Athbhliain faoi shéan is faoi mhaise daoibh! Happy New Year, y’all! OK, might as well start the new year by learning something! Let’s pick apart that sentence, as there is a lot to learn from it.
‘Ath-‘ is a prefix found on a number of interesting words. ‘Athbheochan na teanga’ is ‘revival of the language.’ Usually it means ‘re-‘ or ‘coming’ or something like that. Strangely, it can also mean the opposite – ‘old’ or ‘ex-!’ Here it means ‘coming’ (‘re-‘). It is pronounced like a short ‘a’ in English. Remember, H’s in Irish, unless they start the word, never do what they do in English. ‘Th’ is silent, or like an ‘h.’ ‘Bh,’ however, is like a ‘v’ or ‘w’ in English (usually somewhere in between). Next to ‘i’ or ‘e’ (slender) it is closer to a ‘v.’ ‘Mh’ is the same as ‘bh,’ so looking ahead, ‘mhaise’ is pronounced ‘washa’ (first ‘a’ as in ‘at’). Since this ‘mh’ is next to a broad vowel (‘a,’ ‘o’ or ’ u’), it is closer to a ‘w.’ All consonants are effected by the vowels near them in Irish (which can explain why there seem to be a lot of “extra” vowels). If you know Irish spelling rules, you may notice that words with prefixes sometimes break the ‘caol le caol agus leathan le leathan’ rule.
‘Bliain’ means ‘year.’ It is pronounce ‘blee-in.’ ‘IA’ is always pronounced ‘ee-a,’ and here, because of the ‘i’ making a slender ‘n,’ it winds up that the ‘a’ kind of gets swallowed up. When you put two words (or a prefix and a noun) together in Irish, it will usually cause an ‘h’ to pop up (this is lenition, or softening of the consonant). So ‘Athbhliain’ is ‘new year’ (‘coming year’), and if you put together some of what you’ve just read, you will know how to pronounce it.
‘Aoi’ can be pronounced differently according to dialect, but the standard is ‘ee.’ ‘F’ before this broad vowel (‘a’) tends to ‘fw,’ so ‘faoi’ can be pronounced ‘fwee.’ Later in the sentence we have ‘daoibh’ (to y’all – a prepositional pronoun). ‘D’ here is just a plain ‘d’ (like in ‘duh!’) You have already learned how to pronounce the rest! ‘Faoi’ means ‘under’ or ‘about,’ but here it is being used idiomatically.
To be totally honest, the ‘d’ in ‘daoibh’ is usually pronounced as if it were ‘dh,’ which is a kind of gargly ‘g’ sound. But plain old ‘d’ still works! Don’t forget – to one person is ‘duit.’ If you don’t know that word, read my other columns at http://www.scoilgaeilge.org/t_na_t/index.htm.
We’re getting there – hold on!
‘Séan’ is not ‘Seán’ (the name ‘Sean’ in English) or ‘sean’ (‘old’), but because the fada (line like an accent) is on the ‘e,’ it is pronounced like the name ‘Shane,’ ‘é’ sounding like a long ‘a’ in English. ‘S’ next to ‘i’ or ‘e’ (slender) is an English ‘sh’ (otherwise it is like a regular ‘s’). ‘Séan’ means ‘good luck’ or ‘prosperity.’ ‘Maise’ means ‘adornment’ or ‘beauty,’ and ‘faoi mhaise’ means ‘flourishing.’ ‘Faoi shéan’ means ‘prosperous.’
You will notice that ‘faoi’ causes the following word to be lenited (puts the ‘h’ after the initial consonant, if possible). ‘Sh’ in Irish is – silent of like an ‘h’ (as it is in ‘shéan’)!
The only thing left is ‘is.’ And to quote a familiar historical figure, “that depends on what you mean by ‘is.’” ‘Is’ usually means ‘is,’ but can also be short for ‘agus’ (and), as it is here. It is pronounced ‘iss,’ not ‘iz.’ And, if you’ve been really paying attention, you will notice that it is a rare exception to the usual pronunciation rule – it is not a slender ‘s,’ despite being next to ‘i.’
Now, just put all that together! See how much you can learn from one sentence?!
Fuair m’athair Harry bás, Mí na Nollag. Fuair mo mháthair Audrey bás arú-anuraidh. Tá an bheirt acu ar shlí na fírinne. Ar dheis Dé go raibh siad.
Bhí m’athair ochtó a haon bliana d’aois. Fuair sé aitheantas agus moladh roimh a bhás mar gheall ar a chuid oibre ag scríobh agus ag eagrú nuacht-litreacha don Knights of Columbus agus don AARP. Is maith an obair a rinne sé. Thosaigh sé ag foghlaim conas ríomhaire a úsáid nuair a bhí sé ina sheachtóidí. Thug sé mórán ama do na heagrais seo, agus thug sé taitneamh agus pléisiúr dá chairde iontu. Thug sé inspioráid domsa chun an colún seo a scríobh.
Tháinig mórán daoine ó na heagrais lena raibh baint aige ar cuairt ag an tórramh. Mar atá sa scannán “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is iontach an méid daoine a thagann faoi anáil dhuine. Bhí sé san arm fadó, agus bhí deasghnáth ag an reilig dó, reilig náisiúnta, mar gheall air. Nuair a tugadh an bhratach, dúradh “Ó uachtarán na Stát Aontaithe, agus ó náisiún buíoch…” Go rabhaimid buíoch as a chéile i gcónaí. Sin dea-rún don athbhliain!
An ndearna tú dea-rún duit féin i mbliana? Ar theip sé ort fós? Bíodh misneach ort! Tús lag, leath na hoibre, agus de réir a chéile a thógtar caisleáin! Is mian liomsa caint níos mó le mo dhreifiúracha agus mo dheartháir, agus gach duine de mo mhuintir. Nílimid anseo ach le seal, agus ní mór dúinn grá a roinnt lena chéile.
Athbhliain faoi shonas is faoi rath daoibh uile.