Irish/Reference/Spelling and Pronunciation

This page is part of the Wikibooks Irish Reference and Grammar, a comprehensive resource for information about the Irish language designed to complement the Wikibooks Irish course of study.

In each section below, follow the "Main page" link for more information.

Writing and Speaking the Irish LanguageEdit

Modern Irish can be intimidating to native English speakers because its spelling and pronunciation, while relatively regular compared to English, can be non-intuitive. This starts with the alphabet itself.

The Irish AlphabetEdit

Main page: Irish/Reference/Alphabet

Modern Irish is written with the Latin alphabet, just as English is. The major differences between the Irish and English are:

  • Irish generally uses only 18 letters, rather than 26
  • Irish vowels come in two forms, one of which is indicated by a sínead fada or acute accent.

Two older writing systems exist: Ogham, an early system of writing using marks carved in wood, bone, or stone, and Gaelic type, a modified form of Latin script still used in Ireland on some signs and other decorative contexts.


Main page: Irish/Reference/Spelling

While the alphabet may be familiar, the spelling often is not. Irish spelling is confusing in part because it encodes grammatical information. Once you become accustomed to this, seeing a word starting with "bhfh-" will become a useful signpost rather than an intimidating challenge.


Main page: Irish/Reference/Pronunciation

As with any language, there are sounds in Irish that are not found in English; some subtle and some more obvious.


Main page: Irish/Reference/Dialects

In Irish, an additional consideration is that three major and many minor dialects of the language exist, which differ in some cases in pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar.