Vowels

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
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Lèirmheas mar a bha e 14:54, 22 dhen t-Samhain 2011 le Akerbeltz (Deasbaireachd | mùthaidhean)

Gearr leum gu: seòladh, lorg

Because it's hard to say anything without a vowel, we'll start with the vowels!

Susbaint

Long and short

Gaelic uses the five symbols a, o, u, i, e to represent a large number of Gaelic vowel sounds. This is achieved by using accents and by combining the five basic vowels in various ways. In Gaelic there are both short and long vowels. Long vowels are indicated by means of accents. There are two accents used in Scottish Gaelic:

  • the acute ( ´ ) found only on the letters e and o
  • the grave ( ` ) found on a, o, u, i, e

The difference in pronunciation between a, o, u, i, e and à, ò, ù, ì, è respectively is one of pure length. The difference on the other hand between è, ò and é, ó respectively is one of quality. Listen to the difference between è and é and ò and ó:

[ʃɛː] 's e [dʲeː]
[ɔːL] òl [boː]


Consider now the difference of length between a, o, u, i, e and à, ò, ó, ù, ì, è, é:

Short Long
[kas] cas [kaːs] càs
[dɔL] dol [ɔːL] òl
[gob] gob [moːr] mór
[kur] cur [uːr] ùr
[min] min [miːn] mìn
[bɛn] bean [ʃɛː] 's e
[tʲeh] teth [dʲeː]

Open and rounded vowels

You may have noticed that there is a slight difference between the two short e sounds and the two short o sounds. These differences can be deducted from the spelling but it's not obvious so we'll explain that elsewhere. Listen to them again for now:

Open Rounded
[dɔL] dol [gob] gob
[bɛn] bean [dʲeː]

More examples

Here are some more words to practice your pronunciation of Scottish Gaelic vowels:

Short [i] and long [iː]

Short [i] from i(o)
[rʲi] ri 1 against 2 to
[rʲiʃ] ris 1 against him 2 to him
[min] min flour
[ʃin] sin that
[triçgʲ] tric often
[miçgʲ] mic sons
[higʲ] thig come!
[Lʲihdʲɪrʲ] litir letter (n.)
[milɪʃ] milis sweet
[imɪç] imich go!
[sgʲiLʲɪNʲ] sgillinn penny
[fis] fios knowledge
[Lʲis] lios garden
[bir] bior point (n.)
[brʲigɪʃ] briogais trousers


Long [iː] (from i, ì, ìo)
[iːm] ìm butter (n.)
[miːn] mìn soft
[ʃiːn] sìn stretch!
[çiː] chì will see
[sgʲiː] sgìth tired
[dʲiːrʲəx] dìreach straight
[biːNʲ] binn sweet
[kʲiːNʲ] cinn heads
[tʲiːLʲ] till return!
[kʲiːLʲ] cill churchyard
[fiːr] fìor true
[ʃiːs] sìos down!
[ʃiːdə] sìoda silk
[krʲiːx] crìoch border (n.)

Short [e] and long [eː]

Short [e] from e(i), ea
[dʲe] de of
[le] le 1 with 2 by
[tʲeh] teth hot
[Lʲeh] leth half
[edər] eadar between
[kʲed] cead 1 permission 2 right
[fed] fead whistle (n.)
[beg] beag small
[Lʲeg] leag chop down!
[krʲeg] creag cliff
[leʃ] leis with him
[kʲeʃdʲ] ceist question (n.)
[vel] bheil form of the verb tha


Long [eː] from é(i), eu
[dʲeː] what?
[əNʲ'dʲeː] an-dé yesterday
[feːm] feum use (n.)
[Lʲeːm] leum jump (n.)
[kʲeːm] ceum step (n.)
[ʃeːməs] Seumas James
[feːmɪ] feumaidh must
[heːn] fhéin self
[feː] féidh deer (plural)
[Reː] réidh level, flat
[Lʲeːrʲ] léir visible
[kʲeːlə] céile partner (n.)

