Irish pronunciation

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-22, 0:13

Ciarán12 wrote:Maybe. I don't usually pay all that much attention to phonetic transcriptions in learning material because, from the beginning, I've based my pronunciations on how I had already learned to pronounce it in school.
But you taught yourself how to write Irish in IPA, right? How did you do that?

I found that learning IPA for French greatly bettered my accent, even if some features of Parisian French seem odd to me (who the hell pronounces it Françès here?).
I... am confused. I just realised I do have [j], but I'm trying to work out what the rules for it's distribution are. Giúdach - [gʲu:d̺ˠəx], but lenited it's Ghiúdach - [ʝu:d̺ˠəx], but dhá - [ɣɒ:], but Cad a dhéanann tú? - [kˠɑd̺ˠ ə 'je:n̪ˠən̪ˠ t̪u:]. I don't know how to analyse this.
Free variation, maybe?
I don't know, I can't tell the difference. It might be alveolo-palatal.
The Wikipedia page on Irish phonology has a handy chart on which dialects have which nasals which might be worth checking out. It doesn't say anything about a palatalized /ŋ/, though.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Ciarán12 » 2013-05-22, 1:03

mōdgethanc wrote:
Ciarán12 wrote:Maybe. I don't usually pay all that much attention to phonetic transcriptions in learning material because, from the beginning, I've based my pronunciations on how I had already learned to pronounce it in school.
But you taught yourself how to write Irish in IPA, right? How did you do that?


I've taught myself IPA, and I transcribe in IPA how I pronounce it. Conventions used in discussions of Irish phonology I've picked up from linguoboy, and from generally reading about Irish dialects, but all of that was after I had already established my pronunciation of Irish. I don't use IPA for the purposes of learning Irish, so much as learning about it.

mōdgethanc wrote:
I... am confused. I just realised I do have [j], but I'm trying to work out what the rules for it's distribution are. Giúdach - [gʲu:d̺ˠəx], but lenited it's Ghiúdach - [ʝu:d̺ˠəx], but dhá - [ɣɒ:], but Cad a dhéanann tú? - [kˠɑd̺ˠ ə 'je:n̪ˠən̪ˠ t̪u:]. I don't know how to analyse this.
Free variation, maybe?


Would that not mean that I should be able to have [ju:d̺ˠəx] for <ghiúdach> and [kˠɑd̺ˠ ə 'ʝe:n̪ˠən̪ˠ t̪u:] for <Cad a dhéanann tú?> as well? Because I don't. I think it may be that I have [ʝ] for lenited /gʲ/ and [j] for lenited /dʲ/, but [ɣ] for both lenited /gˠ/ and lenited /dˠ/.

mōdgethanc wrote:
I don't know, I can't tell the difference. It might be alveolo-palatal.
The Wikipedia page on Irish phonology has a handy chart on which dialects have which nasals which might be worth checking out. It doesn't say anything about a palatalized /ŋ/, though.


Yeah, I saw that. I was thinking about this earlier, and I think I do say [ɲ] for /ŋʲ/ as well, but if I was trying to be clearer I might say [ŋʲ] as /nʲ/ for me is also [ɲ]. So, for example:

Me: Tá ár n-airgead i ngeall - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ɲɑʊ̯lˠ]
Somone else: Tá ár n-airgead inneall? - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪɲɑʊ̯lˠ]?
Me: No you eejit, tá ár n-airgead i ngeall! [n̪oʊ̯ juw i:dʒəʃ̜̆, tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ŋʲɑʊ̯lˠ]!

