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Learning the Irish language (Gaeilge)

| 112 comments | Category: particular languages

[Note: If you'd like something interesting to read in Irish (translated by natives from the Gaeltacht) check out the full version of the Language Hacking Guide. The sales page is also in Irish of course :) ]

Gaeilge

Gaeilge, Irish, or “Irish Gaelic” is the national and first official language of Ireland, as well as one of the official languages of the European Union.

Although everyone in Ireland speaks English, there are regions known as the Gaeltacht that use Irish as the main language of communication, both in businesses and in families.

When we say Irish (the language) we don’t mean our accent in English (i.e. Hiberno English – I’ve written a separate post about that here!) – we mean a language on a completely different branch of the European language family tree.

More distant than French and Spanish, stranger than Slavic languages and more exotic and beautiful than many languages, Irish is an interesting specimen and something I’d like to share with readers today as part of a few posts for Seachtain na Gaeilge – the week celebrating the Irish language and culture leading up to St. Patrick’s day!

Níl sé deacair ar chor ar bith

While Irish is quite different, there are some things that make it pretty straightforward to learn.

It only has 11 irregular verbs (compared to 500 or so in English and thousands in Spanish/French/etc. depending on how you count them), there’s no indefinite article (so you can just say “Tá leabhar agam” – literally I have book etc. with no “a” to complicate things), and even though it has masculine and feminine nouns, the definite article “an” (the) is the same for both. It uses the same alphabet as other European languages (although it is the only language that still traditionally uses its own special font).

The phonetics (pronunciation based on spelling) are quite different, and this usually scares a lot of people. But you can learn the differences very quickly and after that they are consistent (unlike in English), so you can read any given text aloud pretty well after a small amount of study.

Most of the letters work pretty similarly to how they do in most European languages, but some changes include mb = m, gc = c, th = h, dt = d, bhf = silent, and some consonants change sound depending on if they are before i/e or a/o/u. This happens in Spanish/French/Italian and other languages too (with c/g for example) but is slightly different in Irish.

For example S before i or e is an sh sound – this is why the well-known name Seán is pronounced (and spelled, in America) as Shawn. Most of the vowels work similarly to as they would in English, with the exception of “ao” pronounced as “ee”, so the name Aoife is pronounced Ee-fa. The subtle difference between how some consonants are pronounced takes some practice but can indeed be learned :).

This is important for saying Irish people’s names correctly (even when just speaking English). Even some titles are not translated in Ireland, instead of a “prime minister” we have a Taoiseach (the word we use in English too) – based on what I said above (and ‘ch’ is pronounced gutturally as in loch), you will see better why this is pronounced Tee-sho[ch].

The language also interestingly has no word for yes or no (like in Thai for example). We simply repeat the verb of the question, e.g. Ar ith tú do lón? D’ith! Did you eat your lunch? I did! (literally, I ate)

Cad atá tú ag caint faoi?

There are a few tricky aspects of the language that merit a mention though.

You know the way in most languages you change the end of words in certain situations? (car/cars, I eat / he eats, drapeau / drapeaux etc.)… And even the middle of the words in other ones (man/men, mouse/mice)? Well in Irish we very merrily change the beginning. This is something common in other Celtic languages and adds to a nice flow between words.

So, for those of you who don’t know, my name is actually Brendan (Benny is my nickname ). In Irish this is originally written Breandán and when followed by verbs and such it stays the same. Tá Breandán ag ithe - Brendan is eating.

However, thanks to the magic of initial mutations we can change the start of words in many situations! So if you want to get my attention some day, don’t shout Breandán!! but A Bhreandán!! – which is actually pronounced ah Vrendawn since bh=v! This would be the vocative case for the linguists out there. Another example: Mo = my & madra = dog, but my dog is mo mhadra (“mo wadra”) since mh=w.

This strange use of spelling and the other examples mentioned above may seem offputting, but it’s actually quite helpful believe it or not! You see, we keep the letter of the original base word (e.g. crann for tree) in a modified version of the word (e.g. i gcrann for in a tree – the ‘c’ is silent, but essential for recognising the original word when the modified one is written). This is way better than if the language was perfectly phonetic; even if you knew the word crann, if you saw “grann” in a dictionary, text, or spelled out for you, it would be much more confusing. I’m told that Welsh (in the same language family) operates more phonetically despite the same initial mutation situation and I’d personally miss my original letters for recognition!

The vocabulary of the language is of course quite different; it’s one of the few languages I’ve seen (the other being Esperanto) that has its own word for things like the Internet (Idirlíon), and even words you would hope would be slightly similar go way off; “vegetarian” is feoilséantóir (literally means, “meat shunner”).

