Irish: Taoiseach

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Jana337

Senior Member
čeština
Could anyone enlighten me on the pronunciation of this charming word?

Also, is it a title of the Irish head of government only or do you use it for other prime ministers as well?

Thanks,

Jana
 
  • Ljubodrag Gráthas

    Senior Member
    Serbia Serbian (native), English, Irish (Gaeilge)
    Hi, I will try to help you, I speak some Irish. It means prime minister of Ireland, of course. It's IPA pronunciation is /ti:s'@x/, where s' is "sh" In English "shush", and /x/ a sound harder than German Bach Between /t/ and /i:/ you should have a glide, like trying to say "you" in Russian, if I'm not mistaken. My mother tongue is Serbian, but I have been learning the language for some 7 years. Very difficult, dying out, the Irish are not worthy of such beauty. Sin é é. That's it.Unfortunately, most of the times people in Ireland would say Tishukh, or some other abomination.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would not trust any website's pronunciation of Irish unless it was hosted in Ireland - address ending with .ie

    I was looking for other Irish pronunciation, and the number of inaccurate variants was amazing.

    In this particular example, the ...ch at the end of An Taoiseach is definitely NOT pronounced as a solid consonant, but as Ljubodrag Gráthas suggests.
    If you can pronounce Loch Ness the way the Scots would pronounce it, you have the ch of Taoiseach:)

    For his/her solace, I should say that most people here would get this pronunciation right - taking into account the wide variation in accent and dialect within Ireland.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    panjandrum said:
    In this particular example, the ...ch at the end of An Taoiseach is definitely NOT pronounced as a solid consonant, but as Ljubodrag Gráthas suggests.
    If you can pronounce Loch Ness the way the Scots would pronounce it, you have the ch of Taoiseach:)
    So you can pronounce "Bach" (stream; a composer) in German. We have exactly the same sound. :D
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Whodunit said:
    So you can pronounce "Bach" (stream; a componist) in German. We have exactly the same sound. :D
    Yes - well, I think the answer is yes. Certainly we are completely at home with Scots Lochs, and our Loughs are almost the same.
    I am a little bit unsure, now, because of Ljubodrag Gráthas' comment that Taoiseach ends with a slightly harder "ch" than Bach ... pause for Taoiseach and Bach practice;) ... yes, he is absolutely right:D
    Oh how delightful. I hadn't realised, until now, that those of us who can pronounce these words have a range of "...ch" sounds.
    When I think more about it, I think Taoiseach is at the hardest end of this range, Loch and Bach come around the middle, our Lough is a little softer.

    :thumbsup: Thanks, Whodunit, you've made my day:)

    Ah - point about Loughs in Ireland. Clearly from the same root as Loch, in Scotland, these are definitely not pronounced in the same way as any English "..ough" word. I mean, what would be the point in making it that easy:D
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    panjandrum said:
    Yes - well, I think the answer is yes. Certainly we are completely at home with Scots Lochs, and our Loughs are almost the same.
    I am a little bit unsure, now, because of Ljubodrag Gráthas' comment that Taoiseach ends with a slightly harder "ch" than Bach ... pause for Taoiseach and Bach practice;) ... yes, he is absolutely right:D
    Oh how delightful. I hadn't realised, until now, that those of us who can pronounce these words have a range of "...ch" sounds.
    When I think more about it, I think Taoiseach is at the hardest end of this range, Loch and Bach come around the middle, our Lough is a little softer.

    :thumbsup: Thanks, Whodunit, you've made my day:)

    Ah - point about Loughs in Ireland. Clearly from the same root as Loch, in Scotland, these are definitely not pronounced in the same way as any English "..ough" word. I mean, what would be the point in making it that easy:D
    So I think everything's clear now, Panj. Again a language that still uses such a throat sound. :)
     

    Ljubodrag Gráthas

    Senior Member
    Serbia Serbian (native), English, Irish (Gaeilge)
    Whodunit said:
    So I think everything's clear now, Panj. Again a language that still uses such a throat sound. :)
    Not all of the spoken dialects that still exist in Irish, though :) I'm sure you have heard of the singer Enya, her dialect in the county of Donegal does not use this sound at all, they simply omit it. Very difficult to understand, that. Sometimes, even in standard Irish (which is a novelty, not older than some 60 years) you don't say this "ch" sound so harshly, I just wanted to say that you don't say it always so accented. The Welsh, as I gather, always do, that's the strongest ch I have ever heard. Sorry for this ranting, all the best
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Ljubodrag Gráthas said:
    [...] Enya, her dialect in the county of Donegal does not use this sound at all, they simply omit it. [...]
    That is surprising. I was sure that "ch" is pronounced quite definitely in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
     

