Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Ciamar a chanas mi.... / How do I say...
virtualvinodh
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Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by virtualvinodh » Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:44 am

Hi,

Tha teagamhan agam air fuaimneachadh a consanan anns an canan Gaidhlig.

I have some doubts on the pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic.

Tha an duilleige Uicipeid air fogharachdean Gaidhlig Albannach ag radh gu bheil chaneil Gaidhlig consanan /voiced/ idir ach /ʝ/ agus /ɣ/.

The wikipedia page on Scottish Gaelic phonology seems to say that Gaelic doesn't have voiced consonants except for /ʝ/ & /ɣ/.

Ach suidhichte air sampal fuaim agus fogharachd a mo thidsear, tha mi a'cluinntinn moran consanan /voiced/ - /g/, /j/, /b/ ,/d/ ann feadhainn facalan agus an fogharachdean /voiceless/ cuideachd ann cach.

But based on audio samples and pronunciation of my teacher, I do hear a lot of voiced consonants like /g/, /b/ ,/d/ in some words, and also their voiceless realization in others.

(I have tried tr*nsl*t*ng the above to Gaidhlig (with lots of errors I suppose) based on my lessons until now)

Is there any rule on deciding when a consonant should be voiced and when it should be voiceless ?
For instance, Bualadh seems to retain the voiced /b/ but alba becomes /alapa/. In the same way, agus has a /g/ when aige is realized as /aike/.

Also, /d/ and /t/ - are they dental consonants (when broad) ? (As an Inseannach, it sounds dental to my hears. We have dental consonants in most Indian languages). In some instances I hear in pronounced similar to an english 't' and 'd' e.g not. Again, is there any specific rule on this too ?

I would be very grateful for any clarifications.

Tapadh leibh !

V


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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:02 am

Glè inntinneach - very interesting.

Gabhaibh mo leisgeul, ach cha bhi mi a' sgrìobhadh a h-uile nì an seo san dà chànan - I beg your pardon, but I'll not be writing everything here in the twa languages.

Yes - I can assure you that your Gaelic is appalling! But no matter - it will get better with practice. We (that is, those of us who don't have Gaelic as a first language) have all been there! And it's good to see you trying, however "bad" it may be.

On Indian, yes, I did once delve into a bit of Sanskrit and also once took an Urdu class (but the teacher was more interested in Arabic script than in conversational Urdu so I gave up), so I'm aware of the different Ns, Ds and Ts in most Indian languages. Not for your benefit - obviously - but for others who may be unaware, while most European languages have three main positions for stops and nasals, Indian languages usually have four. You hear all four in Europe - well, almost - with, e.g., most European languages having the "dental" versions of N, D and T while English (and Welsh) have something more similar to the Indian retroflex version. Not quite the same - more of a "compromise" between dental and retroflex - which is why the native speaker of an Indian language can sound somewhat comical to the ears of a native English speaker: they use their "retroflex" version of N, D and T for the English version.

Anyway, as for your question, yes, Gaelic, by and large, uses the dental versions. This, indeed, is one means by which a native Gaelic speaker can often tell even a highly proficient native English-speaking learner of Gaelic: failure to use the dental versions of T, N and D.

Dè eile? What else? - voiced and unvoiced:

Indeed, when you get B, D and G at the beginning of a word in Gaelic (with no following H to cause sèimheachaidh - the typical Gaelic sound change) they are VOICED. In the middle and at the end of words, they tend to be unvoiced, i.e. like P, T, K. You should also note what actually happens with P, T and C (the K sound): these are, indeed, P, T and C at the beginning of a word, but get a little aspirated if in the middle or at the end of a word. For instance, a word like "pìob" would be pronounced (very roughly - I'm not doing IPA here) "peep", while a word like "pàipear" would be "payhpair" - that is, before the second P sound you get a bit of an H.

As for "agus", it's rather a special case. Indeed, you will often hear it pronounced as if it were written "aghus". Indeed, in speech (and even in semi-official writing) it will often appear as "is" and may even be pronounced "s" if it follows something else, especially a vowel.

