Pronunciaiton of Ulster dialect word-final “D”

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    Hugo David


    I have a question that I hope someone with expert knowledge of Irish phonology can answer: is the word-final “d” in Ulster dialect sometimes pronounced like a “t”? Is there a rule regarding this phonetic shift?

    I know two examples that I have heard from native speakers, and the final “d” sounds like a “t” to me, different from the pronunciation of the same word in Connacht or Munster.

    1. Tibéid (Tibet, pronounced: tih-BAYT)
    2. Daibhéid (personal name David, pronounced: DAH-veyt or DAH-vit)

    I note that both examples are preceded by the same vowel sound (éi), and both are loanwords into Irish…

    Thanks for any insights.


    I don’t have an expert knowledge of Irish phonology, nor is my knowledge of Ulster Irish all that great (Lughaidh would have a much deeper knowledge of it), but I’m unaware of any tendency in Ulster for final /d’/ to become /t’/.

    I’d suggest that the pronunciation of the two words you give has been influenced by English:
    The first, obviously, by ‘Tibet’ – complete with stressed second syllable (if I understand ‘tih-BAYT’ correctly) which is at odds with usual Ulster pronunciation.
    The second by Hiberno-English. ‘David’ is frequently pronounced as if spelt ‘Davit’ in Ireland (I pronounce it this way).
    Also the variant ‘Davitt’/’Devitt’ (short first syllable) has traditionally been quite common here.



    I don’t remember having heard final d pronounced as t in Donegal Irish…
    I know there can be a variation between them in the specific case of prepositional pronouns like duit/duid, agat/agad (but always ort and leat), etc… But it’s a different issue.

    Hugo David

    Thanks all — here is a native speaker pronouncing the surname. I’m a novice regarding Irish, but the word-final consonant sounds like a “t” to me:


    Actually that recording was done by myself 🙂
    I’m not a native speaker, but many of those who record stuff in Irish on Forvo aren’t either (and don’t always pronounce properly), and since there was no speaker of Donegal Irish then on that site, I thought it would be good if I recorded words too according to the pronunciation I learnt by listening to Donegal people plus from a Rann na Feirste Irish speaking teacher.
    I think if I devoiced the d at the end, I don’t remember but I suppose it’s because I read somewhere (Ciarán Ó Duibhín’s page on surnames? it says the English form is Mc Devitt/Davitt, with a t sound) that it is or can be devoiced in Donegal in that particular word. But it’s not a general rule in Donegal.

    Hugo David

    Great, thank you

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