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Struggling with pronunciation of caol consonants at the end of words

Dia duit,

Struggling a bit here with caol consonants at the end of words. The pronunciation of some words isn't what I'd expect from the "caol na caol" rule.

I'm talking about words such as:

Léine, I'd expect the n to sound like "nj", because it's surrounded by e and i.

Gile, as far as I can hear there's no "lj" sound.

So, is this because the e at the end of the words is pronounced as "uh", making the consonant leathan? Or am I missing subtle hints in the pronunciation?


February 14, 2020



Slender single "n" is just like English, German or Dutch "normal" n. But there's slender "nn" in Irish, too, This is like Dutch nj or Spanish ñ (bainne /banjə/) The same is true for single slender "l". Just a normal Dutch l as in "Hilversum". Slender "ll" is like Dutch lj or Italian gl, Portuguese lh or European Standard Spanish ll (i.e. never weakened to simple y)


I learned Munster Irish, so the “léine” is as caol as you would wish. Similarily, the “l” in “gile.” You must remember that pronounciation varies from region to region and speaker to speaker.

Seo sean-fhocal as Corca Dhuine dhuit:

Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi go raibh bean i mBaile na Gall go raibh póca in a léine aici.


Thank you! This course uses the Connacht accent, right?


The Duolingo dictionary doesn't even know "gile", so I can't find a sentence with audio for it. The examples of "léine" that I found are pretty clearly slender (caol).

Note that the difference between broad and slender isn't necessarily a separate [j] sound. The more important difference is that slender l is what you would call a clear l in English, and broad is what you would call a dark l. The distinction is similar for other consonants (though English usually doesn't have both kinds, so the comparison works best for l).

A glide sound like a very short [j] or [w] may happen automatically (especially when pronouncing a slender consonant next to a broad vowel and vice versa), but it's not what defines the broad or slender quality of the consonant. The real difference is in the consonant itself.

This also means that you should concentrate on getting the consonant itself right and avoid to consciously pronounce a glide sound - if it happens it's fine, but it doesn't have to.

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