l n r

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Gearr leum gu: seòladh, lorg

Except for a small group of exceptions, all sonorants have their strong value at the beginning of words.

l sounds

There are 3 different l sounds:

Sound Position Example Gaelic English
[L] Initial broad l [La.ə] latha day
[Lɔx] loch loch (lake)
[Luːb] lùb bend!
[Laːdʲɪrʲ] làidir strong
Broad l and ll elsewhere [gLan] glan clean (adj.)
[bLaː] blàth warm (adj.)
[baLəx] balach boy
[faLu] falamh empty (adj.)
[kadəL] cadal sleep (n.)
[baLə] balla wall (n.)
[faLaNʲ] fallain healthy
[pɔbəL] poball population
[Lʲ] Initial slender l [Lʲiən] lìon net
[Lʲeh] leth half
[LʲũːN] lionn liquid (n.)
[Lʲis] lios garden
[Lʲihdʲɪrʲ] litir letter (n.)
[Lʲɛxg] leac flagstone
Slender ll elsewhere [buLʲə] buille hit (n.)
[kaLʲəx] cailleach old woman
[duLʲag] duilleag leaf
[kaiLʲ] caill lose!
[kɤiLʲ] coill forest
[saiLʲ] saill salt!
[l] Non-initial slender l [balə] baile village
[kalag] caileag girl
[kulag] cuileag fly (n.)
[ulə] uile all
[elə] eile other
[dulɪç] duilich sorry

Note: the preposition le and its prepositional pronouns (leam, leat, leis, leatha, leinn, leibh, leotha) are pronounced as [l], not [Lʲ].

n sounds

There are 3 different n sounds:

Sound Position Example Gaelic English
[N] Initial broad n [Naːbɪ] nàbaidh neighbour
[Nahɪrʲ] nathair snake
[Nɯːv] naomh holy
[Nasg] nasg tie-band
[Nɔxg] nochd appear
[NɔLɪgʲ] Nollaig Christmas
Broad nn [aNə] Anna Ann(e)
[kʲaNɪç] ceannaich buy!
[bjaNəxg] beannachd blessing
[auN] ann in him
[tʲauN] teann tight
[kʲauN] ceann head (n.)
[Nʲ] Initial slender n [NʲiəL] Niall Neil
[Nʲi.ə] nighe washing
[Nʲed] nead nest (n.)
[Nʲi] nigh wash!
[Nʲax] neach person
[Nʲihan] nighean daughter
Slender nn [faːNʲə] fàinne ring (n.)
[baNʲə] bainne milk (n.)
[ʃeiNʲ] seinn sing!
[tʲiNʲə] tinne sicker
[biNʲə] binne sweeter
[kaiNʲdʲ] cainnt speech
[n] Non-initial slender & broad n [dɔnə] dona bad
[sɔnə] sona happy
[anam] anam soul
[banal] banail feminine
[dʲiənəv] dèanamh doing
[ʃin] sin that
[miːn] mìn soft
[ɛnɛm] ainm name (n.)
[uən] uain lamb (n.)
[kɔn] coin dogs

Note: some dialects pronounce non-initial slender n as [Nʲ] (i.e. like slender nn) rather than [n]:

[Nʲ] [ʃiNʲ] sin that
[miːn] mìn soft
[ɛNʲɛm] ainm name (n.)
[uəNʲ] uain lamb (n.)
[kɔNʲ] coin dogs

r sounds

There are 3 different r sounds:

Sound Position Example Gaelic English
[R] Initial broad & slender r [Rɔh] roth wheel (n.)
[Rɔːn] ròn seal
[Rɔb] Rob Rob
[Ruərɪ] Ruaraidh Rory
[RuNag] rionnag star
[Rixg] riochd appearance
Broad & slender rr [baːR] barr top
[kɔːR] corr rest (n.)
[kɔRəx] corrach uneven
[kaRɛgʲ] carraig rock
[kuRan] curran carrot
[uRə] urra individual
[r] Non-initial broad r [aran] aran bread
[ɔːran] òran song
[dʲɛrɛg] dearg red
[kur] cur putting
[marav] marbh dead
[kar] car twist (n.)
[rʲ] Non-initial slender r [arʲə] aire attention
[arʲɪ] airidh deserving
[furʲəx] fuireach living, staying
[kurʲɪ] cuiridh will put
[ɛrʲɛgʲəd] airgead money

Note: the preposition ri and its prepositional pronouns (rium, riut, ris, rithe, riutha etc.) are normally pronounced as [rʲ].



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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