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  5. "Tá sé agus tá sí."

" agus sí."

Translation:He is and she is.

August 25, 2014



Man, a unit on how vowel pronunciation is influenced by the surrounding consonants would be SO USEFUL.


I see this question, and related questions, coming up a lot, so I'll try to answer it. This is a long explanation with lots of examples. You might need to read this over a few times too see how everything fits together, but then you'll know it for good. It shouldn't be too hard to understand, and once you grasp it, it'll seem straightforward.

I'm not going to be super strict about representing the exact sounds involved, as I just want to provide a reference to help people get their head around some unfamiliar things.

Forget about how Irish is spelled for the moment. We're just talking about sounds at the beginning. Most consonants in Irish occur in two differently pronounced variants. Traditionally, they're called leathan and caol—broad and narrow—but I'm going to buck tradition and call them hard and soft, as that terminology might be familiar to some, for example from Slavic languages, and probably is more suggestive anyway.

Soft (caol, narrow) constants are technically what's called palatalized consonants , which means that they tend toward having a 'y' sound incorporated in them. Sometimes it really just sounds like there's an extra 'y': like the word for 'woman' (spelt bean) has a soft b and is said rather like 'byan'. A soft b sounds rather like 'by'. A soft 't', on the other hand can sound like 'ty' (as in Irish/UK pronunciation of "tune") but will often be pronounced like 'ch' in "chin". The variation basically depends on the dialect and causes no difficulties for anyone—just like US "tune" versus Irish/UK "tune". As a learner, listen to the recordings, choose one way of doing it and be consistent.

Hard consonants, in contrast, have a sort of a w-quality, as opposed to the y-quality of soft consonants. This can be especially obvious before i or e. So the word for "yellow" consists of a hard b followed by a long i, and it sounds like bwee. Now, it's spelt buí, but don't think that b=b, u=w, and í=ee. What's actually happening is that the u is flagging the b as hard, and therefore as having a w-sound incorporated in it. This flagging is exactly what I want to describe here.

I'm not going to describe the difference between hard and soft for each sound here. Instead, I'll tell you how to identify them in words you see written. Then you can listen to the recordings and learn what they actually sound like.

OK, here goes:

Irish has two 't' sounds, two 'b' sounds, and so on. But the Latin alphabet has only one letter 't', one letter 'b', etc. So the hardness or softness of a consonant is indicated in spelling by the vowel that comes before or after it. Letters A O and U indicate a hard consonant. Letters I and E indicate a soft consonant. Here's the crucial rule:

Short vowel letters that are flagging an adjacent consonant as hard or soft are not pronounced themselves, unless there's no other vowel available.

(NB: these silent letters may seem to be pronounced sometimes, but what you're really hearing—if the pronunciation is right—is the hard or soft consonant with the 'w' or 'y' sound incorporated in it.)


The word for "yellow" is spelled "buí". There a consonant: B. Is it hard or soft? Well, it's followed by a U, which makes the B hard. OK, cool. Do we pronounce the U? Well, a hard B has a kind of a w-sound inside it, but it's not a full vowel, just an off-glide. If there was no other vowel available, we'd say the U. So the imaginary word bu would be said as hard B followed U—sort of like bwu or bu. But here we have another vowel: í. So we don't say the U. We've got hard B followed by long I: bwee.

If the U wasn't there, the I would make the B soft: we'd have byee — although 'y' and 'ii' (long i) sound so similar that you mightn't really head the y-offglide, and it sounds more like bee. In fact, this is another real word: , which means "to be".

If you see a work like fear ("man"), you can tell it's soft F and hard R - but which vowel do you say, E or A? Actually, you say A (soft F, A, hard R: a bit like fyar though the y is just a hint). Now, you just have to learn that for the pattern ea. It's very common, so it's worth learning.

But there's a significant simplification: vowels marked long are always the one that is pronounced. This is very helpful, as its very, very common to see a long vowel beside a short one, as in téad "rope". In such pairs, the short vowel is not pronounced: it just marks the D as hard. Téad is thus pronounced: soft T, long E, hard D: tyeyd or cheyd.

