How to Pronounce Celtic

If you’re a fan of Celtic music, you might be wondering how to pronounce some of the band names and song titles. Here’s a quick guide to help you out!

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The Celtic languages are a group of related languages that originate in the Celtic countries. The term “Celtic” can refer to the languages, to the peoples who speak them, or to both. There are a number of theories about the origins of the Celtic languages, but the most widely accepted one is that they developed from a common ancestor language called Proto-Celtic.

The Celtic languages are divided into two branches: Insular Celtic and Continental Celtic. The Insular Celtic languages are those that were spoken on the islands of Ireland, Britain, and Brittany, while the Continental Celtic languages are those that were spoken on the mainland of Europe. The Continental Celtic languages are now extinct, but the Insular Celtic languages continue to be spoken by millions of people.

There are four main Insular Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, and Welsh. Irish is by far the largest of these, with over 4 million speakers. Scottish Gaelic has around 60,000 speakers, Manx has around 3,000 speakers, and Welsh has around 1 million speakers. All four of these languages are official language in their respective countries. In addition to these four main languages, there are also a number of lesser-known Insular Celtic languages such as Cornish and Cumbric.

The Continental Celtic language that was once spoken in central Europe is now extinct. However, there are a number of modern-day descendants of Continental Celtiberian such as Gaulish and Lepontic which are still spoken by small communities in parts of Europe and North America.

Pronunciation Guide

Celtic can be pronounced a few different ways. The most common pronunciation is “sell-tick,” but it can also be pronounced “kel-tick.” The original pronunciation is “kel-tick,” but the “sell-tick” pronunciation is more common in the United States.


Celtic has a unique and complex vowel system. In addition to the usual 5 vowel heights (close, near-close, close-mid, mid, open), there are 3 additional distinctions: front vs. back (articulation), spread vs. unrounded (lip position), and tenseness vs. laxness. This gives Celtic a total of 20 vowel phonemes!

The 5 heights are distinguished by the position of the tongue in relation to the palate (roof of the mouth). The close vowels are /i/, /u/, /ɪ/, /ʊ/. They are all produced with the tongue high in the mouth, as in English “ee”, “oo”, “ih”, “uh”. The near-close vowels are /eː/, /oː/. They are produced with the tongue slightly lower than for a close vowel, as in English “ay”, “oh”. The close-mid vowels are /e/, /o/. They are produced with the tongue inapproximately the middle of its range for Celtic, as in English “eh”, “aw”. The mid vowels are /ə/, /ɤː/. They are both produced with the tongue lowin the mouth. The first is an unstressed vowel found only in certain kinds of compounds; it is pronounced like English”uh” or French “e”. The second is a long vowel pronounced like an English or German long “a”: think ofthe word ‘America’. The open vowels are/æ/, /aː/,/ ɑː/. Theyare produced withthe tongue lowand relaxed, asin Scottish ‘loch’ or German ‘Vater’.

Therearealso three ways to pronounce eachvowel:asatense vowel(oftenwrittenwitha superscript”h”,asin’leah’), alaxvowel (oftenwrittenwitha superscript”l”),or astressedlaxvowel(oftenwrittenwith bothsuperscripts,”hl”).Tensevowelsareproducedwiththe musclesofyoutongueandjawtensed;they soundhigherand brighterthan theirlaxcounterparts.Laxvowelsareslightlyloweranddarker;thinkofEnglish’bet’vs.’bit’.Finally,stressedlaxvowelsareproducedwith both yourtongueandjawtensed,but not as muchastensevowels.They sharesomecharacteristicsoflax and tensevowels,soundinglikealower,darkertensevowel.


Celtic has a rich history dating back over 2,500 years. Located in the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland, the Celtic language is a branch of the Indo-European language family. Today, there are six living Celtic languages: Breton, Cornish, Galician, Irish, Manx and Welsh. Although all Celtic languages share common features, they each have unique features that set them apart from one another.

Celtic languages are known for their use of mutable consonants. Mutable consonants are consonants that can change their pronunciation depending on the word they appear in. For example, the letter “c” is pronounced like a “k” sound in words like “cat” or “cup.” However, in words like “cell” or “cyst,” the letter “c” is pronounced like an “s” sound. The following is a list of mutable consonants in Celtic languages:

Bilabial: p b m
Labiodental: f v
Dental: t d n s l
Alveolar: r z
Postalveolar: ʃ ʒ tʃ dʒ
Velar: k g ŋ
Glottal: h

Rules for Pronouncing Celtic

Celtic can be a difficult language for English speakers to pronounce. There are a few rules that you can follow to help you pronounce Celtic words correctly. Let’s review a few of these rules so you can start pronouncing Celtic words like a native speaker.

Syllable Stress

In English, we often stress the first syllable of a word. In Celtic, however, the stress is usually on the second-to-last syllable. For example, the word “Celtic” would be pronounced “KEL-tik”. The word “Ireland” would be pronounced “IH-ruh-land”. The word “Scottish” would be pronounced “SKOT-ish”.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Words that begin with a vowel or a diphthong are usually stressed on the first syllable. For example, the word “eager” would be pronounced “EE-gur”, and the word “leisure” would be pronounced “LEE-zhur”.

Another exception is words that end with a consonant cluster. In these cases, the stress is usually on the syllable before the cluster. For example, the word “cluster” would be pronounced “KLUS-ter”, and the word “sixth” would be pronounced “SIKST”.

Final Consonants

Celtic languages generally don’t have a rule for pronouncing final consonants, so they’re usually silent. However, there are some exceptions:

– If the final consonant is followed by a vowel (even if that vowel is in the next word), it is pronounced. For example, the name Sean is pronounced “Shawn,” not “Shaen.”
– If the final consonant is preceded by a short vowel and followed by a non-vowel letter (usually H or L), it is pronounced. For example, the name Cullen is pronounced “Kull-en,” not “Kul-en.”

The final consonant is also pronounced in certain words even though it isn’t followed by a vowel or preceded by a short vowel. These words typically have Celtic origins and include:

– most words that end in -ach (e.g., loch, Bach)
– most words that end in -ag (e.g., bag, flag)
– most words that end in -ig (e.g., big, pig)
– most words that end in -im (e.g., dim, him)
– most words that end in -in (e.g., fin, sin)
– most words that end in -ir (e.g., fir, sir)
– most words that end in -is (e.g., his, this)

Pronouncing Celtic Names

Celtic names can be tricky for non-native speakers to pronounce. The following guide provides some basic rules to help you get started.

There are three basic rules for pronouncing Celtic names:

1) The emphasis is always on the first syllable. For example, the name Caoimhe is pronounced “KEE-va.”

2) Most Celtic names have two syllables. If a name has more than two syllables, the emphasis is usually on the second-to-last syllable. For example, the name Séamus is pronounced “SHAY-mus.”

3) Many Celtic names end with a vowel sound. When this is the case, the final consonant is usually silent. For example, the name Siobhán is pronounced “shi-VAWN.”


We hope this guide has helped you learn how to pronounce Celtic properly. Celtic is a beautiful language with a rich history. If you’re interested in learning more about Celtic culture, we recommend checking out some of the resources below.

Additional Resources:
-Forvo Celtic Pronunciation Guide
-A Beginner’s Guide to Celtic Languages
-Celtic Language Family Tree