How to speak Gaelic - Lesson 1: The Gaelic alphabet

We thought it would be a wasted opportunity if we didn't try and teach our readers a little bit of Gaelic (if you aren't fluent already) ahead of the release of the film.  Now, don't get worried, Seachd film has subtitles, but perhaps you'd like to pick out a few Gaelic phrases here are there?

So, let's start with the Gaelic alphabet which has only 18 letters.  Of course, there are many more sounds than letters, and you need to combine letters to get all the sounds you need to speak like a proper Gael.

For example, the vowels a, e, i, o, u are pronounced "short" when written normally, but add a grave accent and à è ì ò ù are pronounced "long".  More than that, vowels are divided into two classes.  e and i are caol ("slender") and a, o, u are leathann ("broad"). So that when a consonant is preceded and/or followed by a slender vowel it is pronounced differently than when it is accompanied by a broad vowel.

There are 13 consonants: b, c, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, t.  When they're followed by an h then a consonant is pronounced differently (although l, n and r cannot be followed by an h).  The only letter than you can write double are l, n and r.

Got it?!!!!!!!!!

OK so the first lesson is already getting boring.  Let's just jump in with a trusty old phrase and see if we can learn that in today's lesson.

Here it is:

'S mise <<Your Name>>

Well, this isn't pronounced s-m-ee-ze!

An s by itself is pronounced s as in sat, so the first 'S is pronounced s.  So far so good!

The second s is preceded by an i and followed by an e both of which are caol ("slender") vowels which changes the s to sh as in shop.

The m is pronounced m.  The i is pronounced i as in tin.  The e is pronounced e as in ten.

Put it all together and 'S mise is pronounceds-mi-sh-e.

Try itand add your name afterwards.  Go on!

You've just said "My name is.... whatever your name is"

I think we've done enough for today.  Until next time.

Mar sin leat, an dràsda! (Cheerio - for now!)