"Cò sibhse, athair?"
Translation:Who are you, father?
Unfortunately I do not seem to be able to find this sentence here to listen to it but I can guess how it sounds from other sentences. You are suggesting that there is an r where there shouldn't be one, and no r where there should be. Across languages, r has a very wide range of pronunciations, so let's deal with the pronunciation of the ir and the th separately.
This causes endless confusion for people on this course. What you are hearing here is a less common, but perfectly valid pronunciation of the slender r. It is traditionally found only in Lewis, but has apparently spread. Because it does not match exactly with any English sound, people often report hearing it as a th, a d or an f. It is in fact somewhere in between. My advice would be
- You do not need to emulate it at all. You will be understood perfectly well if you use an ordinary r. You will naturally emulate if you are somewhere where the locals are pronouncing it this way.
- You do need to recognise it when you hear it as it can be quite confusing if you don't.
- It has the great advantage that you know the r is slender. In other dialects it is almost impossible to tell the difference between athair and athar (which you will meet later). Their meanings are very slightly different but it does not normally cause confusion. More usefully, it can help you to spell it, for example in 'type what you hear' questions. There are lots of words where it is not obvious if there is an r or an ir. But if you hear this sound, or an ordinary r in this dialect, then you do know.
This is usually considered to be an /h/ although it can of course vary a bit. But the range of what you might recognise as an r can vary enormously, depending on where you come from, sometimes straying towards an /h/. A good example is in Brazilian Portuguese. This link shows not only the huge range available for r, but also how it can stray towards /h/ with particular sounds including [h], [ɦ] [x] and [χ]. This can easily lead to an /h/-like sound being identified as an r.
My advice is to pronounce th as /h/ and get used to the variations you may hear. D