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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (October-December) » I'm confused about something.. « Previous Next »

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 11:38 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Actually, I'm confused about alot of things but I'll just limit it to the one for now ;)
I just completed my first 10 Irish lessons, and something I meant to ask the teacher and never remembered was: how do you know when a 'ch' is pronounced like the 'ch' in 'loch', and when it is just pronounced like an 'h' sound? At first I thought it had to do with 'slender' or 'broad', but I've seen examples that seem to be contradictions to that, so I don't know HOW to judge it. (Like 'chónaí' and 'chroí'. Why are the sounds different?) Pronunciaton is definitely the hardest thing (for ME at least) and I keep thinking if I could pin down some rules I might start to get a handle on it... Does it perhaps have something to do with lenition?
Oh, I lied; I want to ask one MORE thing right now: I've heard 'slán' pronounced as 'sslán' and 'shlán'. Which is proper, or are they both, or what?

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Oliver (217.155.45.123 - 217.155.45.123)
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2003 - 11:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi Karen,

From reading your message I have no idea how you think these words sound. That's one limitation of the internet. The only thing I can suggest is that you go to the Proverbs section of this site and listen to some of them, at least a few will have the "ch" sound.

It's not really possible to answer you question in writing unless you know the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Not many do, I don't.

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I will definitely listen to the sounds, but from my recent classes it seems that 'chroí' sounds like 'kree' and that 'chónaí' sounds like 'ho-nee', with both the 'k' and the 'h' sounding a little throaty. Maybe I'm missing subtleties in the spoken sounds; I have no clue! That's kinda why I'm asking....

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James (199.112.55.122 - 199.112.55.122)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 03:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Karen, A Chara:

My pronunciation is probably no better than yours but I think I understand what you're encountering. The Ch sound is a gutteral sound like in the german "Ach" or the "cultured" way of pronouncing "Bach". But, I think there's a variance that may have to do with the way the following letter affects the degree of this "ch" sound. What I think what you may be hearing is this:

Croí is the word for "heart" and has the solid "K" that is the only sound "C" makes in Irish.

Chroí is the lenited form and that "K" sound does soften but because the very next sound is a consonant it "pushes" that "K" sound back into the soft palate during that gutteral attempt. It's still a gutteral sound but it may sound closer to a "k". It IS still a gutteral sound and not a pure "K", though.

Cónaí is the word for "forever" and sometimes for "living" and it too has that solid "K" sound. When lenited Chónaí it again becomes gutteral but it's more of an "h" sound because the following letter is a vowel. Vowels don't require as much soft palate involvement as do some consonants (like "r") and hence do not tend to "push" back.

The sound is the same for both from a grammatical standpoint....it's gutteral. It's just the transition from that gutteral sound to the next that may make it sound a bit different.

This is just my attempt to explain what I THINK you might be hearing. I could be way off, though.

Hope this helps.

Le meas,

James

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Jonas (213.243.190.23 - 213.243.190.23)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 05:03 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I would make the same guess as James just made. Excellent explanation, James!

Karen, I'd guess you're right in saying that there are differences you don't hear. As a non-native speaker of English I have often (very often) been surprised at the almost total failure of many English-speakers to distinguish the Irish "ch" from "c". Or, in IPA, distinguishing [x] from [k]. When I first heard this I found it very strange - to me "ch" and "c" sound as far apart as, say, "b" and "p" or "m" and "n".

The reason is that we often fail to hear differences that don't exist in our native languages. The human ear is fabolous at picking up the sounds we hear when we are very young but that ability is lost quite soon. This is the reason most adult learners of a language always speak with at least a soft "foreign" accent even though they know the language very well.

I feel rather confident in English but I do admit that words such as "this" and "diss" sound almost exactly the same to me. Well, I hear the difference, but in rapid speech I would as likely as not fail to pronounce them properly - I would say "diss" for both of them. As would almost all Swedes, Danes and Germans. Though we would all be able to distinguish "croí" from "chroí" ;-)

Not much we can do about it, but if you train your ear you will start hearing the difference.

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 06:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you both SO much; that is really, really helpful. It is VERY hard to distinguish some of the sounds. And confusing when I don't understand the reasons when they sound different! It ALWAYS helps me when I understand how characters alter or affect their neighbor characters. Thanks again! (Or I suppose I should be saying, go raibh maith agat!)
By the way, I have really enjoyed (and related to) some of the other threads in this forum in which you offer encouragement to beginners frustrated by how difficult this language is. Sometimes I think I must be insane trying to learn this in middle age! It makes me feel alot better to know how confused other beginners are, too!
Now, how about 'slán'? Is it 'shlán' or 'sslán'?

