The group “ch” in Irish may still be difficult for you to pronounce. If it is next to a broad vowel, “a, o, u”, it receives the aspirated sound of broad “c”. This sound is like that in the German word “ach”. Pronounce it by lowering the raised back of the tongue somewhat while you pronounce a broad “c”, which is like the (k) in “coat” or “lock”.
Try the English word “lock” and then aspirate the (k) sound. This is similar to the Irish word “lách” (law*k*). Then say: loch (lohk*), dúch (dook*), croch (krohk*), gach (gahk*), sách (saw*k*).
If the broad “ch” starts a word, it is still pronounced (k*) and not (h) in most cases. Try: cóta (KOH-tuh), chóta (K*OH-tuh), cháil (k*aw*l), chaill (k*eyel), chuaigh (K*OO-ig).
We use the symbok (k*) for the pronunciation of this sound.
If the “ch” is nest to “e, i”, again lower the tongue somewhat while you pronounce the slender “c”, which is like the (k) sound in the English “kill”. The result will be a sound like “y” in English “you”, but with a slight (h) sound before it. Try: chill (hyil), cheannaigh (HYAN-ee), chéim (hyay*m). Inside or at the end of a word, the sound can be much like an (h), as in: fiche (FI-he), crích (kree). The last word is pronounced differently from “crí” (kree) at its end, but our simplified pronunciation guide does not take this into account. Instead, you must watch for this “-ch” ending yourself.
You may have seen anglicized place names and family names with a “gh” group in them, such as “Lough Erne” or “O’Loughlin”. This “gh” was mistakenly adopted in the 19th century as the equivalent of the broad “ch” in Irish. The non-Irish speaker tends to pronounce “lough” as (loh) or (lawk), although it should be pronounced (lohk*), as if it were spelled properly: “loch”, lake. “Lochlainn” means Scandinavia (or Denmark), and a “Lochlannach” is a Scandinavian.
hata (HAHT-uh), hat
bríste (BREESH-te), trousers
ceann (kyoun), head
madra (MAH-druh) dog
doras (DUH-ruhs) door
halla (HAHL-uh), hall
cuid, an chuid (kwid, un k*wid), part
fearthainn, an fhearthainn (FAR-in, un AR-in), rain
seachtain, an tseachtain (SHAHK*T-in, un TYAHK*T-in), week
bris, ag briseadh (brish, uh BRISH-uh), break
cas, ag casadh (kahs, uh KAHS-uh), turn
fill, ag filleadh (fil, uh FIL-uh), return
stop, ag stopadh (stohp, uh STOHP-uh), stop
tosaigh, ag tosú (TUH-see, uh TUH-soo), begin
thosaíomar (huh-SEE-uh-muhr), we began
Máirín (maw*-REEN): Cá ndeachaigh tú inné? Chonaic mé tú ag dul síos an bóthar go luath. Where did you go yesterday? I saw you going down the road early.
Pól (pohl): Chuala mé go raibh éadach saor ag na siopaí sa chathair. Isteach liom ar an traein, ach ní fhaca mé rud ar bith arbh fhiú dom a cheannach. Ní raibh mórán daoine ann, ach oiread. I heard that clothes were cheap at the stores in the city. In I went on the train, but I didn’t see anything worth buying. There weren’t many people there either.
Máirín: Nár chuala mé go bhfuil na praghsanna (PREYE-suh-nuh) ag dul síos anois? Didn’t I hear that the prices are going down now?
Pól: Níor chuala mé é, agus ní fhaca mé é, ach oiread. Cheannaigh mé léine agus bríste, agus ansin tháinig mé abhaile faoi dheireadh (YER-uh). I didn’t hear it, and I didn’t see it either. I bought a shirt and trousers, and then I came home finally.
Máirín: Nach mór an trua é, anois? Isn’t it a pity, now?
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