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The Gaelic Alphabet

A Two sounds – a as in cat - bata (stick). And a as in large - ln (full)

 

B Two sounds – At beginnings of words, b as in boat - bata (stick). A p sound inside words - cab (mouth)

 

Bh – Two sounds – At beginnings of words, a v sound – bha (was). A v or w sound within words – abhainn (river).

 

C Two sounds when next to a,o,u – At beginnings of words, c as in cat – cupa (cup). A chk sound inside words – aca (them)

 

Ch - A gutteral ch sound, in the back of your throat - like loch (lake)

 

D Two sounds when next to a,o,u – At beginnings of words, d as in dog – dubh (black). A t sound within words – ad (hat)

When next to e or i, it has a j sound – deoch (drink).

 

Dh Two sounds when next to a,o,u – At beginnings of words, a "blurred" g sound – dh (two). Within words, can also be silent.

When next to e or i, has a y sound – dheth (free, off)

 

E Two sounds – e as in get - leth (half). And as in gate – reic (sell)

 

F Just as in English. Fada (long).

 

Fh Usually silent

 

G Two sounds – g as in girl – gabh (take). Also a k sound within words – bog (damp, wet)

 

Gh Same sounds as dh.

 

H Usually not by itself in a word. Used with other consonants, and may be used as a prefix

 

I Two sounds – as in tin – sin (that). Also has an ee sound as in tinn (sick)

 

L Two sounds – normal l as in lake – lon (Elk). An ly sound before i or e – leth (half)

 

M Just as in English.

 

Mh Either a v sound - lamh (hand) or silent. Will also affect vowel sounds nearby – Dmhnall (Donald)

 

N Two sounds – As in English net – nuair (when). A sort of ny sound before i or e – neach (person)

 

O Just like the o in boat – mr (big). Also like the sound in jaw – poca (bag).

 

P At the start of words, just as in English – poca (bag). Within words, put a small h sound just before the p – cupa (cup).

 

R A rolling r sound. Rm (room)

 

S Just as in English when next to a,o,u – sona (happy) An sh sound when next to e or i – sth (peace)

 

Sh – An h sound. Shuas (up)

 

T Just as in English when next to a,o,u , at the start of words. Within words, put a small h sound before the t – bata (stick)

When next to e or i, it has a ch sound – tinn (sick)

 

Th - Two sounds - an "h" sound, as words like tha (is). It can also be silent, such as in leth (half).

 

U – An oo sound

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Note – the accent (, , , , ) over the vowel means that the vowel sound must be drawn out longer than normal. Compare bata (stick) and bta (boat).

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Other combinations:

ochd, achd – A chk sound as in a-nochd (tonight) naidheachd (news)

omh – A very nasal o sound – dhomh (to/for me). Dmhnall (Donald)

inn – the n’s have a ny sound – seinn, (sing)

ann, onn – the n’s have an owwn sound – rann (verse), bonn (bottom)

aidh - aee, or aye, or ee, as in dhachaidh (home)

"Intrusive" vowels – when consonants like m and n, r and g, are next to each other, a vowel sound is inserted.

airgead (money)

anmoch (late)

garbh (wild, rough)

written by Mike MacKay