Wait, there’s an Irish language?

The Irish language has existed in some form for centuries, but most people do not even know that the language exists, because English is more prevalent in Ireland.  While Irish school children are required to learn the language for the first twelve years of their education, many are proud to say that they remember none of it.  It is depressing to think about the dwindling of the Irish language, which can be seen on all official signs, yet is almost never spoken outside of the official Irish language regions (Gaeltacht).  In response to this, there has been an effort for the last hundred or so years to bring about a reemergence of the language in normal society.

The Irish language can be seen in green here, as required by the Official Languages Act of 2003.

I have spent the last six weeks in Galway learning the basics of conversation in Irish, should I find someone else who knows the language.  I thought that an interesting way to share this experience would be to write a short blog post completely in the Irish language.  However, I mostly know how to say where I am from, which would get annoyingly repetitive as well as incredibly off topic in a study abroad blog.  So, I’ve decided to piece together the following small paragraph in Irish instead, with an English translation below and a brief description of my experience learning the language.  As a warning, I will be using the vocabulary and pronunciations of the Connemara dialect.  There is nothing wrong with the Ulster or Munster variations; I simply do not know them.  Please enjoy!

Dia dhuit! Meg Bojarski an t-ainm atá orm.  Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?  Tá mé togha.  Chuaigh mé chun Gaillimh seo samhradh. Tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge. Is as Meiriceá ó dhúchas mé. Tá mo teach lonnaithe in Georgia, agus tá m’ollscoil lonnaithe in Huntsville, Alabama. Is maith liom Éire. Tá Éire beagán fuar agus fliuch, ach tá sé álainn.  Tá mé i mo chónaí sa “dorms” ag OÉ Gaiilimh.  Tá campas in aice le Abhainn na Gaillimhe.  Tá cairde ó Éirinn agam.  Is maith linn ag canadh agus ag éisteacht le ceol. Tá sin ar fad tá a scríobh agam.

Hello!  My name is Meg Bojarski.  How are you?  I am grand.  I went to Galway this summer.  I am learning Irish.  I am originally from America.  My house is located in Georgia, and my university is located in Huntsville, Alabama.  I like Ireland.  Ireland is a bit cold and wet, but it is beautiful.  I am living in the dorms at NUI Galway.  Campus is beside the River Corrib.  I have friends from Ireland.  We like singing and listening to music.  That is all I have to write.

I tried to piece together several of the topics that we learned how to write for this admittedly limited paragraph.  For those of you who do not know about the Irish language, some aspects are oddly complex.  For instance, there are two completely different grammatical structures to say “to be”, three different forms of counting (for counting time, things, and people), and no definitive ways to say “yes” or “no”.  Because of this, I did not get the opportunity to dig as deeply into vocabulary in my time learning the language as I may have with other languages.  But I am happy with what I have had the opportunity to learn.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of learning a language is learning the fun and often frustrating quirks.  For instance, “I am sorry” in Irish is “Tá brón orm”, which is directly translated as “The sorrow is on me”.  We all had fun joking about this structure once we learned it, triumphantly declaring that happiness was upon us after a fun day out in the city.  Another interesting fact is that many letters in Irish are not actually pronounced.  Often, consonants will take up an urú, which will silence the second vowel of a given word (For example, “nGearmáin” is pronounced nyar-mahn, with the n completely silencing the g).  There are also often two to three vowels in a given word, which only take the sound of one of them (the letters “aoi” take up the sound of the letter í, which is pronounced as ee).

Now that you know a bit about the oddities of the Irish language, I’ll provide a few short phrases for you to impress your friends with.

Hello: Dia dhuit. Dee-ah hrr-eet  (roll your r)

I am grand: Tá mé togha. Tah may t-ow

I am tired:  Tá mé tuirseach. Tah may tear-shogh

I’m sorry: Tá brón orm. Tah brone orm

Thank God:  Buíochas le Dia! Bwee-hahs luh Dee-ah

Thank you:  Go raibh maith agat. Go rah mah ad

Please:  le do thoil leh duh hell

Bless you: Dia linn. Dee-ah linn

Good luck: Ádh mór! Ah more

Good bye: Slán. Slah-n




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