chapter  Chapter 2
13 Pages

Sounds and spellings

ByNancy Stenson

In terms of Irish pronunciation, the consonants are more challenging to a learner than the vowels, although it may not seem so at first. Vowel pronunciations are fairly straightforward, except that they can vary considerably from region to region, so that the same words may sound quite different when pronounced by speakers from different counties. A number of print and online sources offer pronunciation guidelines for many different dialects, and the present work will not seek to duplicate those. Rather, the focus of this chapter will be on interpretation of the Irish spelling system for learners, who generally find its relationship to pronunciation to be frustratingly opaque. This will require some discussion of the sounds of Irish, but it will be kept minimal. Further details are provided in a number of studies, including Ó Siadhail (1989), Ó Dochartaigh (1987), Ó Raghallaigh (2013), the various dialect studies listed in the references from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann (ITÉ) among others, as well as several online sources such as and www.focló