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There have been numerous inquiries on how to pronounce these words, since the previous blogpost on this topic came out (nasc thíos), so here are some tips:
To pronounce Mamó: the final vowel is long, so it gets extra emphasis: mam-OH
To pronounce Móraí: the emphasis is on the first syllable, which sounds like the English word “more” but with a flapped (lightly trilled) “r”: MORR-ee.
When you see two vowels together in Irish and one of them is marked long, you usually only pronounce the long one: “aí” sounds like “ee”. Another example is the surname “Rooney” in Irish: Ó Ruanaí
To pronounce the flapped “r,” think of how “sure and begorrah” is pronounced. Even though neither of these words is actually Irish Gaelic, the “flapped r” sound prevails. “Begorrah” might look Irish and sound Irish, but it’s actually a Hiberno-English euphemism for a phrase in English. If you know which phrase, how about sharing with other readers by using the “comments” section? Hint: it’s related to the traditional Hiberno-English expression, “By Dad!”
To pronounce Daideo: Although this may look like 1950s Beat jive or Beatnik slang (Daddy-O), it’s not the same! The Irish “Daideo” is a two-syllable word, whereas “Daddy-O” is three. Also, the “d” in the middle of “Daideo” is pronounced “caol” or “slender” in Irish. Depending on what dialect of Irish one speaks, the “slender d” is a little or a lot like the sound “j” in English. The “eo” vowel is one long “oh” sound, even though it’s not marked as a long vowel. So “Daideo” is pronounced “DADJ-yoh.”
All three of these will change slightly in direct address, that is, if you’re speaking directly to Granny or Grandpa. If you’re raising children or grandchildren as English-speakers, for example i Meiriceá Thuaidh (in North America), it may be fine for the child to simply learn to say, “I love you, Mamó” or “Thanks, Daideo.”
But if the children are growing up speaking Irish, these terms will be converted to the direct-address form, which involves softening (leniting) the first consonant. Those of you from Ireland might remember this as “An Tuiseal Gairmeach” (the vocative case). This special form for direct address also applies to names in general, when you are speaking to the person directly, and also to any other noun, animate or inanimate, to whom or to which you are speaking. These forms are written “a Mhamó,” “a Mhóraí,” and “a Dhaideo.”
So that would include all your Pegeens and Aidans, as well as anything like a hammer to which you are wishing “bad cess,” that is, if it just smashed your thumb. It would also include pets’ names, if you’re speaking to the animal directly. So if you’ve named your madra (dog), after Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s hound, Bran, you can stop calling him back to you with “Here, Bran! Come, Bran!” and start using the lenited and palatalized version of the dog’s name (“A Bhrain!” [say: “uh vrahn”]), which won’t resemble anything in English. Then it won’t sound so much like you’re publicly declaiming an ode to breakfast cereal. Of course, you will have had to have trained the dogs to recognize two different forms of their own name, which might be hard unless they’re still coileáin (puppies). It’s hard to teach a seanmhadra (old dog) new tuisil (grammatical cases)!
But guess what, we’re out of space, so stay tuned for “nouns of direct address” i mblag atá le teacht (in a blog to come)! Slán go fóill — Róislín
madra: MAH-druh and seanmhadra: SHAN-WAH-druh
tuiseal: TISH-ul; tuisil: TISH-il
thuaidh: HOO-ee (the “t” and “d” are silent)
Mac Cumhaill: mak coo-il (you may have known that one already, from the Legend of Knockmany, Á.B.E.)