The other thing you notice when reading something in Gaelic is the letter h which seems to be just all over the place. This has to do with a grammar rule called lenition, which changes the first consonant of a word. Gaelic adds an h
behind the consonant to mark this change. While this looks a bit unusual at first, it really helps you to track down the words in a dictionary. Some examples:
Table 2. Lenition
Now; if lenited b
were written as v
, you would need to study the lenition rule in order to be able to "undo" the lenition and figure out where to look for the word in a dictionary. The way Gaelic orthography handles it, you simply get rid of the h
and there you are. So, while it might look a bit cumbersome at first glance, this sort of spelling rule actually does have its advantages.
You will find the letter h
not only at the beginning of words, but also at the middle and end. In this case, the h
also marks the pronunciation of the preceding consonant, which will be the same as if it would be lenited. This way, you sensibly won't have two spelling variants of the same sound, but it makes for a lot of h
's indeed. However, there is a slight complication (isn't there always): a lot of these consonants have been dropped over the centuries, so today many of them only mark the boundaries between syllables and aren't pronounced as such. So, you will have to watch out for that.