Irish/Reference/Spelling and Pronunciation
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Writing and Speaking the Irish Language[edit | edit source]
Modern Irish can be intimidating to native English speakers because its spelling and pronunciation, while relatively regular compared to English, can be non-intuitive. This starts with the alphabet itself.
The Irish Alphabet[edit | edit source]
Modern Irish is written with the Latin alphabet, just as English is. The major differences between the Irish and English are:
- Irish generally uses only 18 letters, rather than 26
- Irish vowels come in two forms, one of which is indicated by a sínead fada or acute accent.
Two older writing systems exist: Ogham, an early system of writing using marks carved in wood, bone, or stone, and Gaelic type, a modified form of Latin script still used in Ireland on some signs and other decorative contexts.
Spelling[edit | edit source]
While the alphabet may be familiar, the spelling often is not. Irish spelling is confusing in part because it encodes grammatical information. Once you become accustomed to this, seeing a word starting with "bhfh-" will become a useful signpost rather than an intimidating challenge.
Pronunciation[edit | edit source]
As with any language, there are sounds in Irish that are not found in English; some subtle and some more obvious.
Dialects[edit | edit source]
In Irish, an additional consideration is that three major and many minor dialects of the language exist, which differ in some cases in pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar.