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different places. It would be impossible to specify all the deviations from rule, that have corrupted the expression of the various provinces; but the following may serve as a few instances of them.
In general the accent falls on the first syllables, and this principle is observed in the north of Ireland; as, áran, bread; råsur, a razor: but, in the south and west, they say arån, rasůr, &c.
Again, when n follows c, g, m, or t, it is pronounced, in the north, like r; as, cnamlı, a bone, cramh; cno, a nut, cro; gníomh, an action, griomh; tnuth, envy, truth; but in the south and west the true pronunciation is retained, and the n receives its own sound.
B, or m, when aspirated, was originally sounded as ; as, mo mhathair, my mother, pronounced mo vathair. This ancient pronunciation is still retained in the north of Ireland, as in Scotland, and the Isle of Man. It is also retained in the south, in the beginning of words; and the middle, if joined by a small vowel; thus, saidhbhit, rich, they pronounce, saivir. But if the next vowel be broad, as in the words foghmhar, harvest; and faobhar, an edge ; which should be pronounced fòvar, and faovar, (being words of two distinct syllables,) those of the south entirely suppress the consonant; and, contracting the two syllables into one, they say, fòar, and fàer.
Throughout Connaught, Leinster, and some counties of Ulster, the sound of w is substituted for that of v, to represent bh, and mht. Thus, mo bhås, my death, and mo mhac; my son, (properly sounded, mo vás, and mo vac,) are pronounced, mo wàs, and mo wac. Thus too, in the Apostle's creed, the words, gabhadh on Spiorad Naomlı, conceived from the Holy Ghost, are pronounced in the west of Ireland, gow on Spiorad Naounh; without considering that the word gabhadh, in ancient manuscripts, is often written capadh, being clearly of the same origia with the Latin capio.
Ch, at the end of words, or syllables, is very weakly expressed by the natives of Ulster: ach receives no more force, than if it were written ah; and ch, before t, is quite silent in all the country along the sea coast, from Derry to Waterford; thus, bbi duine bocht, there was a poor man, is there pronounced, bhi duine bôt.
Th is also omitted in pronouncing many words, such as athair, father, mathair, mother, &c. in most of the coun
ties of Ulster, and the east of Leinster, where these words - are pronounced as if written dair, màuir.
Such is a specimen of the provincial accents, which vary in Irish, as in all other living languages; and the only remedy for which is a careful attendance to those rules, which are framed conformably to the orthography, and founded upon the authority of the ancients, in whose time the language was cultivated and refined infinitely beyond the modern manner of expression. 15. The article is, simply, as follows; Singular.
Na. Gen. Masc, an; fem. na. It is inflected, in the different cases, by prefixing do for the dative; as, do an, contracted, don, and dona : and using some preposition that governs the ablative; as, leis, air, &c. four of which are exhibited with the article, by way of example.
i6. These rules comprehend all the information respecting genders, that can be of use to a learner. Such words, as do not come under them, must be learned by practice. Nor is it of any consequence, to a person who does not speak Irish as his native tongue, to be told, that the pronoun è, he, will agree with the masculine only; i, she, with the feminine; or that the gender may be ascertained by trying the concord of a noun with the article.
17. It will appear, upon inspecting the declensions, that nouns in general undergo not more than two inflexions, besides the nominative; and that they might be declined with three cases; viz. the nominative, genitive, and dative. But experience has sufficiently proved, that learners more easily comprehend the construction of a language, when words, which are used in directly opposite situations, are, denominated differently, even though there be no difference in their form; than when the same title is given to the agent, and the object in discourse. Hence the usual division into six cases has been adopted, as being best suited for the purposes of grammatical construction.
18. T'he nouns of the Irish language seemn naturally to divide themselves into the four declensions here exhibited : and the examples, classed under each, comprehend a considerable number of nouns; an expertness in declining which, will render all others easy and familiar.
The preposition le, with, which is exbibited as the sign of the ablative, has been chosen merely for convenience; but any
other preposition governing the ablative would answer equally well, and might be substituted in its place.
If it be still regretted, that no specific rules can be given, to ascertain in every instance to what declension a word belongs, from an inspection of the nominative alone-it is to be considered, that this difficulty is not peculiar to the
and a moderate degree of attention will overcome it: in this as well as in other languages.
19. The list of heteroclites might be rendered niore copious, by attending to the various inflexions of nouns, in the different parts of Ireland. But as this would be des. cending to the sanction of provincial barbarisms, it appeared more adviseable to state those only which are uniformly irregular. Perhaps, even to these, additions might be made, which have escaped the notice of the compiler.
20. Having learned to decline nouns alone, the student will easily infect them with the article, which should be kept a business entirely separate from the former. Almost every noun may be infected with the article, and it would be no unprofitable exercise if the examples under the foregoing declensions were revised, in union with the article.
21. Although the combination of words, such as articles, nouns, and adjectives inflected together, belongs more properly to syntax, yet it was thought adviseable to exhibit them here; and the student, in learning the use of the article, (see p. 91,) should always refer to these examples.