If a word teád existed, it would be: soft T, long A, hard D: tyaud or chaud

Finally, the rule that ties everything together:

Leathan le leathan, caol le caol

"Broad with broad, narrow with narrow"

It's really the consonants that are "broad" (hard) or "narrow" (soft), but this rule is referring to the vowel letters that symbolize them: we can see what it's talking about by considering the word féarach, which means "pasture". This word is pronounced:

Soft F, long E, hard R, A, KH: fyeerakh, with a fleeting 'y' sound.

Now think about this: the fyee syllable on its own could be spelled . The 'rakh' syllable on its own could be spelled like rach. But if we naively join them together to make férach, we have a problem: vowels affect consonants they come before, as well as those they come after (this allows us to spell the word: I followed by soft M, which means butter, as im). So, in our hypothetical férach, the É tells us that the R is soft, but the A tells us it's hard! We must match leathan vowel with leathan vowel, as the rule says: we insert the A to avoid contradictions, and everything is clear:

The F is soft because it's followed by É. The É is pronounced, because all long vowels are pronounced. The two As make the R hard. The first A is not pronounced, since we already have vowel in the first syllable, and the second A is pronounced, since there's no other vowel available.

Some compound words will break the "leathan le leathan, caol le caol rule", such as comhrialtas ("coalition", literally "co-government"). So if you see an A O or U matched on the other side of a consonant group with I or E, you can more or less be sure that there are two independent words or elements in there.


dude. that's... long.


That's the short version. Simple fact of learning a language: anything that doesn't happen in your own language needs isn't easy to explain.


Wow. This is a great explanation, thanks!


I really appreciate this explanation but am a bit confused about the exact sounds indicated here: "Soft F, long E, hard R, A, KH: fyeerakh, with a fleeting 'y' sound."

Would you mind writing that in IPA symbols? Especially the "ee" part.


An IPA transcription for féarach could vary by dialect, e.g. /ˈfʲiːɾˠ.əx/ in Munster, /ˈfʲeːɾˠ.əx/ in Connacht, and /ˈfʲeːɾˠ.a(h)/ in Ulster — ataltane’s description was for a Connacht pronunciation.


I cannot express how much interesting this is, thank you


This was SO unbelievably helpful, thank you.


Thank you thank you thank you. All of this was soooo helpful. While I'll still need to practice wrapping my tongue around these pronunciations, all you explained gived me a great deal to start with. I appreciate your help here.


A lesson in every language about pronunciation would be really helpful.


Try this link ... http://www.omniglot.com. it's actually good and you can learn many languages. Good luck!


Does this sentence make sense? If yes, in which case?


Who amongst them is invited?—He is and she is.

  • 255

lobbens, i like your reply. it makes sense to me.


I guess it's all about the context.


Not really. If you're selecting multiple people for an answer, you'd be expected to use the emphatic forms of the pronouns, not the plain ones used here.


I don't think the Irish makes much sense as it is. It needs some context. The same goes for the English, too.

  • 2289

When do you say "sé" and "sí" as opposed to "é" and "í"?


Easy... "sí" is "she", just like the pronunciation suggests. "í" is "her"


But when you say she is a girl, you're using í and not sí. So I still don't get the difference


Someone else mentioned í/é are special cases used only with the copula - ie. "is"


But then what is "tá" and how is it different from "is"? So far, all I can guess is that "is ... í/é" are used when you put something in the middle and "tá sí/sé" are used with no noun in between them.


"is" isn't exactly a verb and so this is a special case - it's all explained in the lesson notes. "is" is the copula, and is used to equate things, whereas "ta'" is from the verb "bi'" and uses the normal pronouns because it's a real verb.


Thanks. I didn't even see that there were lesson notes until much later. And I can't reply to your comment, so I'm replying to mine. Not sure you'll see it.


Awesome, thanks, that helps me a lot. How simple when you think of it. :-)


Learn about the predicate (the sky is blue, I am a man, etc.). "É" and "í" is used with the copula "is" as in "is fear é" (he is a man).


The speaking exercises don't work for me in Irish. (Yes in other languages). Anybody else has that problem?


The Irish course unfortunately does not have microphone exercises at present - if these appear anywhere, it is by accident! I've passed this on to the Duo tech staff.


Gotten several microphone questions higher up on the learning tree, thought that was a sign stuff was getting serious. ❤❤❤❤❤❤. xD


Which skills were these in, do you remember?


