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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2000 (July-December) » Pronunciation of seanmhathair/grandmother « Previous Next »

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JMK (spider-wg014.proxy.aol.com - 205.188.196.24)
Posted on Friday, September 08, 2000 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Can someone plese tell me the pronunciation of the word "seanmhaithar", which I believe is "grandmother" , in the Irish? (Hope I've spelled it correctly). Would like to know if there is a "v " sound for the mh in the middle of the word and if yes, is there an alternative to the "v" pronunciation, and, of course, which dialect...Munster, or other.

Thank you very much.
JMK

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Robert Brady (ppp-626.olypen.com - 208.200.249.173)
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 10:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia dhuit,
I beleive it is pronounced Shan-wah-her or something close to that. The m in maither (mother) is lenited and this changes the sound to w. I'm not sure of the dialect, but I believe that in Standard Irish this is the correct pronunciation.
Slán

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Jeannette (spider-th032.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.213.57)
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 11:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I sure am having a crummy day...thought I had posted my message response to you Robert, and to this discussion board..but may have hit the wrong button, not once but twice. Any way..in case my response didn't go out..Thank you, Robert..but I was thoroughly put in my place on another list (not this great one), for giving the Shan-wah-her pronunciation...so am wondering if there is another on...Shan-vah-her- for the Irish word for "grandmother"

Thanks anyone, and again to you, Robert, for your response.

Jeannette

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Seosamh (3cust119.tnt12.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.138.119)
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2000 - 12:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jeannette, that person had Munster pronunciation. Robert has the Connaught pronunciation -- or Ulster pronunciation, if they choose to say seanmháthair at all. (There is technically no standard pronunciation, but Robert's is the de facto standard too.)

In Ulster they normally say máthair mhór for grandmother. "A mháthair mhór" (Pr: uh WAH-hir WHOAR or uh WAH-hai WOAR)is Grandmother or Grandma in direct address in Donegal or Ulster.

In Connaught, they use Maimeo and Daideo for Granny and Grandpa: A Mhaimeo, A Dhaideo.

People can sometimes be obnoxious about the correctness of their Irish, whether they learned it before they learned English in the Gaeltacht or (more likely, since native speakers are usually both generous and discerning in these matters) in school in Dublin or in night classes in the U.S. A much wiser Munsterman than the one you encountered once said to us: "When I first went to Conamara and heard people say 'a mhac' (sonny) instead of 'a mhic' I was astonished, but I wisely didn't say anything." That's humorous if you have the background (or maybe if you know the teller).

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Jeannette (spider-th041.proxy.aol.com - 152.163.213.61)
Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 09:46 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Go raibh maith agat, a Sheosamh, (Betcha I did that wrong too.),
You made my day with that explanation, and you were "right on" with the description of the obnoxious person. I don't need much to discourage my pitiful attempts at the language.
Yes, I realize the word "seanmhathair" may not be used at all, rather "maimeo" usedinstead. It's my pronunciations that I am having so much trouble with..still, and I haven't even begun much else. I would rather learn the Munster pronunciation since that is where my Grandad was from.
Slán,
Jeannette

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Seosamh (1cust19.tnt14.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.142.19)
Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2000 - 12:12 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Just one letter off: a Sheosaimh.

'Mh' and 'bh' are usually pronounced like the English 'v' in Munster. Listen to tapes of Munster speakers (or Munster speakers themselves if you can find one) and try to mimic them as closely as possible. When listening to real people, watch their lips as well. You'll gradually get good Munster pronunciation. In the other dialects, 'mh' and 'bh' are usually pronounced like an English 'w' when they are broad (next to an a, o or u).

They definitely use seanmháthair in Munster. I don't know if Maimeo (or Mamó) is used there or not.

There are other words: naing mhór (which may not be used in any dialect that is still living). Nan, Nain and Nanny are used by Irish speakers just as they are by English speakers, sometimes disguised with Irish spelling.

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