What is the Irish language equivalent of the name Aidan/Aiden? I know that the name is derived from the Irish language. Perhaps a more difficult question: What is... or would be the Scottish Gaelic spelling and pronunciation of the same name.

Wikipedia says Aodhán in Irish and Aodhàn in Scottish Gaelic (note the accents are different).

all over the Internet there seems to be confusion with the correct pronunciation of Aodhán in Irish... specifically whether there is a "D" like sound when said or there is no "D" and it is in fact pronounced much like Ian. fyi: I know the Irish spelling of Ian is not Aodhán

I could find now Scottish Gaelic info on...well almost everything. I'm curious where this Wikipedia editor got that info and whether it's correct.

Also, a simple one... Cearbhaill is my surname though I use Carroll a lot. My family says KYEARLL... ll as in the -OL in Carol. Would you agree?

  • It probably depends on what form of Irish you speak. Different dialects have different ways of pronouncing things; there is not only one "correct pronunciation" for all of Ireland. – brass tacks Oct 23 '15 at 20:21
  • oh I don't speak Irish. I'm Canadian. My ancestry is Scottish on one side and Irish in on the other. My father emigrated to Canada so it's not going way back. – user10733 Oct 23 '15 at 21:45
  • I'm a plastic paddy maybe? haha – user10733 Oct 23 '15 at 21:46
  • Oh, right. Just take my "you" as referring to people in general then. Anyway, if you're speaking in English, you're not required to pronounce the name the same as in Irish; plenty of people have names that have changed in pronunciation over time. – brass tacks Oct 23 '15 at 21:47
  • I'm aware that there are various dialects and some aren't even mutually intelligible... but there's Standard Irish. Maybe no-one speaks that as their native tongue, but I'm trying to get an answer in Standard Irish and the equivalent in Scottish Gaelic – user10733 Oct 23 '15 at 21:48

Firstly, I'll assume that the way your first and last names are written reflect the official written standard, the Caighdeán Oifigiúil. This amounts to a single way of writing Gaeilge (Irish) even though it has numerous dialects with quite varied pronunciations.

In this system the 'dh' in Aodhán would normally represent a voiced velar fricative (being in a 'broad' context) but I've heard pronunciations that have it as [j] or even elide it altogether. Stress is on the vowel with fada (the accent mark) and that vowel should sound like the one in 'born'. The 'Ao' has a variety of pronunciations, from [i:] to [ei] (and others). You could try something like:

Aodhán: [iˈɣɔ:n], [ˈeiˈɣɔ:n] or [iˈjɔ:n], [eiˈjɔ:n]

As for your surname, it depends on how precise you want to be:

Cearbhaill: [ˈcʲaɾəwɑlʲ] or [ˈcʲaɾəvɑlʲ]

The bh can represent either [w] or [v]; note that a brief schwa-like vowel is typically inserted between consonants such as the rbh cluster. If the pronunciation with [w] is preferred in this name then it's not surprising that it would (at speed) surface as how you represent it, i.e. 'KYEARLL... ll as in the -OL in Carol' — nice to see your family has retained the 'slender' (i.e. palatalised) initial consonant!

It's likely the case that the majority of speakers of Irish nowadays are those who have learned Standard Irish as a second language. One result of this is that there are many who don't fully acquire aspects such as the velar fricatives and some of the broad/slender variants, as they are found in the unbroken Irish speech lineages. As a result it's not unusual to hear the voiced velar fricative produced as a [g] as this is probably the nearest English equivalent. So you might hear people pronounce your first name as [iˈgɔ:n] or [ˈeiˈgɔ:n].

  • ... at least I know that your surname can't possibly Ümlaut! – user10733 Oct 25 '15 at 0:19
  • Thank you for that last answer. I consider my question answered. That answer was direct and to the point. – user10733 Oct 25 '15 at 0:27
  • Thanks! I was going to ask if it was clear enough and dealt with all the issues you're interested in, so I'll take it that it is and does. I guess the choice if which pronunciation you prefer to use is up to you. If you know which part of Ireland your family comes from then you could look into the appropriate dialect, maybe even find a speaker of that variety and ask them. – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 25 '15 at 0:31
  • My surname was Anglicised long ago as Carroll. We are an odd little offshoot the of THE Carroll Family, an Irish nobel family (former), and. Fkcenturies a royal family of a Kingsom withim . – user10733 Oct 25 '15 at 0:46
  • For centuries a royal family of a smal – user10733 Oct 25 '15 at 0:47

The most common pronunciation would be something along the lines of /e:ɔd̪ˠa:n̪ˠ/ amongst all the Irish speakers I've ever heard or spoken with "as Gaeilge", both Gaelgóirí and second language speakers. I don't know why the séimhiú (lenition) on the letter d is ignored in pronunciation, but I can't recall ever having heard it spoken. I tried to find an example recording but the online dictionaries failed me as they don't usually cover names. The best I found was this video from TG4 of Paisean Faisean which has a lad named Aodhán on it. His name is spoken several times after 1:28.



The spelling Aodhán reflects the Classical Irish pronunciation of:


This evolved into:


in northern dialects and


in southern dialects.

In Classical Irish the digraph "dh" conveyed [ð], however this sound was lost in everyday speech by the 14th century (although still taught to Bards in their seven year training so they could preserve the meter of older poems). In the vast majority of cases "dh" merged with "gh", that is [ð] was replaced with [ɣ].

There were some words however where this was not the case, such as Aodhán, Cródha and Díoghras.

  • Interesting stuff about the bards. Could you just tell me: what do those little "ˠ"s mean in terms of pronunciation? I am a little bit of a Gaeilgeoir and understand these ns and gs to be "broad". But ɣ is the voiced velar fricative (do dhochar...). So what's a funny little version of it doing in your IPA rendering? Generally speaking: where should I go to learn how to write my Irish IPA symbols properly? Go raibh maith a míl agat! – mike rodent Aug 14 '17 at 14:07

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