, Barra Ó Donnabháin, Brian Ó Mealláin, Ken Nilsen, Gail Ní Dheághaidh, Conor Ó Ceallaigh, Máire Ní Cheallaigh, William A. Kelly,
agus Rosalie Marie Kelly dona gcabhair thar na blianta chun an clár seo a chur le chéile. Buíochas áirithe do Shéamas Ó Neachtain dosna táblaí thuas.
Ar ndóigh, is liomsa aon bhotúin atá ann. - Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh
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