Back to your Gaelic, here are some suggestions and explanations:-
Tha teagamhan agam air fuaimneachadh a consanan anns an canan Gaidhlig.
suggest "Chan eil mi cinnteach air fuaimneachadh iomadach connrag sa Ghàidhlig." (I'm not sure about the pronunciation of various consonants in Gaelic.)
Tha an duilleige Uicipeid air fogharachdean Gaidhlig Albannach ag radh gu bheil chaneil Gaidhlig consanan /voiced/ idir ach /ʝ/ agus /ɣ/.
suggest "Nochdar gun abair an duilleag air Gàidhlig ann an Wikipedia nach eil connragan guthach aig a' Ghàidhlig ach /ʝ/ agus /ɣ/." (It seems that the page on Gaelic in Wikipedia says there aren't any voiced consonants in Gaelic except /ʝ/ and /ɣ/.)
Ach suidhichte air sampal fuaim agus fogharachd a mo thidsear, tha mi a'cluinntinn moran consanan /voiced/ - /g/, /j/, /b/ ,/d/ ann feadhainn facalan agus an fogharachdean /voiceless/ cuideachd ann cach.
[/quote]
suggest "Ach a rèir eisimpleirean fuaim agus fuaimneachadh an òide agam, cluinnidh mi mòran connraig ghuthaich a leithid /g/, /j/, /b/ ,/d/ an iomadach facail agus cuideachd an fheadhainn gun ghuth." (But according to sound samples and my tutor's pronunciation I hear many voiced consonants /g/, /j/, /b/ ,/d/ in various words and also the unvoiced ones.)

NB: "duilleige" is the genitive case form of "duilleag". If you want to say "that ... not ...", use "nach", not "gu" and/or "cha". In Gaelic, the genitive is done by position (and, where it happens, a genitive case). So, if you want to say "my teacher's pronunciation", you might say "fuaimneachadh mo thidseir" (lit. "pronunciation my teacher's"). Quite often in Gaelic, instead of saying "my ..." you say "the ... at me" - e.g. "my house" could be "mo thaigh" - or it could be "an taigh agam".

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:54 am

Indeed, when you get B, D and G at the beginning of a word in Gaelic (with no following H to cause sèimheachaidh - the typical Gaelic sound change) they are VOICED. In the middle and at the end of words, they tend to be unvoiced, i.e. like P, T, K. You should also note what actually happens with P, T and C (the K sound): these are, indeed, P, T and C at the beginning of a word, but get a little aspirated if in the middle or at the end of a word. For instance, a word like "pìob" would be pronounced (very roughly - I'm not doing IPA here) "peep", while a word like "pàipear" would be "payhpair" - that is, before the second P sound you get a bit of an H.
Categorically not. In general, you might want to check our the sounds section here.

- b d g are voiceless wherever they appear. the only occasion when voicing my appear is through nasalisation via a preceding -n or -m (e.g. in a sequence like am bàta this may come out as (using close IPA) as /əm bʱaːʰt̪ə/ or /ə maːʰt̪ə/). But in isolation and most other settings, bàta will never be */baːʰt̪ə/, always /paːʰt̪ə/. Your ears may simple be misleading. As for your tutor, I cannot say, but natives certainly do not have voicing in b d g. Plus your ears may be misleading you, if your native language has a different set of distinctions.

- pre-aspiration before p t c only appears in stressed syllables. Again, check out the website I linked.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by virtualvinodh » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:59 am

Seonaidh wrote:Glè inntinneach - very interesting.

Yes - I can assure you that your Gaelic is appalling! But no matter - it will get better with practice.
:roll:

I suppose :priob:. When you try to compose complex sentences, while you are still learning basic grammar, the result should be terrible !

