p h o u k a   h o m e i r i s h   l e s s o n s   h o m e


Part I
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Part II
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Part III
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5



Part I: Orthography

Chapter 1

§ 1. — The Alphabet

The ordinary Irish Alphabet consists of eighteen letters: there are—

A a 1. Long, as ain ball bán white
    2. Short, as a in what tar come
    3. Obscure, as a in negative liomsa with me
B b As in English bean a woman
C c 1. Before a slendr vowel, as k in king ciall sense
    2. Before a broad vowel, as c in call caṫ a battle
D d 1. Somewhat thick, as the Eng. th in thou dán a poem
    2. Before a slender vowel, somewhat as d in guardian Dia god
E e Long, as ay in hay six
F f As in English fear a man
G g 1. Before a slender vowel, as g in get gean love
    2. Before a broad vowel, as g in gone gan without
H h As in English    
I i 1. Long, as i in marine mín mild
    2. Short, as i in fin min meal
L l 1. as ll in mill mil honey
    2. Somewhat as l in valiant buille a blow
M m As in English I
N n As in English not
O o 1. Long, as oa in coal mór great
    2. Short, as u in bulk olc evil
P p As in English pobal a congregation
R r 1. Broad, as r in raw rann a part
    2. Slender, somewhat like the second r in carrion beir bring
S s 1. Before a slender vowel, as sh in shield sinn we
    2. Before a broad vowel, as s in son sonas happiness
T t 1. Rather thick, corresponding with ths broad d tarḃ a bull
    2. As t in bestial tiġeanna a lord
U u 1. Long, as u in rule cúl the back
    2. Short, as u in put bun the bottom

It must be borne in mind that all the attempts to illustrate the Irish sounds by English are only approximations ; the true sound must be learnt by intercourse with those who speak the language. Aḋ is pronounced in the West as oo, as peacaḋ, sin. In other places it is pronounced as a in negative in nouns and infinitives, while in 3rd sing, past passive as ag and .

§2. — Vowels; and Rule Caol le Caol, 7c.

a, o, and u are called broad vowels; and e and i slender. The most general rule of the Irish language is that called caol le caot agus leaṫan le leaṫan, " a slender with a slender, and a broad with a broad ;" which is, that the vowel preceding a consonant, or combination of consonants, and that which follows it, must be of the same class ; sc. both broad, or both slender : e. g. Nom. sgológ, Gen. sgolóige, not sgológe. Nom. fiġeadóir; Gen. fiġeadóra, not fiġeadóina; mol, molaim; buail, ḃuaileas, bualaḋ. The reason of this rule is, that in Irish the two classes of vowels have a decided influence on the pronunciation of the consonants in immediate contact with them ; a, o, u, giving them a broad sound, and e and i a slender. As this influence on the consonant is exercised both by the preceding as well as the following vowel, the pronunciation would be rendered uncertain if the two vowels were not of the same kind. This delicacy of the organs of speech, though partly known elsewhere, has not been carried out to the same extent by any of the Indo- European languages, nor was it fully developed in the older shape of the Celtic itself, as Welsh does not partake of it. This rule has caused a rather cumbrous orthography, as a large number of vowels are now written for the mere purpose of insuring either the broad or slender pronunciation of the consonants, and these vowels which in reality have no sound, are distinguished in no way from those vowels which are sounded. This creates a difficulty in reading correctly Irish words. If every one of these silent vowels were marked, for instance, with a point, it would be of great assistance to the reader. Such an innovation, however, we cannot undertake to introduce.

§3. — Diphthongs.

There are in Irish thirteen diphthongs, which are: ae, ao, ai, ea, ei, eo, eu, ia, io, iu, oi, ua, ui. AE, ao, eu, eo, ia, iu, and ua, are generally long, the remaining are sometimes long and sometimes short. The diphthongs and triphthongs in Irish frequently are not real, but owe their rise to the operation of the rule caol le caol, 7c., e.g., aingeal, an angel, &c.

Those diphthongs which have their first vowel long are generally pronounced like dissyllables; as táim, I am. The following is a Table of the diphthongs and their pronunciation:—

A. — Invariable Diphthongs
  ae like ai in pain lae of a day
  ao like ay in mayor aon one
  eu like a in fare geur sharp
  ia like ea in clear ciall sense
  ua somewhat like oe in doer fuar cold
B. — Variable Diphthongs
ai long like awi in drawing táim I am
  short like a in rang sail a beam
  short like i in irregular lasair a light
ea long like a in bane déan do
  short like ea in heart ceart just
ei long like ei in reign féin self
  short like in in fir feir fat
eo long like yeo in yeoman seól a sail
  short like u in dusk deoċ a drink
io long like ee in queen fíon wine
  short like i in bliss fios knowledge
iu long like ew in few fiú worthy
  short like u in put fiuċ boil
oi long like o in more cóir just
  long like in in tile coill a wood
  short like ui in quill coir a crime
  short like u in crutch troid a fight
ui long like ui in fruit cúig five
  short like ui in quill fuil blood

ei short is pronounced in Munster like e in sell, m is pronounced. Iu is pronounced like o in done, in Connaught, &c.

It must be borne in mind that the English sounds are approximations. An accent is placed over vowels when they are long, as bás, death. Also over the variable diphthongs when long.

§4. — Triphthongs

The following five triphthongs are used in the Irish language, and are always long:—

  aoi like ee in keep maoin treature
  eoi like yeo in yeoman, with i after it feoil meat
  iai like eei in seeing liaġ a physician
  iui like iewi in viewing ciuin gentle
  uai nearly like the u in assured cuaird a visit

§5. — Contractions

The following contractions are frequently used in printed books: —

7 agus        

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Grammar of modern irish - Wright - 1860
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