Tavish Lanergh (femblagh) wrote in gaelg,
Tavish Lanergh
femblagh
gaelg

She obbyr laa toshiaghey, obbyr vea cur jerrey er

Time to start learning some Manx and spread the sexiness of the world's greatest language all over LJ!

I'll post a phonemic transcription of the Manx words using X-Sampa. The exact sounds, of course, vary from speaker to speaker, but this should enable everyone to pronounce the Manx intelligibly and accebtably.

Manx spelling, as you probably know, is based on that of 17th century English. It is, essentially, the result of attempting to write down Gaelic sounds using English orthographic conventions. So Manx spelling suffers from all the quirks and irregularities of English spelling, and then some. Which makes it look wonderful, but also makes learning the language somewhat tricky. There are perhaps not so much rules as tendencies. That said, here are a few basic guidelines:


  • The single vowels, and ee, oo, are pronounced more or less as in English. Manx also follows the English convention of using a silent e at the end of words to modify the sound of the preceding vowel, for example a_e usually represents [e:] and o_e usually represents [o:]. These long vowels should not be diphthongised into [ei] and [ou], although many Manx speakers do this due to English influence. But try to keep your vowels clean! :-)

  • Double aa represents a long [E:]; many speakers now pronounce this [e:]. This sound is usually the Manx development of an older Gaelic long á or ó.

  • The digraph ey at the end of a word represents [@], i.e. the unstressed vowel which would be written a or e in traditional Gaelic orthography. Remember that e alone at the end of a word is usually silent in Manx.

  • The letter y generally sounds like [I] when stressed, and [@] when unstressed.

  • The sound [x] (i.e. Gaelic ch) is written ch at the beginning of a word, and gh in the middle or at the end of a word. At the beginning of a word, gh represents [G] (the voiced equivalent).

  • The digraph ch can also represent [tS]. In the middle of a word there is often a t added: tch. This results in ambiguity in initial position, as ch at the beginning of a word can thus represent either [x] or [tS]. This is where knowing some Scottish or Irish Gaelic will help: it is pronounced [x] when it represents the lenition of Gaelic c, and it is pronounced [tS] when it represents Gaelic slender t.

  • Double ll and nn can represent either [l] and [n] (i.e. broad), or [lj] and [nj] (i.e. slender). Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting this and it is necessary to learn the pronunciation of the individual word.

  • When n and m occur at the end of a word following a stressed vowel, they may be preoccluded, that is, preceded by a short “d” or “b” sound, respectively. So, for example, lane ("full") is pronounced [lEdn], which sounds somewhere between the English words “lane” and “leaden”.

  • The digraphs th and dh are pronounced identically to t and d. The digraph lh is used to represent [lj], but sometimes it also represents [l]; again, here it is necessary to just learn the word.

  • When occurring in the middle of a word, dd, ss and tt are often softened to [D], that is the sound of voiced th in English “those”.

  • The letter r is often dropped after vowels by many speakers today, due to English influence. However, it's better to pronounce it if you can.


  • That should hopefully be enough to get you started!
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  • 5 comments
You rock. Feumaidh mi teaicheadh an-dràsta (tha Fergie MacDonald a' cluich a seo a-nochd), ach tha mi a' dol a thighinn air ais, is leughaidh mi a h-uile rud a tha thu air dèanamh an uairsin ... is an ath phost a nì mi, nì mi sa Ghaelg e!
Oo! oo! Fhuair mi an tìotall agad! Gun chuideachadh is gun fhaclair! 'S e obair latha toiseachaidh, obair bheatha a' cur deireaidh air :) Cool!! (is cho fìor ri dad a leugh mi riamh ... sigh)
The digraph ch can also represent [tS]. In the middle of a word there is often a t added: tch.

Or a cedille? I've always seen the distinction clarified by spelling [x] as ch and [tS] as çh.
Arrgh -- I should have put something about that in. Using çh to distinguish initial /tS/ from /x/ was a deviced used in a couple of dictionaries, which some Manx users today have adopted in their writing, but it was never a part of traditional Manx spelling. I personally don't do it, but I think it's pretty much accepted if you choose to. Also, strictly speaking, it is only necessary in initial position, as different graphemes are used to represent the two sounds in medial and final position, but some people use the cedille everywhere that there's a ch pronounced [tS], e.g. paitçhyn.
Well, I guess that says something about the materials I've been exposed to in the language.

There aren't a lot of changes one can make to the orthography to make it clearer without ruining the feel of the language, and one thing I like about that çh-ch distinction is that it's just adding one accent, but it makes things plenty clearer.

You're doing a great job, by the way; I've half-heartedly approached studying the language before, but I didn't have the rudiments and couldn't find a site to teach them to me, but I've understood what you've written so far.