From Alan James – 26 July 2020
Aye, I was listening recently to some recordings you can find on YouTube of Somhairle Macgill-Eain reciting ‘Hallaig’ and others of his poems. His pronunciation is fairly similar to the way I was taught by Alasdair MacMhaoirn (now at Sabhal Mor), albeit with a bit of a ‘Canadian Gaelic’ accent. I’d say both sounded ‘ao’ more like French ‘eu’ than English ‘oo’. But listening to younger Gaelic speakers, it does seem to have shifted that way.
I think the tendency for -ach to shift to -och is quite widespread, though different factors may have been at work in different places, Leodhasach is very distinctive in many ways. But in the south I wonder whether Brittonic -ǭg might have had some influence. Like Alex Woolf has suggested for Pictish, it may not have been a simple matter of Gaelic replacing the P-Celtic language, rather absorbing it.