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Scottish Gaelic Lesson 8 – Intro to Lenition and Word Change

One of  the most frightening things about learning Gaelic is Lenition  – that´s where an H enters a word and changes its whole pronunciation. When you first come across it, you will see that it looks very confusing – but, actually it isn´t. In fact we use them in English all of the time. Consider the word Phone – we have inserted an H into the word to avoid a hard consonant. Fight is another one, we put an H into the word to get the right sound. Gaelic has a structured use of doing this and its easy to know. Just before I tell you about it, you should know that the H always goes into the second letter, is not always written and can behave a bit odd.  Gaelic words also have plurals by changing the end of the word – thats nothing to do with what we are talking about – that process is called “slendering” and we will talk about that another time.

 

Dont worry too much if you don’t get this, you just need to know that it happens so you can hear it.

so:

The letters which are aspirated are B,C,D,F,G,M,P,S,T

You could try to make a little rhyme to remember it. Mine is “Brigid´s Cold Day First Gave March Pre-Summer Time”.

Summary:

When we lenite a word, the whole sound changes

mh has a  v sound,

ch as in Loch,

ph like pheasant

sh and th  like hat

dh and gh can vary in sound.

 

1.We aspirate, to make the past tense

tog e  – he lifts

thog e – he lifted

2. We aspirate SOME of the possessive pronouns

Mo Mhac  – son

Do bhàta – your boat

a bhàta – his boat

Our, their and her do not lenite.  Only practice will make this clear so I don’t want to really write a lot more about it right now.

3. Triggered by some prepositions

  • bho
  • gu
  • do
  • anns a’
  • air
  • aig

4.  also triggered by Feminine nouns

5. Intensifiers also trigger lenition

6. There are also a few other minor things which cause the H, which you will see when you come across them

We will study these more in due course.

Learn Gaelic, Uncategorized

Scottish Gaelic Lesson 4 – Tha and Is

There is often a lot of confusion with the verb to be, which is expressed using the word tha and the word is.

Tha mi fliuch I am wet

Is mise Joseph I am Joseph

There are some people who believe that the IS version is  archaic and is starting to disappear and indeed it sometimes does from sentences. But it is still used sometimes invisibly.

The best way to know when to use them s simply to think about emphasis – if there is a physical characteristic like a name, its unlikely to change so you can use is mise, but for occupations or transient things we use Tha…… although for vocations or people who feel they have a gift or a special calling, we can also use Is.

There is a very helpful chart here

 

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Scottish Gaelic Lesson 4 – Yes. No and Accents.

In Gaelic, there are no words for simply yes or no, the way to agree or to disagree is by repeating a little bit of the sentence

Tha e fuar

Tha! Tha e fuar!

Tha e blath

Chan eil e blah

To ask a question you use a bheil ..

A bheil thu fuar?

chan eil mi fuar!

The accent . we haven´t used it so far.

The accent is written as a grave accent (Scottish Gaelic: stràc throm, “heavy stroke/accent”) in Scottish Gaelic, as opposed to the acute accent (Irish: síneadh fada, “length accent”; Scottish Gaelic: stràc gheur, “sharp stroke/accent”) used in Irish; This basically means that in Scottish Gaelic it looks like a little backslash whereas in Irish it looks like a little forwardslash: hence the word for “welcome” is written as fàilte in Scottish Gaelic and in Irish as fáilte. Irish has no backslashes, only forward ones, while until recently Scottish Gaelic had both grave and acute accents which were used to differentiate between open and closed vowel sounds. However, recent spelling reform has meant that there are now only grave accents (forwardslashes) in Scottish Gaelic, the opposite of Irish.

A grave accent over a vowel means that it’s pronounced according to its long value rather than its short one. like this:

  • à represents the sound in English father.
  • è represents the sound in English dare,
  • ì represents the sound in English sheep.
  • ò represents the sound in English dock.
  • ù represents a sound pretty close to English sewer, but as a single sound

I will try to remember to type these from now on!

 

 

 

 

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Scottish Gaelic Lesson 2 – The Verb “To Be” – “Tha”

Audio will follow shortly

Failte! – Welcome, in this lesson we will talking about the verb to be. Sometimes  in written Gaelic you might see a little  “´” above some of the letters, we will talk about those later. I have not included them yet.  Continue reading “Scottish Gaelic Lesson 2 – The Verb “To Be” – “Tha””