Gaelic broad/slender vowels
|Date:||Monday, August 21, 2000, 14:35|
Annyong haseyo! Chal chinessoyo?
(That's all the Korean I know, sadly! Sorry.)
Sgrìobh Yoon Ha Lee:
> I'd love to learn any Celtic language, but it's not something
> I'm going to attempt without guidance.
What sort of guidance? There are some prettty good beginner's courses out
there, several come with tapes as well. "Teach Yourself" has Irish Gaelic
(called "TY Irish"), Scottish Gaelic ("TY Gaelic") and Welsh; Hugo's "... in
Three Months" series has Scottish Gaelic and Welsh. Routledge's "Colloquial"
series does Welsh too. Materials for Manx Gaelic, Cornish and Breton are
unfortunately harder to come by, but I know places you could get some if
> I borrowed an Irish Gaelic grammar from a friend for a week
> once, and I couldn't figure out what was meant by "broad" and
> "narrow" vowels (?), among other things, so I just gave up.
As a Celtic language enthusiast and fairly fluent speaker of Scottish Gaelic,
I jump on this post with glee :-)
The vowels A, O, U are called "broad" (Gaelic: "leathann"), and the vowel E,
I are called "slender" (Gaelic: "caol"). This is just the conventional Gaelic
terminology. What happens is that certain consonants have one sound when
preceded or followed by A/O/U, and another sound when preceded or followed by
E/I. For example, the letter "s": in contact with a broad vowel (A/O/U) it is
pronounced as in English "so". In contact with a slender vowel, it is
pronounced like "sh" in English "show". Another example: the letter T in
contact with a broad vowel is an aspirated "T" like in English "top". In
contact with a slender vowel it is pronounced like English "ch" in "church".
The same things happen in other languages too, even Korean. The Korean letter
"s" (is it "siut"? I'm sorry, I forget the Hangul letter names) turns into a
"sh" sound before the vowel "i". In Japanese, if you're familiar with it, the
consonant "t" turns into "ch" before the vowel "i": "ta", "te", but "chi"
instead of "ti".
In Gaelic this system is much more widespread and regularized, of course, but
that's really all there is to it. You just have to remember that certain
letters have two pronunciations: one next to A/O/U and one next to E/I.
Now tell me the what the "other things" were and I'll explain them too :-)
Guma fada beò thu agus ceò às do thaigh.
(A Gaelic traditional Gaelic toast translating literally as "May you live
long and smoke out of your house [i.e. if your fire's always burning, you're
warm, comfortable, etc]" -- in other words, the Gaelic equivalent of "Live
long and prosper"!)