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-22, 2:04

Ciarán12 wrote:I've taught myself IPA, and I transcribe in IPA how I pronounce it. Conventions used in discussions of Irish phonology I've picked up from linguoboy, and from generally reading about Irish dialects, but all of that was after I had already established my pronunciation of Irish. I don't use IPA for the purposes of learning Irish, so much as learning about it.
Well, don't most books used that system that's based on Irish spelling with the prime symbol standing for palatalization? It's not hard to convert it to IPA, but there's no real need to do that.
Would that not mean that I should be able to have [ju:d̺ˠəx] for <ghiúdach> and [kˠɑd̺ˠ ə 'ʝe:n̪ˠən̪ˠ t̪u:] for <Cad a dhéanann tú?> as well? Because I don't. I think it may be that I have [ʝ] for lenited /gʲ/ and [j] for lenited /dʲ/, but [ɣ] for both lenited /gˠ/ and lenited /dˠ/.
Maybe that's it. But they don't contrast anywhere, so it seems they're both allophones of a single phoneme we can write /j/.
Yeah, I saw that. I was thinking about this earlier, and I think I do say [ɲ] for /ŋʲ/ as well, but if I was trying to be clearer I might say [ŋʲ] as /nʲ/ for me is also [ɲ]. So, for example:
That jibes with what I've read about Irish. As for the mystery of the slender /r/, maybe linguoboy can tell us more about that.
Me: Tá ár n-airgead i ngeall - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ɲɑʊ̯lˠ]
Somone else: Tá ár n-airgead inneall? - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪɲɑʊ̯lˠ]?
Me: No you eejit, tá ár n-airgead i ngeall! [n̪oʊ̯ juw i:dʒəʃ̜̆, tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ŋʲɑʊ̯lˠ]!
Oh yeah, I just remembered why I'm never learning Irish.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Ciarán12 » 2013-05-22, 2:28

mōdgethanc wrote:Well, don't most books used that system that's based on Irish spelling with the prime symbol standing for palatalization? It's not hard to convert it to IPA, but there's no real need to do that.


Most do, yes. But I've also read material that was intended for those not acutely aware of Irish phonemic norms of transcription, including most of the discussion on UL.

mōdgethanc wrote:
Would that not mean that I should be able to have [ju:d̺ˠəx] for <ghiúdach> and [kˠɑd̺ˠ ə 'ʝe:n̪ˠən̪ˠ t̪u:] for <Cad a dhéanann tú?> as well? Because I don't. I think it may be that I have [ʝ] for lenited /gʲ/ and [j] for lenited /dʲ/, but [ɣ] for both lenited /gˠ/ and lenited /dˠ/.
Maybe that's it. But they don't contrast anywhere, so it seems they're both allophones of a single phoneme we can write /j/.


That seems to work.

mōdgethanc wrote:
Me: Tá ár n-airgead i ngeall - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ɲɑʊ̯lˠ]
Somone else: Tá ár n-airgead inneall? - [tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪɲɑʊ̯lˠ]?
Me: No you eejit, tá ár n-airgead i ngeall! [n̪oʊ̯ juw i:dʒəʃ̜̆, tˠɒ: ɒ:ɾˠ n̪ˠæʐəgʲəd̪ˠ ɪ ŋʲɑʊ̯lˠ]!
Oh yeah, I just remembered why I'm never learning Irish.


Was it the spelling or the IPA that scared you off?

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-22, 3:31

Was it the spelling or the IPA that scared you off?
The relationship between the two. The consonants aren't that bad (once you get past such wacky ideas as <th> being /h/ and so on) but the vowels befuddle me. How am I to tell when a vowel is, in fact, a vowel and when it shows whether a consonant is slender or broad?

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Ciarán12 » 2013-05-22, 3:47

mōdgethanc wrote:
Was it the spelling or the IPA that scared you off?
The relationship between the two. The consonants aren't that bad (once you get past such wacky ideas as <th> being /h/ and so on) but the vowels befuddle me. How am I to tell when a vowel is, in fact, a vowel and when it shows whether a consonant is slender or broad?


