Irish Lesson 8
You may have wondered about the meaning of the letters "bhf" in "bhfuil". The basic word is "fuil" (fwil), but Irish speakers change the (f) sound by using the vocal cords, or humming, while they pronounce the "f", causing a (v) sound.
Certain words and phrases, such as "an" or "nach", or "ar an" (er un), which means "on the", bring about this change. They also cause the speaker to close off the flow of air somewhat for other consonants, altering the sound to a nasal hum: "d" becomes "n", and "b" becomes "m". The changes are called "eclipsis", but you will learn them easily from the reference list below. You already know the sounds themselves. "Ár" (aw*r) means "our" and is one of the words that cause eclipsis in following initial consonants.
bia, ár mbia (BEE-uh, aw*r MEE-uh) food, our food
cistin, ár gcistin (KISH-tin, a*wr GISH-tin) kitchen, our kitchen
deis, ár ndeis (desh, aw*r nesh) opportunity, our opportunity
fear, ár bhfear (far, aw*r var) man, our man
peata, ár bpeata (PAT-uh, aw*r BAT-uh) pet, our pet
tír, ár dtír (teer, aw*r deer) country, our country
pócaí, ár bpócaí (POH-kee, aw*r BOH-kee) pockets, our pockets
talamh, ár dtalamh (TAH-luhv, aw*r DAH-luhv) land, our land
bád, ár mbád (baw*d, ar*r maw*d) boat, our boat
cótaí, ár gcótaí (KOH-tee, aw*r GOH-tee) coats, our coats
dóthain, ár ndóthain (DOH-hin, aw*r NOH-hin) enough, enough for us
fáinne, ár bhfáinne (FAW*-nye, aw*r VAW*-nye) ring, our ring
One more, which will be a little harder for you to pronounce at first, although you know the individual sounds from English:
When eclipsed, the initial letter "g" takes the sound of "ng" that is at the end of the English word "sung". This is a little difficult at first to put before a word. Try this: ár ngeata (aw*rng A-tuh), our gate. Join the (aw*r) sound to the (ng) sound, saying it separately at first and then adding on the (A-tuh). Try "ár ngairdín" (aw*rng ahr-DEEN). Practice on: ár ngluaisteán (aw*rng LOOSH-taw*n), our auto; ár ngrá (aw*rng raw*), our love; ár nguí (aw*rng ee), our prayer; ár ngúnaí (aw*rng OON-ee), our dresses.
Next, go through a progressive drill on:
An bhfuil mé ag dul suas an staighre? Níl mé __. Tá tú __. Etc. Repeat with "síos an staighre".
Cáitlín (kaw*t-LEEN): Níl a fhios agam (neel is uh-GUHM).Bhí sé ag dul suas an staighre cúpla noiméad ó shin (vee shay* uh duhl SOO-uhs STEYE-ruh KOOP-luh NOH-may*d oh hin.) I don't know He was going up the stairs a couple of minutes ago.
Éamann: B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé thuas an staighre anois (BAY*-dir goh vwil shay* HOO-uhs un STEYE-ruh uh-NISH). Perhaps he's upstairs now.
Séamas: Tá mé ag teacht anois (taw* may* uh tyahk*t uh-NISH). Bhí mé istigh an lá go léir (vee may* ish-TEE un law* goh lay*r). I'm coming now. I was inside the whole day.
DRILL FORMS: Lámh mhaith (law*v vwah); súil mhaith (SOO-il vwah); an tsúil mhaith (un TOO-il vwah); maidin fhada (MAH-din AH-duh); an mhaidin fhada (un VWAH-din AH-duh); sráid cham (sraw*d k*oum); an tsráid cham (un traw*d k*oum).
(c) 1997 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.
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