Irish – back to the future

As you should know, I’m learning Irish these days. Now, this makes me a teeny bit nostalgic. You see, Irish was the first “weird” (ie. not what Whorf called “Standard Average European”) language I have ever tried to learn. It was about 15 years ago, during my highschool truancy days when I found a Polish textbook of Munster dialect (“An Ghaeilge” according to some the best textbook ever made for any dialect of Irish) in Warsaw’s central library.

Yup, instead of going to school, I knew no better but to spend my days at a library. Anyway, the book got me curious – verb coming first in a sentence, initial consonant mutations, all that stuff. I didn’t properly learn it of course, just played with it for a bit and moved to new discoveries (I think it was Hindi or maybe Arabic).

Still, I didn’t exactly forget about Irish either – there was always a smattering of terms and phrases I would remember from that first book, the mediocre Teach Yourself Irish, the Gaeilge-B mailing list or my acquaintance with Panu H. and Jonas L. – two Swedish-Finnish Gealgeaoiri. Things like nilim olc in aon char, ta me go maith, conas a ta tusa, tar isteach, gach la, blah, blah. Enough to impress someone for 2 minutes, I guess (and sorry about the lack of fadas).

Now, I feel, is the time to move farther, to make a full circle and to go back to the unfinished business (and I have a lot of that when it comes to languages I wanted to learn but didn’t). So I’m back to Irish.

The textbook I’m using, Learning Irish by Michael O’Siadhall teaches Connamara dialect and is excellent. It is also grammar-centric (as opposed to dialogues and ‘real-life’ situations) and not very user-friendly, so be warned. There’s no dumbing-down of the terminology, no superfluous explanations, no feel-goody tone. I really like it. The second thing I’m using for the first time is ANKI space repetition software. Read up on it, it seems like it works for me.

Lastly, a random popfact – while browsing, I came across Des Bishop rendering of House of Pain’s classic “Jump around” in Irish. It sounds fun (and somewhat nostalgic, if you grew up in early 90’s) and you can download it from here (click on “Leimigi Thart” up there).

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  • Rémy  On August 29, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I also started using ANKI this summer for vocabulary building and I’m quite surprised at how effective it has been. One thing I’ve started doing over the last two weeks is adding a few sample sentences for each word so that I can keep in mind the different contexts that any given word can be used in when I’m reviewing it. I’m thinking of using it to help memorise dates, factoids and quotes for my history courses next semester; hopefully it will work just as well!

    • peterlin  On August 29, 2010 at 3:12 am

      Hi Rémy! Long time no see! How have you been?

      Re your comment: I’m still trying tweaking with ANKI, but it really is very neat, even when not used to its fullest. Do you add example sentences to “back” fields or make new cards (decks?) with them?

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