22. Participles ending in igh, which .come under this rule, take the additional, in the nominative plural; as, beannaigh, beannaighthe, blessed.
23. Adjectives are frequently eclipsed, after nouns, in the ablative singular, and genitive plural; as, on gcois, from the foot; na la bhfuar, of the cold days.
24. The genitive of many adjectives requires an increase, in order to form the comparative; as dludh, gen. dluidhe, comp. dluiche.
De, of it, is often added to comparatives; as, giorraide, the shorter of it; budh deirge dhe sin.
25. In order to make the expression complete, as requires air bith, after the adjective; as, as gile air bith, the whitest of all, but air bith is often omitted.
Ro, very, can hardly be said to denote a superlative degree of comparison; as it simply signifies a high degree of the quality that is expressed; but it is most conveniently classed with superlatives, in grammar; and, when this distinction is observed, it can occasion no error.
26. Some other adjectives seem to form the degrees of comparison irregularly; as, isioll, low, nios isle, lower, &c.
but, as these are only.contractions for the full words, they may be better learned by practice.
Fogus, neur, compar. foigse, may be added to this list, . 27. These are the naipes of the nuinerals, as now expressed. In former times the higher decades were expressed by single words; as, triochad, thirty, ceathrachad, forty, nochad, ninety, &c.; and the ordinals were formed accordingly; but these words are no longer generally intelligible, and it would only perplex the learner to exhibit obsolete words, which may be easily learned in reading ancient writings.
28. In the north of Ireland, mur is commonly said, instead of bhur, your ; but it is never used in correct writing.
29. The use of these abbreviations is to avoid that hiatus, which is occasioned by a concurrence of vowels; and it is a principle upon which the euphòny of this, and every other polished language is founded.
30. The simple and original relatise is a, who, which, for which do, or noch, is often used in writing. An te, properly means the male person (who understood); and an ti, the female person. Ce be, is a contraction for cia, ce, or ci, who, badh, were, and è, he, she, or it. But in all these expressions the relative à, who or which, is either expressed or understood.
31. Creud is more used in writings of some age, than in familiar conversation. Gode, as it is commonly written; and pronounced, may be only an abbreviation for guid, (Latin quid), è, whai is it? And it has been ingeniously observed, by Mr. Stewart, that the pronoun should be distinguished here by the termination; riz, that, in speaking of males, we should say, guid èmof females, guid i; but this distinction is not observed in ancient writings
32. Sud, yonder, is frequently used instead of ad, after pronouns of the third person; as, 'se sùd an fear ceadna, yonder is the same mun: or.vhen put absolutely, the noun being understood; as, le sùd, with yon ; a bhfaic tu sùd ? do you see yon?
33. Liom, leat, &c. These compound pronouns are. read, in books and writings of some antiquity, (as they are still retained in the Scottish Galic,) riom, riot, ris, rinn, ribh, riu.
34. It may be sufficient to mention here, once for all, that there is some variety in the orthography of these pronouns, even among the most correct writers. Thus, the third persons singular fegiinine, aice, aisde, chuice, &c. might be more correctly terminated in i; as, aici, aisdi,
chuici, &c. being fornred by the combination of the prepositions with i, she. But as this orthography never was generally practised, it was not thought adviseable to de. viate from the written standards of the language.
Thus liom is frequently written leam; uirre, uirthi; orra, orrtha; wadhfa, uabhtha, and the like; but, in all these instances, the original and radical sounds are preserved; the only licence being in the use of the adventitious letters.
35. There is a peculiar delicacy and beauty in the use of the increase in Irisli, which it is hardly possible to express in any other language. The utmost accuracy is observed, even by the most illiterate native, in thus distinguishing the leading, or most prominent subject in the sentence. Sometimes, in order to mark a peculiar emphasis, the word fein, self, is used instead of the terminations usually added; as, rinne me fèin è, I myself did it.
36. This subject is so very important, that the learner, who desires' to become a proficient in the Irish language; should not rest satisfied with the few examples here exhibited; but retrace the declensions, combining nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, in every variety, and marking accurately, the distinction of meaning produced by, the emphatical increase.
37. Some respectable Irish grammarians represent the inflexions of verbs as much more simple than they are here exhibited; but it is much to be questioned whether, through a too great eagerness for simplifying, they do not occasion more obscurity, than the most tedious examples would produce. The inquisitive student will wish to see the various modes of thought and action fully expressed: and he can content himself with committing to memory those that are radically different; and which are distinguished by being infected through all the persons.
It is proper to observe, that all the inflexions of the verbs, (particularly the terminations of the second and third persons plural,) are not equally used, in common writing and conversation, throughout every part of Ireland. But, as it would be impossible to specify all the local idioms, it appeared sufficient, to omit only such words as are obsolete, and to insert such as are understood in general, adopting the best Irish authors as the criterion of propriety.
Some writers on Irish grammar deny the existence of an infinitive, and say that the place of it is supplied by a verbal noun; but this is only quibbling about names; the