Whenever I mention that I’m learning Irish, people inevitably ask me if it’s close to English. I understand the confusion as Irish people primarily speak English, so people think I’m somehow learning the Irish accent while speaking English, I suppose.
However, Irish is a Gaelic language – it’s called gaeilge, though the translation of that is ‘Irish’. To show you how different it is compared to English, here is a quick couple of sentences:
Dia duit! Is mise Polo. Is as Sasana mé, ach tá mé i mo chónaí i gCeanada anois. Go raibh maith agat.
Which translates as:
Hello! My name’s Polo. I’m from England, but I live in Canada now. Thank you.
Since the quarantine started, I’ve upped my Irish game. I’m taking a lesson a week instead of one or two a month, and I’m also watching TG4 which has Irish language programs available. I’m absolutely fascinated by the sound of Irish above all other languages. It’s beautiful. It flows so perfectly and I don’t know how else to put it except that I love the shape of it.
I’m also starting to get a hang of the spelling system. When I started, I would look at a word with all the letters and just shrug. I couldn’t see the link between them and the sounds the words made – for example, “maidin maith” means good morning and would be pronounced similar to “madjin mah” in the dialect I’m learning. Now when I write down the pronunciation of a word, I often end up using the same letters as the original word, so I’m learning the patterns at last.
It’s a fascinating language and I’ll talk more about it in the future. Do you know much about Irish?