Irish Language Blog

Nótaí Fuaimnithe don Bhlag faoi Lá an Úitsigh (Pronunciation Notes) Posted by on Feb 6, 2010 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

To address the perennial request for more pronunciation assistance, here are some more notes for the last blog.  Of course, this is just a samplóir, since to gloss the whole blog would end up being níos faide ná an blag é féin (longer than the blog itself). 


Feabhra [FYOW-ruh] February.  The “fy” sound in the transcript indicates the initial “f” sound in English words like “few” or “fumes.”  The cluster “eabha” is actually a typical spelling in Irish for the sound “ow” as in “ouch.”  You’ve probably already seen that in the word “leabhar” (book). 


maolán [MWEEL-awn or MWAYL-awn] a round-topped hill, a knob (as a geographic term)  This word is related to “maol” [mweel or mwayl], which means “bald” or “tonsured.” 


an choiligh fhrancaigh [un KHIL-ee RANK-ee] of the turkey-cock.  This is the possessive form of “coileach francach” [KIL-yukh FRANK-ukh], lit. “French rooster.”  In case you’re wondering where half the consonants went, in terms of pronunciation, the explanation is in the standard changes for the possessive form (lenition of the initial “c” and “f” and slenderization of the final “-ach” of both words, giving us the “ee” sound). 


iartharach [EER-hur-ukh] western.  This word is part of the iarthar – aniar — siar – thiar continuum.  I always figure the more related words you know, the easier it is to remember (and pronounce) all of them.  Iarthar [EER-hur], (the) West; aniar [uh-NEE-ur] from the west; siar [shee-ur] westward; thiar [hee-ur] in the west


i mo shuí [ih muh hee, silent “s”] sitting, lit. in my sitting


os comhair [oss KOH-irzh] in front of


breacadh [BRzhAK-uh] dawning, lit. speckling, lightening.  The “r” of breacadh is slender, indicated here by the “zh,” since it’s almost impossible to indicate with regular roman letters.  There is no ready equivalent to this “r” sound in English; the best parallel I know is in Czech (!), as in the man’s name Jiří.  Not that I really know Czech, but I do know some Czech teachers and we’ve talked about this pronunciation issue. 


áthas [AW-huss] happiness.  If you’re new to the Irish language, please note that “happiness,” and most other emotions are “on” you in Irish.   The standard phrase for “I am happy” would be “tá áthas orm” [taw AW-huss OR-um]., lit. “Happiness is on me.”


torthaí [TOR-hee, silent “t” in the middle] results, fruits.  This is the plural of toradh [TOR-uh] (fruit). 


gnáthainm [GNAW-AN-yim] ordinary name


Bhuel, that’s about a blog’s worth of pronunciation notes.  More to follow. 

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  1. Jonathan:


    First, thanks so much for your blog. It’s been very helpful with learning Irish.

    Second, I’ve been using to look up Irish words, but now the site has a javascript error. Any idea whose site it is or how to contact them to let them know so they can correct it?

  2. Jonathan:


    Thank you so much for your blog. It’s very helpful. Do you have a suggestion or recommendation for an online irish-english enlish-irish dictionary?

  3. Dubhaltach:

    “os comhair [oss KOH-irzh]”

    An “irzh” sin atá agat do “air”, sin spéisiúil.
    Ní shílim go bhfuil an fuaimniú sin á úsáid a thuilleadh.
    An dtagann sé ó shean-chanúint Laighin ?

  4. Róislín:

    A Dhubhaltaigh, a chara,

    GRMA as do shuim sa bhlag. Tá mé ag déanamh nach bhfuil nótaí fuaimnithe de dhíth ortsa, pé scéal é, de réir líofacht do nóta. Is do fhíorthosaitheoirí is mó a scríobhaim na nótaí sin.

    Sin ráite agam, seo mar a fheicim é: Úsáidtear “zh” amanna leis an fhuaim “J” san ainm Francach “Jacques”* a thaispeáint, agus sin atá i gceist agam anseo. Sílim go bhfuil an litir “r” caol cosúil le “r” agus an fhuaim sin “zh” mar an “J” i “Jacques” leis.

    Ar ndóigh san IPA (leagan Gaeilge) /r’/ a bheadh ann agus sa ghnáthIPA /ɾʲ/, cineál “r” agus “j” forscript ina dhiaidh, a bheadh ann. Ní chreidim go bhfuil an IPA ag an chuid is mó de dhaoine (nach teangeolaithe iad) agus mar sin úsáidim “zh” le taispeáint nach “r” creathach ná “r” aisfhillte ná gnáth-r Meiriceánach ná “r” “flapaithe” atá ann. Ar a laghad deir sé le daoine gur “r” ar leith atá ann (tá súil agam!).

    *Ach ní mar ainm an údair clúiteach Brian Jacques a deir a shloinne le “Jay” mar chonsan tosaigh.

    P.S. amanna ní úsáidtear “j forscript” ach “j foscript” agus mar sin, arís, ní shílim go bhfuil an córas an-úsáidchúntach don ghnáthléitheoir.

  5. Róislín:

    A Jonathan, a chara,

    The website seems to be working again. I just tried it.

    I’m glad you’re “ag baint taitnimh as an mblag” (enjoying the blog) and that you find it “úsáideach.”

    I’d also recommend Foclóir Póca as a useful paperback dictionary to buy.

  6. Jonathan:

    Thank’s for the reply. I’ve ordered a full-sized focloir from Dublin.

    I tried again. While the site is up again, I still get a javascript error when I enter a word in the Irish Word box.

  7. Róislín:

    A Jonathan, a chara,

    Go maith. Glad to hear your dictionary is en route.

    I’ll try the online dictionary again soon. I didn’t actually try typing a word in when I checked before (I just noted that the site was up).

    An bhfuil tú ag freastal ar rang Gaeilge? In Éirinn? I Meiriceá? In áit eile?

    Beir bua – R

  8. Jonathan:

    A Róislín, a chara,

    Ta múinteoireacht mise fein feidhm as riomhaire riomhclar, focloirs, agus leabhair gramadach, chomh maith le Byki, Transparent Premium, and Rosetta Stone, mar in aon ait anseo (Tampa Bay area) glacadh ar rang Gaeilge. (Is docha déan búistéireacht ar sin).Thus, your blog and Irish Notes on Facebook are an-cuidiuil. I’m looking for an instructor from whom I can get live instruction from via phone or Skype if you know of anyone. Go raibh maith agat for all you do here.

  9. Róislín:

    A Jonathan, a chara,
    Your last email brings up a couple of interesting features of Irish grammar:

    leabhair ghramadaí, when you pluralize “leabhar,” you trigger lenition of the following adjective or noun-functioning-as-an-adjective (i.e. attributive noun). Similarly, you’d say: leabhair bheaga, small books, but leabhar beag, a small book. That’s because of the specific way “leabhar” is pluralized – inserting the letter “i” to make the ending slender.

    The word “gramadach” itself would shift to the genitive case, with a change to the ending, as you can see.

    Glad to see you’re using BYKI and Transparent’s software!

    “Aon” is a tricky word for meaning “none.” It also means “any” and “one,” so to make it mean “none” or “not any,” the verb in the sentence needs to be negative.

    Thanks again for letting me know that you do find the blog “an-chuidiúil” (lenition after “an-” also!). – R

  10. Mise Áine:

    A Dhubhaltaigh agus a Róislín,

    Cé nach bhfuilim cinnte, ó tharla gan aon duine anseo ag éisteacht liom lena dhearbhú, feictear dom go bhfuil an ‘irzh’ sin in úsáid agam agus mé ag rá ‘os comhair’!

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