Can't remember, sorry. Although on the strengthen skills section (main page, no particular skill) an hour ago, I had a problem in a 'Type what you hear' question where a long sentence was spoken, only for the answer to be completely unrelated - 'An aghaidh'

I'll report them if I come across them again


Another couple of things, I'm not sure if these are issues, but the 'Translate "Tree" ' question comes up on every practice session, and practice session questions seem to vary anywhere from 2 to 20


The Rosetta Stone and Nemo do have a pronunciation lab. They're not expensive. I do think they're good enough. I got them in the Google play store


Do you mean the audio? Yes, for me the Irish voice is keeping silent. Missed opportunities. Btw, is that your vbf giving you hundreds of lingots for a question?


Nope. When I have to speak to the microphone, duo doesn't understand what I say. At all. And now I see the 100 lingots! Hva i alle dager??? How did I get that? I don't know, but thank you, whoever generous fellow language nerd!!! BTW, I had to google vbf. I found something terrible in Urban Dictionary, but I'm sure you didn't mean that. What do you mean with vbf?


I think she means "very best friend". ;) That was me, as you were my 700th follower. :D


Thank you very much! =D (for the lingots and the clarification)


Hey I didn't see anyone asking so does the letter s make a "shh" sound in Irish?


Yes, when it's next to letter I or E. Otherwise it's like "s".

See my really long reply above to smoshea for all the gory details.


That's amazing! Except for the tones, "tá sí" means the same as Mandarin "Tā shì (她是)" in Mandarin.


I too would really like to know a native person's input on how viable this example is. It does work in English as an answer to a "Who is ... ?" question. Does it in Irish too?


I'm not a native speaker, but as far as I know 'tá sé' on its own makes no sense. You need to fill it out:, e.g. 'tá sé ansin' -> 'he is here' or similar. If you just want to say 'he is' = 'he exists', you still need the dummy word 'ann': 'tá sé ann'.

It doesn't work as an answer to 'who is...' - that question and its answer require a copular construction.


ataltane: that makes so much sense! Thank you for enlightening us! :-) Because we have already been taught that Irish is phrasal and that many Irish phrases need another component to complete the phrase. Here are some example of Phrasals from the Irish tree: 1. (Is veigeatóir mé) – I am a vegetarian. 2. (Is liomsa é) – It is mine (It is or He is) 3. (is…muid) We are… 4. (is…iad) They are ... 5. (Tá uisce ag) an bportán – The crab has water. (has water the crab) 6. (Tá uisce ag) an gcailín - The girl has water. (has water the girl) 7. (Tá ...agam) I have … 8. (Tá…aige) He has ... 9. (Tá …aici) – She has ... 10. (Tá brón ar) an gcailín – The girl is sad -(Is sad) the girl 11. Tá mé – I am – not a phrasic? 12. Táim – I am (tauim) – not a phrasic?

  • 1493

Cé atá freagrach?

Tá sé agus tá sí


SatharnPHL: Oh, Ok, now I get it, you are giving us a scenario where this sentence would be valid on it's own. You said "Who is responsible? He is and she is. --- Cé atá freagrach? Tá sé agus tá sí


Very rare that you'll find a native Irish speaker on here.


Why is "It is he and it is she" not correct?


Because that's a very different structure using the copular verb "is".


Erm, could you simplify that a bit? Such as, what is a copular verb?


Not really. I could, but it would end up being a very long lesson. The important thing is that it's a different construction which you'll presumably learn later.


quiero aprender irlandés sin ingles, pero me conformo por ahora .


lioneln17: Si usted sabes poco inglés, usted puedes aprender irlandés con instrucciones inglés. Yo no puedo hablar español muy bien, perro guiero aprender catalán e necesario que yo apprender catalán con español instrucciones. Si sabes instrucciones en español tú puedes appendar irlandés con instrucciones en inglés tambien. :-)


Would another acceptable translation be "He is and so is she."?


Is this even a sentence?


Where do you find the fada on a mobile?

  • 1493

Long-press on the vowel - hold the key down for about a second.


Thank you very much


It is the same thing I just put " she is and he is" for the answer what the the difference between Ta and ta. How do you know if it is He or She


I do not have accents on my phone. I cannot proceed if you insist on this. Nicholas Buckley

  • 1493

Press a vowel on you phone's keyboard and hold it down for a second.

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