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In Gail Carriger's series, mainly Finishing School, there is a female character named Sidheag, and I have no clue how this is pronounced. (Is it a real name in the first place or is it made-up?)

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According to the author's website

Sidheag ~ SHEE-ak alternatively pronounced SIDH-hey, just to make matters confusing. (Again, chosen for its meaning, all the pack names are.)

The word itself means "Wolf" in Gaelic and is, apparently a traditional name in Scotland although it's never broken into the top 10,000 baby names in the last 100 years.

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    Yet more evidence that Gaelic uses the Latin alphabet just to confuse foreigners. :) – Martha Jan 3 '16 at 0:19
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    A lot of websites (of doubtful trustworthiness) seem to be saying that it means ‘wolf’ in Gaelic, but it doesn’t—not quite. There is sitheach, which does mean a wolf, but which ends in -ach /əx/, rather than -ag /əɡ/. The former is a common adjectivising and nominalising suffix with no specific meaning, whereas the latter is a feminising diminutive suffix that’s very common in female names. Sidheag seems more likely to me to be an older spelling of sìtheag ‘female fairy’ (cf. Irish sídheog), which seems a more likely source for a girl’s name anyway. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 20 '16 at 7:46
  • The Finishing School series is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! Sidheag might be my favorite character other than Sophronia. I agree about the pronunciation though. According to the Gaelic name nerds site it means "wolf" which I though was interesting... :) – user66346 May 19 '16 at 1:35
  • The "wolf" meaning would make much more sense in context since this character is related to a pack of werewolves. – Pwassonne Nov 19 '17 at 20:22
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There is absolutely no way a Scottish name "Sidheag" could be pronounced "Sidh-hay" as Gail Carriger states, nor "Sit-ay" as the otherwise excellent audio reader does. "SI" in both Scots and Irish Gaelic is always pronounced "SH," the "dh" is silent, and the final "g" is sounded.

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  • So how is it pronounced? Is SHEE-AK correct? – Integration Feb 13 '17 at 9:49
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I know that Sidhe is pronounced "Shee" kinda like the e in eh, rather than the e in be. Technically DH in Gaelic makes a sound like what would happen if you drew out the GH in ugh, or if you voiced the CH in Scottish loch/German ach. However, a broad DH like that is sometimes just dropped at the beginning or end of a word, so you could probably ignore it so long as you get the rest right.

The e and the a in Sidheag sort of run together lightly, meaning that when you're saying it aloud your jaw drops a little and your lips go from the wider E configuration to a slightly rounder version in order to make a soft A sound. Not too much though– it's all rather subtle– and remember you're saying this all in one beat, so it should flow smoothly.

Finally, Gs in Gaelic are velar (with tongue to soft part at the back of the roof of your mouth) like the Ks in English (eg. kook)

I'm not Scottish, and I'm definitely not the best Gaelic speaker out there (I only know a few words) but I do my research. I hope I've been helpful.

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  • I don’t speak Gaelic, but this seems logical. – Mal Dec 9 '17 at 2:52
  • Gaelic is inflected, often through modification of vowel sounds. That said, not every vowel is pronounced individually; vowels must match the consonants around it. Hence, in sidhe the pronunciation is (approximately) SHEE-ah. For the G, the tongue touches much farther down the throat than along the top of the mouth, and is very short; hence its common representation in English as a K. It is still a G, though. I don’t know of any good way to represent its sound with only English/Latin letters. – Dúthomhas Dec 9 '17 at 18:43

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