Gaeilge Archives

April 5, 2004

An Teanga Beo -- The Living Tongue

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I spent Saturday in an Irish-language workshop, and it occurred to me that some of you (okay, all four of you) may be scratching your heads and wondering what the heck I was talking about. I don't believe many people know that Irish Gaelic, known as Gaeilge (GWAYL-gyuh), is in fact a living language spoken fluently by at least 100,000 people in Ireland alone, with a million more who have a lesser command of it. Gaeilge has a rich history, both spoken and literary, stretching far past English; it has existed for at least 2,500 years, and is the oldest surviving language of Western Europe. To give you an example, here's the Nicene Creed in Irish, as printed in a missalette I purchased at the workshop: Creidim in aon Dia amhin, an tAthair uilechumhachtach, a rinne neamh agus talamh agus an uile...

July 11, 2004

Ag Seol Abhaile n gCardlann Gaeilge

Alas! Our weekend workshop for the Irish language has come to an end, along with the embargo on outbound e-mail. I'll be heading home shortly, after having taken upon myself the role of official historian of this year's event. When I have some time, I'll put together a slide show for the participants, complete with music and the 100+ pictures I took with my digital camera. The workshop itself was a blast, even if I have neglected my language studies due to my blogging of late. I found I hadn't lost much from my skills ... not that there was that much to lose, of course. I even led a halting and somewhat off-key rendition of 'Whiskey In The Jar' (no offense to my partner here, of course) and a somewhat more confident version of 'Molly Malone' at the traditional Saturday-night cil. I found time to go on a couple...

February 26, 2005

Is Gaeilgeoir M ... ach Clint Eastwood?

It isn't every day that I see the Irish language mentioned in the pages of the New York Times, and today's op-ed article by Wes Davis, an assistant professor of English at Yale, marks the very first time I've seen it form the basis of an opinion piece anywhere outside of Ireland. I've studied Irish for almost four years now, although I've cut back my scholarship (such as it was) while I've been blogging. I read and write Irish passably well for a first-grader, I suppose, and speak it less well than that, but I take pride in that bilingualism. Davis makes the same point in his review of the language's use in the new Clint Eastwood film, Million Dollar Baby, a use of which I had no knowledge until now. MDB has attracted rave reviews and tremendous controversy over its somewhat-concealed treatment -- some say endorsement -- of assisted...

March 17, 2005

L Fhile Phdraig Sona Dhaoibh!

The title says, 'Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of you,' and as a celebration of the event today, I'm listening to a new set of CDs sent to me by the Irish band Poitn. The one spinning at the moment, Winter Brew, has a good mix of traditional Irish instrumental music along with pub songs and even a bit of sean-ns, for true traditionalists. Right now, I'm listening to " Sullivan's March", a lively instrumental. After this CD finishes, I'll be listening to Barley Mash, which I think is actually the better of the two CDs. If you love Irish music and haven't heard Poitn, be sure to pick up these two worthy and entertaining albums. I may or may not get much of a chance to celebrate tonight; in the Twin Cities, St. Patrick's Day gets an insane turnout at the local pubs, especially at places like Keegan's,...

March 17, 2007

The Official Breakfast Of Lá Fhéile Phádraig

You know it's Saint Patrick's Day in the Twin Cities when green makes its way onto the breakfast table: It tasted pretty much like a normal bagel, but somehow my Irish eyes were smiling the entire time ......

April 23, 2007

An Bhlog Ghailge - Scátháinín Mháire

One of the hobbies I had before succumbing to my obsessive passion of blogging and political commentary was the study of Gaeilge, the language of Ireland. One of six Celtic languages, its renaissance has been slow and halting since the independence of Ireland in the 1920s. Few speak it as a first language, and only around 20% or so of the Irish population speak it conversationally, despite its status as one of the two official languages in the Republic of Ireland. However, its use in poetry and music is unbelievably beautiful, and its connection to Irish culture is unmistakable. I live in an area where Irish language resources are in good supply. Chief among them is the non-profit group Gaeltacht Minnesota, which holds free language lessons on a weekly basis. My instructor, when I had time to attend, has started her own blog called Scátháinín Mháire for some amusement in...

July 13, 2007

An Deireadh Seachtaine Leis An Teango Beo

If readers noticed an unusually quiet period at Captain's Quarters, it's because I took the afternoon off to travel to Winona, Minnesota. What's in Winona besides beautiful landscapes and clean air? It's the annual Gaeltacht Minnesota Irish-language workshop weekend -- and I'm attending for the first time in three years. I''ve written occasionally about my love for the Irish language. It has a distinctive, poetic beauty but is very challenging to learn. One of six Celtic languages -- a branch on its own from the Indo-European language root -- it uses a verb-subject-predicate structure that takes time to absorb. Gaeilge uses intriguing and maddening processes such as lenition and eclipsis that change the spelling and pronunciation of words in certain circumstances, which is like learning a vocabulary that likes to play hide-and-go-seek. For instance, here's the start of an article from the Irish-language website Beo about an American city. Can...

September 3, 2007

Ceacht Ghaeilge a hAon: Cád a Dúirt Sé?

Here's a lesson for those prospective Irish speakers among you -- all two or three of you, anyway. It's a joke sent to me via the Admiral Emeritus from my aunt in central California, but it gives readers a chance to learn a little Gaeilge for themselves, a particular passion of mine. An Irishman walking through a field in Ireland sees a man drinking water from a pond with his hand. The Irishman shouts "Na ól an t-uisce, tá sé lán de chac bo!" The man yells back "I'm English, speak English, I don't understand you". The Irishman shouts back "Use both hands, you'll get more in." So what did the Irishman say as Gaeilge? I'll answer in the comments later, but let's see if any CQ commenters can figure this one out....