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Jonas (213.243.190.23 - 213.243.190.23)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 06:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm glad it helped you!

It's slán with a "normal" s. The "sh" sound is found when "s" is next to either "e" or "i".

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 06:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Tá tú ansin ag cuidiú le daoine eile a Shéamais agus iad i mbun iarracht foghlama.
Is fear maith thú, bail ó Dhia ort.

Le meas,

Seosamh

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 03:30 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I used the search engine to try find some pronunciation help (the vowel combinations are going to be the death of me!) and I found quite alot of useful stuff; thanks for saving these threads in the archives, guys! I want to ask something, though, about what I was wondering about in the beginning of this thread. In this example from something I found on a link mentioned in a 'vowel-pronunciation' conversation, it says the 'ch' sound is an 'h' sound. But, based on what I have heard here recently, it's a deep-in-the-throat, gutteral 'h', and not a clean, direct 'h', correct?

"Oíche Shamhna -- EE-huh HOW-nuh -- Halloween"

These other two examples seem to indicate the more gutteral 'k' sound, by 'kh', so that seems more straight-forward to me.
"X, a chara, -- X, uh KHAH-ruh -- Dear X (X, O friend)"

"A chairde, -- uh KHAHR-dyuh -- Dear Friends"

Am I getting it?

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Saturday, December 06, 2003 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Karen a chara,

You're aware of peoples' reluctance to involve themselves in toing and frowing on sounds in a written system that is at best just a rough guide. You're putting in the effort, obviously, but it may be no harm to immerse yourself, spongelike, in sound files, radio, particularly. You shall hear 'ach', 'oíche' and other immediately recognisable words. It shall also lift your morale, just being passively in touch. http://www.rte.ie/rnag/gaeilge/
Hit on 'éist', then on 'Raidió na Gaeltachta live' and away you go. If you haven't got a Real One player already you just follow their instructions for a free download. There are downloads that you can pay for, but, ... why not go for free.

Déan múscán díot féin - become a sponge (for sound)!
Go n-éirí sé leat.

You may not want to go the way of IPA, when you can go straight for the real thing. Otherwise you have recognise:
/i:Çð 'haunð/
and
/ð 'xa:r'd'ð/

Go for the radio and enjoy the process.

Slán go fóill,
S.

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 03:00 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I have a Real One player, but when I went there and tried to get into 'Raidió na Gaeltachta live' I just got to a page with an icon for some broadband company, which displayed the words 'getting info', but it never went anywhere. I'll try it again tomorrow! (I HATE the IPA. It's about as clear as mud. I'll go for the vocalizations!)
Go raibh maith agat!
K.

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Jonas (213.243.191.38 - 213.243.191.38)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 06:11 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Karen, a chara! The IPA as clear as mud?!? The mud must be crystal clear where you live. ;-) Anyone is free to love it or hate it but there is no more logic way to describe pronunciation.

The thing I really hate is trying to show Irish in English spelling. Not only it is bad since English spelling is so absurdly irregular, but it will also destroy your pronunciation. Irish and English pronunciations are quite different from each other.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 11:02 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Karen a chara,

You're nearly there. Your present RealOne Player may not be the one that is needed for RnaG. I don't know but I suspect that that may be the problem. There are other players available at $19/95 on the RealOne site, but the one that I went for, and it is still there, is the one on the right of the screen that opens. You shall see 'My account' and just under that, 'Free RealOne Player'. Having pressed on the right, you shall see again on the right, 'My account' and underneath it, 'Or get our basic Player'. At the bottom of that page, directly down, you shall see 'Download the free RealOne Player'. That's the one to hit. Don't be afraid of taking down another player as well as the one that you already have, as it is free and it should play RnaGaeltachta for you. Mine is on the go for some two years and has caused me no problem. I changed computers in the interim and just downloaded again as before.
You probably have it down already as I write, as I see from your post that you were about to try again today. Whenever it happens for you, I wish you the best of luck with it. Despite ourselves, we pick up so much through the ear, so much so that I continuely tell people to read aloud, slowly - to themselves - because I believe that a lot of things happen in the brain when you combine all of the faculties. You may think that a starter in Irish may be stretching it a bit if they think that listening to RnaG shall be of any advantage to them, in their few basic sentences. Language courses generally throw the high-frequency usage material at them, so such words and sentences as they may learn early on in a course do come up every day speech and broadcasts. One may like to just single out the news broadcasts initially as one is aware of what the world news is on a day to day basis. If you hear 'an tUachtarán Bush' and 'Sasana', and you know that he is there, well, you've already picked up the guts of a sentence. You shall probably hear more that you can recognise because of the context.


..... To hear RnaG Live, you need a Real Audio Player. It's available free from www.real.com (click the icon).


