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 you guess which one?

Is é an plódú tráchta an chonspóid is déanaí i Nua-Eabhrac. Faoi dheireadh tá glactha ag an gcathair leis go bhfuil an iomarca tráchta ar na sráideanna, agus táthar ag obair ar phleananna chun an trácht sin a mhaolú.

Here’s the translation, as best as I can do:

Traffic jams are the latest controversy in New York. Talk has it that the city has been gripped with too much traffic, and work is in progress to debate plans to decrease it.

It sounds much less mundane in Irish … trust me. I’ll be posting over the weekend, but probably rather lightly. I will take the day off from the Northern Alliance Radio Network, but be sure to tune in and listen to the rest of the crew tomorrow, starting at 11 am CT.
In the meantime … oíche mhaith!

11 thoughts on “An Deireadh Seachtaine Leis An Teango Beo”

  1. oíche mhaith!
    Which, given the really odd pronunciations in Gaelic, is pronounced, “Bob”… 😉

  2. Gaelic is interesting.
    what are the five? from most common to extinct?
    1. Irish
    2. Welsh
    3. Scottish
    4. Manx (last native speaker died on Isle of Man in mid-70’s)-extinct now (is there a revival?)
    5. Cornish – extinct by 1890’s? (revival now?)
    did I miss any?
    When I went to Wales in 95 – all street signs were Bilingial – seems like “araf” was “stop” – but I forget – so could be wrong.
    Can a Scottman understand an Irishman and vise versa like the Spanish and Protuguese? or no?
    Latin is an interesting Language with its Declension – noun-verb into one word combos and utter lack of a need for sentence sequencing.

  3. The missing one is Breton, spoken in Brittany, in western France. It is not native to Brittany, but is descended from the language of Britons fleeing Britain after the Romans left in the 5th century.
    No, Irish and Scots Gaelic are not mutually intelligible. But there is a bit of overlap between Welsh and Breton.

  4. interesting post. you seem to know alot about this stuff. from what I understand the last non-english speaking Welsh persons died in the 1920’s and Welsh as a language nearly died out in the 1970’s. since then there has been a revival, however the language is not used enough to have any who are only welsh speakers anymore. Seems like there is a term for this characterist of a language but I forget.
    Irish Gaelic too has had quite a revival – don’t know if there are any non-english speaking Irish or not.
    When I travel to scottland many years ago Scots Gaelic was nowhere to be heard (outside of some cut middleschool girls on the street who sang to me the national anthem – though they didn’t even speak it!). I wunder of the Scots have revived it since the mid-90’s.
    The Scottish are the most friendly people on Earth – more friendly than the English IMO.

  5. I guess the French in Brittany spoke Gaulic (and Latin) at the time the Bretons set foot in Brittany?
    they say that Latin, Gaelic and others were rooted in Indo-European, however the one exception seems to be Basque – which is thought to PREDATE all other surviving languages. I guess the real mistery is where did Basque originate from?……the Basque people have a different bloodtype ratio from the rest of the Europeans – implication being that their culture is the oldest living one in Europe and so isolated that the People have diverged (or those around them have) genetically over the eons.

  6. Shouldn’t NEW YORK be NEW YORK in any language? After all, it would be awful trying to translate the name of my city, Anaheim, into some foreign language.

  7. In Spanish, New York is “Nueva York.”
    As regards how city names are translated, or if they are at all, I am not aware of any consistent standard. For example, “Los Angeles” is Spanish for “the angels,” but no foreign language with which I am familiar translates the city name into their own way of saying “the angels.”

  8. Actually, looking at Wikipedia, a couple of candidates for languages which translate “Los Angeles” literally came up — Galician and Latin. But all the other languages linked there which use the Roman alphabet, and some of those that don’t, use the name “Los Angeles” or transliterate it rather than translate it.

  9. We use English forms of Italian and German city names all the time. So why shouldn’t Irish have it’s version of New York? (It’s not like there aren’t enough Irish there. 8) )
    I studied Russian for a year while I was at University in Dublin, and startled the heck out of one of my teachers by using the Irish form of Galway when speaking Russian, because it just fit so much better than the English. Which was even odder, since I don’t speak any Irish myself.

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