OT - Irish and German

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Mar 31 16:44:51 EST 2005

Colin continued...

>> To be honest, I started learning Irish at such a young age that I've 
>> pretty much internalised the pronunciation rules, and cannot, 
>> unfortunately, explicate them.  If you want the actual rules, Ania, who 
>> learned the language as an adult, can probably help you.  But yeah, <oi>, 
>> <ea> and <ai> have each their own pronunciation and that pronunciation 
>> doesn't change.
> But do they? My impression (which may be wrong) was that <oi> could be /o/ 
> before a narrow consonant *or* /i/ after a broad one.

Okay, I am not a trained linguist.  I do not know what you mean by a "broad" 
or "narrow" consonant (broad and narrow vowels I can just about hack).  Can 
you explain further, please?

In the case of <oi> in particular, all the examples I can think of off-hand 
have the same pronunciation of that vowel-pair: oileann; oirthear; 
oibreach...all have the same narrow more-or-less "ih" sound that oireachtas 
has (I don't know how to do fadas here, but oileann should have one on the 

Now, vowels *can* modify the sound of a syllable; the I in my real name, 
Grainne (which also needs a fada on the A), causes the "nyuh" sound at the 
end of the word.  And in the names Siobhan and Sinead (both also missing 
fadas, on the A and the E respectively), it's the I after the S that makes 
the S a "sh" rather than a "ss".  But I don't *think* that's the case 
anywhere in Oirechtais.

(Ania, help me out here!)


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