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distagadur / pronunciation

Heñcher-API / IPA guide

Brezhoneg e tu gwalarn Breizh: North West Breton pronunciation (summary).

Recall the phonetic signs of Breton

  • simple: [b] [p] [g] [k] [d] [t] [v] [f] [h] [z] [s] [l] [m] [n] [w] and [i]
  • ambiguous: most vowels + the nasals [~] and [ɥ]
  • other signs: [ŋ] [ɲ] [χ] [ʎ] [ʃ] [ʒ] [j] [œ] [ø] [ɛ] [r] [ʁ]

Basic rules:

  • Long vowel + short consonant = same time as short vowel + long consonant = same length
  • long consonant = same length


  • Consonant pairs
    • [b] and [p]
    • [v] and [f]
    • [g] and [k]
    • [z] and [s]
    • [d] and [t]
    • [ʒ] and [ʃ]
    • [χ] and [h]
  • single consonants: [l] [m] and [n], as well as [ʎ] (written ill/ilh) , [ŋ] (e.g. frank, rank, ingal -ing/ink), [ɲ]


Apart from [ə] which is always short, all vowels can be long or short Pronunciation of simple and complex letters and delicate groupings (excluding diphthongs)

Sounds of the letters

  • a: [a] or [ɑ] (which is more often long as in bagoù)
  • b: [b] or [p] (in absolute finals = end of phrase or pause)

(when there is a "sneaky" couple in common compound sets, like pemp *pl(o)as instead of pemp bloaz, me ga*f*-din instead of me gav din (more like in Leon), be' ploas instead of bep bloaz, ma'-pihan instead of map bihan).

  • d: [d] or [t] (in absolute finals + phenomenon of "sneaky" couples)
  • e: [e] or [ɛ] (in absolute finals)
  • f: [f] or [v] by adoussisant mutation: e.g. Fouilhez, ar Vouilhe(z)
  • g: [g] or [k] by hardening in the final absolute and during pauses + phenomenon of "sneaky" couples
  • h: [h] (most c'h's are pronounced as such) or mute.
  • i: [i] or [j]:
    • When it is a syllable separated by a vowel that follows (e.g. Skïant (science), alïes (often), Studïañ (study))
    • When "i" is after another vowel: If the vowel is unmistakable, the "i" is usually pronounced [j] (half-consonant when counting syllables): deiz (day) kreiz (centre) eiz (eight)
      But this is not always the case -> e.g. radicals followed by a suffix: if it's -ig, i -> [i] or [j]. We have roit ['roit] as well as ['roɛt], pronounced quickly we hear ['rojt].
    • If the preceding vowel is a semi-consonant, the "i" can only be a vowel, e.g. mui (plus) ['mɥi] but the comparative sup. muioc'h is pronounced either ['mɥiɔχ] or ['myjɔχ] depending on the dialects and individuals as well as the superlative muañ ("most") and peurvuiañ ("most")
  • j: [ʒ] or [ʃ] depending on the dialect, in absolute final, "sneaky" couple...
  • k: [k] or [g] depending on the syllables, the place in the sentence
  • l: [l] long or short: pronunciation difference between -el and -ell suffixes e.g. Mel (in French miel) [Me:l] "e" long and "l" short, and in Mell (French ball, mêlée, soule, articulation) [mɛl'] "e" short and "l" long
    • A muffle in final position is optional: [l̼]
  • m: always [m]:
    • [m] before "a "s are always nasalized, examples: Mamm (mother) ['mãm:].
    • The "o" are half nasalized or not nasalized at all: tomm (hot)
    • The "e's" are not nasalised at all: lemm (sharp) ['lɛmː].
    • e's are always short before "m/mm" ['lɛmː] ['lɛmː]
  • n: always [n] except when followed by "k" or "g" where it can be [ŋ]
    • [n] note: before a single "n" (i.e. a short "n") the preceding vowel is entirely nasal [ã] or [ã:], [õ] or [õ:], [ẽ] or [ẽ:]
    • On the other hand, in front of 2 n ("nn") the nasalization is less advanced -> e.g.: kan ['kãːn] (song) and kann [kãnː] (bright white, white glow)
  • o: [ɔ] or [o], sometimes [w] and [u] depending on the dialect, preceding and following vowels, consonants.
  • p: [p] or [b] by softening mutation, by syllable phenomenon.
  • r: often [ʁ] rarely [r] (especially in Leon), sometimes softened in final [ʁ̯] or [r̯].
  • s: [s] or [z] by softening mutation
  • u: always [y]
  • w: [w] [v] in leonard initial, sometimes [o] and [u].
  • y: always [y]
  • z: [z] or [s] but elided in some dialects

(especially Cornouaillais, Trégorois and Vannetais, and replaced by an h in writing: e.g. neuhe instead of neuze, behañ instead of bezañ)

Note: This summary is not yet complete and will be updated regularly.