Pronunciation of Gaelic

The simple vowel sounds are as follows:-

à, àias in EnglishfarExamples càs, càil
a, aias in EnglishparryExamples cas, cailc
è, èa, èuas in EnglishwhereExamples gnè, nèamh, mèud
é, éi, éuas in EnglishwheyExamples dé, céir, rèul ok
e, ea, eias in Englishwhet; sur'veyExamples deth, fear; breab, geir
ì, ìoas in EnglishmachineExamples clì, cìob
i, ioas in EnglishratifyExamples clis, fios
ò, òias in EnglishcordExamples pòr, còir
ó, óias in EnglishcoldExamples có, cóig
o, oias in Englishcanto, hotExamples crodh, fois; olc, con
ù, ùias in EnglishpullExamples cù, sùil
u, uias in EnglishputExamples cur, druid

The digraphs in the above table practically represent simple vowel sounds, the second vowel being very faintly heard. Before the labials b, f, m, and p, however, i is more distinctly heard. Examples – caib, cnaip.
The single vowels are divided into two classes – the broad, a, o, u, and the small, e, i.
ao, which is a single vowel sound, is always long, like u in purr, pronounced long. Example – maor.
a and o, when followed by ll or nn, are usually pronounced au and ou. Examples – fann, fonn.
a, in an unaccented syllable, or before dh or gh, has the sound of u in but; Examples – coma, lagh.
e, in an unaccented syllable, is pronounced as in cover. Example – duine.
o, followed by b, g, m, p, dh, is pronounced as in canto. Examples – gob, bog, crodh, lomadh.
In the diphthongs and triphthongs èa; eà; eò, eòi; eó, eói; eo, eoi; ia, iai; iù, iùi; iu, iui; ua, uai, the first and second vowels are heard. Examples – gèadh, feàrr; eòlas, feòil; Eòghainn, leòmhann; deòch, geoic; iar, fiaire; iùl, ciùil; iuchair, tiuighe; uan, uaine. Before b, f, m, and p, the final i is also heard. Examples – fuaim, uaip.
eà, èa, eò, and eòi are rarely used.
Most vowels are somewhat nasal when in contact with m, mh, or n.
B is pronounced harder than in English. Example – obair.
C before a broad vowel hard, as in can; before a small vowel as in came; never soft like s; when final chk. Examples – cas, ceum, ioc.
D with a broad vowel a little softer than in English, produced by placing the tongue near the tip in contact with the teeth or between the teeth. Example – da.
D with a small vowel like j or dj in English.
F as in English.
G always hard, as in got or get; when final hard like k. Examples – gu, ge, bog.
H never appears in Gaelic except along with some other consonant or followed by a hyphen.
L with a broad vowel, like lth in although.
L preceded by a small vowel, or initial followed by a small vowel in the past tense of verbs or in the word le and its derivatives.
L, initial with a small vowel, liquid - nearly as in million, formed by placing the surface of the tongue about the centre to the roof of the mouth. Example – lion.
Ll with a broad vowel, thick almost like lth. Example - call
Ll with a small vowel, like l in million. Example - fill
M as in English, but more nasal. Example – cam.
N as in English. Example – bàn
N initial followed by a small vowel (except in nis and the verb ni and past tense of verbs) – liquid, nearly as in pinion. Example – neo.
Nn with a broad vowel, formed by placing the tongue near the tip against the teeth. Example – Bann
Nn with a small vowel, nearly as in pinion. Example – Binn.
P as in English, but after am almost as soft as B. When final, it is more breathy – hp. Examples – Pill, am pill? Cnap.
R with a broad vowel, as in rod. Example – ro.
R with a small vowel, as in Arian. Example – ri.
S with a broad vowel, as in English. Example – Sàl.
S with a small vowel (and in the word so) is equivalent to English sh. (*) Exception – is.
T with a broad vowel, formed not with a hard stiff tongue tip, but with soft pressure of the tongue against the teeth. Example – ta.
T with a small vowel like ch in chase. Example – tinn.
After an, c is softened to g, and t to d, as in an cu; an tonn.

By adding h the consonants b, c, d, f, g, m, p, s, and t are modified, giving a breathy effect, called aspiration.
Bh like v in English.
Ch, guttural as in German, or in the Scotch word trachle.
Dh and gh with a broad vowel almost like gh in ugh, or g in the German word Tag; with a small vowel equal to y.
Fh is silent, except in the words, fhuair, fhein, and fhathast, where the h is heard.
Mh like v, but more nasal.
Ph like f.
Sh and th like h.
The consonants l, n, and r, are never aspirated.

Chd sounds like chk. Example – reachd.
Rt with a broad vowel is like rst; with a small vowel ir sounds like rsj. Examples – mart, beairt.
When l, n, or r, is followed by b, g, m, or p, a vowel is heard between the two consonants. Thus, calg is pronounced like calag; calpa, calapa, falbh, falabh, searg, searag; airm, airim.