01 July 2008

Pronunciation Woes III: Weird Endings

Just a quick update -- there are a few vowel combinations that crop up in the vocabulary of Learning Irish early on that are hard to pin down (listen to the tapes a lot at first, and repeat things over and over. If you can manage to tape yourself and listen to the source and then your recording, that would be good). Most of what I have here has been gleaned from the books I have and websites I've found. Remember that I am NOT a native speaker!

The big thing to remember is that Irish, despite the clusters of vowels that would please any Scrabble player, has very few true dipthongs. The o's and i's showing up all over are simply pronunciation marks for broad or slender consonants and are not specifically pronounced. So, a lot of the vowel-groups are pronounced the same way despite being spelled very differently.
abh, obh, ogh --> ow as in 'cow'; at the beginning of a word, like German 'au'
amh --> at the end of words, 'av', otherwise 'au' (in connacht only)
adh, agh, eidh --> at the beginning of a word, like 'eye'
omh(a) --> ó
umh(a) --> ú
But it's the endings of words that cause some problems for me -- especially since they are pronounced quite a bit differently in the different dialects. The ending of a word may change to denote plurals or other grammatical meaning. For example, -(a)igh and -(a)idh occurs quite often and is pronounced quite differently:
In Munster --> ig'
In Connacht --> ə (just 'uh')
In Ulster--> i or ə
In Standard Irish --> í
Another common ending is -óidh:
In Munster --> óig
In Connacht --> ó
In Ulster --> the old suffix -ochaidh is used
In Standard Irish --> oí
I've just picked up a new book that has some very clear pronunciation rules - as soon as I get my head wrapped around them, I'll post again.

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