Irish: fir agus

hailfrommayo

New Member
English - American
I know that in a word like "maidin" (morning), the "d" is slender, as it is to the left of an "i". But what if there is a phrase like "fir agus"? In the word the "r" is in, there is no vowel to the right of it. But there is an "a" to the right of it, just not in the same word. However, there is an "i" to the left of it, which breaks the rule, but is closer to the "r" in the phrase. The "r" could be either slender or broad, and this would change the pronunciation. Which vowel do I go with? Is it the closest vowel in the original word, or always the nearest vowel to the right. This question applies to words where a consonant is to the right of a consonant.
 
  • AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Is it the closest vowel in the original word
    :thumbsup:

    Other examples (from Teach Yourself Irish, by Diarmuid Ó Sé and Joseph Sheils, 1993):

    Tá mo theach féin agam. = I have my own house.
    The "n" in "féin" is slender, despite the "a" vowel at the beginning of the next word.

    Bhí sé fliuch inné. = It was wet yesterday.
    The "ch" in "fliuch" is broad, even though "inné" starts with an "i".
     

    Cork Irish

    Senior Member
    British English
    I know that in a word like "maidin" (morning), the "d" is slender, as it is to the left of an "i". But what if there is a phrase like "fir agus"? In the word the "r" is in, there is no vowel to the right of it. But there is an "a" to the right of it, just not in the same word. However, there is an "i" to the left of it, which breaks the rule, but is closer to the "r" in the phrase. The "r" could be either slender or broad, and this would change the pronunciation. Which vowel do I go with? Is it the closest vowel in the original word, or always the nearest vowel to the right. This question applies to words where a consonant is to the right of a consonant.
    There are all sorts of subtleties to this because of "sandhi", however. The r in "fir" is definitely slender. But words like "an" ("the") are often slenderised by what follows. "An t-each" ("the horse") has a slender n, because of the following slender t (this can't be confused with "the house" in Cork Irish, as that would be "an tigh" in the dialect). At least in Cork Irish - this is mentioned by Brian Ó Cuív in the Irish of West Muskerry. Sometimes, this process doesn't happen: "an t-eolas" is pronounced "an t-ólas" (same source - Ó Cuív's book), but this is probably because the /o:/ vowel is classified as a back vowel, and so the fact that this was originally -eo- has been forgotten.

    Other sandhi effects include the fact that a slender r is pronounced broad in some environments, including "slender rs" (same source, by the way). Tuirseach ("tired") - has a broad r, because it is basically not possible to pronounce a slender r before a slender s. Labhair sé - same thing, pronounced labhar sé.

    The list of combinations so effected may vary from dialect to dialect, so you can't be absolutist about this. But in Ó Cuív's book, on p11, he lists rd', rt', rn', rhn', rl', rhl', sb', sp', sm', st', xd', xt' as combinations where the first is not palatalised. Eg "boicht" ("a fhir bhoicht!", etc) has a broad x followed by a slender t.

    Not everyone will want to get into such details, but a series of monographs on the major dialects has been published by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
     
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