Yes, it's a mysterious language with its own deep roots and those who master it are few. The Chosen. Haha. Persistence is the only way. This and rosetta teach us in the way we learn language naturally as children, so I try to have a childlike approach. Curiosity and discovery. Singing and learning to sing in a language really puts it on your tongue and in your brain. That's why there are so many simple children's songs. I'd love to find children's songs in Irish. I wonder if tg4 has the equivalent of sesame street for Irish!
Everyone I've ever met who studies Irish has a terrible time with it. I wish they had something like phonics, like we do in English, with little phrases or songs that help, like "I after e except after c". Those help so much! But I can see no rhyme or reason for these rules.
Lenition and Eclipsis are concepts that can be "learned" in a few minutes. Lenition involves adding a séimhiú after a consonant, Eclipsis involves adding an urú before the initial letter of a word.
The key point is that they only occur in certain grammatical circumstances, and as you learn the various aspects of Irish grammar, you learn how lenition and/or eclipse are used in each aspect of grammar. For example, when you are learning your possessive adjectives, you will learn that the singular possessive adjectives lenite, the plural possessive adjectives eclipse, and lenition and Eclipsis help you to tell the difference between "his", "hers" and "theirs". When you are learning verbs, you will learn that the interrogative particle an causes eclipsis, whereas the negative particle cause lenition. An dtuigeann tú? Ní thuigim.
So you don't learn lenition and eclipsis, you learn grammar, and how lenition and eclipsis are used within the grammar.
I know this question was a year ago, but for other learners who have the same question, a "mass noun" is an uncountable noun. In English, you wouldn't say, "I'll have two beefs." You'd say, "I'll have two pounds of beef" or "two servings of beef." You can do the same in Irish (use a countable unit), or you can use "cuid" or "chuid," which means something like "share" or "portion." In English, you could say, "That's my tea" or "That's my cup of tea." As I understand it, for the former in Irish, you would say, "mo chuid tae" for "my tea," as in "my portion of tea." It's a useful word in a lot of expressions.
Because you need a vowel sound between the consonant and the next vowel sound. This language hates to have two consonant sounds together, and even in English they obey that rule, saying "filim" for the word "film", for example. All of this is about how the language has evolved so it flows more easily over the tongue as you speak it. If you think of it that way, it makes more sense.
Not always. When "a" means "her," there's no lenition when the noun possessed begins with a consonant that can lenite, but there is lenition when "a" means "his." The reverse is true when the noun begins with a vowel. Now it's "her" turn to get the "h." So "her apple" is "a húll" and "his apple" is "a úll." A good way to remember: a athair agus a mháthair, his father and mother; a hathair agus a máthair, her father and mother.
Thanks. I'm sorry that my answer wasn't clear. I understand that the "h" here is a prefix. It's interesting that "a" is different from other words in that whether you use the "h" prefix or not depends on whether "a" means "his" or "her." The meaning of "a" also determines whether or not a following noun is lenited. I can't think of that being the case with another word. Of course, we still have to rely on context to know whether "a leabhar" means his book or her book.
No, it does not.
Please read the existing comments. "His apple" is a úll.
When a means his, it lenites a word that starts with a consonant. But you can't lenite a vowel, and a h- prefix is not lenition. For words that start with a vowel, a meaning "his" leaves the following word unchanged.
English has the most rules and they're constantly broken, because it's part Latin and Greek based, with a German grammatical system, and lots of other languages thrown in. Then we have 2 or 3 words that sound the same and mean something completely different, like your, yore, You're, sight, site, and cite... it goes on and on. I don't know how anyone learns it. But if others can learn english, we can learn Irish.
It's not really possible to say one language has more rules than another, or which of the roughly 7000 known languages has the most rules. That's partly because it's not even clear what counts as a rule, as a sub-rule, as an exception to a rule ... Irish is complex, but there are other complex languages and, as yet, we've never discovered a natural language that people can't learn.