Not ‘Fine’, To Rhyme With ‘Wine’



David Smith complains about what he calls ridiculously intrusive “haitches” in the pronunciation of taoiseach and tánaiste on the airwaves. These are both Irish words, and in the Irish language, the letters D and T, if followed by a broad vowel (a, o, u) are pronounced as if they were followed by the letter “h”. For convenience, I call them “soft” Ds and Ts. So the broadcasters are right – it should be “thaoiseach” and “thánaiste”.

And while I’m at it, “Fine”, as in Fine Gael, is also an Irish word, and is pronounced “finna”, and not “fine”, to rhyme with “wine”. Enda Kenny gets it right. Do his supporters not hear the difference?

Doireann Ní Bhriain,
Dublin 6.


Vowels – softy does it (Irish Times letters)

Pic: Laura Hutton

27 thoughts on “Not ‘Fine’, To Rhyme With ‘Wine’

    1. classter

      How do you know from that letter?

      She disparages FG supporters which would suggest otherwise.

      Interestingly (arguable) I think she is the voice of the announcer on the Luas.

  1. bisted

    …nice to hear the old pejorative ‘fine’ coming back into use…the Healy-Raes are the masters…like a geyser rising from the FF gene pool…

  2. hansel

    Except the broadcasters are saying “thee shook” and “thaw nish ta”. The English language pronunciation of the “th”. In Irish, if there’s a h in the word, it’s “hee shook” and “haw nish ta”.

    Specifically it’s the séimhiú. And yes most broadcasters are mispronouncing it.
    T+séimhiú = h

    1. classter

      But neither word begins with a ‘th’ so its not like they are even pronouncing it the English language way.

      1. hansel

        You’re spot on classter.

        Yes I know it’s silly of me, but I find it irritating to hear about the “thee shook” in the broadcast news.

        Absolutely fine for a foreigner to get it wrong obviously, but if you’re Irish and your job is to report the Irish news, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that you should be able to pronounce Taoiseach: “tea shook” will do fine for most

  3. TheDude

    Also worth noting that the Fail in Fianna Fail should be correctly pronounced to rhyme with sale. Usage: They fianna failed the country not so many years ago.

  4. dan

    Dear Doireann, pronounced “door eye an” or is it “door an”, pleas get yourself a life.

        1. TheDude

          Dan Dan Dan Dan Dan, Dan! say it like Delorean without the El, like the guy with the picture in the attic. Or if could just plain ol Door-reen

  5. Eoin

    Ah sure it’s like Churchill with his ‘Nawzis’ instead of ‘Nazis’. Fine Fail, Fine Gael, Finna Fail, Finna…whatever. Just refer to them as ‘the Establishment’. Problem solved.

  6. Frilly Keane

    The only time I hear it pronounced fine is when the Healy Ray’s mention Inda Kinnie etc

    I doubt those two read the IT letters page

  7. some old queen

    Scary to think that while the two major parties are holding the country to ransom by using the Battle of the Boyne as an excuse to not to go into government that anyone thinks this is of the slightest importance.

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