Pronounce “í” in Irish like “ee” in English “she”, but with the tongue tip down against the back of the lower front teeth. Do not bring the center of the tongue so close to the roof of the mouth as to cause hissing. Hold the sound for a longer time than the sound in English “she”. Practice on:
í (ee); sí (shee); lí; níl; blí; díol (DEE-uhl); slí (shlee); buíoch (BWEE-uhk*).
Without the síneadh (SHEEN-uh), Irish “i” has a shorter sound which may be a short (ee) or a sound closer to that in English “pin”, although it never is exactly that. Clear examples of the short (ee) sound are:
bia (BEE-uh); lia (LEE-uh)
Words in which the (ee) nature of the sound is not as evident are:
smig (smig); smid (smid); sin (shin); cic (kik)
Nevertheless, do not pronounce any of these exactly as if they were English words. Keep the tongue down against the back of the lower front teeth as you pronounce the “i”. Try “sín” (sheen), then “sin” (shin) several times.
Often an “i” next to a broad vowel, “a, o, u”, gets no sound but merely indicates that the consonant after or before the “i” has its slender sound. Examples:
fuar (FOO-uhr), fuair (FOO-ir); lán (law*n), lián (lyaw*n); balla (BAHL-uh), baile (BAHL-e); bás (baw*s), báis (BAW*-ish). The last word may sound somewhat like (boysh) to you.
Here are the saorbhriathra (say*r-VREE-uh-ruh), or free forms, for the last two irregular verbs in the past tense:
rugadh air (RUG-uh er), he was seized
níor (NEE-uhr) rugadh air, he wasn’t seized
ar (er) rugadh air?, was he seized?
nár (naw*r) rugadh air?, wasn’t he seized?
itheadh (I-huh), it was eaten
níor itheadh, it wasn’t eaten
ar itheadh?, was it eaten?
nár itheadh?, wasn’t it eaten?
Notice that “ith” is regular in the past, resembling verbs like “ól”, with its “óladh” (OHL-uh), “níor óladh, ar óladh, nár óladh” forms.
Masculine nouns: radharc (RYE-uhrk), view, sight; glaoch (GLAY*-uhk*), call, phone call
Feminine Nouns: stoirm (STUHR-im), storm; báisteach, an bháisteach (BAW*SH-tuhk*, un VWAW*SH-tuhk*), rain
measaim, ag measadh (MAS-im, uh MAS-uh), think
druidim, ag druidim (DRID-im, uh DRID-im), draw close
Learn these for quick use in conversation.
Nach álainn an radharc é! (nahk* AW*-lin un REYE-uhrk ay*), Isn’t it a beautiful sight!
Nach álainn an radharc tú! Aren’t you a beautiful sight (or terrible sight).
Gan bhun gan bharr (gahn VWUN gahn VWAW*R), No head or tail to it (literally “without top or bottom”).
Druidim isteach leat, Come closer.
Druidigí isteach libh (liv), Come in closer (you plural).
From basic words: ól; bainne; caife (KAHF-e); make sentences of the form here:
Nár óladh bainne? Ní óltar bainne. Ólfar caife. Wasn’t milk drunk? Milk is not drunk. Coffee will be drunk.
Do this for these groups of words:
Glaoch; air go minic; air amarach.
Meas; go raibh sé; go mbeidh sé.
Doirt; an t-uisce; an bainne sa phota.
Múin; an Iodáilis ann; an Fhraincis an bhliain seo chugainn (un VLEE-in shuh K*OO-ing), next year.
Craol (kray*l); an chéad chlár (un hyay*d k*law*r), the first program; Dé Luain seo chugainn (dyay* LOO-in shuh K*OO-ing), next Monday, é.
Clóigh; an leabhar seo anseo; an leabhar mór sin in Éirinn.
Nár glaodh (GLAY*-uhk*) air go minic?, wasn’t he called often? Ní ghlaoitear (GLEE-tyuhr) air go minic. Glaofar air amárach (GLAY*-fuhr er uh-MAW*-rahk*), he will be called tomorrow.
Nár measadh (MAS-uh) go raibh sé?, wasn’t it thought that he was? Ní mheastar go raibh sé. Measfar go mbeidh (me) sé.
Nár doirteadh an t-uisce?, wasn’t the water poured? Ní dhoirtear (GIRT-tyuhr) an t-uisce. Doirtfear an bainne sa phota.
Nár múineadh an Iodáilis (i-DAW*-lish) ann?, wasn’t Italian taught there? Ní mhúintear an Iodáilis ann. Múinfear an Fhraincis (un RANK-ish) an bhlian seo chugainn.
Nár craoladh an chéad chlár?, wasn’t the first program broadcast? Ní chraoltear an chéad chlár. Craolfar Dé Luain seo chugainn é, it will be broadcast next Monday.
Nár clódh (klohk*) an leabhar (LOU-uhr) seo anseo? Wasn’t this book printed here? Ní chlóitear (K*LOH-tyuhr) an leabhar seo anseo. Clófar an leabhar mór sin in Éirinn (AY*R-ing).
Notes: “Glaoigh” (glee), call, like “clóigh” (KLOH-ee), print, is slightly different from the general run of verbs. Thus, “glaonn (glay*n) sí air” is the form for “She calls him”.
“An bhliain seo chugainn” means “this year toward us”, which is “next year”. “An tseachtain (TAHK*T-in) seo chugainn” is “next week”. “Tomorrow” is “amárach”.
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