Revisiting Old Irish: The sounds

The first tough bit of Old Irish is the spelling system and phonology.

There are two issues here, for the native speaker of English

  1. Old Irish uses phonemic contrasts that we don’t (particularly palatalisation)
  2. The Old Irish spelling system doesn’t reflect its phonology in a couple of important places.

Spelling

Old Irish uses 17 or 18 letters (five vowels and 11 or 12 consonants, depending on how you count <h>): <a>, <b>, <c>, <d>, <e>, <f>, <g>, <h>, <i>, <l>, <m>, <n>, <o>, <p>, <r>, <s>, <t>, <u>.

The “additional” letters in Modern English (i.e. Read the rest of this entry »


The Pronunciation of Old English

The sounds of Old English should not prove difficult, with a few exceptions, for speakers of Modern English. It can be hard at first to get used to some of the spelling conventions, such as the fact that all letters—including final e—are pronounced; but on the whole Old English does not have many sounds that are not the same as in Modern English, and, in most cases, indicated by the same letters… Read the rest of this entry »
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