The Irish Diphthongs (pronounced DIF -THONG)
diphthong - sounds like an article of clothing doing the backstroke. But instead, when two or more vowels are
combined to make a surprising new sound, that's called a 'diphthong.'
The Irish diphthongs are ae, ea, eo, ia, ua, ei, io, ai, ao, and aoi.
Pronunciation of Diphthongs
Some diphthongs can be pronounced more than one way based on dialect and personal choice. We teach
our students to say a diphthong any way they want based on any of the acceptable choices.
We often find that when somebody says 'Your pronunciation is wrong, it should be said this way...," it often
means they just haven't heard another dialect's way of pronouncing it. (Just like telling somebody in Boston
they can't say Bahstin because you like to say Bohstan.)
Click below to see and hear how the diphthongs are pronounced. Memorize them:
Here's a summary of pronunciation for the diphthongs:
ea 2 ways: a (as in 'fat' or 'mat') and ah
ia used to be spelled ía, which is the way it is pronounced (eee-ah, w/ stress at the front as always) .
ua ua used to be spelled úa, which is its pronunciation (ooo-ah, w/stress at front as always)
ei 2 ways: short eh or é
ai 3 ways: ah, aye, a (as in 'fat' or 'mat')
ao 3 ways: é-ah (w/stress at the front on é), ah-ú (w/ stress at front on ah), or í
aoi 2 ways: ah-í (stress at front as always), or í