Irish dialects

mtmjr

Senior Member
English (US)
Hi,

I'm just beginning to learn Irish and I have an app on my iPad called uTalk Irish. It's great because for every word/phrase it lists, there's recordings of native speakers. However, it seems that the two native speakers (one female, one male) have two very different accents. I just don't know which one I should be focusing on since I'm finding that I'm pronouncing some words with one accent, others in another. I imagine this might sound odd to other speakers? Anyway, I've listed some examples below and how the male voice (M) and female voice (F) pronounces each (my IPA attempt as well as sounds). I'd like to know which one is more common, or closer to "standard" Irish. Thanks!

liathróid
M: [liərɔɪd] lee-uh-royd
F: [liəro:d] lee-uh-rode

siosúr
M: [ʃosɔr] show-soar
F: [sɪsur] sih-soor

clúdach litreach
M: [kludəç lɪtrəç] clue-dech li-trech (with "ch" representing a velar fricative)
F: [kludək lɪtrək] clue-duck li-truck

tuáille
M: [tuɑɪlə] too-eye-leh
F: [tuɔlə] too-awe-leh

Sorry for all the examples, I just wanted to be as clear as I could. To be honest, I just used [r], but I have no idea which /r/ I'm supposed to use since sometimes it sounds retroflex, sometimes a flap. Thanks in advance for the help!

-mtmjr
 
  • L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hi mtmjr,
    Can't help you with the pronunciation, sorry. But in answer to (part of) your question, there is no such thing as "standard" Irish.
    While in France, Paris became the dominant power, supressing (or at least trying to) all other regional dialects and in England the dialect of the Home counties is dominant for reasons of power & social status.
    In Ireland no one dialect is dominant, since our aristocracy were annihilated (or dispersed) around 1601 ; with them went "classical" Irish. Spoken Irish exists in 3 dialects today, Munster Irish, Connacht dialect & Ulster dialect (the closest to Scottish Gaelic). Perhaps this might explain the differences in pronunciation.
    Best of luck,
     

    mtmjr

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    Hi L'irlandais and thanks for the response. I'm just curious then, is "An Caighdeán Oifigiúil" only a written standard? I thought there would be an associated "standard" pronunciation standard as well. Thanks again.
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    I'm just curious then, is "An Caighdeán Oifigiúil" only a written standard? :tick: I thought there would be an associated "standard" pronunciation standard as well. :cross: Thanks again.
    Hi again,
    Yes it's an official written standard. Introduced for the likes of you and I who wish to learn Gaeilge as a second language. One of the reasons it was introduced was as a spelling reform (ie : simplifying Classical Irish spelling). So now we have one "accepted" standard spelling for the whole Island. Native speakers will each tend to pronounce the words in their own dialect, since for somebody fluent in the language An Caighdeán is very much over simplified. (Perhaps another forum member could confirm this brash statement.)
     

    AlJaahil

    Member
    Canadian English
    Not a Gaeilge-speaker as such but fairly fluent in Gàidhlig. I do notice particularly with Ulster people when I hear Gaeilge spoken that I often hear diphthongs in connected speech that would be normal in Gàidhlig but which aren't represented in the modernized spelling of Gaeilge. Made-up illustrative example: Tá Éireann ann, "there are Irish people there," where the bolded part sounds more like /əj/ than /i/. Dunno if that helps...
     

    elirlandes

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    Hi again,
    Yes it's an official written standard. Introduced for the likes of you and I who wish to learn Gaeilge as a second language. One of the reasons it was introduced was as a spelling reform (ie : simplifying Classical Irish spelling). So now we have one "accepted" standard spelling for the whole Island. Native speakers will each tend to pronounce the words in their own dialect, since for somebody fluent in the language An Caighdeán is very much over simplified. (Perhaps another forum member could confirm this brash statement.)
    An example for this would be the word for "hill". It is written cnoc.

    In most of the island it is pronounced "k-nuck", but in much of Ulster we pronounce it "kruck" even though there is no "r" in the standardised spelling.
     

    AlJaahil

    Member
    Canadian English
    Gàidhlig does the exact same thing, with the difference that the vowel after an n pronounced as r is always strongly nasalized. Cnoc is /krõxk/, for us (we pre-aspirate the final c, also).
     

    Banbha

    Senior Member
    Irish & English
    Dia dhuit mtmjr :)

    From looking at your samples I'm not quite sure where the male speaker may be from but the female definitely seems to have the standard Irish pronounciation and I would recommend you to stick with that as it would be clear to any speaker of Irish :) The Caighdeán Oifigiúil as has been mentioned was set up to standardise spelling but there is no single pronounciation. The Caighdeán however is particularly based on the Connacht dialect. There are less influeneces from the Munster or Ulster Dialects. In each dialect its just some pronounciation differences such as the cnoc/croc example. In Munster we tend to put stress on the ends of words while in Connacht and Ulster the stress usually falls on the first syllable. We also have a common way of conjugating verbs in Munster whereby e.g Dhún mé, D'ith mé, Cheannaigh mé become Dhúnas, D'itheas, Cheannaíos etc but aside from this and specific vocabularly its pretty much standard Irish. I would recommend you to go with the female speakers pronounciation especially at the start and you can always adapt a dialect you like in the future;). Most material available online would be Standard or Connacht dialects and this would be understandable to all Irish speakers. The dialects in Munster and Ulster due to the distance between them may be slightly harder to comprehend (for example I still find the Donegal accent difficult at times in Irish, but then this is also the case in English :p) We have a national television channel called TG4 available at tg4.tv (which is hopefully accessible in the US) and you could watch some programmes. Almost all are subtitled (except the news) and as the station is based in Galway most speakers are from this area and have Connacht Irish. In various soaps and dramas you may hear a few characters with standard (often Dublin), Munster or Ulster Irish to give you a feel of different accents

    Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat le do chuid staidéir ar an nGaeilge! :)
     
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    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    Pronouncing clúdach litreach as clúdac litreac is wrong in all dialects of Irish. In most parts of Ireland ch is /x/, and in some parts /h/ (Ulster?), but /k/ is just wrong.
     
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