Caibidil a Ceathair Déag:
Initial Mutations (na hAthruithe Tosaigh)
t-, n-, h-, d'-prefixes (na Réamhlitreacha)
Not only lenition (séimhiú) and eclipsis (urú), but also (in part also in cooperation) the prefixing of the letters t, h, n, d' change the beginnings of words.
Here is a bit about the cause of these prefixes (except th d'-prefix which is explained below)
t-prefix (an réamhlitir t)
preceding s: ts capitalised:
preceding a vowel: t-a, t-e, etc. capitalised: tA, tE, etc. e.g. an tÉireannach = the Irishman
The s after t-prefix is not spoken: an tsráid [tra:d']
- preceding nouns with a vowel after the article an
- in the nominative/accusative with masculine nouns, e.g.: an t-úll = the apple
(not in the genitive and dative, e.g.: craiceann an úll = the skin of the apple, ar an úll = on the apple)
- preceding nouns with s- after the article an (instead of lenition of the s; occurs only if it's followed by a vowel or l, n, r)
- in the nominative/accusative by feminine nouns: an tsráid = the street
- in the genitive by masculine nouns: an tsagairt = of the priest
- in the dative, i.e. after many prepositions + article
- in Connacht and in the standard only by feminine nouns, even if eclipsis would be required: ar an tsráid = on the street , but not by masculine nouns: ag an sagart = by the priest
- in Ulster by feminine and masculine nouns: ag an tsagart = by the priest
- in Munster by feminine and masculine nouns only after the leniting forms den (de + an), don (do + an), sa (i + an): don tsagart = to the priest
- preceding numbers with a vowel after the article an in the nominative/accusative no matter if it's followed by a feminine or masculine noun: an t-aon bhád amháin = the one boat, an t-aonú .....deag, an t-ochtú, an t-ochtódú, an t-ochtar, an t-ocht. (not in the dative: ar an ochtar)
- preceding s- after -n, if -n occurs in another word than the article (e.g. colloq. in Árainn an-tsean = very old instead of the standard an-sean), often after aon (colloq. aon tsúil = an eye ; probably etymolog. wrong, in analogy to the t-prefix after the article, standard: aon súil)
Sometimes this occurs in names, e.g. after Clann = Family : Clann tSuibhne = MacSweeney Family
h-prefix (an réamhlitir h)
preceding a vowel: ha, he, etc. capitalised: hA, hE, etc. e.g.: Poblacht na hÉireann = Republic of Ireland
h-prefix is only used preceding words beginning in a vowel. It generally serves to simplify pronunciation, if 2 vowels clash and neither lenition nor eclipsis are necessary.
- preceding nouns
- after the article na
- in the nominative/accusative/dative plural: na héin = the birds
- in the genitive singular by feminine nouns: na hoifige = of the office
- after a = her (possessive pronoun of the 3rd person sg. fem.): a huncail = her uncle
- also after a dhá = her two/both her : a dhá húll = her two apples
- in the plural after trí, ceithre, cúig, sé (esp. uaire): trí huaire = 3 hours ,
(not in the sing.: trí úll = 3 apples )
- after ordinal numbers (except an chéad) an tríú húlla = the 3rd apple
- after non-leniting prepositions
- after le = with : le hÚna = with Úna
- after go = to go hÉirinn = to Ireland
- after cá = which : cá háit = where ("which place "), cá haois = how old ("which age ");
(but not if cá occurs in the meaning where or how.)
- in names with Ó: Ó hEidhin, Ó hAnluain,
h disappears after Uí or Ní (Uí Anluain)
preceding pronouns (é, í, iad, ea, eo, in, iúd)
- after ní (neg. copular form) ní hí = she is not
- optional after cé: cé hé = who is it
- after cá (prepositional pronoun): cá hair? = on what?
- preceding adjectives / adverbs
- after go (adverbial particle) go holc = bad
- after chomh (= so) chomh holc = so bad
- preceding verbs
- after the imperative verbal particle ná: e.g.: ná habair é = don't mention it!
- after the neg. interrogatory verbal particle and conjunction ná (common in Munster): e.g.: ná hólair é? = Don't you drink it?
- preceding the autonomous verb form (Saorbhriathar) (not so in the standard)
- in the preterite, if it's the preterite particle do: e.g.: do hóladh = one drank , in Connacht also without do: e.g.: hóladh = one drank
- in all tenses (except conditional) after the otherwise leniting words ending in a vowel. e.g.: nuair a hóltar = when one drinks, an cluiche a himrítear = the game that one plays
- preceding numeral words 1 and 8 after the numeral particle a: a haon , a hocht
- in adverbial days of the week with Dé ( = day) Dé hAoine = Friday
n-prefix (an réamhlitir n)
preceding a vowel: n-a, n-e, etc. by capitalisation: nA, nE: e.g.: Tir na nÓg = Land of Youth
preceding a vowel by expressions/particles actually requiring eclipsis : ár n-uncail = our uncle; (unless it already ends in -n, also not after an: ar an úll = on the apple !), not after the preposition i: but instead in: in Éirinn = in Ireland (this is purely a written convention, the pronunciation is the same as i nÉireann, which also occasionally occurs.
- after le in the meaning "(in order) to " (in Connacht): cad a bheidh agat le n-ól = what will you drink? ("what will you have to drink?"), althought after le normally no eclipsis occurs.
d'-prefix (an réamhlitir d')
This is actually not a "prefix" in the sense of the other prefixes, because d' is only a short form of the independent particle do. In this way it's quite different from the other prefixes.
Do is a past verbal particle to denote the preterite, imperfect and conditional tenses. It's only still in use anymore in Munster preceding consonants: (do dhéineas = ich machte). Preceding a vowel in the form d' in all dialects and in the standard.
The abbreviation of do explains also the apostrophe by d'.
preceding a vowel and preceding fh: d'a, d'e, d'fh, capitalised: D'a, D'e, D'fh etc.
- preceding a vowel and fh by verbs in the preterite, imperfect, conditional. d'ól mé = I drank , d'ólinn = I used to drink, d'ólfinn = I would drink, d'fhoghlain the sé = he learned
- d' is only used preceding non-dependent verb forms (i.e. without another particle - but also after má = if and the direct relative particle a, e.g.: má d'ól mé = if I drank, a d'ól mé = that I drank )
- d' is not used preceding dependent verb forms (i.e. if other verbal particle (níor, nár, ar, gur etc.) are needed, e.g.: níor ól mé = I didn't drink, gur ól mé = which I drank )
- d' is not used preceding the autonomous verb form (Saorbhriathar) in the preterite.
It is possible (in Munster) to use the long form do. Do would incur an h-prefix, which sometimes also occurs without do: do hóladh / (h)óladh = onr drank
On the other hand, in the conditional/imperfect, d' is used: d'óltaí = one used to drink, d'ólfaí = one would drink
- d' preceding other words than verbs is an abbreviation of the possessive pronoun do = your or the prepositions de = of and do = to preceding vowels
Gramadach na Gaeilge
© Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2000