Let’s learn what lenition is! Here is another instalment in our grammar series. This series focuses on helping you crack the code of the basics of Irish Gaelic grammar.
Lenition, also called aspiration, is known in Irish as séimhiú:
Its function is to make speaking easier and also to make sentences more precise.
Séimhiú, lenition, is indicated in modern-day Irish with a letter h after the first consonant of a word.
If you see a word with a h following the first consonant, such as a noun: chat, a verb: bhí, or an adjective: mhór, and you want to find out what the word means, remove the h before looking up the word in the dictionary.
The h is usually inserted there as a result of what comes before it in a sentence. There are many reasons for this which we won’t go into here.
You can learn when to add the séimhiú to a word by learning the rules in a grammar book or online. You can learn when to use the séimhiú on the Bitesize Irish course.