    Ljubodrag Gráthas

    Senior Member
    Serbia Serbian (native), English, Irish (Gaeilge)
    panjandrum said:
    That is surprising. I was sure that "ch" is pronounced quite definitely in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
    Well, that could be as well, I guess you know that Irish for "but" (conjuction) is "ach", pronounced /ax/, but that dialect pronounces it /ak/! It's actually very different to other Irish dialects, some people even consider it to be a language (which, of course, it is not). When -ch is final, they omit it, so yes, they would say Taoiseach /ti:sh@/ or "teeshuh", if you will. But I don't speak that dialect very well, I'm more of a standrad blended with Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge, west of Galway. The language is dying out as a spoken language of Irish homes, but it will linger indefinitely as a sort of a official ceremonial language. The vast majority of the Irish are just paying it lip-service and hate it to the bone because they have to swat it in school, agus is fírinne bhrónach í sin.
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    As for the hardness of -ch, have you ever heard a Spanish "j", as in "reloj"?
    A Scottish loch is definitely softer, though more beautiful, I must admit, than a Spanish "reloj";).
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    ch in Irish, as in German, has two sounds.

    Broad ch = /x/, as in German Buch.
    Slender ch = /ç/ as in German ich.
     

    Bonjules

    Senior Member
    German
    To confuse things still more, Google offers 2 pronunciations, American and British.
    In the 'American' version I can hardly make out any consonant-like sound at all, it sounds
    more like an -uh ending to me.
    In the British version it sounds more like a hard, 'k'- like ending.
    Neither endings sound like 'loch' or the German 'Bach'.
    Besides, I hardly ever hear the word spoken but I read it reasonably frequently in British publications.
    Why would there be a documented 'American' version when most Americans don't even know what it is?
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Upstream, it was mentioned that us Welsh also have a 'hard ch sound'. Whereas it is often considered to be the voiceless velar fricative, transcribed by IPA as [x], most phonologists describe it as the voiceless uvular fricative, [ꭓ]. The latter is more fronted in the context of a close front vowel and more retracted in the context of a back vowel or labio-velar glide.

    Thus, Irish Taoiseach should hold no problems for Welsh speakers. Similarly, Scottish loch, the Spanish jota, German Bach (in Welsh 'bach' can mean 'a hook', 'a petting of a domestic animal', 'small') and the various similar sounds in Arabic. Taoiseach itself is etymological related to our 'tywysog' meaning 'he who leads/guides' and ultimately, 'prince' (cf Tywysog Cymru 'Prince of Wales)..
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Erm... not exactly.

    We had Princes of Wales prior to the loss of Independence in 1282-3, with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd being considered 'Ein Llyw Olaf' and was recognised as Prince of Wales (Princeps Walliae) by the Treaty of Montgomery, 1267 by the English Crown. On his assassination in 1282, his brother, Dafydd ap Llywelyn took on the title, only to be executed (hung, drawn and quartered) for treason by Edward I in 1283.

    It was Edward I who then took upon himself to call his son, Edward of Caernarfon (later Edward II of England) to become the 'Prince of Wales'. Off and on since then, the heir to the English (and subsequently, British) throne receives the title. But he must be so appointed by the Sovereign (his parent). It is NOT automatic.

    You can also bear in mind that Owain Glyndŵr (Glendower in 'English'), styled himself Prince of Wales (in Welsh, French and Latin, of course) at the start of his insurrection against the English Crown, 1400-1415.
     
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    Bonjules

    Senior Member
    German
    That is of course all true, W.S.; I was merely ( and attempting humorously) trying to allude to
    the fact the English/British ( ever since the Edwards as you correctly point out) have used the title in their version
    to assert their supremacy and domination over the Welsh lands...

    But anyway, what would your take be on how an Irishmans/Scot/English/Welch pronunciation of our word might differ?
     
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    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Fair enough - but then there are those far less enlightened than you who are not aware of the facts as so presented. Many is the time you'll see a quiz question 'Who was the First Prince of Wales?' being used without anyone (barring a stroppy Taff) appreciating the ambiguity.

