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When does letter g have a "k" sound?

I've noticed a few words now that end in a g are pronounced as a "k" eg Gàidhlig and iasg. Is this because its at the end or is it always pronounced as a "k"?

January 12, 2020



Akerbeltz has a page in his Beagan Grammar for Scottish Gaelic Grammar called: Voiced vs Voiceless or Why does b sound like p but not really? Here (it talks about k versus g sounds as well as b versus p sounds):


Beagan Gramar has additional information under “Phonetics or "What sounds does Gaelic have?" and “Phonology or "How do these sounds interact?"” http://www.akerbeltz.org/index.php?title=Beagan_gr%C3%A0mair

Also, there are a series of detailed pages for each letter under the heading “Fuaimean na Gàidhlig” (the sounds of Gaelic) here:


If you follow the “Consonants” link on this page, there are links to lists of words with spelling, translations, IPA, and sound files for b, p, c, g, d, t along with the other consonants.



Ah yes the last one explains it well, thank you!


I'm not an expert but I have noticed that often some consonants are hard rather than soft. So g is sometimes more like k (iasg), b is more like p (Alba), d is more like t (cadal) (though not always at the beginning and end of words ( goirid, bean, drochaid)). As far as g is concerned you are probably right that it's because it's at the end. Having said that, think of eagal, which is also more like eakal. I know we are always told Gaidhlig pronunciation is quite regular, but I do sometimes wonder...


This is a very good guide that corresponds to how things generally sound to me (accent/dialect differences aside):


Yes, it’s quite regular when compared to row, bow, though/thought, etc.


Maybe it's only a hard G at the start of a word then? Yes now you mention it I've noticed it as a "k" sound in the middle too.... I'm sure there's a general rule but I don't know it lol


I guess what it comes down to is that there is not a regular pronunciation for each individual letter, but a regular pronunciation depending on where in the word it is and which other letters it is in combination with at the time. The trick (difficulty!) is to become fluent in all of the combinations. I find the audio aspect and reptitiveness of DL extremely useful for ramming all these combinations into my dim head. Rather than consonants I actually find the diphthongs - ea and eu in particular - the trickiest to get right without hearing them spoken (think of the difference between leat and leam for example). Never mind - it's all very rewarding!


It's the vowels in front of it that are doing it.

It's pretty much always pronounced as a K when at the end of a word and often in the middle of a word too.

I can't think of any instances of it doing that at the start of a word.

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