We have seen that for most consonants, there is a broad and slender form, each one representing a separate sound in the language. For any consonant, broad or slender forms frequently alternate at the end of words e.g. cat a cat and cait cats. We say that t in cait is the slenderised form of t in cat; or to put it another way, cait is the slenderised form of cat. In written Gaelic, a word is slenderised by inserting an i before the last consonant or group of consonants. The i before a final consonant tells us that the letter is to be pronounced differently i.e. as a slender consonant. The change of broad t to slender t is called slenderisation. It is important to note that the process of slenderisation only occurs at the end of words. Slenderisation is used to form the plural form of some nouns. Listen to the difference between:
Slenderisation of a final consonant can in some cases cause the preceding vowel to change form. Here are a few examples where the preceding vowel is affected by the process of slenderisation:
|[fiəɣ]||fiadh||a deer||[feː]||féidh||more than one deer|
Slenderisation is extremely important in Scottish Gaelic and you will meet many further instances of it as you progress.
|Fuaimean na Gàidhlig|
| ᚛ Vowels - Consonants - Fricatives - Slenderisation - Pre-aspiration - Lenition - Helping vowel - Diphthongs ᚜ |
᚛ Hiatus - l n r - rt & rd - Vowels before rr ll nn - Unstressed vowels ᚜