Pronunciation of letter I/i

Ciamar a chanas mi.... / How do I say...
Níall Beag
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Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by Níall Beag » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:19 am

So I was helping someone with some Gaelic pronunciation, and I was dealing with a word with a short I/i* in it. Now I used to do that whole "ee" thing when I started learning, because that's what I was taught, until finally someone from Uist rolled her eyes and explained that that's something of a learner shibboleth.

Anyway, so this guy objected to my correction, on the grounds that he was taught by a native mainlander, and that the "ih" sound is an island thing. I'm pretty certain I know another guy (Mark Newman, whose been on BBC Alba talking about plants and gardens various times) who learnt from the same teacher (a guy from Glen Coe), and I don't think he does all the "ee" stuff.

I did say that all the Argyll native speakers I know (from Islay, Lismore and Tiree -- not mainlanders but I don't think that should be particularly relevant -- had the "ih" for short I/i.

This guy wasn't really that comfortable with Gaelic, but I thought it worth asking: does anyone know if there are any Scottish dialects that have an ee sound for it?

(* I/i written in both upper and lower case in case the letter's unclear on people's screens do to fonts...)



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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by akerbeltz » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:34 am

I'm lost ;) Is the problem an issue of length or quality and what words are we talking about here, specifically? Is the i stressed or unstressed?

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by Níall Beag » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:47 pm

Yeah, sorry, unclear. Just shows I'm pretty confused myself.

I'm talking about vowel quality. The three examples in the conversation were fios, a-nis and lios (in Lios Mór & Liosach). (There was also bhitheas/bhios, but that's a slightly different issue.) I know Am Faclair Beag lists these three with /i/ rather than /ɪ/, but it's a very reduced sound in reality, isn't it?

But it's a hell of a deeper issue than I first thought, cos listening to the samples on your page, I'm hearing the almost-/ɪ/ in several places (fios, lios, bior) and I can't see what it is in the context that's causing the reduction (and sin isn't reduced at all, which is contrary to what I expected).

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by akerbeltz » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:44 pm

Ah I'm with you now. Yes, there is a tendency to reduce even stressed /i/ to /ɪ/, in particular in the absence of a slender consonant nearby. I did dither a bit over whether I should present the system as /i:/ ~ /ɪ/ as opposed to /i:/ ~ /i/ ~ /ɪ/ but I decided introducing such a skew would not be helpful.

So, sin vs fios my take is that the /ʃ/ is (keeping?) the vowel raised whereas in fios there is nothing to keep it from dropping.

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by poor_mouse » Sat Nov 09, 2013 10:46 am

Ach tha fuaimean an-seo eadar-dhealaichte ris an fheadhainn san Fhaclair Bheag airson fìor, sìos, sìoda, crìoch.
Eilidh -- Luchag Bhochd

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:27 am

Tha ìo a' dol eadar /i:/ agus /iə/ a-rèir na sgìre

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by poor_mouse » Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:52 pm

O-o-o! Tha mi a' tuigsinn.
Eilidh -- Luchag Bhochd

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Re: Pronunciation of letter I/i

Unread post by Àdhamh Ó Broin » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:14 am

Tha 'i' ann an tir mór Arra-Gháidheil air fad air fhuaimneachamh /ee/

fios /fis/
sin /ʃin/
mise /miʃə/

Tha mi am beachd nach ann mar sin a tha e an Éireann glé cheart, ach an Arra-Gháidheal air fad 's Sgìreachd Pheàirt cha chreib mi cuideachd, their sinne /ee/

Gu dearbh, tha mo nighean bitheanta feòraich rium "Gu dé a th' ann am 'fiss' agas 'misha', a bhobain?" :P
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