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    Further variation across the dialects

Perhaps the most important differences between the three main dialects of Irish are to be found on the sound level. In particular, the realisations of vowels in stressed syllables (i) before former sonorant geminates, now written as two identical letters, -ll, -nn, -rr, (ii) before final /-m/ or (iii) before the cluster -rd, vary greatly across the dialects. Words with these sounds have a high lexical incidence, there is one or more of them in virtually every sentence.

Sets of sounds correlate with one another. For instance, in southern Irish the vowel now written <ao> is pronounced /e:/ whereas in the west and north it is realised as /i:/. This means that /au/ for <-ann> goes with /e:/ for <ao> whereas /ɑ:/ (western) and /a/ (northern) for <-ann> both go with /i:/ for <ao>.

In addition vowel values vary according to whether the consonant(s) in the coda of the same syllable is/are palatal or non-palatal. Examples of the realisations found in the main dialects for these configurations are to be found below.

There are lexicalised exceptions to the pronunciation guidelines for the dialects. For example, it is true that the <ao> is normally /i:/ in western Irish, but it may also be /ai/ as in faoileán /failjɑ:n/ ‘seagull’.

For information on intonational differences between dialects, consult the module Intonation.

AIRDE ‘height’ BAOL ‘danger’
BINN ‘summit’ BORD ‘table’
CORR- ‘occasional’ MEALL ‘entice’
MOILL ‘delay’ POLL ‘hole’

TONN ‘wave’   :   TONNTA ‘waves’ PEANN ‘pen’   :   PINN ‘pens’
CRANN ‘tree’   :   CRAINN ‘trees’ AM ‘time’-NOM   :   AMA ‘time’-GEN
FIOS ‘knowledge’-NOM   :   FEASA ‘knowledge’-GEN MUIR ‘sea’-NOM   :   MARA ‘sea’-GEN
FUIL ‘blood’-NOM   :   FOLA ‘blood’-GEN TROID ‘fight’-NOM   :   TRODA ‘fight’-GEN
LEANBH ‘child’-NOM   :   LINBH ‘child’-GEN BLAS ‘taste’-NOM   :   BLAIS ‘taste’-GEN
BOLG ‘stomach’-NOM   :   BOILG ‘stomach’-GEN OLC ‘evil’-NOM   :   OILC ‘evil’-GEN
SIOC ‘frost’-NOM   :   SEACA ‘frost’-GEN MUC ‘pig’-NOM   :   MUICE ‘pig’-GEN
OBAIR ‘work’-NOM   :   OIBRE ‘work’-GEN RAMHAR ‘fat’   :   RAIMHRE ‘fatter’
TINN ‘sick’   :   TINNE ‘sicker’ SAIBHIR ‘rich’   :   SAIBHREAS ‘richness’
TARBH ‘bull’-NOM   :   TAIRBH ‘bull’-GEN GARBH ‘rough’-NOM   :   GAIRBHE ‘rougher’-GEN











The plural of peann ‘pen’ is peanna in Connemara (de Bhaldraithe 1953: 20) but in Kerry and Donegal the plural is pinn. This is reflected in the sound extracts accessible via the above map.


The plural of crann ‘tree’ is crinnte in Connemara and some of the speakers used this vernacular form during recordings.