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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr 2021 6:42 pm 
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Dia Daoibh,

I'm studying Irish and still a beginner. I posted on here some time ago asking questions about the original / Irish spelling of the Anglicized surname "Curran" - Ó Corraidhín.

I wanted to ask about pronunciation, spelling and the silent letters in the name.

I know it varies based on where you are in the country. My understanding is in Donegal it would most commonly be pronounced Oh-CURR-en, and in other parts of the country (among other pronunciations) it might be pronounced Oh-core-rain. Wanted to ask:

1). How/why the "dh" ended up in there in the first place
2). When a slender vowel precedes dh, does it become silent, as well? So that you're basically pronouncing "Corraín" with the slender i and the dh all silent and the second syllable sound coming from from the aín?

Go raibh maith agat!


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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr 2021 10:22 pm 
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gortahork wrote:
Dia Daoibh,

I'm studying Irish and still a beginner. I posted on here some time ago asking questions about the original / Irish spelling of the Anglicized surname "Curran" - Ó Corraidhín.

I wanted to ask about pronunciation, spelling and the silent letters in the name.

I know it varies based on where you are in the country. My understanding is in Donegal it would most commonly be pronounced Oh-CURR-en, and in other parts of the country (among other pronunciations) it might be pronounced Oh-core-rain. Wanted to ask:

1). How/why the "dh" ended up in there in the first place
2). When a slender vowel precedes dh, does it become silent, as well? So that you're basically pronouncing "Corraín" with the slender i and the dh all silent and the second syllable sound coming from from the aín?

Go raibh maith agat!


The name was Corradh.
Corrán (< Corradhán?) and Corraidhín are diminutives of it ("little Corradh").
So Ó Corráin and Ó Corraidhín.
The dh in Ó Corráin (< Corradháin) must have perished early because there's no spelling Ó Corradháin.
But in Ó Corraidhín it obviously survived longer because it is still so written. Slender dh is a y-sound (/j/ in IPA), so probably: /korəji:n´/
But it disappeared, too: /kori:n´/ (The vowel before dh, an /ə/, "uh", disappeared too, /əi:/ doesn't happen.)


Last edited by Labhrás on Mon 19 Apr 2021 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr 2021 3:06 pm 
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Thanks very much, Labhrás. Always thoughtful and very helpful replies.

So the pronunciation would have changed not just based on where you were in the country, but also over time as the language evolved?

I read in several places that "Corraidhín" was a diminutive of the first name "Corradh," as you pointed out, and also that corradh meant "spear" but I can't find that definition on Teanglann or anywhere else (besides "Curran history" entries on name meaning websites). Have you heard the word "corradh" being used for a type of spear?

Do you know of any resources for students of Irish wanting to understand the origins of letter combinations and spelling choices (like using a "dh" for a "y" sound when it was put onto the Latin alphabet, when the Latin alphabet already has a "Y" in it)? Or "mh" for "v" etc.?


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PostPosted: Tue 20 Apr 2021 4:06 pm 
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gortahork wrote:
Thanks very much, Labhrás. Always thoughtful and very helpful replies.

So the pronunciation would have changed not just based on where you were in the country, but also over time as the language evolved?

I read in several places that "Corraidhín" was a diminutive of the first name "Corradh," as you pointed out, and also that corradh meant "spear" but I can't find that definition on Teanglann or anywhere else (besides "Curran history" entries on name meaning websites). Have you heard the word "corradh" being used for a type of spear?


No.
corradh is used for an addition (corradh le 20 bliain = more than 20 years)

Quote:
Do you know of any resources for students of Irish wanting to understand the origins of letter combinations and spelling choices (like using a "dh" for a "y" sound when it was put onto the Latin alphabet, when the Latin alphabet already has a "Y" in it)? Or "mh" for "v" etc.?


No, I don’t.

Languages use different orthographies because of different sounds, different sound changes, etc. And different history.

Latin didn't use y for /j/. It used i or j. Y was a used in words of Greek orign only, originally for a /y/-sound. Using y for /j/ is an English whim ;)

Back to Irish:
Putting an h to a letter to show sound changes is a quite clever method.
The model for this was Late Latin spellings ch (for /x/), ph (for /f/) and th (for /θ/), used in Greek words. /x/, /f/ and /θ/ are altered forms of /k/, /p/, /t/, spelled c, p, t. (Originally it was indeed only an aspiration, a /h/-sound combined with /k/, /p/, /t/ -> /kh/, /ph/, /th/ but in Late Latin and Modern Greek these became really /x/, /f/, /θ/)
Old Irish had the same sounds, so spellings ch, ph, th were used.
Using the same ortography (letter+h) for the same alteration in b, d, g, f, m, s called "lenition" (bh, dh, gh, fh, mh, sh) was a later step. First they wrote b, d, g, m in Old Irish without any sign of alteration, so "b" could be /b/ or /v/.
But they already wrote "ḟ" and "ṡ" to show that /f/ and /s/ disappeared (ḟ is silent, ṡ only a breath). Then they wrote ḃ, ḋ, ġ, ṁ, too, and even ċ, ṗ, ṫ. The dot˙became interchangable with the letter h. So, bh, dh, gh, fh, mh, sh, developed.

Sounds changed.
"dh" isn't a /ð/ anymore (but /j/ or /ɣ/ or even silent).
"mh" isn't much different from "bh" (except for nasalizing vowels in its vicinity - but even this disappears) But etymologically, a "mh" once was an /m/ prior to lenition, and "bh" was a /b/.


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PostPosted: Sun 25 Apr 2021 4:37 pm 
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Thank you for explaining that, it's much appreciated.

I haven't found much luck finding a history of Irish that explains the orthographical choices but I'm still on the lookout.

I had no idea the Y in Latin came from words of Greek origin, that's very interesting. I've listened to a bit of a podcast called The History of English and there's a lot of information there about the mixture that became modern English but I've never found a resource that does the same for Irish.

So if we go back to the questions about the name (though I've never seen it written this way before and don't believe there's a family using this spelling) if the name was spelled "Ó Corraín" would that basically be the same as the modern pronunciation of "Corraidhín" (since the idh are not pronounced anymore, especially in Ulster)?


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