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Introduction to the Breton Language Course

A bep seurt

Phonetic transcription and general rules of pronunciation

Phonetic transcription

The transcription used here is largely that of the international system with some modifications for display on the web.


Phonetic Pronunciation
/a/ a as in man
/ã/ an as in French manger approximately as o in English got but releasing some air through the nose
/e/ é as in French été or ay as in English day without the 'y' sound (e.g. Scottish pronunciation)
/ê/ e as in bed.
/i/ i as in machine
/o/ o as in Scottish pronunciation (i.e. a single sound, keeping rounded lips still) of go
/õ/ on as in French pont or for previous 'o' but releasing some air through the nose
/ö/ eu as in French feu approximately as in the English hesitation 'errrr' but shorter with tightly rounded-lips
/O/ as in British English soft
/Ö/ oe as in French coeur or similar to e in English her
/u/ ou as in French hibou similar to oo in English zoo but longer with more rounded lips
/y/ u as in French mur a little like ew in few but shorter with tightened lips
Long vowels are shown by a following ":" : /a:/, ...


Phonetic Pronunciation
/b/ b as in boy
/k/ k as in kind
/x/ ch slightly guttural as in Scottish loch or j as in Spanish jota
/d/ d as in do
/f/ f as in free
/g/ g as in go
/h/ h as in happy
/l/ l as in like
/m/ m as in me
/n/ n as in no
/p/ p as in please
/r/ r as in French rapace a light friction of the soft palate or gargle
/s/ s as in snake
/t/ t as in tea
/v/ v as in virtual
/w/ w as in west
/z/ z as in zebra
/j/ y as in you
The main stress in a word is shown by a "'" placed immediately before the stressed syllable.

General Rules of Pronunciation

Breton is a strongly stressed language. Stress is generally on the penultimate syllable of the word.
Final consonants not followed by a vowel become hard (voiceless) : a G sounds like a K, a D like a T, Z-S, B-P, etc ... (a bit like in German). If however they are followed by a vowel, the opposite effect happens (K sounds like G etc).
Introduction to the Breton Language Course
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· Phonetic transcription and general rules of pronunciation
· Reading Breton