Irish Lesson 59

Pronunciation Review

Broad "c" in Irish, heard when the nearest vowel in the word is "a, o, u", resembles the first sound in English "coat" or "call". Notice that the tongue center is raised toward the roof of the mouth. Try:

cailín (kah-LEEN), girl

cá? (kaw*), where?

cad? (kahd), what?

córas (KOH-ruhs), system

cosán (kuh-SAW*N), sidewalk

cúig (KOO-ig), five

acra (AHK-ruh), acre

cló (kloh), print

cnó (kuh-NOH) or (knoh), nut

cnaipe (kuh-NAHP-e), button

crua (KROO-uh), hard

bacaim (BAHK-im), I hinder

Next, say "forc" (fohrk), fork, and "radharc" (REYE-uhrk), view. Be careful to end these words in a broad "c", with tongue center raised further back than for a slender "c". You will notice a distinct difference between the broad and slender "c" in these words, too.

A broad "c" sometimes seems to be followed by a faint (w) sound, as in: cuid (kwid), part; cuir (kir), tending toward (kwir), put; Corcaigh (KOHR-kee), tending toward (KOHR-kwee), Cork.

Make an aspirated broad "c" by saying broad "c" with the tongue lowered somewhat. The sound will resemble that in German "ach". It will be easier for you to pronounce it at the end or in the middle of a word than at the beginning. If aspirated broad "c" begins a word, the sound may be more difficult. First, try "ach" (ahk*), then "och" (ohk*), and then "achód" (ahk*-HOHD). Then separate the letter into "a chód" (uh K*OHD), his code. Further practice: moch (muhk*), mocharr (muhk*-HARR), and then separate the words: mo charr (muh K*AHR), my car.


To say the equivalent of "John is taller than Mary" in Irish, you can change the word order to "Is taller John than Mary", which is: is airde (AR-de) Seán ná Máire". The word "airde" is the comparative form of "ard" (ahrd), tall or high, just as "taller" is the comparative form of "tall" in English.

For the comparative of many Irish adjectives, add "e" and make the last consonant slender if necessary. Examples are:

fada (FAH-duh), long; faide (FAH-de), longer.

daor (day*r), expensive; daoire (DEER-e), more expensive.

láidir (LAW*-dir), strong; láidre (LAW*-dre), stronger.

milis (MIL-ish), sweet; milse (MIL-she), sweeter.

fuar (FOO-uhr), cold; fuiare (FOO-i-re), colder.

if the adjective ends in "ch", the "ch" often changes to "i" in the comparative form. Examples:

díreach (dee-RAHK*), straight; dírí (DEE-ree), straighter.

bacach (bah-KAHK*), lame; bacaí (BAH-kee), lamer.

tuirseach (toor-SHAHK*), tired; tuirsí (TOOR-shee), more tired.

gnóthach (GNOH-huhk*), busy; gnóthaí (GNOH-hee), busier.

If the adjective ends in "úil", the ending in the comparative becomes "úla". Examples:

leisciúil (lesh-KYOO-il), lazy; leiscúla (lesh-KYOO-luh), lazier.

dathúil (dah-HOO-il), handsome; dathúla (dah-HOO-luh), handsomer.

cairdiúl (kahr-DYOO-il), friendly; cairdiúla (kahr-DYOO-luh), friendlier.

Some adjectives have slightly irregular comparative forms, and a few important ones are very irregular in the comparative. This is similar to English, with its "good, better, best".


áiseach (AW*-shahk*), handy, convenient

dílis (DEE-lish), faithful

léir (lay*r), clear, obvious

déanach (DAY*N-uhk*), late

baolach (BWAY*-luhk*), dangerous

simplí (SHIM-plee), simple

feargach (FAR-uh-guhk*), angry

suimiúil (sim-OO-il), interesting

mall (moul) or (mawl), slow


Complete these sentences that are examples of how to use the comparative in Irish:

Is _______ an scian seo ná an forc sin. Use "áiseach".

Is _______ an madra seo ná an cat sin. Use "dílis".

Is _______ an leabhar seo ná an litir sin. Use "léir".

Is _______ tusa ná mise. Use "déanach".

Is _______ an bóthar seo ná an tsráid sin. Use "baolach".

Is _______ an carr seo ná an rothar sin. Use "simplí".

Is _______ Liam ná aon fhear eile atá anseo. Use "feargach".

Is _______ an pictiúr seo ná an leabhar sin. Use "suimiúil".

Is _______ Brian ná na buachaillí eile. Use "mall".

The meanings are similar to "This knife is more convenient than that fork", which is the translation of the first sentence. by making use of the general rules in the grammar section above, you should be able to determine that the adjectives in comparative form are: áisí (AW*-shee), dílse (DEEL-she), léire (LAY*R-e), déanaí (DAY*N-ee), baolaí (BWAY*-lee), simplí (SHIM-plee) (no change here), feargaí (FAR-uh-gee), suimiúla (sim-OO-luh), moille (MWIL-e) (an irregular one in spelling but not in pronunciation).


Another help in carrying on a conversation with someone more experienced in the language than you, and in fact with anyone, is to ask questions. A question sets up a reply, so that you will be better able to anticipate what is coming and understand it. This will also let you prepare a reply to the other person, so that the conversation will keep up.

Remember the question words: Cé (kay*), who?; cad (kahd), what?; conas (KUN-uhs), how?; cá (kaw*), where? At first, the only word you will be able to use quickly after them is "tá" or "bhfuil", but soon you will begin to introduce other verbs as you continue to speak.

(c) 1998 The Irish People. May be reprinted with credit.

Irish Lesson 58

Irish Lesson 60

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