Pronounciation Guide

| Old Irish | Modern Irish | Scottish Gaelic | Manx | Welsh | Cornish | Breton |

Old Irish:

a, ai = gather
á, ái = law
áe, aí = aisle
e, ei, éo, éoi, = end
i = it
í, íu, íui = each
ía, íai = Ian
o, oi = odd
ó, ói = ode
óe, oí = oil
u, úi = pull
ú, úi = spoon
úa, úai = sewer

b (first letter) = beat
b (not the first letter) = clever or clover
c, cc (first letter) = cat --never soft like in cymbal
c (not the first letter) = dig
ch = German Bach or Scottish Loch
d (first letter) = dart
d (not the first letter) = father
dh = there
f = fine
g (first letter) = gift
g (not the first letter) = German magen
g= may also be pronounced gutterally like the Spanish rogó
h = never pronounced by itself (only with an adjecent consonant)
l, ll = leap, killer
m, mb, mm (first letter(s))= mother
m, mb, mm (not the first letter(s)) = clever
n, nd, nn = nice
p (first letter) = pal
p (not the first letter) = stubborn
r, rr = Italian sera
s, ss (before/after a, o, u) = song -- never like visible or measure
s, ss (before/after e, i)= shine
t (first letter) = tank
t (not the first letter) = pedal, sad
th = thistle

Modern Irish:

a = father
á = law
e = end
é = came
i = it
í = each
o = pull
ó = ode
u = pull
ú = spoon

b = beat
bh (before/after a, u) = walrus, sowing
bh (before/after e, i) = silver, believe
c (before/after consonants) = climate, disc
ch (beofre/after a, u) = German Bach or Scottish Loch
ch (before/after e, i) = hit
d, dh (before/after a, o) = like Spanish rogó
d, dh (before/after e, i) = like English y
f = fine
fh = (silent)
g = garland, girl
gh (before/after a, o) = like Spanish rogó
gh (before/after e, i) = like English y
l, ll = leap, killer
mh (before/after a, o) = walrus, sowing
mh (before/after e, i) = silver
p = pal
ph = flip
r, rr = ripe, sorrow
s, ss (before/after a, o) = song -- never like visible or measure
s, ss (before/after e, i)= shin, wish
t (before/after a, o) = thought, thunder
t (before/after e, i) = with a y-sound, like the British tune
th = hope

Scottish Gaelic:

a = bath
(British); cup
a (before/after m, n) = French vin
à = father; (before/after m, n) = French vin
ai = end
ài = father;
ao = French neuve
aoi = keen
e = end
è, èi = fare
é, éi = glade
ea = end
eà = yard
i = each, it, tight
io = it
o = pot, ode
ò = more
oi = ode
u, ù, ùi = spoon

b = beat
bh = velvet
c = cat
ch (beofre/after a, o, u) = German Bach or Scottish Loch
ch (before/after e, i) = German ich
-chd = d becomes k like in Scottish Loch Katrine
d = tank (softer t sound)
d (before/after e, i) = jest
dh = like ch, gh
f = fine
fh = usually silent or like h
g = garland, girl
gh = like ch, (before/after e, i) y, occasionally silent
l = as in English
l, ll (before/after e, i) = million
m = mother (and nasal)
mh = velvet (and nasal)
n = nice
n (before/after e, i) = pinion
n (after c, g, m, t) = like r
ng = angle
p = pal
ph = fine
r, rr = ripe (and slightly rolled)
s (before/after a, o, u) = song -- never like visible or measure
s (before/after e, i) = shin, wish
sh = hope
t = asperated th or chin
th (first letter) = hope
th (later) = silent or asperated


Manx pronounciation is virtually identical to English


a = pot or father
ae, ai, au = aisle
e = glade or end
ei, eu, ey = tie
ew = shew
i = keen or it
iw = yew
o = more or knot
oe, oi, ou = oil
u (North Wales) = French une
u (South Wales) = keen or it
w = spoon
or pull
y = keen
yw = yew

b = beat
c = cat -- never cymbal
ch = Scottish loch
d = dart
dd = this, weather
f = velvet
ff = fine
g = girl, go
h = hope (never silent)
l = leap
ll = antler (and aspirated)
m = mother
n = nice
ng = sing
p = pal
ph = fine
r = horrid (trilled)
s = song -- never like visible or measure
si = shin
t = tank
th = thin
w = window --also a vowel


Cornish is pronounced much like modern English
ā = father
au = law
aw = cow
ay = glade
ē = glade
eu, ew = yew
ey = eye
ō = law
ou = spoon
ū = spoon
ü = keen
y = keen
yu, yw = yew


a = father or bath
e = made or end
eu = German hören
i = keen or it
o = ode or cot
ou = spoon or pull
u = French mur or German fünf

b = beat
ch = shoe
c'h = Scottish loch
d = dart
f = fine
g = go, girl -- never gin
g (final) = sock
gn = onion
ihl = like Italian gli
j = measure
k = kale
l = leap
m = mother
n = nice
p = pal
r = horrid (trilled) or French r -- never like English r
s = song
t = tank
v = velvet
v (final) = w or silent
w (after i) = spiv
z = zone
zh = spelling device to unify spellings with z vs. h in different areas of Brittany

This information comes from James MacKillop's book, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Celtic mythology, as it is the most thourough book I've found to date.

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