An introduction to Modern Scottish Gaelic

Copyright Linden Pentecost 2011

The persuit of learning a language like Gaelic may not give the advantage of being able to speak to large proportions of the World population as Chinese or Hindi can, but the reason may be more personal such as an interest in Celtic languages or indigenous languages to Britai, or because of family ties for instance. In either case, the persuit of an honourable one. Gaelic is a Goidelic language, one of the two surviving branches of Celtic languages still spoken, which also includes Galwegian, Manx and Irish, in its various forms. Gaelic uses a very archaic spelling system which many find initially hard to grasp, as it represents the historical origins of the letters as opposed to being phonetic. Here is an approximate pronunciation guide: The Gaelic alphabet contains only 18 letters, yet the language has far more sounds than English: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Ll Mm Nn Oo Pp Rr Ss Tt Uu long vowels are marked with grave accents à, è, ì, ò, ù a - as in 'u'nder or 'a'bout, or as in 'a'nd à- as in f'a'ther e - as in 'get' è - as in 'same' or 'air' i - as in 'if' or 'eat' ì - as in 'seen' o - as in 'knot' ò as in 'awe' or 'mote' u - as in 'soon ù - as in 'moon' vowel combinations: ai - as in 'and' ao - like the i in 'girl' aoi - similar to ao but longer ài - like the 'i' in time or just a long aa

ea - as in 'get' èa- as in 'eea' ei - 'e' èi - as in 'may' eo - 'yo' io - eeuh ia - eeah In Gaelic vowels are either broad a, o u or slender e, i consonants and their lenitated counterparts are pronounced differently depending on the type of consonant they precede: Broad: b - 'b' or 'p' in medial or final position bh - v in frontal position, silent or 'v-w' elsewhere c - 'k' or 'khk' in medial or final position ch - as in 'loch' d - d, but t in medial and final position. Pronounced 'k' in the ending chd e.g. cuidheachd (also) dh - initially like a voiced 'ch' elsewhere silent or 'g' on Harris, sometimes lengthening the surrounding vowels f - as in 'feet' fh - silent g - like English 'g' in 'get' never as in 'gem', like 'k' elsewhere gh - similar to dh l - similar to English l, diffrenciation comes with practice m - as in English mh - like 'v' or 'bh' but originally more nasal n - similar to English p - like English initially, like hhp elsewhere ph - as in 'physics' r - rolled s - as in 's' never as 'z' sh - silent t - as in English th - silent Slender: b - as 'by' c - 'ky' as in 'cube' ch - as in German 'ich' d - like English 'j' in 'jam' or 'ch' as in 'cheese' in medial and final dh - like the y in yes, elsewhere is silent or can act as a vowel f - 'fy' fh - silent g - 'gy'

gh - same as dh l - as in 'million' r - like the 'th' in 'this' s - pronounced 'sh' as in 'shin' sh - like the 'ch' in 'ich' t - as in 'chin' th - as in 'ich' or silent other combinations worth noting: cn/gn = cr/gr chd = chk rd/rt = rsht Examples: balach - 'balokh' caileag - calek talamh - taluv ceart - kyarsht rium - thyoom oidhche - eyehya leabhar - lyeoour The verb 'tha' (to be) Gaelic sentence order is verb-initial VSO and the form tha from Proto-Irish - a'stá (to stand) is an all-purpose form which can be used in the present tense for non-permenant charicarists (most often) tha mi - I am tha thu - thou art/you are tha e - he is tha i - she is tha sinn - we are tha sibh -you are tha iad - they are Tha mi math - I am good 'ha mee ma' Tha mi dona - I am bad 'ha mee dawna' Tha thu a' dol - you are going 'ha'oo uh dowl' Tha sinn a' coiseachadh - we are walking ' ha sheeny uh cawshukha' Tha am balach a' tighinn - the boy is coming ' ha um malokh u cheeyin Tha a' chaileag a' faighneachd - the girl is asking 'ha uh khalek uh fanokhk'

notice the verbal particle a' which corrosponds to the English suffix -ing

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