Little by Little Beag air Bheag
There are many sounds in Gaelic that may be new to you, or sound different from how you might expect them to sound. This is not an extensive list of sounds but will give you a short introduction to the most commonly used Gaelic sounds.
- Different vowels
- Two vowels together
- A + consonants
- Consonants + h
- Other vowels + consonants
- Consonants with unexpected sounds
Please note that we may refer to a sound as being broad or slender. This means that it has broad, or slender vowels.
A broad vowel is one of the vowels a, o, u.
A slender vowel is either i or e.
Vowels in Gaelic may not sound as you would expect, and grave accents certainly affect the sounds! We’ll give you a quick taster of how vowels differ in Gaelic. Listen to the sounds, words and phrases below.
Two vowels together
Sometimes Gaelic throws two quite unexpected vowels together, they might not be common in your first language. Listen to the examples to get a feel for these new sounds.
‘A’ with consonants
The letter ‘A’ has a different effect on consonants in Gaelic than it does in other languages. In these examples you will hear these different effects.
Consonants followed by an ‘h’
The ‘h’ often follows consonants. These can be in words that exist in themselves like tha, or bha, or an h can be added to a word when it needs to be lenited. You will learn about lenition in the language units.
The effect of different vowels on consonants
You may have come across slender or broad vowels. I and e are slender vowels and a, o, and u are the broad vowels. Different vowels affect the consonants, these examples will show you how!
Consonants with unexpected sounds
Some consonants in Gaelic produce sounds that don’t exist in other languages. If you listen to the following examples, you’ll see what is meant! More importantly, you’ll know how to tackle them!