It is the double vowel that catches out most Americans when they try to pronounce Gaelic names. Sometimes the triple vowel as in “Caoimhe” completely stumps them.
Here’s a list of the top ten tongue twisters:
Meaning “gentle in Gaelic. Pronounced “Kweeva”, not “Cam-he”.
Very common Gaelic name. Pronounced “SHIV awn” not “SEE o ban”.
Historical old Irish name of a fabled Fenian warrior (pictured above). Pronounced “USH een” not “Waz an”.
Again a common girl’s name. Pronounced “SHIN ade” not “Sign aid”.
Meaning dream or vision. Seen in "The Secret of Kells" Often pronounced “Ass Sling” by Americans. Proper pronunciation is “ASH ling”.
Very common name with girls in Ireland. Pronounced “KNEE ov” not “NI Am H”.
Pictured above is what is believed to be her grave in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. After famed love partner of Diarmuid, a Fenian chieftain. Pronounced “GRAWN YAH” not “granny”.
Boys name meaning Charles in Gaelic. Pronounced “Cah Hull” not “cattle”.
This is a difficult one. This is a boy’s name. Pronounced “TIG” as in the first three letters in Tiger, not “Tad guh”.
Meaning freedom, see also actress Saoirse Ronan. Pronounced “See Or Shah” not “Sway oar sha”.
Practice makes perfect! And remember, before you complain about how hard they are to pronounce, it's important that you keep in mind the reason it's so hard; the names are in another language!
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