A bheil a’Ghàidhlig agaibh? Tha, beagan.   Tha beagan a’Ghàidhig agam.

I have been doing the paper, Introduction to Gaelic Language with Catriona Parsons at the University of Otago Summer School.  This is a six day course over a week.  Tomorrow is a fallow day as Waitangi Day is a national holiday.  This is a good time to write up some of the study material so far.

An Aibidil – The Alphabet

A, a  B, b C, c D, d E, e F, f G, g [H, h] I, i, L, l M, m N, n O, o P, p R, r S, s T, t U, u

A, E, I, O, U are pronounced with European values ah, eh, ee, oh, oo.  A, O, U are “Broad” vowels.  After these vowels D, T, L are pronounced the tip of the tongue pressed against the back of the teeth, rather than against the alveolar ridge behind the teeth.  S is  a sibilent hissing sound.  E and I are “Slender” vowels.  L is pronounced with the tongue pressed against the ridge behind the teeth as in English.  D, T, S sound like Dj, Tch, Sh after Slender vowels.

1. beag, small, sounds like ‘bek’.  glé bheag, very small, sounds like ‘gley vek’

2. mór, big, sounds like ‘mohr’.  glé mhór, very big, sounds like ‘gley vohr’

3. còir, kind, gentle, sounds like ‘kor’. glé chòir, very kind or gentle, sounds like ‘gley chor’, as in the German ach-sound.

4. duilich, difficult, sorry, sounds like ‘dulich’.  That last sound like the German ich. glé dhuilich, very difficult or sorry, sounds like ‘gley ghulich’

5. gaothach, windy, sounds like ‘gø-och’. glé ghaothach, very windy, sounds like ‘gley ghø-och’.  Both DH and GH sound like the gargled soft-G heard in Spanish.

6. fuar, cold, sounds like ‘fooer’. glé fhuar, very cold, sounds like ‘gley ‘ooer’

7. prìseil, precious, sounds like ‘preeshel’. glé phrìseil, very precious, sounds like ‘gley freeshel’

8. sona, happy (content, blessed), sounds like ‘sonna’. glé shona, very happy, sounds like ‘gley honna’

9. toilichte, happy (pleased, glad), sounds like ‘tollitcheh’. glé thoilichte, sounds like ‘gley hollitcheh’.

L, N, R don’t change.  After jumping up and down in them several times there’s not much the language can do to them.

At the end of words voiced sounds BH, D, and G become unvoiced.  BH (‘v’) sounds like ‘ff’, D like T or Tch, and G like ‘K’.

Once you get used to the sounds it’s very consistent in its sound-changes and pleasant on the ears, a lovely fricative language.

Catriona Parsons

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