Christian Brothers' Phonetics

Christian Brothers' Phonetics

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This material is from an old out-of-copyright edition of the Christian Brothers' Irish Grammar (from 1902)... Courtesy of


Chapter I. The Letters.

1. The Irish alphabet contains eighteen letters, five of which are vowels, the remaining thirteen are consonants.

The vowels are a, e, i, o, u; and the consonants are b, c, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, t.

2. The vowels are divided into two classes. a) the broad vowels: a, o, u. b) the slender vowels: e, i.

The vowels may be either long or short. The long vowels are marked by means of an acute accent (') as in the French word "fiancée"] placed over the vowel, as mór (big) pronounced like the English word "more"; a short vowel has no accent, as mol (praise), pronounced like "mul" in the English word "mulberry". Carefully distinguish between the terms "broad vowel" and "long vowel". The broad vowels (a, o, u) are not always long vowels, neither are the slender vowels (e, i) always short...

3. Sounds of the Vowels.

The Irish vowelis sounded likein the words

á long au naught
a short o not
é long ae Gaelic
e short e let
ì long ee feel
i short i hit
ó long o note
o short o, u done (or) much
ú long tool
u short u bull (or) put
A short vowel at the end of an Irish word is always pronounced.

The Diphthongs.

4. The following list gives the sounds of the diphthongs in Modern Irish. The first five are always long and require no accent...

ia is pronounced like ee-a as in Dia (dyee-a), God.
ua " "oo-a fuar (foo-ar), cold.
eu,éa " " ae as in feur (faer), grass.
ae" " ae as inlaethanta (lae-hanta), days.
ao " " ae as in daor (daer), dear.
" " yo as in ceol (kyol), music.
" " ew as in fiú (few), worthy.
ái " " au + i as in cáin (kau-in), a tax.
éi " " ae + i as in léim (lyae-im), a leap.
ói " " o + i as in móin (mo-in), a bog.
úi " " oo + i as insúil (soo-il), an eye.
" " aa as in caisleán (kosh-laan), a castle.
ío " "ee as infíor (feer), true.
ai " "a as in tais (thaish), damp.
ea " " a as in fear (far), a man.
ei " "e as ineile (el-e), other.
oi " " u + i as intoil (thu-il), a will.
io " " i as infios (fiss), knowledge.
ui " "i as inuisge (ish-ge), water.
eo " " u as in deoch (dyukh),a drink.
" "ee as incotaí (ko-thee), coats.
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