I want to learn an Irish Gaelic song, but the phonology is making my brain hurt. Here's a line:

’Sé mo Shaesar, ghille mear

Pronounced like:

/ʃe mo hezər ɣɪlə mar/

Is there a program that can convert the lyrics to the International Phonetic Alphabet?

1 Answer 1


Use espeak -q --ipa to convert text input to IPA.

Option -q means "quiet" -- in this case literally "don't speak".

  1. First check that it supports the language:

    $ espeak --voices
    Pty Language Age/Gender VoiceName          File          Other Languages
     5  ga             -  irish-gaeilge        europe/ga     
  2. Then specify the language and feed the line:

    $ espeak -q -v ga --ipa "’Sé mo Shaesar, ghille mear"
     ʃˈeː mɐ hˈeːʃɐr
     ʁjˈɪlʲlə mˈar
  3. I don't know why the output has leading spaces and a linebreak, but feeding it into echo will remove them:

    $ echo $(espeak -q -v ga --ipa "’Sé mo Shaesar, ghille mear")
    ʃˈeː mɐ hˈeːʃɐr ʁjˈɪlʲlə mˈar
  4. Use while read to do the whole lyrics:

    $ while read line; do
    >     echo $(espeak -q -v ga --ipa "$line")
    > done < "Mo Ghille Mear.txt"
    ʃˈeː mɐ ləˈeːəx mɐ ʁjˈɪlʲlə mˈar
    ʃˈeː mɐ hˈeːʃɐr ʁjˈɪlʲlə mˈar
    nʲˈiː ˈuəɹɐs fˈeːn ˈeːən t̪ˈuən nɑː ʃˈeːn
    ˈoː xˈui̯ɡ ɪ ɡʲˈeːn mɐ ʁjˈɪlʲlə mˈar
  • On listening again to the song, it seems the machine transcription gets a lot of consonants wrong. Vowels are good for the most part.
    – wjandrea
    May 26, 2017 at 5:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.