November 16, 2014



Why didn't they put all the sounds in? I think Irish is the kind of language which needs them the most.


I wish they did. Irish does have words that look funny but really easy to pronounce.


Irish seems fairly phonetic to me.


What do you mean?


Is it just me who gets less voice recordings than on the other languages? It's hard to guess the pronunciation based on Irish spelling.


Oh. The other languages have computer-generated audio. Irish has an actual human being. That's as close to an explanation as I've seen as to why there isn't audio for all of the lessons.

EDIT: This comment was made 4 years ago. Things are probably different now.


I see, that makes sense


Once you know the tricks then Irish is actually phonetic.


I'm guessing this is another Latin cognate (from ovum)?


It is a cognate to ovum, but it’s not a descendant of ovum.


That's right, ubh is a descendant of sicín right? Or is it the other way around?


scilling i follow you on Duolingo and read your wise comments


To my ears, it sounds like a cognate of the French œuf.


It is; œuf is a descendant of ovum.


I knew about the French. But since Irish is not a Romance language, I'm constantly surprised by the Irish words that actually are cognate (as opposed to more recent borrowings). So what struck me was how much ubh sounds like œuf, and the fact that it's not a coincidence. Since, as you said last month, ubh is cognate to ovum but not descended from it, that suggests to me that the parent word probably traces back to Proto-Indo-European.

(I've dabbled in a number of languages, but Irish is the first Indo-European language I've studied that isn't a Romance language. So I'm not really sure what to expect on the scale from similar to different.)


There are plenty of Celtic/Romance cognates, undoubtedly many through common Proto-Indo-European ancestors. Some don’t go back that far, though, e.g. both Irish eaglais and French église from Ancient Greek through Latin.


In other words, much older borrowings. :-)


And Eglwys in Welsh. Not to mention Pont for Bridge.


Given that Celts would've had interactions with the Romans during the latter's conquest of the British Isles, plus the later rise of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, it's not as usual as it may seem on the surface...


If you learnt galician-portuguese you'd be much more astonished about the similarity :)


There's nothing astonishing about any similarities between Galician and Portuguese. The two languages are closely related.


I didn't mean the similarity between galician and portuguese, which are only not the same language for political reasons; but the similarity between the way portuguese pronounce it, and how irish do. It's phonetically the same.


MOST of the words of Irish are cognates of words in other Indo-european languages. Being a cognate does not necessarily mean being a borrow word. Being cognates only means that two or more words have a common ancestor. "Egg" in English and "ovum" in Latin both descend from "owyo" in PIE (Proto-indo-european). It should be no surprise to see words that are similar in Irish, seeing that these languages are all descendants of PIE.


Isn't this "bh" a broad one? Is is it being pronounced as "v" (as if it were slender), when it should be pronounced as "w" (broad)?


While Irish spelling is fairly regular, from a phonetic point of view (and taking dialect differences into account), it's not rigid, and older, simple words are often the ones that differ most. ubh has a "v" sound in all regions, but dubh only has a "v" sound in Munster.

The key thing to remember is that written orthographies are only guidelines.


Looking for clarification on the dipthong 'bh'. I read it's pronounced as a /w/ in the broad sense but here it is pronounced as a /v/ despite being broad. Is it pronounced as a /v/ in some broad contexts sometimes?


In Connemara, generally, it depends on where in the word the sound is. At the end of the word, or before a consonant, it is sometimes pronounced as /v/. Unless, of course, the unlenited form would've needed an emphentic vowel, in which case it is /u:/. Such is the case in garbh, marbh, etc, where it would be said "garabh", but became "garú". As for dubh, it's more just the final sound is occasionally elided, but it doesn't elongate the vowel like it does in Ulster. So you get something that sounds like "du" instead of "dú", which is actually the /w/ following it in Ulster.

So, really, it depends on dialect and position in the word, as well as what vowels and such proceed it. It's not that what you learned was wrong, just that it doesn't tell the whole story.


‘bh’ is not a diphthong but a diagraph. Diphthongs are two vowel sounds pronounced together in one syllable. Diagraphs are two letters combined to represent a phoneme (sound).


When what you read conflicts with what you hear, assume that what you read is wrong. Written descriptions never describe all the exceptions fully, and can only be taken as approximate guidelines.

In this case, "ubh" has an "v" sound in all dialects, whereas "dubh" only has a "v" sound in Munster Irish, and a "w" sound in Ulster Irish, and is just "du", with neither a "w" or "v" sound, in Connacht Irish (at least some speakers of Connacht Irish - the speaker on Duolingo pronounces "dubh" with a "v" sound).

And while the Caighdeán has no formal standard pronunciation, most "non-dialect" speakers pronounce "dubh" with a "v" sound.


Peadar Ua Laoghaire notes that, at least traditionally, ubh is seldom used alone. Usually you specify the kind of egg, so ubh circe is probably what would be on your shopping list.


An tAthair Peadar'never set foot in a SuperValu, where you can choose between a dozen brown eggs in various sizes or a Cadbury Creme egg. I think we can safely discount his 100 year old advice on this particular issue.


Even today the vast majority of the time someone says eggs without further qualification what they're referring to is uibhe circe. Furthermore even if the variety of eggs available to consumers has vastly proliferated since his day I don't see how his point is undercut at all. He notes that in his day, native speakers tended to explicitly state which kind of egg was being discussed e.g. ubh circe or ubh lachan etc. to the point that it was unusal to here ubh alone. The only thing having Cadbury creme eggs around should have changed is now ubh uachtair is added to the lexicon.

I don't mean to suggest that there's anything wrong with what's here in this exercise. Egg is certainly the correct translation of ubh. I just felt like since one of the most important speakers of modern Irish explicitly commented on this word it would be worth mentioning his thoughts here.


The Irish doubtless had contact with Roman Britain. But the real influence of Latin and other Romance languages would have come through the church.


I did a bit of research, and "ubh" is not a borrowed word at all. It is cognate with the French "oeuf" because both words trace back to the same Proto-Indo-European word. The Celtic languages are every bit as European as the Romance and Germanic languages.



Shouldn't it be pronounced more like "uff:. Because I always hear "off"


It is "uv", which is the first syllable of the word "oven".

You can hear some other examples here: https://www.teanglann.ie/en/fuaim/ubh


Ok so this is pronouncing it like 'of' but this is a broad bh so shouldnt it sound more like 'ohw' with a w sound at the end?


Broad bh is "v" in Munster Irish. Ubh is pronounced with a "v" sound in all dialects of Irish. Ulster Irish speaker might prefer to spell it ibh, but ubh is the widely accepted spelling.

While the pronunciation of Irish generally is more faithfully reflected in the spelling than English pronunciation, never assume that an otherwise competent speaker is doing it wrong because their pronunciation doesn't match your interpretation of a written guide to pronunciation. Apart from the fact we have a fairly standardized spelling in spite of significant dialect variation, certain words, particularly the kind of words that children learn to say before they learn to read, can have distinct pronunciations that will not conform to spelling norms, because it's the spelling that is the problem, not the pronunciation.

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