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A B C D1 D2 E F G H I L M N O P R S T U


N was the fifth letter of the Ogham alphabet, and was called
by the name nin ` ash-tree '. It was the last letter of the first
aicme or letter-group, of which the first two were beithe (b)
and luis (l), hence the whole alphabet was often called beithe-
5luis-nuin; see Auraic. 976 , 1171 , 2806 , 5505 .
In Irish script n, medial or final (rarely initial) is commonly
expressed by a horizontal stroke above the preceding letter.
1. Irish n is of four kinds, according as it is unlenited or
lenited, non-palatal or palatal.
10 N is unlenited in the following cases: when an absolute
initial; in the combination sn; in gemination; after r; before
a dental (d, t). In these cases, (a) when followed by a non-
palatal vowel, it is a dental, produced by pressing the flattened
tip of the tongue against the upper teeth, (b) when followed
15by a palatal one, it approximates to the sound of gn in Ital.
ogni, Fr. ivrogne. Unlenited n is ordinarily written nn in
medial and final position.
Lenited n, (c) when non-palatal, corresponds to the ordi-
nary European pronunciation of the letter; (d) when palatal,
20is a weakened form of (b). Cf. IGT Introd. § 8 , where appa-
rently `.n. trom' = unlenited n (ceann, corn, coirndearg) and
`.n. séimh' = lenited n. See Ped. i 152 § 95 , Thurn. Hdb. § 132.
2. In loan-words from Latin, n remains; if final in the
Irish derivative it appears unlenited, e.g. mulenn < Lat.
25 molina.
3. O.Ir. nd, medial or final, passes into nn during the
Mid. Ir. period; e.g. bendacht (Lat. benedictio), cland (Lat.
planta, W. plant), find `white', `hair', gránde `horrible', lend,
lind `liquid', mind `diadem', proind (Lat. prandium), rind
30`point, star' = Mid.Ir. bennacht, clann, finn, gránna, linn,
etc. This change occurred early in the case of the art.: np.
inda, Thes. ii 47.24 (Philarg.), indá, Wb. 20d5 , beside inna,
Thes. ii 247.16 ( Cambr. 38a ); but it is indicated in other occa-
sional spellings in the Glosses, e.g. claínn, Wb. 5b33 ; finnae,
35gl. pilorum, Ml. 72b16 ; linn, Tur. 109a ; proinn, Wb. 28c20 ;
pronn, 31b22 ; rinn (np.), Ml. 145d3 . The spelling nd, though
no longer corresponding to the pronunciation, continues in
use in Mid.Ir. beside nn, and is somet. substituted for nn in
words where the latter is the orig. form; e.g. cend, crand,
40 land, mann, rand for cenn (W. pen), crann (W. pren), lann
(< Lat. lamina), mand `manna' (Lat. manna), rann (W. rhan).
Occas. final rn appears as rd (prob. a mistake for rnd due to
omission of the compendium for n), e.g. ocht ṅdúird, LB
63a28 ( IT i 40.22 ) = nduirn (dorn); cartt, ZCP ii 314 x (=carn).
45 4. Medial ln is assimilated to ll, a change which begins in
the O.Ir. period; e.g. élned `pollution' (as-len-), Wb. 11b9 =
eilled, Ml. 22b1 ; dun elled, 92d12 ; part. éilnithe, Wb. 31b29 =
eillidi (gs.), Ml. 63a16 ; do fuillned (fo-lín-), Ml. 26c6 = do
fuilled, 69b6 ; nud-comálnabadar who shall fulfil it, Ml. 46c20 ,
50beside -comallammar, ib., -comallas(atar), 105a6 (< comlán).
Similarly -nl- becomes -ll-: brollach (< bron-lach, cf. bruinne
and brú, gs. bronn), fiallach (< fian-lach), tellach `hearth'
(cf. teine `fire').
Coming between two other consonants n often falls out,
55 e.g. áildiu (< *áilndiu), superl. of álind `beautiful'; ní cumgat,
3 pl. pres. of con-icc (3 s. ní cumaing); aisdís, forgaire, frecdairc,
scríbdid, variant spellings of aisndís, forngaire, frecndairc,
scríbndid. See ZCP v 1.
5. Initial n is occas. prosthetic, due either to orig. eclipsis
60of an initial vowel, e.g. Dún n-Áis (= Dún Náis, mod. Naas?),
Loch Nén, (prob. = Loch nÉn), or to influence of the art.;
for prob. exx. see Nairmein, 1 nairne, nangtha, napa, nena,
noll; the word nuimir (Lat. numerus, O.Ir. umir) is prob. a
learned re-formation. Conversely, an initial n may be dropped
65through being assigned to the art.; cf. es `weasel', úall `cry,
wail
', úna `famine', with 1 nes, núall, núna.
6. N marks nasalization of initial vowels and initial d, g,
see Ped. § 261 fg ., Thurn. Hdb. § 237 , and IGT Introd. § 8.
7. In Mid.Ir. n is oft. used in the formation of adjs. in -ach,
70-aide, abstract nouns and denom. vbs. on the analogy of forms
in -ach, etc. derived from n-stems; such derivations are found
beside forms without n; e.g. bendachtnach, bennachtnach
(bendacht, gs. -an); bertnaigid `shakes, brandishes', beside ber-
taigid; créchtnaigid `wounds' (crécht); machtnaigid `wonders',
75beside machtaigid; mainnechtnach, -naige, beside mainnech-
tach; mairgnech `lamentation' (mairg); malartnach, -naigid,
beside malartach, -aigid; neimnech `venomous', neimnige
`virulence' (neim); nemnaige `sanctity' (nem).