With great difficulty. When I started, I already had a knowledge of enough words and how they were spelt to just be able to work it all out on intuition/analogy with words I already knew. I think you need to learn off certain (orthographic) vowel combinations and learn which ones are actually pronounced in each case, e.g."<ai> at the start of a word is [æ] (with the next consonant being slender), <ea> is pronounced [æ] (with the consonant before it being slender)" etc. Also, if there's a vowel with an accent in a vowel cluster, then the other vowels around it are probably just for broad/slender distinction.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-22, 4:04

It's likely not any worse than French, but still, I can't be arsed to learn it all. There are also silent letters that seem more or less random to me.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 12:53

mōdgethanc wrote:How am I to tell when a vowel is, in fact, a vowel and when it shows whether a consonant is slender or broad?

I don't really think the difficulty is that great. With the long vowels, it's not even an issue: the part without a sineadh fada is the glide. With the short vowels, there are some pretty simple underlying principles. A, for instance, never indicates a glide so in ea, ia, ai, etc. it must be either the main vowel or part of a diphthong. (The only exceptions are the digraphs ao and ae, which belong with the long vowels anyway.)

The only truly troublesome combination, IME, is oi. Generally it's a front vowel (i.e. /e/ or /i/) and the cases where it's /o/ simply have to be memorised because they aren't consistent from dialect to dialect.

mōdgethanc wrote:There are also silent letters that seem more or less random to me.

Such as?
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-22, 19:23

linguoboy wrote:I don't really think the difficulty is that great. With the long vowels, it's not even an issue: the part without a sineadh fada is the glide. With the short vowels, there are some pretty simple underlying principles. A, for instance, never indicates a glide so in ea, ia, ai, etc. it must be either the main vowel or part of a diphthong. (The only exceptions are the digraphs ao and ae, which belong with the long vowels anyway.)

How about this shit? Is that simple too?
The only truly troublesome combination, IME, is oi. Generally it's a front vowel (i.e. /e/ or /i/) and the cases where it's /o/ simply have to be memorised because they aren't consistent from dialect to dialect.
Speaking of which, when do i, u represent /i, u/ and when are they /e, o/? Is there any rule at all?
Such as?
When do dh, gh and bh, mh represent consonants and when are they part of diphthongs? (Or completely silent?) When is th /h/ and when is it silent?

In Irish orthography, it stands for the phonemes /w/ and /vʲ/, for example mo bhád /mə waːd̪ˠ/ ('my boat'), bheadh /vʲɛx/ ('would be').
Oh, so now it can be /x/ too? Great.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 20:19

mōdgethanc wrote:How about this shit? Is that simple too?

I would say it is.

Let's take eadhai. In the reformed orthography, medial adha represents /ai/. (In pre-reform orthography, dh between two broad vowels could also be silent, but in those cases it was dropped from the current spelling.) The preceding e and the following i serve only to indicate the slender quality of the preceding and following consonants, respectively.

mōdgethanc wrote:Speaking of which, when do i, u represent /i, u/ and when are they /e, o/? Is there any rule at all?

Of course there are rules, but they're dialect-dependent. (It's for this reason, as I've explained several times before, that the orthography remains somewhat conservative.) This is why serious learners always settle on a particular dialect before learning rules of pronunciation.

mōdgethanc wrote:When do dh, gh and bh, mh represent consonants and when are they part of diphthongs? (Or completely silent?) When is th /h/ and when is it silent?

Th is only silent in certain dialects, notably Cois Fhairrge. In Munster, it's always /h/ even in coda position with two exceptions (a) the prefix leath-/leith- "half" (e.g. leathbhróg "a single shoe") and (b) the verbal adjective suffix -tha/-the after voiceless stems[*] (e.g. ceaptha /'capˠə/ "intended").

Dh, gh, bh, and mh are rarely completely silent; as mentioned above, those cases were largely eliminated with the spelling reform. The main exception that comes to mind is broad final -dh, as in Aodh or in the common verb-noun ending -adh. (Slender final -dh in most dialects is dropped or coalesces with the vowel to produce /iː/; in Munster, however, its pronunciation is identical to slender g.)

