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Thread: Introduction to Gàidhlig I

  1. #1

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    Introduction to Gàidhlig I

    The Gaelic alphabet consists of eighteen letters:

    a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u.

    There are 5 vowels and 12 consonants, and one special letter, h, which is more an aspiration mark than a radical letter.

    Vowels
    A vowel is a letter that, on its own, makes a perfect sound: a, e, i, o, u.
    There are 3 ‘broad vowels’; a, o, u, and 2 ‘slender vowels’; e, i.

    The distinction will become apparent when the important spelling rule — ‘broad to broad and slender to slender’ — is applied. This means that when one or more consonants come between two vowels, the vowels on either side of the consonant or group of consonants should be of the same class.

    If the vowel preceding the consonant or consonants is broad, a, o or u, the vowel following should also be broad.

    Where the vowel before the consonant or consonants is slender, i or e, then the vowel following should be slender.

    There are a few exceptions to this spelling rule, wouldn’t you know it;
    with some past participles passive, eg glacte, leagte, togte – caught, felled, built
    with certain compounds, eg choreigin, rudeigin – somehow, something
    and with some borrowed words, eg mosgìoto, telefòn – mosquito, telephone

    Vowel sounds can also be short or long.
    The long vowel is represented in writing by having a grave accent over the letter; à, è, ì, ò, ὺ.
    The broad and slender rule applies equally to the long vowels.

    Consonants
    A consonant is a letter that cannot be sounded without a vowel: b, c, d, f, g, l, m, n, p, r, s, t.
    Consonants, plain consonants, when followed by an h are said to be aspirated: bh, ch, dh, fh, gh, mh, ph, sh, th.
    The letters l, n, r, have two qualities of sound, hard or liquid, depending on where in a word they occur.
    They are not aspirated with an h.

    Diphthongs
    A diphthong is a monosyllabic speech sound in one in which the articulation begins as for one vowel and moves towards another.

    There are thirteen diphthongs in the Gaelic language and they are derived from the vowels in the following manner:
    From a;- ae, ai, ao.
    From e;- ea, ei, eo, eu.
    From i; - ia, io, iu.
    From o; - oi.
    From u; - ua, ui.


    Triphthongs
    There are 5 triphthongs: aoi, eoi, iai, iui, uai.
    They are pronounced respectively, like the diphthongs, ao, co, ia, iu, ua, with the addition of a short i, which serves to liquefy the sound of the following consonant. They are all long, and never occur but in monosyllables, or in the first syllable of polysyllables.


    I have tried here to set down the bare bones of Gaelic orthography. Putting meat on the bones is the next step, the hard or tricky bit. I shall attempt it in further posts as time permits but in the meantime members may help themselves, each other, and me, by browsing the resources on the sites suggested above.

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  3. #2

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    Re: Introduction to Gàidhlig I

    Does this explain why Alnwick is pronounced Anick?
    kellyd

  4. #3

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    Re: Introduction to Gàidhlig I

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly d View Post
    Does this explain why Alnwick is pronounced Anick?
    Kelly d, I’m not sure if you’re being serious or pulling my leg. I don’t know how the above Gaelic spelling and grammar rules could explain why the names of English towns are pronounced differently to the way they are spelt, especially since, as you will notice, the Gaelic alphabet does not have the letter W. The English have their own language which comes with its own grammatical peculiarities and I am the last person to ask to explain it.

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    Re: Introduction to Gàidhlig I

    Giggling here, I just love the different pronunciations across the North. Every region has their own way of spelling and pronouncing. ;)
    kellyd

  7. #5

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    Re: Introduction to Gàidhlig I

    Caledonian,

    Please don't take offence. I think you are very knowledgeable and I really do enjoy what you are posting. I am sure everyone here at the boards agree with me. I was trying to lighten things up a bit. I will sit and be a good student! I promise :) I apologise if I offended you in any way..
    kellyd

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