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Velarisation and assimilation in Irish (Gaeilge)

I started learning Irish and I wanted to understand velarisation in Irish.

Palatilisation and velarisation often assimilate sounds next to them to produce new sounds

“edge” comes from Proto Germanic agjō. Over time the /g/ got palatilised and the /jo/ was lost. Palatilisation produces /egʲ/ (and /a/ becomes /e/, seen in “angle-land” becoming “england”)

/dʒ/ is easier to say so /gʲ/ became /dʒ/

The same happened in Irish. Back vowels pulled the tongue backwards so /fa/ became /fˠa/

But sounds don’t like to stick around so they assimilate which means the sounds in the word change to make the pronunciation more smooth so /fˠa/ became /fɰa/. /ɰ/ is a /w/ without rounding your lips. /g/ and /w/ are both velar sounds. /g/ is a velar stop where the throat closes and then opens to release air. /ɰ/ is basically a un-stopped /g/

Later on the /a/ sound shifted to an /i/ so we have /fˠi/. We know it must have been a back vowel before because otherwise the f wouldn’t be velarised. So “faoi” is written like that to indicate velarisation, and its IPA transcription is /fˠiː/ which has long since just become assimilated to /fɰi/ which sounds a bit like /fwi/

I like looking in depth at parts of language so that I can get to grips with what is actually happening and it allows me to notice things that I haven’t noticed before.

Silly Linguistics is looking for writers for monthly articles

For the first couple of issues I just got submissions from people I knew and from people out on the internet. I would like to put a bit more structure in place. Organising the magazine takes quite a lot of time and I have to juggle that with running the page as well as running my other social media outlets like Twitter and Youtube.

So I am offering a position where you can write articles every month for the Silly Linguistics magazine and get paid a portion of the magazine’s income. It is not a lot at the moment, but it is growing. I think that for a growing page and business like mine this is a good opportunity for language fans and aspiring writers.

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If you would like to get involved, send an email to and tell me why you would be a valuable addition to the team. I would also like to get articles from you monthly so that I can keep providing lots of content to the readers of the magazine. This is a great opportunity for writers to learn about languages and linguistics and get paid for doing it 😀

What do you like about languages? How did you get interested in them? And also, what do you have to say about languages that the world needs to hear? I love reading the comments on the posts on the page and I learn a lot from you guys. I can’t wait to see what you guys can add to the magazine.

Each article should be a minimum of 600 words and be no longer than about 5 pages. I like to keep the articles accessible to people of all linguistic knowledge levels. I like to focus on the fun and interesting parts of language and show people how fun learning languages can be.

In your submission please also include some writing samples so I can see what your writing is like.

Whether you are a current contributor, future contributor or just a reader thank you for being a part of this language journey and I can’t wait to see where things go to from here

Steve the vagabond