Morpheme-initially (i.e. even in the second element of compounds such as rodheacair "too difficult") they all represent fricatives. Intervocalically or preceded by a vowel and followed by a consonant, they generally indicate diphthongs. It's in coda position that things get tricky and here--as mentioned already--the realisations are very dialect-dependent.

mōdgethanc wrote:
In Irish orthography, it stands for the phonemes /w/ and /vʲ/, for example mo bhád /mə waːd̪ˠ/ ('my boat'), bheadh /vʲɛx/ ('would be').
Oh, so now it can be /x/ too? Great.

Only in the endings of certain verb forms. Again, this is a cover symbol. In Ulster dialect, for instance, final -adh is pronounced /u/.

[*] /hə/ causes devoicing of voiceless stems, e.g. scuabtha /ˈsˠkˠupə/ "swept". Sometimes, the principle of morphological transparency is violated and they are respelled phonemically, e.g. lofa "rotten" (pre-reform spelling lobhtha < lobh "rot").
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Lauren » 2013-05-22, 21:01

How about the silent fucking /f/ in some verb forms? :P
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 21:22

Lowena wrote:How about the silent fucking /f/ in some verb forms? :P

What about it? It's another pan-dialectal cover symbol. I can't speak to other dialects, but in Munster it's treated identical to /h/ with regards to dropping/devoicing/etc. except in the 2S and the impersonal form of the conditional where it's actually pronounced /f/.
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Lauren » 2013-05-22, 21:24

I was giving an example of silent letters.
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 21:26

Lowena wrote:I was giving an example of silent letters.

Most of the time, it isn't silent.
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 21:42

Look, it's easy to make too much of the exceptions here and miss the bigger picture here. Here's an actual text in Irish (the first paragraph of Séanna by Peadar Ua Laoghaire, in modern spelling) with the silent letters bolded in blue:

Bhí fear ann fadó agus is é ainm a bhí air ná Séanna. Gréasaí ba ea é. Bhí teach beag deas cluthar aige ag bun cnoic ar thaobh na fothana. Bhí cathaoir shúgáin aige a rinne sé féin dó féin. Ba ghnáth leis suí inti um thráthnóna nuair a bhíodh obair an lae críochnaithe, agus nuair a shuíodh sé inti bhíodh sé ar a shástacht.

Yeah, that's right: Zero. Every letter pronounced (with the exception of ordinary sandhi effects like aige ag contracting to /ˈegʲegʲ/). And I didn't need to cherry pick to find this either. I literally took the very first text to pop into my head, expecting to find maybe one or two silent letters.

So, really, enough of projecting your own shortcomings onto the Irish orthography.

ETA: And, to drive the point home, here's a list of pronunciations which aren't fully predictable from the spelling (in my dialect at any rate):

1. ann can be either /ˈaunˠ/ [regular] or /anˠ/, depending on the degree of emphasis.
2. beag is exceptionally pronounced /ˈbʲog/. (Literally, the only word in the language where ea can have this value.)
3. air and ar are pronounced as if spelled eir
4. ag is pronounced as if spelled eig, and this carries over into conjugated forms such as aige.
5. is pronounced with a short vowel.
6. The dh in bhíodh and shuíodh is pronounced /x/, in keeping with the exception involving verb endings noted above.

Is that really so many exceptions for a 65-word paragraph? More than half are in basic function words (mostly prepositions) that you memorise once and then run into again and again, and two others are covered by a basic morphophonemic rule. Beag is the only content word in the bunch whose pronunciation you actually have to learn by rote.
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Lauren » 2013-05-22, 21:52

linguoboy wrote:Yeah, that's right: Zero. Every letter pronounced (with the exception of ordinary sandhi effects like aige ag contracting to /ˈegʲegʲ/). And I didn't need to cherry pick to find this either. I literally took the very first text to pop into my head, expecting to find maybe one or two silent letters.

