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The Alphabet and Pronunciation

I don't know if this have been brought up before in other courses, but what would the chances be of adding a section dedicated to the Scottish Gaelic alphabet and how those letters are pronounced?

Hearing how the words are pronounced is brilliant, but personally I still feel like I'm not fully connecting because I don't have that foundation knowledge to build upon.

Could just be me, could be others feel the same. Either way I believe it would enhance a course, which I am already enjoying.

December 17, 2019



Here is a link to the first page of an online resource from akerbeltz about the sounds of Scottish Gaelic. At the bottom of the page are links to the sections such as vowels, consonants, etc. Explanations include recorded sound files as well (Fuaimean na Gàidhlig = Sounds of Gaelic):


Learngaelic.scot has a set of videos specifically about the pronunciation of letters and letter combinations. The page title is Gaelic Sounds:


Blas na Gàidhlig mentioned in an earlier post has associated online sound files. The book itself incorporates the use of IPA (international phonetic alphabet) so you can learn about how IPA spellings of Scottish Gaelic words can be used to sound out the IPA spellings in dictionaries.



Thank you for this link, I shall give this and the other you posted a look at. Understanding where the sounds come from and how they are put together is such a key thing for me. Hopefully this will help me lots :)


One more reference about pronunciation:

There is a paper on academia.edu by Claire Nance (University of Lancaster) and Roibeard O Maolalaigh (University of Glasgow) for the Journal of the International Phonetic Association in August 2019. It is called “Illustrations of the IPA: Scottish Gaelic”. It discusses how the IPA applies to Scottish Gaelic and shows how the IPA symbols apply to words in Scottish Gaelic.

At the end of the paper under Supplementary Material there is a link to sound files for the examples in the paper. When I checked today, the sounds files are still open to be downloaded in a zip file (18MB).
The paper is here:


The sound files are here:



I posted about this earlier and people posted some links. I think the course developers are focusing on trying to get the grammatical explanations for the existing lessons done. What I found was that, even when I read about how to read the sounds, it turned out to be much more complicated because there are a bunch of phonological rules which makes sounds pronounced differently in different contexts.


It could be added. I should point out though that the pronunciation of the Gaelic alphabet is now essentially academic. In my 27 years of life, with the majority of which being able to speak Gaelic for, I don't think I have ever heard anyone seriously use the Gaelic alphabet's pronunciation seriously other than as a point of interest. People just use the English pronunciation.

That being said it should be pointed out that Gaelic only uses an 18 letter alphabet.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U

The vowels all also have grave accent variations À, È, Ì, Ò, Ù and they also formerly used to use acute accents as well Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú

The pronunciation was based off trees. Here it is here.



I think the OP actually means phonetics, not alphabet. How the letters are actually pronounced in words, not their names. Spelling is a bit of a struggle when it's not clear how different phonemes are written. I can learn to write known words, but as of yet I have no ability to spell an unknown word by hearing it.


That is exactly what I meant. Thank you for clarifying that for me. I'm not the greatest at putting across what I mean :)


I don't know about on the Duolingo course, but I've seen others recommend the book "Blas na Gàidhlig - The Practical Guide to Gaelic Pronunciation" as the kinda best-of Gaelic pronunciation book. I've just ordered one, it's quite expensive, but the comments were extremely positive, and I think it's several hundred pages long. (Would strongly advice buying from the Gaelic Books Council, not Amazon, so that the money actually goes towards preserving the language.)

Otherwise there are a few links online I've found reasonably useful:

https://cuhwc.org.uk/page/unofficial-guide-pronouncing-gaelic https://quizlet.com/1954036/scottish-gaelic-simplified-phonetic-pronunciation-guide-flash-cards/


I wouldn't have thought to look on the Gaelic Books Council! I've looked at Amazon but the very books that are listed don't seem to fit with me, if that makes sense. I'll certainly look on the Councils pages when I'm ready to get into more books. Thanks for the links too, I appreciate all this help :)


Actually, there already is a section on Duolingo that is, I think, aimed at that. Or at least can be used for it. Where you get four words and have to pick the one that you can hear on the audio. It trains your brain to identify the sound and also the spelling if you pay attention to the writing as well as the pictures and audio. That’s what I use it for anyway. Initially it helped me recognise audio and once that was easier I focused more on identifying the spelling associated with different sounds. Then they can be applied to unfamiliar words. But see below for limitations.

Still thinking about this question a day later... if I’m understanding rightly what the OP would like I’m not sure that kind of what is heard to how it is written overview can truly be given in most languages. Japanese is an exception as their writing is based on sounds and 2 of their 3 alphabets directly translate a sound to a character. It means if a child hears a sound they can write it and vica (? So) versa. OP might enjoy Japanese! But most evolved languages have different spellings for the same sounds, especially English ;-) We might have bay, baigh, bey, beigh, and maybe more for the same sound. And I’ve already seen similar in Scottish Gaelic. The irregularities of most languages in speech to writing patterns make it unlikely to my mind that Duolingo would attempt lessons on it. I’m finding Japanese a very interesting alternative to that - the the characters and you know the sounds. No exceptions except markers that repeat a sound. Simplez!


Very interesting response, thank you.

To answer your question the expression is written "vice versa" pronounced as it is written but often humorously pronounced "vicky versa" as a joke. Hope that helps. :-)


Thanks that’s really helpful! In my family we pronounced the ‘e’ at the end of ‘vice‘ and as a child I heard that as an ‘a’ since we don’t pronounce the e’s at the end of words in English so I’ve always been confused about the spelling. Is that what you mean by pronounce as written? Or should I be pronouncing it as in “vice squad”? I’m hearing impaired and tend to pronounce things with the intonation of the person I learnt it from - great when I learn it from locals like on this course! Not so great when I accidentally learn a joke pronunciation :(


My pleasure. Yes, I do mean pronounce it vice as in vice squad, I suspect your family like mine finds it amusing to deliberately mispronounce words as a joke, hence them pronouncing the "e" at the end, although the phrase is actually latin so maybe they were just using the latin pronunciation rather than the English. I empathise with your hearing related pronunciation problems as I am partially deaf myself, so I know what it's like trying to work out how words sound if you haven't been given any real pointers .... as you say, joke pronuciations are a definite trap ... not easy to avoid but look at it this way, if you learnt it as a joke most people will assume you're joking too and if anyone says anything just laugh and say "only joking!" :-))

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