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PostPosted: Sun 28 Aug 2022 3:50 pm 

Joined: Fri 22 Jan 2021 4:24 pm
Posts: 89

I have a question that I really hope someone knows the answer to :D …I feel like I may have asked this once before, but I searched all my old posts & there’s no record of it; so maybe I haven’t. :??: But I apologize if I’m wrong and one/some of y’all have already helped me with this.

As some of you may know, I’ve been (slowly) teaching myself Gaeilge for a few years now. And, I’ve found a particular love of the Ulster dialect…I’ve improved (though faaaaaar from perfected) my pronunciations little by little. I’ve listened over & over to sound files from,, & Also, I’ve purchased the book “Taisce Focal” & have listened to the 2 CDs of stories, closely studying the sounds. And, I’m definitely making improvements.

But the thing I can’t seem to find a definite answer to, or get a sure grasp of is the Donegal slender “r.” In addition to the websites/book that I listed above, I also listened to a couple of interviews with Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh on YouTube (I even got desperate & DM’d her on Instagram asking her this question, & then I felt like a total dork and mostly wished I hadn’t sent it :LOL: :bolt: Hopefully I didn’t sound like an oddball :rofl: ) … and I also asked about it on the Facebook group Gaeilge Amháin a few months ago, and a few people liked my question but no one’s got back to me on it yet.

Anyway, here’s the question: I know in the other dialects, the slender r is pronounced almost like a “zh”-sound. But I also know in Ulster it’s different, and that (particularly in Donegal) it can sometimes be pronounced like a “y.” I’ve been wanting to know for sure when exactly those times are, & if there a rule of thumb or something?…

From stuff online / observations / other people’s old archived posts on this forum and on Daltaí.com, it seems that:

1) in Donegal in general, speakers will pronounce a slender r as a soft tapped-r (which I will depict here as r’ ). Unless the r directly separates a syllable containing á, ó, or ú from another vowel syllable, then it’s pronounced “y”
e.g. (iascaireacht = EESK.uh.r’ärt) & (athair = ÄH.her’)
but …(Máire = MWĀY.yeh) & (dóire = DAW.yeh)
(But I think there’s a couple of exceptions: like “deireadh” is almost always JEH.yoo, I believe…even though there’s no á, ó, eo, ú.)

2) but, that in Gweedore, in particular, speakers will go a step further & pronounce slender r’s as “y” between ALL vowels, & even at the end of words:
e.g. iascaireacht = (EESK.uh.yährt) & (ÄH.hey), as well as (Máire = MWĀY.yeh) & (dóire = DAW.yeh)
(with a couple of exceptions… like Éire is always ĀY.r’eh, I believe…never ĀY.yeh)

3) In the rest of Ulster, outside of the Gaeltacht (in Tyrone, for example), I’m not really sure what they do, but I think they don’t distinguish between broad / slender “r”s? And “r”s between syllables sound either like an English “r” or “tapped”…and all “r”s at the end of words are English “r”s?

So I was wondering if anyone could confirm / correct any of this for me? I think speakers like Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh probably speak closer to the 1st of the two ways, cause, in the YouTube interview, I noticed she said “máthair” ( MWĂ.her’ ) but cóiriú ( KAW.yoo ).

Anyway, thank you so much in advance, even just for reading all of this! :wave:

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