I have a bit of Irish.

I have said earlier that Irish was the first weird language I ever tried to learn. Let me now illustrate its weirdness in a couple of sentences.

Its syntax is verb-initial, which is quite unusual for an Indo-European language:

Deir Seán nach bhfuil siad sásta leis an gcoláiste.

“Sean says that they’re not happy with the college”

Níl mo chuid Gaeilge go maith.

“My Irish is not good”

There are many languages which lack the verb “to have”. It’s not that uncommon that the meaning “I have a X” is expressed by “an X is at/by/on me”. It’s like that in Irish too…

Tá cat agam

“I have a cat”

… but it goes further with it:

Tá Gaeilge agam

“I know Irish”

Níl caint aige

“He can’t talk”

An bhfuil a fhios agad é?

“Do you know it?”

Weird, huh? And we didn’t even touch the mutations yet… In brief – in Irish a word can change its initial sound in some contexts. In the examples above gcoláiste [pron. goolashte] is from coláiste [koolashte], chuid [khid] is from cuid [kid] and fhios [ees] is from fios [fees]. Fascinating… add to that the extravagant orthography (‘oíche’ is pronounced [i]), the rich imagery and all the romanticism of being spoken by a small minority only…

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  • ciaran12  On March 8, 2011 at 5:53 am

    It’s really cool to see non-Irish people taking an interest in our language! Makes us feel appreciated, I’m honoured. I’m actually learning the language myself as well. I was taught it for 14 years in our education system and I still can speak a word really. I’m under no illusion that this is not my fault, but hey…at least I’m trying now, right? I use ANKI for my Japanese, and I really love it, so I just started an Irish deck today. I read a post you made about using ANKI and you said you had an Irish deck, any chance you might upload it for others to download? I personally would love to get my hands on it, it’ll give me a good place to start. I read your Irish posts as well, an-mhaith! Sílim go bhfuil Gaeilge maith agat, a chara. I wish mine was as good…

    • peterlin  On March 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      My Irish deck should be accessible from ankiweb.net at this key: 8377ad2d41f28c0e. I’ll try later to upload it from the client so that it would be browsable, but it seems I’d have to update my ANKI client – my present version has problems with export/share.

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