B' àill leibh or fast speech 2

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
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Gearr leum gu: seòladh, lorg

In the first part, we looked a little bit at the way in which speaking fast and informally affects the sounds. Speed and informality particularly affect the weak sounds, like schwas, which go the way that all schwas go - away.

Of course, there's another dimension to this. All languages do this and the reduced forms are called truncated forms. Essentially, that means that you chop part of a word off because people sense it's too long for speaking fast.

So what can we chop in Gaelic? Here's a non-exhaustive list of very common ones:

carson con
urrainn urra
a bheil bheil eil
chan eil 'n eil [Nʲel]
càite càit
ag a' nothing

In particular, the last one is important as a lot of learners get it wrong. Even at the best of times, the ag is only pronounced as [əg] and in fast speech it generally drops out completely. One exception to this arises where ag comes before r which causes the [g] to become fused to the r: ag ràdh ⇨ [ə'graː]. Another exception surfaces before vowels where [g] latches onto the vowel: ag ionnsachadh [ə'gʲũːNsəxəɣ]. When ag comes before a vowel it generally anticipates the quality of the vowel that's about to follow. That's to say, if it comes before e/i the [g] becomes slender: tha mi 'g ionnsachadh [ha mi gʲũːNsəxəɣ]. If it anticipates a/u/o, the [g] stays broad: tha mi 'g atharrachadh [ha mi gahəRəxəɣ].


And before anyone asks - I'm not suggesting you hand in your school essays with forms like *gionnsachadh. I'm just showing how the spoken language works.

Here comes the rambling bit: the fascinating thing in Manx (never mind the spelling) is that the ag has fused to the verbal noun in all cases, or dropped out before consonants altogether, or even eclipsed them!. The second column is showing IPA because Manx spelling boggles the mind just a bit, but here are the kind of things you get:

Manx IPA Gaelic equivalent
t'eh janoo [tiː dʲenu] tha e a' dèanamh
t'eh tuittym [tiː toʒəm] tha e a' tuiteam
t'eh fuirraght [tiː fuɾax] tha e a' fuireach
t'eh markiagh [tiː maːkax] tha e a' marcachd
t'eh çhyndaa [tiː tʲinˈdɛː] tha e a' tionndadh
t'eh çheet [tiː tʲit] tha e a' tighinn
t'eh chaghlaa [tiː kaxˈlɛː] tha e a' caochladh
t'eh keayney [tiː keːnˈi] tha e a' caoineadh
t'eh gee [tiː gˈiː] tha e ag ithe
t'eh ginsh [tiː gʲinʃ] tha e ag innse
t'eh gynsaghey [tiː genzax] tha e ag ionnsachadh
t'eh faagail [tiː fəˈgeːl] tha e a' fàgail

Gaelg dy liooar, that's gu leòr this side of the Irish Sea - back to Gaelic.

Beagan gràmair
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