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James McGinnis ( -
Posted on Friday, August 17, 2001 - 08:19 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia Dhoine, (I hope this is correct!!)

I have been attempting to learn Irish with the assistance of two texts. One is by Micheal O'Shiadhall (sp?) and the other is the "Teach Yourself Irish" text. I have the tapes for both. Things were proceeding quite well, although rather slowly, until now.

While in Ireland this summer it was recommended that I try Buntús Cainte. This is very basic but is a "crawl-walk-run" approach that is a nice diversion from the strictly academic approach. However, I have a dilema.

In the phrase Tá sé an-dorcha why is the d not dh? Tá sé an- fhuar, Tá sé an-fhliuch and tá sé an-gheal follow this rule. Why is it different in Tá sé an-dorcha?

Also, can anyone give me a spelling and rough pronuciation guide for my anglicized surname of McGinnis? And can anyone tell me the difference, if any, between Padraic and Padraig?

Any help would be most appreciated. As soon as I can get a break in my work schedule I hope to join you at one of the immersion weekends. Thanks for all you do to keep this wonderfully frustrating language alive!!

Slan go foil,

James Patrick McGinnis

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Seosamh ( -
Posted on Friday, August 17, 2001 - 12:15 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia's Muire duit.

More fun with lenition. An 'n' short-circuits the rules for lenition in the case of a following 'd','t', or 's'. So, 'an-dána', 'an-te' and 'an-sásta' (in some places 'an-tsásta).

In the southernmost dialects, the word for 'very' is 'ana-', so in Munster you will hear 'ana-dhorcha'. (These days that is often being half-standardized in writing as 'an-dhorcha' which may confuse people even more.)

The most common version of your surname, which is an Ulster one, is Mac Aonghusa. It's the same as Magennis and (Mac) Guinness. In Irish, it sometimes also has the form Mac Aonghuis and is sometimes written Mag Aonghusa or Mag Aonghuis, 'mag' being typical in Ulster surnames. "Son of Angus" is the meaning, of course.

The waffling between 'mac' and 'mag' is similar to 'Padraic' and 'Padraig' (unvoiced versus voiced consonants). Except for these two cases -- where you have a choice -- I would stick to pronouncing 'c' and 'g' as they are spelled.

(It would be 'Dia d(h)aoibh' to more than one person, by the way.)

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