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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (July-September) » Archive through August 06, 2004 » Irish phonemes « Previous Next »

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SpeechProject (62.254.160.74 - 62.254.160.74)
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 05:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi all,

I'm currently doing a masters program, my final project is on a speech recognition system. Currently its on the english that is spoken in Ireland (which believe it or not is heavily influenced by Irish), this in turn will be used to create an Irish speech recognition system (with the help of Irish speaking researchers). Sadly my Irish has declined over the years but on a happier note, this project has given me a new start. Anyway, the question I would like answered is : Does anyone know how many phonemes there are in the Irish language. Phonemes being the basic unit of sound in the language (english has 40-45 and I'm assuming Irish would have a good deal more because of the Fada etc)
Many thanks with your help.

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Fear na mBróg (213.94.240.233 - 213.94.240.233)
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 06:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

They'd be near enough equal. In Gaeilge, we don't have the following sounds:

zebra masage

while we do have the following:

dath

Also, we stick consonants together much more in Gaeilge:

tsneachta mná cnoc bolg

The fadas wouldn't make a difference. All the vowels and diphthongs that are in English are in Gaeilge and vice versa, it's just that written Gaeilge is more precise with fadas.

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SpeechProject (62.254.160.74 - 62.254.160.74)
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 07:33 am:   Edit Post Print Post

As a quick side note, in Irish like you said we have no Z,
Q1) Are there are no Y's or V's
Reason I'm asking is that its important in terms of letter Frequency as this is proportional to phoneme frequencies.

Q2) Do fada's make any difference to the sound of Gaeilge or are they purely for written Gaeilge.

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Fear na mBróg (213.94.240.233 - 213.94.240.233)
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 08:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

1) Yes, we do have Y's and V's - not the letters, but the sounds:

mo bhata (English pronunciation: muh vata)

ní dhearna (English pronunciation: knee yarna)

2) There's around about 10 vowels, and about 3 diphthongs. In English, there's only 5 different letters to represent the vowels: a e i o u, whereas in Gaeilge, there's 10 letters: a e i o u á é í ó ú. In English, we tend to use consonants to disambiguate:

The ice thawed

"aw" in English is "á" in Gaeilge.

(Also there's no English "th" sound in Gaeilge, the Irish accent won't pronounce it, just as I say "tree" and "der" for the English "three" and "there".)

So fadas aren't for decoration, they're for precision, eg.:

solas (pronounced "sulace")
sólás (pronounced "soulawce")

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SpeechProject (62.254.160.74 - 62.254.160.74)
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 11:59 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks for the feedback
I can see that stage two (Gaeilge bit) is going to be very interesting.
Many thanks

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Jonas (195.148.181.4 - 195.148.181.4)
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 05:15 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The number of phonems in Irish is indeed much larger than in English. Both languages have some phonems unknown to the other language ("ch" and "gh" are two Irish examples).

What makes the number of Irish phonems much larger is the fact that all consonants have both a slender and a brod phonem. With regards to the vowels the difference is smaller, though there are some English diphthongs not found in Irish.



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