People have shown interest in the origin and pronunciation of the name "Padraig Breathnach". Padraig writes:
First, a minor point with which I do not
burden people in AUE: the proper Gaelic spelling is "Pádraig"; an
equally-common version is "Pádraic".
"Padraig" comes from the Latin
"Patricius". St Patrick was from Wales, and was a member of a Roman or a
Romanised family. More likely Romanised, as his Latin was, apparently, not
very good. [There is a story that his mother came from France, from Touraine,
and that Patrick was related to St. Martin of Tours.]
The Irish Celtic
people had difficulty with the name because of the phonic system they had
available to them. One early Irish version was "Coithric" (pronounced
something like "CUH-rick"). The initial "C" came in because "P" was not
generally used in Gaelic. Other early versions have the "P".
The "t" in
"Patricius" was effectively cancelled. In Gaelic, where either "d" or "t" is
followed by "r" it often elided.
Over time, more Gaelic people acquired
the "P" sound, and the "Coithric" version dropped out of use.
Gaelic dialects there appears to have been an incorrect reversal if the
elision of the "t". It was restored as a "d". That is reflected in modern
spelling, and in the pronunciation of "Pádraig" in some dialects
My preferred pronunciation is something like "PAW-rick"; others
have suggested "PORR-ic", and I would not argue too strongly with them. It's
somewhere in there.
There are other pronunciations which are also
correct if one speaks a different dialect of Gaelic.
There are two major groups of Celtic peoples in this
part of the world: The Goidels and the Brythons. These terms are favoured by
scholars. In popular usage, one finds the versions "Gael" and
The Goidelic people are the Irish, the Scots, and the Manx.
They are also classed as the Q-Celts because they used a "q" or hard "c" sound
in certain words (e.g. "ceann" for "head").
The Brythonic people
include the Welsh, the Cornish, and the Bretons. They are classed as P-Celts
because they used the "p" sound where the Goidels used the "q" sound ("pen"
In Gaelic, the word "Breathnach" means "Brythonic". This
is not the same as "British" in the modern sense. It is narrower in
application, referring to Celtic people. Because the Irish have had far more
interaction with the Welsh than with the other Brythonic peoples, it is often
used simply to mean "Welsh". In fact, that is the common anglicisation of the
name: Walsh or Welsh.
I find it difficult to give anything other than
a crude guide to pronunciation. One might say "BRANN-och" and not be too far
off. But it is not quite right.
The "r" is what we describe as narrow, and has some resemblance to the
French rolled "r".
In the "th" group (can we call it a digraph?) the "h" indicates that the
"t" is elided; it leaves a very subtle, almost undetectable, schwa.
In the "ch" group the "h" again indicates elision, but the elision is
not total; it becomes something like a very gentle clearing of the throat.