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I have thought that it would afford considerable assistance to the learner, were the several cases brought together, in which the aspiration and eclipsing of initial consonants occur : for his information, therefore, I shall present them in two tables ; and, as in some degree connected with the same subject, shall superadd lists of the instances in which the letters d, h, m, n, and t, are prefixed to original words. The student must be well acquainted with the last six tables, or he will not be able to consult the Irish-English Dictionary ; they are all of them indispensably necessary towards the knowledge of the language.

I. — Cases in which the aspiration of the initial consonant takes place, if it be capable of undergoing that change.

  1. — Nouns after the article, in the 3d and 4th declensions, as already stated.
  2. — All vocative cases, except in nouns beginning with a t, followed by a consonant.
  3. — Nouns substantive, when they follow an adjective in a compound word ; unless they commence with d, s, or t, preceded by an adjective ending with n.
  4. — Adjectives following substantives, (except their initials be d, s, or t, after one ending in n,) in the nom. dat. and voc. sing. of the fem. gender ; and in the gen. dat. and voc. sing. masc. gender ; also in the gen. fem. plural.
  5. — Where one substantive governs another in the genitive plural, the latter may be aspirated, though the article be not used, as fuil ġaḃair, the blood of goats. (Neilson.)
  6. — Masculine adjectives, after the auxiliary verbs ba and buḋ, unless they begin with b or c.
  7. — All adjectives in the superlative degree of comparison.
  8. — Nouns following the numbers aon and do, except the initial letter be a b or c after Aon
  9. —Nouns following the possessive pr0nouns in the singular number, excepting the third person in the feminine gender, and also excepting nouns beginning with s.
  10. — Compound possessive pronouns have the same influence as their primitives on the initials of nouns following them.
  11. — The datives of personal pronouns are aspirated or not, according as may sound best; but they are never so after d, n, or t, thus — fearr ḋuit, or duit, it is better for you; and is miann daṁ, I desire.
  12. — The relative pronouns aspirate the initial consonant in the active voice.
  13. — The past tense of verbs,
  14. — The infinitive mood and the past participle, unless this latter can be eclipsed, and
  15. — The potential mood, have their initials aspirated.
  16. — The interrogative participle cia causes aspiration.
  17. — Interrogative participles cause aspiration in the past tense of the active voice.
  18. —The negative participles aspirate the initial in both voices. ( O'Reilly.)
  19. — The intensitive* adverbs an, gle, ro, and sar aspirate, unless the following initial be b, r, or c ; also, the adverbial participles náċ, ni , not, ó since, mar, as, and iona than, cause aspiration.
  20. — The prepositions a, de, do, fa, faoi, fuiḋ, idir, mar, o, roiṁ, tar, and tre , produce aspiration ; de and do aspirate the following noun, even though an article intervene, except in the case of an sl air sometimes aspirates, and sometimes not ; gan will indifferently require an aspirate, or the primary form, in the following noun.
  21. — The conjunctions gar, má, muna, create aspiration ; ma if, and the adverb ó since, cause it in the initial of verbs, excepting.
  22. — The interjection a, as a sign of the vocative case, causes aspiration.

II. — Eclipsis of initial consonants takes place in the following cases.

  1. — In nouns of the 3d and 4th declensions, after the article, as before specified.
  2. — If two nouns follow each other, and the article be omitted, the second is eclipsed, thus — aír grád nDé, for the love of God. Neilson says that it must be aspirated in the genitive plural.
  3. — The genitive singular of adjectives following substantives in the feminine gender, except they begin with d, s, or t, and the substantive end with n. They are also often eclipsed, instead of aspirated, in such instances, in the dat. sing. and gen. plural, in the feminine gender. (Neilson.)
  4. — After the numerals 7, 8, 9, and 10.
  5. — Nouns in the plural, after the possessive pronoun, unless they begin with an s.
  6. — Verbs, in the conditional mood ;
  7. — And after interrogatives in the present and future tenses.
  8. —The participle past.
  9. — The prepositions a out of, air, ann, go, iar, and ria cause eclipsis.
  10. — When the article comes between one of the prepositions, agm aurm ar=sm fam fim fuiḋ, gus, is, leis, mar, ó, ris, roiṁ, seaċ, tar, or tre, and a noun in the singular number, the noun is eclipsed, as as a dtir, out of the country — de and do generally cause aspiration in such a case ; but if the noun begin with f , it will be eclipsed.
  11. —The conjunction da, if, causes eclipses in active verbs

