On Friday, as I watched live television coverage of the result of the by-election in the Irish Republic, I was astounded to hear the returning officer for Donegal South-West pronounce the name of the party in third position, Fine Gael, as faɪn ɡeɪl. The results in English, in which I heard this, were preceded by the results in Irish, but since the Sky News commentator saw fit to talk over the Irish-language results I could not hear what she may have said when pronouncing this name in an Irish-language context.
We English know that we are supposed to pronounce the first word of Fine Gael as ˈfɪnə. How come this Irish lady doesn’t know that? Or was it just a slip due to nervousness?
In Irish, I believe, both consonants in Fine are palatalized, making the name of the party in Irish ˈfʲɪnʲə ˈɡeːɫ̪.
Compare the name of the other major party, Fianna Fáil ˈfiənə ˈfɑːlʲ, usually anglicized as ˈfiːənə ˈfɔɪl. The pronunciation of the first word is confusingly similar to Fine. The second word, Fáil, is alternatively anglicized as fɔːl, though this is appropriate really only for speakers who make all ls clear, as most Irish people do. In Irish I think it must be the genitive of a noun with the nominative form fál: the lateral would be velarized in the nominative and palatalized in the genitive. We map this palatalization onto the second part of the English ɔɪ diphthong.
The winning party in Donegal SW was Sinn Féin. We all know how to pronounce that in English: ˈʃɪn ˈfeɪn. Looking at LPD, I find I give the Irish as ˌʃin̪ʲ ˈheːnʲ. Although this has remained unchanged in LPD since the first edition twenty years ago, I think it must be wrong. Wikipedia says it should be ʃɪnʲ fʲeːnʲ, which I am inclined to believe. Perhaps someone who knows Irish can set us straight. Where did I get the idea that the f- is lenited to h here? Anyhow, surely the lenition product of f is zero? And if there were lenition here, surely it would be signalled in spelling? How come no one has complained about the entry, or reported the mistake (if that is what it is)?