However, despite the huge differences, like in some other languages, words are formed logically using prefixes, suffixes and combinations of roots. A lot of Irish words do this so after you have some basic vocabulary it isn’t that bad to recognise more complicated words and very quickly build up your base of vocabulary.

For example, astronomy is réalteolaíocht [réalta=star, eolas=knowledge/information, íocht=y/ity etc. suffix, or more generally the second part, eolaíocht = science, so "star science"]. And then sometimes we just separate the words in an easy way. Exit is simply bealach amach (way out).

Word order changes a bit from English, and we have preposition conjugation (same way in Spanish/Portuguese con + tu = contigo, except that it is applied to all persons for most prepositions). Also, because of the initial mutations mentioned above, capital letters (upper case) can occur as the second or third letter in a word! So Donegal (county in the northwest) is spelled Dún na nGall. These things do take some getting used to, but it really isn’t that bad. :)

Tá an teanga i ngach áit!

The best part of all, is that Irish speakers are generally always happy to help! We are a long cry from arrogant perfectionists (something that holds too many people back from speaking a language), so if you can form some sentences we’ll be very happy to hear them even if there are some grammatical mistakes :) Whenever I hear a cúpla focal from someone I always encourage them to keep going!

Whether in Ireland or abroad, there are usually some books in major libraries on learning Irish. You can also order them online – one of my favourites for beginners or those already with a wee bit is the multimedia Turas Teanga course (you can get it on Amazon US/UK) from Irish language RTE newsreader Sharon Ní Bheolain, who teaches the language while going around the country showing it used by natives. Teach yourself also do a great book about Irish for complete beginners (Amazon US/UK), and the more adventurous of you can even read Harry Potter in Irish! (Amazon US/UK)

But even if you aren’t in Ireland, the possibilities of being exposed to Irish are endless! As I’ve mentioned before you can use meetup.com or other social networking sites to see if there are other interested Irish learners in your city, and you can practice it through twitter as you learn it. I do this with all of my maintained languages so you can follow me @ilteangach as Gaeilge, and make sure to check out the hashtag this week for #snag (Irish language and culture week) or #gaeilge to see tweets in and about Irish.

You can also change the language of your computer and software to be entirely in Irish! Firefox, Open Office, Ubuntu and many more interfaces are available as Gaeilge.

Then of course there are lots of sites online to help you practice your Irish. Here is a small sample:

Liam Ó Maonlai has a free online course with PDFs and MP3s for download. The audio has some typical phrases that you can repeat.

Gramadach na Gaeilge – An extremely in-depth look at Irish grammar. Perhaps more interesting to linguists due to how extremely detailed it gets!

Irish Gaelic Translator forum – Get an almost instantaneous answer from a native or fluent speaker of the language on simple questions and short translations. This forum is very active and will be a great help! There is also the Daltaí forum.

Abair.ie – An amazing voice synthesiser for Irish text. It uses the beautiful Tír Conaill accent (Ireland’s 3 main dialects are quite different!!) and can help train you in your pronunciation.

RnaG – Ireland’s main Irish language radio station that you can listen to live. This is the best way to hear what the language actually sounds like! The entire page is in Irish, but click on “RnaG beo” (beo=live) link beside the radio image in the top-right to open up the stream.

Tg4 – Ireland’s Irish language TV station. What’s better than listening to the radio in Irish? Watching TV shows originally in Irish! Check out the Ros na Rún page (and click “Féach ar” [watch]) to watch a soap opera entirely in Irish! There are many more categories, but the site is navigated entirely in Irish of course.

Irish dictionary – free online dictionary.

Focal.ie – A free technical dictionary. Not good for basic words, but gives declensions and plurals for a lot of words; for intermediate and higher level learners.

———————

You can also check out a video I made about my experience in the Gaeltacht. The course I took was given by Oideas Gael in Donegal and takes place regularly every year for all levels. My Irish is far from perfect (my accent is definitely not as lovely as so many others that you would hear), but you can see some videos I’ve made entirely in Irish (most with subtitles) on my Irish videoblog. I don’t update it regularly, but I’m hoping to make a somewhat silly video next week about the Irish language [Edit: that video is ready! You can watch it in both English and Irish here]

I hope this post gives those of you out there curious about the language a little hint into how to learn and use it! Let me know in the comments about your own Irish learning experiences! Don’t forget to share this post with your other Irish-at-heart friends through twitter and facebook :)

Go n-eirí an bóthar libh!

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  • John

    Don’t German traditionally use its own special font?

  • wccrawford

    Wow. That is a surprisingly informative post! I've long considered learning it, but the pronunciation thing has always put me off. Knowing that it's regular and not random helps a lot!

