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Some Bits of Gaelic for You!

The Irish Government promoted "standardised" spellings of many Irish language words in the late 1940s. This included dropping many silent letters or combinations which were considered unnecessary to understanding. Common examples were "bh", "ch", "mh", "dh" and "gh". Many people found the "new" spellings difficult, having learnt and used a vocabulary of words like "ainmhidhe" which were now rendered as "ainmhí" and continued to use the "old" forms. Similarly, many people declined to apply the "standardisation" to propernames, particularly family- and place-names.

Given the variety of local (Irish) accents and the existence of dialects and the use of aspiration in the Irish language it is difficult to render the pronunciation in writing.

Gaelic 'a' is not pronounced as the English 'a', that is it is an ah sound while the English a is pronounced ay. This changes in some instances as with the word saor below. I think it is related to the presence/absence of the fada and the flowing consonants. Never gave it much thought :-) s before a short vowel (e and i) results usually in an sh sound. Before a long vowel a,o,u retains the s sound of English. A consonant will change in length depending on the vowel closest to it. Therefore we have this sh sound with the short vowels and a longer s sound when beside the long vowels.

'Overheard' on one of the lists:

: I would like to get the ancient spelling as opposed to the "modern"

: You could be asking for too much as ancient Gaelic uses symbols which
: not many computer users would be able to interpret.  The modern 

It depends on the ancientness.  That's true of Ogham, but the medieval
alphabet is just a stripped-down Latin alphabet (18 regular characters)
with a few diacriticals.  I've seen fonts for it here and there.  It's
fairly readable except for the 'g' and easily confused 'r' and 's'

The dipthong "mh" sometimes has a sound of "v" as in Samhain. It might be 
pronounced "Shavain".  Sometimes "mh" is silent (the 'h' aspiration/lenition 
convention is characteristic of modern, not ancient orthography, BTW), as 
in "Samhain."  There is some dialect variation, but "Samhain" is usually 
pronounced more like "sahn". 

Nonetheless, the following might be useful:

Bay - ba
Harbour - calafort
Inlet - cuan
Sea - many different words such as farraige, muir, bochna, and aigean
River - abhainn (pronounced AH vahnn)
Lake (permanent) - Lough (pronounced Low)
Lake (seasonal) - Turlough (pronounced Terr low)
Stream - Sruth or Sruthan (pronounced Stroo and Stroo - unn)
Creek - goilin (pronounced Gawl linn)

And of course, these are VERY necessary to know!

"Mo sheacht míle grá thú" meaning "My love seven thousand times".

For the more restrained, "Mo ghrá thú" meaning "You are my love" or "My love" or even "I love you", would suffice.

Just in case the accents do not appear as they should, the words are:

Mo = my,
Seacht = seven (sheacht in this version after "mo"; the "h" silences the "s"),
Mile = thousand (the "i" is accented, pron. "meela"),
Gra = love (the "a" is accented, pron. "graw" ),
Thu = you (the "u" is accented, pron. like "who" in English).

Some other interesting phrases include:

Go n-eiri leat :Good luck to you (That things will rise to you)
(fada -accent on the e and i of eiri): Goh (short 'o' not as in go) n-iri leath:

Go n-eiri an t-adh leat: The best of luck to you (That luck will rise to you)
(fada's as above and also on the 'a' of t-adh): Goh n-iri an tah leath

Go n-eiri an bothar leat: Have a good trip (That the road may rise to meet you)
here there is a fada on the 'o' of bothar.: Goh n-eiri an bohar leath.

Sin is pronounced shin (this,since)
se(fada on e) is pronounced shay(he)
si (fada on i) is pronounced shi(she)

saor (cheap, free) is sa-or
sa (in) pronounced as in the 'sa' of sang.

Conas taoi?: How are you
Con-as taii: Con-as.

Slan:Goodbye (with a fada on the a)
Slahn (ending pronounced as in dahn)

Slan leat: Goodbye to you (one person): fada on 'a'
Slahn leath

Slan tamall: Goodbye(Goodbye till later) fada on 'a' of slan
Slahn tam-al

Slan go foill: Goodbye for now (Goodbye for a while)
Fada on the 'a' of slan and the 'o' of foill:
Slahn go fo-ill

'Erin go Bragh' was one of the battle cries of the various Irish Brigades down through the centuries perhaps as far back as the 13th century The full history of the Irish Brigades can be found at: I strongly recommend a visit.

Erin go Bragh is also the title of a song written in Scots dialect. The full words and translation into regular English can be found at:

And then there's Splitlevelhead's wonderful set of phrases which she shared during the final study group meeting in the fall of 1997. See the log!

For lots of Gaelic links, take a look and Click on page for Language
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