I don't know what you're smokin', cause I see quite a few.

Bhí fear ann fadó agus is é ainm a bhí air ná Séanna. Gréasaí ba ea* é. Bhí teach beag deas cluthar aige ag bun cnoic ar thaobh na fothana. Bhí cathaoir shúgáin aige a rinne sé féin dó féin. Ba ghnáth leis suí inti um thráthnóna nuair a bhíodh obair an lae críochnaithe, agus nuair a shuíodh sé inti bhíodh sé ar a shástacht.

*This digraph is unnecessary, since it's only one vowel.
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-22, 22:08

Lowena wrote:Bhí fear ann fadó agus is é ainm a bhí air ná Séanna. Gréasaí ba ea* é. Bhí teach beag deas cluthar aige ag bun cnoic ar thaobh na fothana. Bhí cathaoir shúgáin aige a rinne sé féin dó féin. Ba ghnáth leis suí inti um thráthnóna nuair a bhíodh obair an lae críochnaithe, agus nuair a shuíodh sé inti bhíodh sé ar a shástacht.

What dialect are you trying to represent here? I don't know of any variety of Irish which has a silent bh in thaobh, and I already explained that deletion of th is a nonstandard feature of certain Connemara varieties such as Cois Fhairrge. It's also news to me that any dialect has a silent dh in the 3S of the imperfect, but I'll see what Ó Siadhail has to say about that.

Lowena wrote:*This digraph is unnecessary, since it's only one vowel.

No, because when it's preceded by a consonant, that consonant is pronounced slender, not broad. (Or do you actually pronounce the sea meaning "yes" as *[ˈs̪ˠɑ]?)
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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-05-23, 0:56

So, really, enough of projecting your own shortcomings onto the Irish
orthography.
Are you talking to me? Because I'm not trying to complain about how hard Irish spelling is. It doesn't look much harder than say, French; I just find it very ugly and ungainly. The large differences between dialects are not attractive either.

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby Ciarán12 » 2013-05-23, 1:10

mōdgethanc wrote:
So, really, enough of projecting your own shortcomings onto the Irish
orthography.
Are you talking to me? Because I'm not trying to complain about how hard Irish spelling is. It doesn't look much harder than say, French; I just find it very ugly and ungainly. The large differences between dialects are not attractive either.


So you came to post in a thread about Irish pronunciation, soliciting the advice of people studying the language, so that you could tell us how ugly you think it is? Ehm, well, thanks for the imput I guess... :roll:

mōdgethanc wrote:The large differences between dialects are not attractive either.


That doesn't make any sense. Either it's that you don't find any of the dialects attractive (and surely having more, highly-varied dialects allows you a greater choice, so I don't see how that could be a con), or you find the dialectal diversity confusing and difficult to deal with (in which case you are complaining about how hard Irish spelling/phonology is).

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Re: Irish pronunciation

Postby linguoboy » 2013-05-23, 15:27

linguoboy wrote:What dialect are you trying to represent here? I don't know of any variety of Irish which has a silent bh in thaobh, and I already explained that deletion of th is a nonstandard feature of certain Connemara varieties such as Cois Fhairrge. It's also news to me that any dialect has a silent dh in the 3S of the imperfect, but I'll see what Ó Siadhail has to say about that.

According to Ó Siadhail, the 3S imperfect ending is never silent. It's either /x/ (Munster, Connacht) or /w/ (Ulster). He said that, in addition to Cois Fhairrge, th is also silent in the dialect of the Aran Islands. Everywhere else, however, it seems to be retained.

Still looking for a dialect where bh is silent in taobh. I know it's dropped after u in some Ulster dialects (e.g. [d̪ˠu] for dubh "black"), but the Ulster pronunciation of taobh would be [ˈt̪ˠiːw] (or, for older speakers, [ˈt̪ˠɯːw]).

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