This, indeed, is one means by which a native Gaelic speaker can often tell even a highly proficient native English-speaking learner of Gaelic: failure to use the dental versions of T, N and D.
Aah now I know.. why my teacher told that my Gaelic pronunciation is good (even while I struggled with the vowels) :)
Indeed, when you get B, D and G at the beginning of a word in Gaelic (with no following H to cause sèimheachaidh - the typical Gaelic sound change) they are VOICED. In the middle and at the end of words, they tend to be unvoiced, i.e. like P, T, K. You should also note what actually happens with P, T and C (the K sound): these are, indeed, P, T and C at the beginning of a word, but get a little aspirated if in the middle or at the end of a word. For instance, a word like "pìob" would be pronounced (very roughly - I'm not doing IPA here) "peep", while a word like "pàipear" would be "payhpair" - that is, before the second P sound you get a bit of an H.

As for "agus", it's rather a special case. Indeed, you will often hear it pronounced as if it were written "aghus". Indeed, in speech (and even in semi-official writing) it will often appear as "is" and may even be pronounced "s" if it follows something else, especially a vowel.
Thanks !
Back to your Gaelic, here are some suggestions and explanations:-.
Thanks again !

V
Last edited by virtualvinodh on Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by virtualvinodh » Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:07 am

akerbeltz wrote: Categorically not. In general, you might want to check our the sounds section here.

- b d g are voiceless wherever they appear. the only occasion when voicing my appear is through nasalisation via a preceding -n or -m (e.g. in a sequence like am bàta this may come out as (using close IPA) as /əm bʱaːʰt̪ə/ or /ə maːʰt̪ə/). But in isolation and most other settings, bàta will never be */baːʰt̪ə/, always /paːʰt̪ə/. Your ears may simple be misleading. As for your tutor, I cannot say, but natives certainly do not have voicing in b d g. Plus your ears may be misleading you, if your native language has a different set of distinctions.

- pre-aspiration before p t c only appears in stressed syllables. Again, check out the website I linked.
At present, I am pronouncing them as voiceless (and voiced when nasalised. I had noticed my teacher pronouncing /an toil/ as /an doil/ ).

I suppose I should continue with that.

Thank you !

V
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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:08 pm

You're welcome. I've moved the topic out of Bilingual and into the Pronunciation and Grammar section.

Please don't hesitate to continue asking!

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:26 am

I usually bow to Akerbeltz in these matters, but in this one he is wrong. Initial B, D and G are voiced in Gaelic. Not only that, but in some dialects of Gaelic (this is NOT the norm) an initial P, T or C can become B, D or G after a nasal (as, indeed, you noticed with "an toil": perhaps your teacher is an Uibhisteach - from Uist). With B, D and G, they can actually be assimilated to a preceding nasal (this is reasonably common in, e.g. "an-diugh": it's also one mark of a Lewis [Leòdhas] accent).

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:01 am

Sure, me, Borgström, Ladefoged, Ó Maolalaigh, O' Rahilly and every other phonetician who has ever worked on Gaelic. This is not a matter of opinion, you can measure voicing and it's not there in b d g in Gaelic whatever your ears may suggest.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:34 pm

Indeed you are - whatever they may have said. I was very surprised to see you getting it wrong, as you're usually spot on with such things.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:53 pm

If this is supposed to be a joke, I don't think it's helpful for learners on the forum.

If you're being serious, you're dead wrong and totally ignorant of all the scientific data on the topic and for some reason so convinced you're right that there's probably no point in arguing. So I'll leave it at that.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by virtualvinodh » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:43 am

akerbeltz wrote:You're welcome. I've moved the topic out of Bilingual and into the Pronunciation and Grammar section.

Please don't hesitate to continue asking!
Tapadh Leibh !

The samples are really amazing. I am also taking a print out of the pronunciation guide that you had referred in the other thread.

Thanks a lot for such an amazing resource.

<ranting>

I am mainly struggling on the vowels - [ɔ], [ɛ], [ɤ]. Fortunately, my native language has something similar to [ɯ] ! On the consonants side, the fricatives are a proving to be very tricky. I got the [broad ch] - voiceless velar fricative sound without digressing to [ck] . (Having lived in Alba for more than a year, that's probably the first thing I picked up :) ). The voiced velar fricative [broad gh/dh] is a bit tough, frequently I am lapsing to a voiced velar plosive [g] :-(. And there are these palatal fricatives !