Short [ɛ] and long [ɛː]

Short [ɛ] from e(a)
[fɛr] fear man
[bɛn] bean wife
[Lʲɛn] lean follow!
[ʃɛn] sean old
[Lʲɛbɪ] leabaidh bed (n.)


Long [ɛː] from è(i), ài
[ʃɛːv] sèimh quiet, calm
[grɛ̃ː] gnè gender
[ʃɛː] 's e it is
[gɛː.əL] Gàidheal Gael
[pɛːhpɛr] pàipear paper


Short [a] and long [aː]

Short [a] from a(i), ea

[ad] ad hat
[kas] cas leg
[kan] can say!
[maxg] mac a son
[abɪrʲ] abair say!
[aran] aran bread
[ahɪrʲ] athair father (n.)
[bahdə] bata bat, stick
[fadə] fada long
[baLəx] balach boy
[faLəv] falamh empty
[tahbɪ] tapaidh quick
[mah] math good
[balə] baile town
[kalag] caileag girl
[kaLʲəx] cailleach old woman
[madʲə] maide stick (n.)
[jax] each horse
[ʃaxg] seachd seven
[sbjaL] speal scythe
[dʲaLav] dealbh picture
[ʃaLag] sealg hunt!


Long [aː] from à(i), eà

[aːRd] àrd tall
[aLɪNʲ] àlainn wonderful
[baːRd] bàrd bard, poet
[baːʰdə] bàta boat
[Laːv] làmh hand (n.)
[Laːr] làr ground (n.)
[maːhɪrʲ] màthair mother
[aːʰdʲə] àite place (n.)
[saːl] sàil heel
[daːl] dàil delay (n.)
[kaːʃə] càise cheese
[kaːl] càil anything
[kaːNʲ] càin slander!
[taːrʲ] tàir base (adj.)
[gʲaːR] gearr short
[ʃaːR] 's fhearr better
[dʲaːRsəx] dearrsach shining

Short [ɔ] and long [ɔː]

Short [ɔ] from o(i), eo

[Lɔx] loch loch
[ɔLə] ola wool
[ɔxg] ochd eight
[trɔd] trod scuffle
[dɔnə] dona bad
[sɔnə] sona happy
[bɔxg] bochd poor
[bɔdəx] bodach old man
[krɔ̃xk] cnoc hill
[sɔxgɪrʲ] socair gentle
[kɔLəx] coltach similar
[tɔhdʲ] toit smoke
[tɔl] toil desire (n.)
[kɔrʲə] deoch kettle
[dʲɔx] toit drink (n.)
[ʃɔ] seo this
Long [ɔː] from ò(i), eò

[ɔːL] òl drink!
[ɔːg] òg young
[mɔːd] mòd Mòd
[pɔːg] pòg kiss!
[tɔːR] torr a lot
[kɔːR] corr rest (n.)
[brɔːn] bròn sorrow
[sdrɔːn] sròn nose (n.)
[kɔːRd] còrd agree!
[bɔːRd] bòrd table
[kɔːʰdə] còta coat
[dɔ̃ː.əL] Dòmhnall Donald
[kɔːʰdə] còta coat
[gLɔːrʲ] glòir glory
[bɔːdʲ] bòid vow (n.)
[kɔːrʲ] còir right (n.)
[kʲɔːL] ceòl music
[ʃɔːL] seòl sail (n.)
[bjɔː] beò alive

Short [o] and long [oː]

Short [o] from o(i)

[bog] bog soft
[gob] gob mouth
[obɪrʲ] obair work (n.)
[tobər] tobar well (n.)
[komə] coma indifferent
[koməN] comann society
[o.ə] ogha nephew
[bo.ər] bodhar deaf
[Loʃgʲ] loisg burn!


