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  5. "Léann siad leabhair."

"Léann siad leabhair."

Translation:They read books.

August 27, 2014



Okay. I have so many questions about one word, that it is frightening. Basically, i have a question for every phoneme except the one at the end already under discussion because everyone here is waaay more sophisticated at picking up on the nuances of leabhar and leabhair.

I'm at the very first step of wondering why the initial L sounds like the y in you - for two forvo speakers except the one man in the Leinster area and the Cork guy in the UK. The woman from Connacth uses a sound I can't even ascribe almost like a trill. Is the standard the Y sound and I just didn't notice until now?

Next the ea sounds like rounded o from the back of of ones mouth. In some. Others its like ow. My brain had intuited that the vowels bookending the consonants in the middle get ignored unless adorned by a fada. But the o and ow are way off base from what I would have guessed. If there's a question in there -- I guess it's: what the set of rules that make that sound from ea?

I'm also wondering how I would know to skip over the bh, rather than making a sort of v sound I thought I heard in other words. Some forvo peops skip over it. Others make it sound like that's where the r is or w. Is it a broad/slender thing?

This is the only word so far that just makes me panic like the first time I ever laid eyes on an Irish prononciation guide - and then hid under a rock for 20 years. I guess I should dig that out.

But this thread has totally explained the singular vs plural non-rhotic aspirated r stuff at the end of the word, which I didn't even know how to put into words and pretend I knew what to ask. Thanks everyone.


What I've managed to glean about Irish orthography is that the vowels immediately surrounding consonants don't count if there are other consonants available; otherwise they just trigger the broad/slender quality of the consonant. So the sounds in leabhair are divided like le-a-bh-a-ir; so the l is slender because of the e that follows it, the first actual vowel is an a, that's a broad vowel so the bh sounds like w, another a unstressed turns into almost a schwa sound, and lastly the r is palatalised bybtye preceding i. The hardest part of this course for me is definitely learning the spelling rules. Most languages aren't in the habit of using vowel letters to spell consonant sounds, but Irish seems to do so habitually.


The problem with using forvo.com for anything but very, very general guidelines is the lack of standardization. This is particularly an issue with the initial sounds in a word like leabhar - some of the examples are just badly cropped, so you're losing the initial part of the sound (that could be because of manual clipping, or because of a noise reduction algorithm that doesn't recognize the start of the real sound until it has already discarded some of it as noise - not a problem for ordinary speech, because your brain fills in the gaps, but that doesn't work for a language that you aren't already familiar with).

If you find the sounds on forvo.com confusing, it's because forvo.com just isn't a reliable guide. Sometimes "better than nothing" isn't!


Before anyone posts a lengthy reply to my very needy suite of questions, I found a site that answers most of them: http://www.standingstones.com/gaelpron.html#Aspcons

It explains the ea as being a short diphthong, and therefore taking on the vowel sound in mass.

It explains the bh surrounded by broad vowels, not being a v as it would if surrounded by slender vowels, but being an aspirated w, which works for what I am hearing.

If keep reading, I'll probably find the initial l sound and why it sounds like an actually y.

Sorry to take up so much real estate. ~


The "y" sound you're hearing is actually a palatalized "l". It's somewhat similar to the English "ly". Though the woman from Connemara on forvo is a native speaker, this word wouldn't be present in her dialect; instead they'd use leabhar and leabhra/leabhartha. I'd still trust her over the rest, who likely aren't natives.


The problem with the singular/plural choice in this case is that both are really valid choices.


"leabhar" = "book", "leabhair" = "books"


Yes, I know. But in the multiple choice version of this particular exercise, you're given 'Léann siad ????' and a choice between 'leabhar' and 'leabhair', and both choices are equally valid.


Ah I see. Yes that should be reported.


Is there a difference in pronounciation? I haven't heard them side by side.


Yes, the slender r in leabhair and the broad r in leabhar are quite distinct, but as the slender r isn't a natural part of regular English phonetics, English speakers often don't notice, unless they are paying specific attention.

Here are some exercises from Duolingo that use leabhair:
Tá leabhair aige
Osclaímid na leabhair
Bailímid na leabhair

Here are some exercises from Duolingo that use leabhar:
An bhfuil leabhar acu?
Is liomsa an leabhar
Leabhar leabharlainne
Osclaím an leabhar

To confuse matters further, in some places they use alternative plurals for leabhar]. You can hear leabhar and some of the alternative plural forms on teanglann.ie


Is there a certain way plurals are made in Irish??


To know how to make a plural, you need to identify the noun's declension. Here's a straightforward explanation of how to do just that: http://www.nualeargais.ie/foghlaim/nouns.php


pronunciation is tough. it sounds like there's a small "sh" sound at the end of "leabhair," if i'm listening correctly


What is the difference between iad and siad


I gave a mistaken explanation which I then deleted. That deletion also deleted the reply correcting my mistake which I didn't expect or intend. So I'm repasting the correct explanation given by SathurnPHL with apologies:

SatharnPHL commented on "Léann siad leabhair." siad (and and ) are only used as the subject of a standard verb, and adjacent to the verb. It has nothing to do with temporary or permanent states. léann sé leabhar - "he reads a book" léann sé é - "he reads it" léann sé leabhair - "he reads books" léann sé iad - "he reads them" léann sí dialann - "she reads a diary" léann sí í - "she reads it" léann sí dialanna - "she reads diaries" léann sí iad - "she reads them" léann siad leabhar - "they reads a book" léann siad é - "they reads it" léann siad leabhair - "they reads books" léann siad iad - "they read them" (the léann sí í - "she reads it" is a bit contrived, I just included it for completeness).


People may find the sound files at focloir.ie more helpful. This is the Foras na Gaeilge English-Irish dictionary. There are dialect-specific sound files for leabhar and labhair here: http://www.focloir.ie/en/dictionary/ei/book#book__2


Leabhair is really stumping me. How does spelling like Leabhair turn vocalize into Yowruh? I am really struggling less-so with the vocab and more-so just with knowing how something should be pronounced. I feel like I have a decent if not great understanding of how words should sound based on what I've read about Irish pronunciation but then I hear the examples and they're sometimes nothing like what the rules say they 'should' sound like.

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