III — The letter b is frequently used as a prefix to words, as in the following cases, besides those in which it eclipses t.

  1. do before a vowel, or an f commencing a verb, in the past tense of the active voice, drops the o, and unites with the verb.
  2. do thy, before a noun beginning with f, loses the o, and joins with the noun, eclipsing the initial, thus — dḟearg, thy anger, but this should be properly written, thus — d'ḟearg.

IV. — The letter h is added as a prefix to the following words, beginning with vowels.

  1. — To nouns after the article, in the genitive singular of the first declension ; and in all the cases of the plural, except the genitive, of the first and second declensions.
  2. — To nouns, after the feminine possessive pronoun, in the third person singular.
  3. — Nouns after the possessive pronoun thy, in which case bo is frequently exchanged for h
  4. — Verbs, after the adverbial particles ni, niar, not, and nar, naċar? ? not ?
  5. — Nouns, after the prepositions a out of, go, le, ó, re, and tre.

V. — M. when mo, my occurs before a noun beginning with a vowel, or an f, it drops the o, and unites with the word, thus — m'anam my soul, m'ḟear for mo fear, my husband.

VI. — N. besides where it eclipses d or g, is prefixed to words commencing with vowels —

  1. — In the genitive plural of nouns — but here it may be more properly considered as being separated from the article to which it belongs.
  2. — To nouns belonging to posessive pronouns.
  3. — To the possessive pronoun in the third person of both numbers, after the prepositions go, le, ó, se, tre.
  4. — To verbs in the conditional mood.
  5. — To verbs in the active voice, and after the interrogative particle.
  6. — Not only to words beginning with vowels, but the letter f, after the conjunction noċa, not.
  7. — To words following the prepositions a in, and go hat.
  8. — As a part of the intensitive in, the i being dropped, thus — n'iarraim, I beseech, from iarraim, I ask.

In general, the same accidents which cause eclipsis in consonants, require the prefix of n to vowels.

VII. — The letter t, besides the cases wherein it eclipses s , occurs before vowels as a prefix —

  1. — To masculine adjectives, in the nominative and accusative singular.
  2. — Masculine adjectives preceding substantives require it in the dative singular, as well as in the nominative ; feminine adjectives require it in the genitive singular. In the plural, it will in such a case be prefixed to the nominative and dative of both genders.
  3. do thy before a vowel, or f, is sometimes changed into t, as well as into h, and then the f is lost in the pronunciation, as t'fear thy husband. (O'Reilly, on letter f.)

I shall here subjoin a table on the different significations of the particles a and do. The learner will be greatly assisted by making himself well acquainted with them.

A is:

  1. used sometimes for the article the
  2. Is is a substantive, with several significations
  3. An adjective, as lofty, &c
  4. A possessive pronoun—his, her, its, their
  5. A realtive pronoun—that, who which
  6. A sign of thei nfinitive mood
  7. A preposition—in
  8. A sign of the vocative case
  9. A mark of interrogation
  10. A sign of affirmation, as taim.

Do is:

  1. A sign of the davtive case
  2. Thy in the genetive of tu
  3. The possessive pronoun—thy, thine, your
  4. A sign of the infinitive mood
  5. Generally used as a sign of the indicative mood, past tense; and of the potential mood
  6. A particle of negation
  7. WIth fa, as fa ḋo, twice.


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grammar of the irish language—mason—1842
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