“Léan Ní Chuilleanáin?” I hear you murmur. Except … not. Because unless you’re really quite a confident Irish-speaker, you’ll probably baulk at the prospect of trying to say my name out loud.
Never fear! For I have handcrafted this little guide.
So. Léan Ní Chuilleanáin. How is it pronounced?
I can’t resist starting with the glib answer, which is that it’s pronounced exactly as it’s written, ahahaha. This is in fact absolutely true: if you’re familiar with Irish orthography, there’s no mystery at all (at all).
Even if you aren’t (what do they teach in these schools nowadays?), it’s not difficult. (If you’re happy with an approximation, that is, which I am. It’s so rare to hear my name pronounced with authentic Irish phonemes that I’m entirely used to the Anglicised sound.)
Think layin’ down the law, as I was fond of saying in my student politician days.
Nothing to it.
Chuilleanáin: Well, now, that is a little trickier. OK, sit up straight and give me your full attention, because if you get this wrong, it will annoy me. You wouldn’t like me when I’m annoyed.
Hey, waaaaaaaidaminute! Rewind there a bit.
-t will annoy me…
-t will annoy…
That’s it! OK. Make a rasping “ch” sound, as in the end of German ach or Scots loch. (Sounds rather as though you’re trying to prevent a small insect from making its way down your throat.) Segue straight into “will annoy”. Finish it off with an “n”.
Right, then, let’s recap:
Chuilleanáin: Ch-will annoy-n
Congratulations! You did it! (Near enough, anyway. We’ll leave the concept of broad and slender consonants to another lesson, I think.)
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