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 Irish language study. Pronounced SCAW-neen WHY-ruh, it means “Mary’s mirror”, and it reflects her gentle and playful nature.
In one post, Máire points out a typo on an Irish sign in the airport, and in another, she gives a quick lesson for students. She shows a picture of a house on blocks, and lists three statements:
1. Bhí cara dom ina cónaí in aice leis an teach seo. (7/7/06)
2. Thóg mé pictiúr an fhógra (inné) i 2005, sílim.
3. Lá breithe sona dhuit, a Pham! (cara eile)
The third means “Happy birthday, Pam! (another friend)”. I’ll let you guess what the other two mean. I plan to start taking it up as a hobby, so I’ll need to make sure I have the other two correct before I return to class!
3 thoughts on “An Bhlog Ghailge – Scátháinín Mháire”
Ed.. purely a personal note regarding your interest in the native language of Ireland. Turns out my daughter works for the Government of Ireland (the development agency) and is also beginning to try and understand the language. I have snipped the text and forwarded it on to her for her reading at the office.
Thanks and enjoy your work.. I see you use Moveable Type .. have a copy myself that i have yet to light up..
regards and best to the fm
My God, Ed, Irish is a nightmare!
The sandhi is hideous – that’s the phonetic rule that covers the pronunciation of words depending on what precedes them. Irish is full of this.
My grandmother was of a Welsh family. I have been listening to BBC Wales and have a nice book on Welsh that I bought on Charing Cross Rd in London.
It’s going to be a long road to learn it. I only remember a few phrases she taught me.
I remember a lot more of the Choctaw my great-grandmother taught me as a child.
I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is harder.
Dun do chlob! Is an teanga iontach!
Welsh is a different subset of Celtic, called p-Celtic, and is more closely related to Breton and Cornish. Irish is q-Celtic and is the basis for Scots Gaeilge and Manx. Cornish and Manx are dead now, and Breton nearly so. Welsh is the most widely-spoken Celtic language. It’s also way more difficult than Irish.
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