Step 1: Read the word.
Step 2: Wrong.
A REAL LIST OF ACTUAL NAMES AND THEIR (approximate) PRONUNCIATIONS:
Siobhan — “sheh-VAWN”
Aoife – “EE-fa”
Aislin – “ASH-linn”
Bláithín – “BLAW-heen”
Caoimhe – “KEE-va”
Eoghan – Owen (sometimes with a slight “y” at the beginning)
Gráinne – “GRAW-nya”
Iarfhlaith – “EER-lah”
Méabh – “MAYV”
Naomh or Niamh – “NEEV”
Oisín – OSH-een or USH-een
Órfhlaith – OR-la
Odhrán – O-rawn
Sinéad – shi-NAYD
Tadhg – TIEG (like you’re saying “tie” or “Thai” with a G and the end)
I work with an Aoife and I have been pronouncing it SO WRONG
As someone who is trying and failing to learn Gaelic, I feel like is an accurate portrayal of my pain.
This is the Anglicized spelling of a people who really fucking hate the English.
No, no, this is the orthographic equivalent of installing Windows on Mac.
The Latin alphabet was barely adequate for Latin by the time it got to the British Isles, but it’s what people were writing with, so somebody tried to hack it to make it work for Irish. Except, major problem: Irish has two sets of consonants, “broad” and “slender” (labialized and palatalized) and there’s a non-trivial difference between the two of them. But there weren’t enough letters in the Latin alphabet to assign separate characters to the broad and slender version of similar sounds.
Instead, someone though, let’s just use the surrounding vowels to disambiguate–but there weren’t enough vowel characters to indicate all the vowel sounds they needed to write, so that required some doubling up, and then adding in some silent vowels just to serve as markers of broad vs. slender made eveything worse.
They also had to double up some consonants, because, for example, <v> wasn’t actually a letter at the time–just a variation on <u>–so for the /v/ sound they <bh>. AND THEN ALSO Irish has this weird-ass system where the initial consonant sound in a word changes as a grammatical marker, called “mutation,” so they had to account somehow for mutated sounds vs. non-mutated sounds, which sometimes meant leaving a lot of other silent letters in a word to remind you what word you were looking at.
And then a thousand years of sound change rubbed its dirty little hands all over a system that was kind of pasted together in the first place.
My point is, there is a METHOD to the orthography of Irish besides “fuck the English.” The “fuck the English” part is just a delightful side-effect.
I love it when snarky quips lead to real info.