"A dó, a trí, a ceathair."

Translation:Two, three, four.

October 20, 2014



Knock on the door

October 20, 2014


Are there any strict spelling rules that determine the spelling of "ceathair"? Having forgotten the spelling, and only hearing the spoken sentence, I made a guess with "caithear". In retrospect, I assume there would be some difference in pronunciation if *caithear were a real word?

Part of my question is also the nagging sense that there is a system in place determining that you couldn't swap cea- for cia-, nor -air for -aer... But I haven't gotten the hang of the conventions and their effect on pronunciation.

August 23, 2015


‘ea’ in stressed syllables is pronounced /a/ (/e/ in some parts of Ulster) after a slender consonant and before a broad one. When the following consonant is slenderised it becomes ‘ei’ (pronounced /e/, or /i/ before ‘n’ and ‘m’), except in the word ‘fear’ which has the semi-irregular plural ‘fir’. Historically both ‘ea’ (written ‘e’ in Old Irish) and ‘ei’ would’ve been pronounced /e/ in all words where they appeared, but this changed as the language evolved. ‘ea’ is also the most common way to write the unstressed vowel /ə/ after a slender consonant and before a broad one. The same vowel /ə/ is alternatively written ‘a’ (broad—broad), ‘ai’ (broad—slender) or ‘i’ (slender—slender). Other spelling occur as well (in fact any unstressed short vowel is pronounced /ə/), but these are the most common. ‘ceathair’ is spelt the way it is because it has a slender ‘c’ and ‘r‘, but a broad ‘th’: /ˈk′ahər′/. Your proposal would have to be “ceithear” in order to comply with Irish spelling rules, but then you’d have a slender ‘th’ and a broad ‘r’ (/ˈk′ah′ər/), which would make it a totally different word (although as it happens “ceithear” isn’t actually an existing word).

‘ia’ (written ‘iai’ before slender consonants) on the other hand is a different sound entirely: a diphthong rather that a short vowel, transcribed as /ia/ (or in some guides /iə/). It’s sound is like ‘i’ in ‘hit’ followed by ‘a’ in ‘about’. It is quite similar to the vowel in words like ‘seer’, or perhaps ‘here’ or ‘fear’, when pronounced with a standard English accent (not with an Irish accent, mind you).

February 26, 2016


I think 'ia' is usually pronounce eeya whereas ea is pronounced a

September 20, 2015


So 'cia' would be pronounced keeya whereas 'cea' would be pronounced kya. But don't quote me on that.

September 20, 2015
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