Good luck with it - Go n-éirí sé leat.


On the IPA, if you you were to get the right instructions over three one-hour classes, with a few photostats, you would get the hang of it. You would have enough to start you off. That's just if you wish to delve into it at some time in the future. Perhaps you may some day, and perhaps you may be using Irish to do so. Having learned Irish you might develope other interests through it. Is ait an mac an saol - Life is strange.

Ádh mór,

S.

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 01:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Seosamh, go raibh maith agat! I had tried to re-install it last night, and instead of downloading, it told me I already had the lastest version. I'm not at all sure just what I was doing; it was late. I tried to re-install it again this morning and it downloaded. I'm currently listening to 'Raidió na Gaeltachta live' and I probably understand one word in a hundred! But it's fun. I'll listen to it often and perhaps it will start to sink it...
And Jonas: HA HA. ANYTHING is clear IF YOU KNOW IT ALREADY! [now it's my turn to wink! ;)]

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Tá an saol is mháthair sásta go bhfuair tú an raidió. Is aoibhinn liom go bhfuil na torthaí spóirt agus eile ag réabadh amach ar na haertonnta chugat thall.

The world and his mother is (= We're all) happy that you got the radio. I'm delighted that the sports' results and otherwise are blasting out on the airwaves to you over there.

Just try and pick up on what ever you can. The odd word will do.

Go mbainir an-sult as.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 02:53 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Looking at last week's programs, you may have a continuation of a drama at 8.00 Irish time (perhaps 3.00 your time?)- in five mins. time! - which shall be fast and perhaps difficult to follow:

8.00 Dráma na Seachtaine - Ar Shlí na Fírinne leis an Athair Seán Mac Éil(Mír 1)
An chéad mhír de léiriú Chumann Drámaíochta Chois Fharraige den dráma grinn seo.(athchraoladh ar chlár an tSathairn)
...........................

At 8.30 music and song may be more understandable as you realise that intros and follow-up descriptions take place:

8.30 Rogha John Spillane
Clár ceoil agus amhrán den sean agus den nua á chur i láthair ó Chorcaigh ag John Spillane.
...........................................

At 9.30, much of the same:

9.30 An Ghaoth Aniar
Clár ceoil agus amhráin le Áine Hensey
.........................................

This may suit your international taste in music:

10.30 An Taobh Tuathail
Nua-cheol na cruinne

Slán go fóill,
S.

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Jonas (213.243.191.38 - 213.243.191.38)
Posted on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 03:20 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Karen, you're absolutely right. ;-) But in IPA what you see is what you get. I mean, how would you pronounce the English "-ough"

bought
though
rough
through
drought
hiccough
lough

7 different sounds for the same spelling! Bizarre ;-)

Or what about "-ea-"
heart
beard
heard

Don't get me wrong, I king of like the English language, but as I said some weeks ago in another discussion:
Most European languages using the Latin alphabet have kept the value the letters had in Latin. No one has gone so astray as English. In other words, if you know any European language you can normally pronounced many more because the spelling is consistent with both tradition and with what you know. No-one could claim that about English.

For this reason I'm extremely sceptic to using English sounds for giving pronunciations in other languages. Not only is it much less suited than IPA for this purpose, it is also less suited than any other language at all.

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 12:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, I just couldn't resist teasing you a little bit. I wish I DID know IPA, but I just can't take the time to learn it right now; I'm already trying to learn too many other things. And from the little bit I've seen of it, I KNOW it's not an intuitively obvious sort of thing... I wish I had a frame of reference OTHER than the English language. I have thought many times in the past, and especially since trying to learn Irish, that English is indeed VERY bizarre and confusing: for instance, how the heck do you get "won't" out of "would not"? Not to mention all the examples YOU gave... Unfortunately, I'm stuck with it for the time being. I know that alot of Irish sounds don't occur anywhere in English; I'm just trying to sort of get to a starting point. Seosamh suggested a post or two back, that I should try reading out loud to myself, and that's sort of what I would like to try, too. That's kind of why I've been asking all these questions: I don't know how to BEGIN to start to sound out some of the words. And even a rough, Anglicized way of pronouncing them would I'M SURE be better than what I would come up with left to my own devices!
So I'll try not to drive you all insane with my requests! Just PLEASE be patient with my poor English-only self when I do! :)

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Karen Ham (67.160.10.28 - 67.160.10.28)
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2003 - 11:37 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Just to clarify so I don't sound like a COMPLETE idiot, (in case anyone cares or even noticed...) this: [how the heck do you get "won't" out of "would not"?] is ALL wrong. It SHOULD have been ["won't out of "will not"]. Duh. It's hell getting old.

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