</ranting> :|

If possible, can you guys expand a bit more on [tʲ]. I am pronouncing it as a [tʃ]. How do you actually realize a palatalised dental stop ? Until now, I had been thinking that palatalized consonants just had a faint [j] to it :roll: .

V
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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by iolair » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:27 pm

Madainn mhath Akerbeltz agus Seonaidh,

I appreciate that you have both posted here because the discussion has reminded me of I question I have had.
I thought the difference between "b" and "p" (and "g" and "k", and "d" and "t") was the voicing.
Is that true, or is there something else that distinguishes the pairs of sounds?
Are unvoiced b, g, and d sounds that happen in Gaelic, but not English?
I am not a linguist or phonologist, just someone trying to understand this difference so I can pronounce more accurately and hear the difference.

Mòran taing dhuibh!
Iolair

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by Níall Beag » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:08 pm

iolair wrote:Madainn mhath Akerbeltz agus Seonaidh,

I appreciate that you have both posted here because the discussion has reminded me of I question I have had.
I thought the difference between "b" and "p" (and "g" and "k", and "d" and "t") was the voicing.
Is that true, or is there something else that distinguishes the pairs of sounds?
Are unvoiced b, g, and d sounds that happen in Gaelic, but not English?
I am not a linguist or phonologist, just someone trying to understand this difference so I can pronounce more accurately and hear the difference.
In Gaelic, voicing is what is called a "non-phonemic distinction", that is that phoneme pairs are not distinguished by voicing, and voicing only arises due to contact between consonants. (Consider English single-S: /s/ in cats, because of the unvoiced T; /z/ in cads and bounders because of the voiced D and R. The exact mechanism is different in Gaelic, but the underlying principle is the same.

The distinction in Gaelic is in "aspiration" -- the adding of extra "breathiness".

BDG are unaspirated (no "puff" of air before or after)
PTC are aspirated with a puff of air. At the start of words, the puff is after the consonant (as happens in English), but anywhere else, it comes before it, and often rather than just a "hh" sound, you get a slight "ch" sound.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by akerbeltz » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:17 pm

What he said.

Practically speaking, if you're unsure, here's a useful correlation:

English and Gaelic p t c (hard only) are the same at the beginning of a word except that t is dental (tongue touches to base of your top incisors).

Gaelic b d g do occur as allophones (i.e. variants) in very specific environments in English: sp st sk (again with the caveat that Gaelic d is dental). So the p t k in sport, stink and skunk are the same as Gaelic baga, daga, guga (the dentalness of d aside). As Niall said, no puff of air and no voicing.

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Re: Pronunciation of Consonants in Gaelic

Unread post by Níall Beag » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:36 pm

virtualvinodh wrote:If possible, can you guys expand a bit more on [tʲ]. I am pronouncing it as a [tʃ]. How do you actually realize a palatalised dental stop ? Until now, I had been thinking that palatalized consonants just had a faint [j] to it :roll: .
I may be wrong (not a native speaker), but I tend to bunch up my tongue, moving the point of articulation back by engaging the blade of the tongue while keeping the tip forward. English CH (and unless I'm mistaken also Hindi C, but I'm afraid I don't know anything about Tamil or the Dravidian languages in general) involves contact of the tip of the tongue with the alveolar ridge -- avoid that tip contact as a first step.

The other thing is that I seem to recall (and again I might be wrong, I've not looked at Hindi in years*, and again, not a native Gaelic speaker) that Hindi dentals are a little bit further forward than Gaelic ones, as contact is pretty cleanly tip-of-the-tongue to tip-of-the-teeth, whereas Gaelic involves the back and base of the teeth. I can imagine that starting with a pure dental like in Hindi, it would be quite difficult to palatise (without an unusually long tongue anyway).

(* Also worth noting that when I was learning a bit of Hindi, I made a point of exaggerating the dental and the retroflex pronunciations cos I knew I'd get lazy in real use. This may mean I've still got the exaggerations in my head. )

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