Long [oː] from ó(i), -oghn-
[boː] cow
[koː] có? who?
[moːr] mór big
[moːrag] Mórag Morag
[moːran] móran a lot
[foːnɪ] foghnaidh will suffice
[koːgʲ] cóig five
[moːrʲ] móir big (genitive)

Short [u] and long [uː]

Short [u] from u(i), iu

[u] ugh egg
[du] dubh black
[muxg] muc pig
[rug] rug grabbed
[hug] thug gave
[bun] bun bottom
[kuhbə] cupa cup
[Luxg] luchd people
[kurʲ] cuir put!
[kulan] cuilean puppy
[tuhdʲ] tuit fall!
[flux] fliuch wet (adj.)
[ʃu.əL] siubhal walking


Long [uː] from ù(i), iù(i), -ionn
[uːr] ùr new
[kuː] dog
[kuːL] cùl rear (n.)
[duːn] dùn fortress
[Ruːn] rùn secret
[buː] bùth shop
[kruːbag] crùbag crab
[uːRLər] ùrlar floor (n.)
[suːl] sùil eye
[duːl] dùil expectation
[kuːʃ] cùis matter (n.)
[kʲuːRəɣ] ciùrradh hurt (n.)
[kʲuːNʲ] ciùin quiet (adj.)
[kʲul] ciùil music (genitive)
[ʃdʲuːrʲ] stiùir steer!
[ə'NuːL] a-null over (adv.)
[fjuːN] fionn fair (adj.)
[LʲuːN] lionn beer

Long [ɯː]

There are two other long vowels in Scottish Gaelic. The first is spelled ao and is pronounced like long ù but with the lips spread (i.e. not rounded). Listen to the following examples:

Long [ɯː] from aolike [uː] but with spread lips (grin like a maniac while saying it)
[kɯːL] caol narrow (adj.)
[gɯːL] gaol love (n.)
[sɯːr] saor free (adj.)
[dɯːr] daor expensive
[Rɯːn] raon area
[Lɯːɣ] laogh calf
[kɯːrə] caora sheep
[sɯː.əL] saoghal world
[ɯːʃ] aois age (n.)
[fɯːNʲ] faoin silly
[fɯːlag] faoileag seagull

Long [ɤː]

The other long vowel in Gaelic occurs in words spelled adh + consonant

[ɤː] from adh/agh + Consonant</strong>You can produce this sound by making an [oː] and spreading your lips at the same time (as if you were grinning widely).
[Lɤːran] ladhran sandpiper
[ɤːvər] adhbhar reason (n.)
[Rɤ̃ːnəL] Raghnall Ronald
[ɤːbrəN] adhbrann ankle

Short [ɯ] and Short [ɤ]

Note: Both of these long vowels ([ɯː] and [ɤ]) have short variants. The short form of ao occurs in some words spelled -ui-. The short form of adh + consonant occurs in words spelled -agh-, -adh- and in some words spelled with -oi-.

Short [ɯ] from ui. Like [ɯː] but short
[ɯʃgʲə] uisge water (n.)
[ɯʃag] uiseag lark


Short [ɤ] from -(e)agh, -(e)adh, -oi-
[ɤɣ] agh heifer
[Lɤɣ] lagh law
[drɤɣ] dragh worry (n.)
[ɤ.ərg] adharc horn
[Lɤ.ər] ladhar hoof
[tɤ.əɣ] taghadh election
[ʃɤɣ] seadh yes
[Lʲɤɣ] leagh melt!
[Lʲɤ.əɣ] leaghadh melting
[gɤdʲ] goid steal!
[kɤLʲə] coille wood, forest
[gɤrʲɪdʲ] goirid short
[kɤləx] coileach cockerel
[dɤrʲɤv] doirbh difficult

Summary

Summary Chart of Scottish Gaelic Vowels and common letter combinations used to represent these:

[i] i, io [iː] ì, ìo
[e] e, ea, ei [eː] é, éi, eu
[ɛ] ea [ɛː] è, èi
[a] a, ai, ea [aː] à, ài, eà
[ɔ] o, oi, eo [ɔː] ò, òi, eò
[o] o, oi [oː] ó, ói
[u] u, ui, iu [uː] ù, ùi, iù, iùi, (u), io
[ɤ] adh, agh, oi [ɤː] adhC, aghC
[ɯ] ui [ɯː] ao, aoi



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


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