Irish orthography

Irish Orthography

Irish orthography

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Irish orthography has evolved over many centuries, since Old Irish was first written down in the Latin alphabet in about the 6th century AD. Prior to that, Primitive Irish was written in Ogham. Irish spelling is mainly based on etymological considerations, although a spelling reform in the mid-20th century simplified the relationship between spelling and pronunciation somewhat.

There are three dialects of spoken Irish: Ulster (now predominantly in County Donegal), Connacht (Counties Mayo and Galway), and Munster (Counties Kerry, Cork, and Waterford). Some spelling conventions are common to all the dialects, while others vary from dialect to dialect. In addition, individual words may have in any given dialect a pronunciation that is not reflected by the spelling. (The pronunciations in this article reflect Connacht Irish pronunciation; other accents may differ.)


The alphabet now used for writing the Irish language consists of the following letters of the Latin alphabet, whether written in Roman type or Gaelic type:

a á b c d e é f g h i í l m n o ó p r s t u ú;

Modern loanwords also make use of j k q v w x y z. Of these, j and v are the most common. The letter v also occurs in a small number of words of native origin in the language such as vácarnach, vác and vrác, all of which are onomatopoeic. It also occurs in a number of alternative colloquial forms such as víog instead of bíog and vís instead of bís as cited in Niall Ó Dónaill's Foclóir......
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