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What is the Irish for 'dog'?

dialects of irish useful phrases

If you're learning Irish then 'madra' is usually the first word for 'dog' that you will come across. But there are other words for 'dog', and the word used varies from place to place. 



'Madra' is the Irish word for 'dog' that is found in most textbooks and in written Irish in general. In Connacht Irish this word is usually pronounced 'mada' (no 'r' sound at all); and in Ulster Irish it is typically pronounced 'mah-doo'.(again, no 'r' sound). By the way don't let these dialect differences put you off; there are many many more similarities between the three main dialects than there are differences! Just learn one version and be aware of the others. 



'Gadhar' is mostly used when referring to a dog in Connacht Irish. Now, be careful not to mix up your 'gadhar' with your 'gabhar' (goat).


Crack The Code!

Use simple words like 'gabhar' and 'gadhar' to 'creak the code' when you are learning Irish in order to connect the written word to how it should be pronounced. The difference between how these two words are pronounced comes down to knowing how to pronounce two letter combinations: adh (gadhar) and abh (gabhar). 

'Adh' is usually pronounced something similar to the word 'eye' in English; whereas 'abh' sounds more like the sound 'ow' in English (as in the sound someone makes when they get injured!).


Gadhar (dog) / adh eye

Here are some other words which also contain the 'adh' (eye) sound:

fadhb (f-eye-b) / a problem

Tadhg (T-eye-g) / 'Tadhg' is a man's name in Ireland

Radharc (r-eye-arc) / sight


Gabhar (goat) / abh ow

Here are some other words which also contain the 'abh' (ow) sound:

abhainn (ow-in) / river

gabha (gow-a) / a smith, blacksmith

dabht (dowt) / doubt


Learning Irish Pronunciation

The connection between the written word and how it is pronounced is much closer in Irish than it is in English. Once you 'crack the code' of how certain letter combinations sound together you will be well on your way to reading and speaking Irish. In comparison the correlation between the written word and the spoken word is far more inconsistent in English. Consider the words 'though'; 'rough'; 'plough'; 'through' and notice how the sound represented by the letters 'ough' is completely different in each of the examples given. 

Learning how to 'crack the code' of written Irish is the first topic I cover in my Beginner Irish course. If you have any questions about learning Irish or which of my online Irish language courses would be best for you you can contact me here.




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