    I'm sure you also know, as a German that ich dien does NOT equate to 'eich dyn', nor is the origin of this motto an appropriation of a Germanic nobleman's - but that of a Luxembourgish Count, by Edward the Black Prince, if memory serves me right. (Frenchpeople have always told me that they are in fact the leaves of the leek. Quels idiots !)

    Further, as this is mainly a language and linguistics forum, I tend to leave the history and politics outside the door, but I welcome any further discussion of 'Welsh matters' in Cymraeg, English or français (meine Deutsch ist scheisser ... ;)) in other places.
     

    Bonjules

    Senior Member
    German
    Fair enough......

    Further, as this is mainly a language and linguistics forum, I tend to leave the history and politics outside the door, but I welcome any further discussion of 'Welsh matters' in Cymraeg, English or français (meine Deutsch ist scheisser ... ;)) in other places.
    I agree - although thanks for making me aware of John of Luxembourg, also an interesting character. I never did investigate the 'badge' of the 'Prince of Wales'!

    Sorry for having edited in an addendum before I saw your last post. Wonder if you were still willing to comment.
    Also, do you think there might be a difference in how NI Catholics vs Protestants pronounce it?
     
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    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    It is not my place, nor am I qualified, to speak for those in the North of Ireland, of any religion or none.

    I don't want to disturb this thread but I wonder if you know of the 'ich dien/eich dyn' story, for story it is - not history ... Although, this is a language forum, I'm happy for you to take this elsewhere.

    Edit: Saw your latest regarding the different nations' pronunciations of the Irish word. I think it often depends if the person you're asking has any Celtic language behind how they speak., Obviously, Irish speakers should get Taoseiach correctly, as would (probably) a Scot Gael. Us Brythonics would have more difficulty, (Welsh, please - not Welch - if you must use English), but once we knew it was = to <ch> (or Breton <c'h>) then again it wouldn't be too difficult. Pity the poor Englishman who has nothing like it as a phoneme in his language! :)
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Obviously, Irish speakers should get Taoseiach correctly
    I am learning Irish, and it surprises me how many Irish-born, Irish-bred people with very considerable (but far from native-speaker) knowledge of Irish pronounce words ending -ach like -ac, including when speaking in Irish.
    It could perhaps be my hearing, or regional differences; but I fear it is English influence on their pronunciation.
    I have not noticed the same phenomenon from people who know Welsh as a second language: as far as I can tell, all Welsh people make a pretty decent stab at Welsh consonants, and regularly use them in place-names (for example) when speaking English.
     
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    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I am learning Irish, and it surprises me how many Irish-born, Irish-bred people with very considerable (but far from native-speaker) knowledge of Irish pronounce words ending -ach like -ac, including when speaking in Irish.
    Sadly, for 99% percent of Irish-born, Irish-bred people, Irish is now a foreign language, although I suppose they would never call it that.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I listen to a couple of podcasts made in Ireland and presented by Irish people (including one that is about language used in Ireland, whether that be English or Irish) and I'm sure I hear the presenters/contributors often pronounce Taoiseach with a hard /k/ sound at the end of the word when they are speaking in English.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There are a couple of presenters on Classic FM who pronounce Bach as Back. I suppose that this relates to Classic FM’s misson is to reach out to a wide demographic, including to less educated and less travelled people (but I still find it annoying). Classic FM (UK) - Wikipedia
    I haven’t noticed the same on Lyric FM, which is an English-language rough equivalent from Ireland! Nevertheless, I wonder if the “Tea-shock” pronunciation is sometimes an attempt to embrace urban listeners.
    Sadly, for 99% percent of Irish-born, Irish-bred people, Irish is now a foreign language
    It depends what you mean by “foreign”, I suppose. All over Ireland a considerably larger minority of primary schoolchildren than this now attend schools where English is the foreign language. Gaelscoil - Wikipedia Admittedly this is partly a result of kind of bribery - Irish language schools get better exam results, and attract posher kids, and arguably get better government support. The presence of those children in their own homes will inevitably make the language feel less “foreign” there.
     
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    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    It’s an incorrect use of the word foreign. Yes most Irish people are English speakers, ie. English mother tongue. However, that doesn’t make Irish a fremd sprache to them either. Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (NI)
    The mini-revival going on in Gaelscoileanna both sides of the « border » is very real. An Foras Pátrúnachta
    My mother spoke very good Irish, so I have heard a fair amount of Irish spoken during family gatherings. For bilingual (or multilingual) people it is called their second language, and is not considered foreign to them.
     
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