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[THE NUMBERS IN THE GRAMMAR REFER TO THE CORRESPONDING NUMBERS IN THE FOLLOWING NOTES] :
1. It is impossible to find English words, which exhibit all the sounds of the Irish language. The words contained in this table are such as most nearly resemble them; the examples, however, will be satisfactory to such as read for their private improvement, and will be found very important, in assisting the instructions of the teacher.
2. The preposition in, in, was anciently prefixed to many words; but, for sound's sake the n was omitted ; as, cat, a battle, igcai, in battle. In latter ages, in order to comply with a rule of comparatively modern invention (which is noted in treating of the vowels,) the j was changed into a; as, agcat; still however, the same rapidity of pronunciation, which they received was applied to a; and, in many instances, the 1 or a was entirely omitted, both in writing and speaking; as ta me in mo codlad; properly contracted into imo codlad; but commonly written and spoken mo codlad, I am asleep'or in'my sleeping state.
3. The thick sound of o, and C, resembles the hardest sound of th, in the English word think; but in forming this thick sound, the tongue must be strongly pressed against the roof of the upper foreteeth, instead of being protruded between the teeth; by which means the aspiration is completely stopped, and these consonants receive nothing of that semivocal sound which is given to th in English.
4. and 5. The sounds of l, and n double, are both formed by the same position of the tongue; viz. by placing it so as to press upon the upper foreteeth and gum, while the point of it is perceptible between the teeth. The only difference, in forming them, is, that the aspiration to 1 is gutteral, and to 1, nasal.
6. This sound is formed by slightly touching the sound ee English, before, as well as after n; as if the word free was written and pronounced, feeree.
7. This sound of p is much more hard and forcible than that of single s in English: it is formed by presenting the point of the tongue to the aperture of the teeth, and expressing a very strong aspiration.
3. See note 3. 8. In ancient writings, the letter h was prefixed to vowels, much more frequently than in modern ones; thus é, he, j, she, were anciently written he, and hi. But it was very seldom attached to consonants, the pronunciation of which was left to the reader's own judgment. The contraction, formed by fixing a point over a consonant, is a modern invention.
10. The broad vowels are frequently commuted for each other when they are not emphatical ; and, in like manner, the small vowels
may be commuted for each other; as, oirireall, humble, may be written uirisioll. This change can be made only when the vowel or dipthong is short; thus bás, death, is always written with á; but bar, the palm of the hand, may be also written bor.
11. B and p, c and 3, o and T, were frequently commuted, in ancient writings; thus agus, or ocuj, and; labairt, or laphairt, speak; cuairt, or cuairo, a visit; and, since it became usual to aspirate consonants, bh, and mh, oh and gh, have often oeen commuted in the same manner; as, adhaig, or aghaid, the face.
12. Dh and gh may be written indifferently, in terminations, or where they are not radical; as, biaó, or bjaš meat ; Flaonuise, or Fjagnuise, witness.
13. Grammarians have commonly laid it down as a rule, that f may be eclipsed by o, m, or o, as well as by bh; but this is not correct. The examples given of these eclipses are only contractions for mo, d0,(or to, instead of do); thus, do feoil, or to feoil, thy flesh, is commonly written očeoil, or ofeoil; and mo fear, my husband, is written mţear.
14. It will appear, from these tables, that the greater part of the words in Irish consists of one or two syllables; all radical words do so; but they are very easily compounded into words of three or four syllables. In studying these tables, therefore, the learner should be accustomed to resolve the polysyllables into their constituent parts, and observe the separate force of each part.
Although the directions already given are most agreeable to the true pronunciation of the Irish language, yet a considerable diversity exists, in the manner of speaking it, in 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 syllable, and this principle is observed in the north of Ireland ; as, áran, bread ; rá.. rür, a razor ; but, in the south and west, they say arán, rasúr, &c.
Again, when n follows C, 3, m, or. y, it is pronounced, in the north, like r; as, cnar, a bone, crani ; cno, a nut, cro gnjori, au action, griotis ; tnut, envy. trut; 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 v; as mo ratair, my mother, pronounced mo vahair. 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 in the middle, if joined by a small vowel, thus, rájóbir, rich, the pronounce saivir. But if the next vowel be broad, as in the words fožrinar, harvest; 140bar, an edge; which should be pronounced favor and favour (being two words of distinct syllables,) those of the south entirely suppress the consonant; and, contracting the two syllables into one, they say, Fóar, and fáer.
Throughout Connaught, Leinster, and some counties of Ul. ster, the sound of w is substituted for that of v, to represent bh, and mh. Thus, mo bás, my death, and mo riac, my son, (properly sounded, mo vas, and mo vac,) are pronounced, mo was, and mo wac. Thus, too, in the Apostle's creed, the words, gabad on Spiorad Naomi, conceived from the Holy Ghost, are pronounced in the west of Ireland, gow ón Spiorad Naom; without considering that the word gabad in ancient manuscripts, is often written capao being clearly of the same origin with the Latin capio.
Ch, at the end of words, or syllables, is very weakly expressed by the natives of Ulster : ac 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, 61 duine boċt, there was a poor man, is there pronounced, bi duine bot.
Th is also omitted in pronouncing many words, such as atair, father, macair. mother, &c., in most of the counties in Ulster and the east of Leinster, where these words are pronounced as if written sair máair.
Such is a specimen of the provincial accents, which vary in Irish, as in all other living languages; and the only remedy for whicb 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;
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 oona : and using some preposition that governs the ablative; as, leir air, &c. four of which are exhibited with the article, by way of example,
16. These rules comprehend all the information respecting genders, that can be of use to the 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 bis native tongue, to be told, that the pronoun, é, he, will agree with the masculine only; í, 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 purpose of grammatical construction.
18. The nouns of the Irish language seem 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 exhibited 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 dominative alone-it is to be considered, that this difficulty is not peculiar to the Irish; 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 more copious, by attending to the various inflexions of nouns, in the different parts of Ireland. But as this would be descending to the sanction of provincial barbarisms, it appeared more advisable 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 inflect them with the article, which should be kept at business entirely separate from the former. Almost every noun may be inflected 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 advisable to exhibit them here; and the student, in learning the use of the article. (see p. 76,) should always refer to these examples.
22. Participles ending in is, which come under this frule, take te additional, in the nominative plural; as beañaig, beannaigte, blessed.
23. Adjectives are frequently eclipsed, after nouns, in the ablative singular, and genitive plural; as on gcoit, from the foot; na la bfuar, of the cold days.
24. The genitive of many adjectives requires an increase, in order to form the comparative ; as, oluó, gen. oluide, comp. oluiċe.
De, of it, is often added to comparatives ; as, giomaide, the shorter of it; buo giomaide de rin.
25. In order to make the expression complete, as requires air bjt, after the adjective; as, af gile air bit the whitest of all, but air bjc 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.