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Broad and slender consonant pronunciation

Hello all! I was just reading up on Irish orthography (the Wikipedia article on that topic helped a lot) and how you can tell when a consonant is broad or slender. I get the main message, namely that surrounded by a/o/u -> broad, surrounded by i/e -> slender. I also read up on what a broad and slender consonant is, and the main message was something about velarisation and palatisation, but I'm not a linguist and I don't really know how to actually do that. So here's the main point: how do you actually pronounce a consonant in the broad or slender way, and how do you differentiate between them? Is it possible to have something like a list of how each consonant is pronounced, both the slender and broad versions, or is such a thing available online? That'd really help, thanks.

August 28, 2014



If you are genuinely interested in learning this is a series of youtube lectures on IPA. You don't have to be a linguist to understand the difference between velarization and palatization any more. Two effects of jargon is that it makes it easier for specialists to talk to each other and it keeps laypeople out of the conversation. But now we have google.


There are three aspects just to do with the physics of sound how words are created these are voice place and manner. So Velarization and Palatization refer to place. Where you put an obstruction in this case your tongue tip in order to form a particular consonant. It's an eight minute you tube video. It's not that difficult to understand and it will resolve your curiosity. I think there are 3 more in the series. You will then be a master for all sound formation from all languages because it's to do with the physics of sound that a human voice can create and is not language specific.


This is just a very quick guide:


Wait... people pronounce ‘t’ on the roof of their mouth instead of the at the back of their teeth in English? O_o In which accents? Feels really unnatural for me! :P Did you mean the other way around or am I really in the minority pronouncing it the way I do?

That said, excellent post; very simple quick breakdown with effective examples. Absolutely perfect, IMO. :) When you say ‘just a very quick guide’, is there anything more to it that you omitted for simplicity's sake?

Many lingoty thanks :)


Go raibh míle maith agaibh as na Lingots. Thanks for all the Lingots, I haven't a clue where to spend them all, maybe some obscure shop in the Gaeltacht.

I can only really speak for English in Ireland, but if you watch Father Ted and if you remember the episode where Father Jack is judging a Wet T-Shirt competition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vlOhj4eTpA), he says "more water" and, to Irish people anyway, it sounds like "more waTHer", that Irish TH sound is what you're aiming for in Irish. It's like halfway between an English "T" and "TH".

I'm not very good at explaining these things, this might explain it a bit better; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Irish.

I'm not sure if I've left anything out, tá tuirse orm anois.


He said like "ch", not English "t"


Like a T in English but with your tongue at the back of your teeth instead of the roof of your mouth.

That's the line I'm referring to. :P

Same applies too for ‘ch’ though actually, heh.


My bad! I skipped that one.


Bless you a million fold, FearMhaighEo, thank you. For the love of god and all things holy, Duolingo, MAKE PHONICS/PRONUNCIATION A LESSON.


Go raibh maith agat. I'll post this on the main Irish discussion page later on so that it will be more visible.


If you're native tongue is English, then velarization is easy to teach.

Take the word "lip" and notice how your tongue is on the 'l'. Now say "full". Feel how your tongue goes up in the back (toward the velum)? That's velarization. You just have to apply that same tongue position for the other consonants. It will take a little practice to get used to.

As for palatalization, that's where the tongue is raised slightly to the hard palate (the roof of your mouth) instead. So a palatalized t sounds a little bit like 'ty'

I'm sure there are also plenty of vids on youtube demonstrating it as well.


Also, how would a letter be pronounced if it is in between a slender and a broad vowel? Would it depend on what vowel is before or after it or does slender trump broad? Please help me!

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