This Is How You Speak Irish

The following video is actually a very useful and funny way to get introduced to some Irish accents.

Learning a great Irish accent can be useful in many occasions. Master a good Irish accent, impress your friends or coworkers with your great Irish spoken flair. Try to adhere to the guidelines below and it won’t be long before you sound just like a genuine Dubliner.  Take a look at the following points that will help you to speak in a genuine Irish way:

Vowels and Consonants 

1. You should soften your vowels. Especially Americans are tending to let vowels sound hard. Americans, for example, are pronouncing the letter A as ‘ay’. but people with an Irish tongue would rather pronounce it as ‘aw’ or ‘ah’.
You should do this consciously in each single word, but particularly with vowels in the middle of words.

  • The phrase ‘How are you’ for example. This must be pronounced: ‘Ha-ware-ya.’ The sound ‘au’ in ‘how’ and ‘oo’ in ‘you’ sound the same in Irish as opposed to the differentiated way the sound in Generalized American.
  • The ‘ai’ sound like in ‘like’. ‘night’, or ‘I’ is pronounced as ‘oi’, like in ‘oil’ in Irish. Think of  ‘Ireland’ being pronounced as ‘Oireland.’ While pretty much similar to ‘oi’ it is not exactly the same sound. In Irish, the ‘o’ sounds more like a ‘schwa’. This diphthong is not existing in American English.
  • In Irish, the ‘schwa’ sound is different is just about every dialect. In some local accents, it sounds more like an ‘u’ as in ‘foot’ whereas in the New Dublin accent it sounds more like ‘bit.’
  • The epsilon, in American English sounding like in ‘end’ is in Irish pronounced like the ‘a’ in ‘ash’ so ‘Any’ sounds more like ‘Annie.’ There are numerous different dialects in Irish with even more variations, so please be aware that certain rules are not always applicable.

2. Harden the consonants. As a rue of thumb you can say that Americans got a little lazy in their pronunciation. In the U.S., ‘Ladder’ and ‘latter’ will be pronounced the same, but in Ireland, that’s not the case. Each consonant has its due (in Irish pronounced as ‘djoo’, with a lot of exceptions to the rule, of course!).

  • The beginning ‘d’ is often pronounced as /d͡ʒ/. This is the sound of the J in practically all English variants. So in Irish, ‘due’ sounds like ‘Jew.’ The d’s unvoiced partner ‘t’ becomes ‘ch’ in Irish, so ‘Tube’ sounds as ‘choob.’
  • Words like ‘wine’ and ‘whine’ sound distinct in Irish. Words starting with ‘wh’ will be pronounced with a ‘h’ at the beginning. Add some breath before pronouncing the word, and you’ll end up with a result that resembles something like ‘hwine.’
  • There are Irish accents that turn ‘that’ into ‘dat’ and ‘think’ into ‘tink’. Why don’t you try to ‘trow’ it into your pronunciation.

3. Drop end G’s. The English language has many words that are ending in -ing, but there’s not one Irishman who would pronounce the end ‘g’. Always cut that sound out.

  • ‘Speaking’ becomes ‘speakin’, ‘Talking’ turns into ‘talkin’, and ‘listening’ becomes ‘ listenin’, and so on. This happens in all contexts in Irish. There are also Irisch dialects (for example Local Dublin) where the final sounds are completely eliminated. ‘sound’ turns into ‘soun’ and ‘past’ becomes ‘pas’

4. Be rhotic, let the ‘r’ roll. This won’t be a problem for most Americans, but for English speakers from a non-rhotic region (where for example ‘park’ is pronounced as ‘pack’), this may get a little tricky.

  • Both speakers of British and American English should put the ‘r’ more forward than they’re used to. Just place your tongue higher and further forward in your mouth and practice pronouncing words that have an ‘r’ at the end or in the middle.