Key to pronunciation: Irish English

View the pronunciation model for Irish English here.

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in Ireland. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The general Irish English variety is therefore a supraregional Southern Irish English (although entries indicated as specifically ‘Ulster’ may reflect more Northern Irish features). The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

Words associated with Ireland are given British and American pronunciations alongside the Irish pronunciation(s). Where a word is associated with an additional part of the English-speaking world, further pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English are also given.

To hear the pronunciation spoken aloud, click the blue play icon to the left of each transcription.

Note from Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations, October 2020

“A small but significant number of our World English pronunciations lack audio at the moment. Audio is created by freelance actor-phoneticians working with our sound engineer in our Oxford recording studio, but for the last several months it has been unsafe for us to run these sessions. We will prioritize addressing this backlog as soon as we can safely get back into our studio.”

Vowels

Irish English As in…
fleece
i happy
ɪ kit
ɛ dress
æ trap
bath, palm
ɑ lot
ɒː cloth, hawk
ʌ cup
ʊ foot
əːr nurse
iːr here
eːr square
uːr cure
ɑːr start
ɒːr north , force
goose
ə alpha
face
ɑɪ prize
price
mound
goat
ɒɪ choice
ər letter

Irish English makes a distinction between the vowels in prize and price. The vowel in price occurs before the voiceless sounds /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /θ/, /s/, /ʃ/, /x/, and /h/, with the vowel in prize occurring before ‘voiced’ consonants and word boundaries.

Consonants

Irish English As in…
b big /bɪɡ/
d dig /dɪɡ/
jet /dʒɛt/
f fig /fɪɡ/
ɡ get /ɡet/
h hut /hʌt/
j yes /jɛs/
k kit /kɪt/
l lɛg /leɡ/
m mud /mʌd/
n net /nɛt/
ŋ thing /θɪŋ/
p pit /pɪt/
r red /rɛd/
s sit /sɪt/
ʃ ship /ʃɪp/
t tip /tɪp/
chip /tʃɪp/
θ thin /θɪn/
v vet /vɛt/
w win /wɪn/
z zip /zɪp/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/
ð then /ðɛn/
x loch

The Irish English sounds known as ‘dental plosives’, which sound like /t/ and /d/ but with the tongue touching the teeth, are treated here as variants of /θ/ and /ð/. The spoken pronunciations may demonstrate these where appropriate.

The consonants l, m, and n can take on the function of a vowel in some unstressed syllables. It should generally be clear when this interpretation is intended, but in cases of potential ambiguity, the consonant symbol may appear with a diacritic, as in the British and U.S. pronunciations. The use of brackets around /ə/ indicates that some speakers may not pronounce the /ə/; in some cases this means the following consonant would take on the function of the vowel (e.g. U.S. saddle /ˈsæd(ə)l/).

After a vowel, Irish English is similar to U.S. English in that it can have /r/ regardless of the sound which follows, whereas British English retains the /r/ only when it is followed by a vowel. Irish English therefore has /r/ sounds where British English does not, in words such as mar (Irish /mɑːr/, unlike British /mɑː/).

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.