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Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tense

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:24 am
by virtualvinodh
Hi,

I had past covered in my class last week. My Gaelic teacher (from Harris) said there is a slight difference between in the pronunciation of the following verbs, even though they are spelt same in past and present tense:

laigh, nigh, ruith

If I heard correctly, /l/,/n/,/r/ were all dental and velarised in the present tense, but quite normal in the past. (or perhaps, it was the other way around).

Is this a dialectal thing or a general rule of pronunciation ?

V

Re: Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tens

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:08 am
by Seonaidh
In the past tense, the verb is usually discumbobulated - or lenited. Thus, most verbs are identical in the 2nd singular command form and the active past form - apart from sèimheachadh. e.g.
cuir - chuir (put etc.)
freagair - fhreagair (answer)
laigh - laigh (lie)
nigh - nigh (wash)
ruith - ruith (run)
seall - sheall (l00k)
...and so on. But you'll notice that those verbs starting with consonants that don't show a change with sèimheachadh are just the same. Whether they SOUND the same of not is probably up to you. In the case of "laigh", quite often they do, because not much happens with a broad L But with, e.g. lean - lean (follow), a narrow L, the LY sound at the start tends to become just L (but not broad). With N and R, some claim there's a sound difference, but it's not easy to detect. In essence, the tendency for narrow N to be NY vanishes.

Re: Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tens

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:52 am
by GunChleoc
Ah, orthography and the worship of the written word strikes again...

Everybody and his brother will teach you that l, n and r don't lenite. This is not true - they don't lenite in writing. When people speak, they do.

The rules about which of these 3 sounds does what exactly are different for each of them: There used to be four of each, but there are only 3 now, and the loss did not happen in a regular fashion. So, don't make the mistake that I did and try to learn the rules for all 3 at once, because then you won't remember which is which.

http://www.akerbeltz.org/index.php?titl ... _in_Gaelic

http://www.akerbeltz.org/index.php?titl ... _L_N_and_R

Re: Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tens

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:58 am
by Níall Beag
virtualvinodh wrote:If I heard correctly, /l/,/n/,/r/ were all dental and velarised in the present tense, but quite normal in the past. (or perhaps, it was the other way around).
As Seonaidh has already said, these are lenited sounds, even though the lenition is not marked. "Lenition" is basically Latin for "weakening". This typically means that lenited sounds have a more neutral mouth-shape than unlenited ones. So if the strong sound is velarised, the weak sound is less velarised. If the strong sound is palatised, the weak sound is less palatised. Etc.

Re: Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tens

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:56 pm
by virtualvinodh
Níall Beag wrote:
virtualvinodh wrote:If I heard correctly, /l/,/n/,/r/ were all dental and velarised in the present tense, but quite normal in the past. (or perhaps, it was the other way around).
As Seonaidh has already said, these are lenited sounds, even though the lenition is not marked. "Lenition" is basically Latin for "weakening". This typically means that lenited sounds have a more neutral mouth-shape than unlenited ones. So if the strong sound is velarised, the weak sound is less velarised. If the strong sound is palatised, the weak sound is less palatised. Etc.
Thanks !

V

Re: Pronunciation of laigh/nigh/ruith in past & present tens

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 5:08 pm
by bb3ca201
virtualvinodh wrote:Hi,

I had past covered in my class last week. My Gaelic teacher (from Harris) said there is a slight difference between in the pronunciation of the following verbs, even though they are spelt same in past and present tense:

laigh, nigh, ruith

If I heard correctly, /l/,/n/,/r/ were all dental and velarised in the present tense, but quite normal in the past. (or perhaps, it was the other way around).

Is this a dialectal thing or a general rule of pronunciation ?

V
There is a difference in pronounciation which, even though I've been learning and speaking Gaelic for years, I can't even nail. I'm still trying to get a handle on it, though...