  • http://twitter.com/diarmuidh Diarmuid Hayes

    Maith an fear a Bhreandáin! Fíormhaith an post sin! Great post Benny!

    http://www.daltai.com is another great site for learners…check out its forum with very helpful contributors

  • http://vladdolezal.com/blog/ Vlad Dolezal

    Ah, cool! Irish sounds quite easy to learn, when you put it like that :D

    If I ever decide to embark on a polyglotic journey like you, I might just add Irish to my list of want-to-learn languages!

  • elthyra

    Very interesting post !
    I've always wanted to study a Celtic language (especially Welsh), but just looking at the pronunciation of Welsh discouraged me. I didn't know that Irish used declensions – I'm starting to realize that a lot of languages have them
    What do the Irish titles of your post mean? Google translate gives me “Not at all déacar” for the second one, which isn't very helpful.

  • http://www.ikindalikelanguages.com lyzazel

    The word “déaca” should mean something like 'difficult' or 'in difficulties' so the phrase is 'not difficult at all', I think.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    I intentionally didn't translate some words to get people more curious ;)
    deacar is indeed difficult (I had mistakenly put an accent on it, sorry! That's why Google translate couldn't handle it; I've edited it)
    The actual translation is something of a unique phrase in Irish: “It isn't hard at all at all”, but I'll be getting to that in another post ;)

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    Nár laga Dia do lámh!

    Though this would be a better site/example of Irish traditional fonts: http://www.gaelchlo.com/clonna.html as the 'r' and 's' are particularily wrong in the picture above.

    Níl sé déacar ar chor ar bith – It's not difficult at all. (standard word is 'deacair')
    Cad atá tú ag caint faoi? – What are you talking about?
    Tá an teanga i ngach áit! – The language is everywhere.

    Mar gheall ar an bhfocal 'déacar', cén canúint atá i gceist?

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Every language in the world becomes easy to learn when you look at it through the eyes of optimism ;) Glad to see I've stired some interest in Irish among those that wouldn't have had it before! Although you would have seen me present it in Liberec (as in the photo) ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Go raibh maith a'at ;) Tá “daltaí” ann cheana féin!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Yep, it puts a lot of people off, so I really wanted to show them that it's not that scary and that we do it for a good reason ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    An canúint “Breandán an t-amadán” atá i gceist ;) Cheartaigh mé an botún :P

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    I wouldn't feel bad! Typos are a fact of life! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/croesffordd Anya R

    Is maith liom an méid naisc a thug tú sa phostáil seo ach ní aontaim leat faoi: “We are a long cry from arrogant perfectionists (something that holds too many people back from speaking a language)”. Chaith mé mí iomlán ar Inis Mór agus níor éirigh liom mórán comhrá a dhéanamh le na daoine aitiúla faraor. Agus nil mo chuid scileanna cumarsáide atá i gcéist! O.o

  • Diarmuid Hayes

    I scanned the last part …doh!

  • Janna87

    This was great! I've always been interested in trying to dip into some celtic languages. Can I ask a question? Just did.. so here's another: You mentioned a bit about how welsh was different.. I'm also curious about Scottish Gaelic, is it also very similar to Irish?

  • http://holyrecklessness.tumblr.com/ Cameron Rachal

    Finally something on the Irish! :) Thanks for the intro post Benny – I'll be learning the language soon enough. If one wanted to go to the most awesome Gaelige-speaking area in Ireland, which place would you suggest they go?

  • carmencepeda

    Dia dhuit, a Bhreandáin. I´m Spanish, and I´m learning Irish. My Irish teacher, Diarmuid Hayes, gave me this link. Great post … Is breá liom é! I hope I can practise my Irish very soon, because I´ll be in Ireland next month. I´m not sure yet, but probably I´ll pass by Cavan. Well, congratulations again, the post is really interesting.

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    Personally I love Corca Dhuibhne ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingle_Peninsula ) as it is such a beautiful part of the country.

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    The Celtic family of languages can be split into two sub-families and then again into more sub-sub-families. The two sub-families are Continental Celtic and Insular Celtic. The former family went extinct with the death of Gaulish in the 7th century A.D. The Insular family is spread across Ireland, Great Britain and Brittany (and is found amongst Irish, Scottish and Welsh communities in the New World). The Insular sub-family is broken down into Gaelic (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx) and British (Welsh, Cornish, Breton).

    Irish is indeed close to Scottish Gaelic and Manx, being the same language up to c. 12th century. There is a large degree of mutual intelligiblity (especially in the written language) but they are different enough to be considered separate languages.

    Welsh being a British Celtic language is significantly different from Irish. There is no mutual intelligibility but the languages of course have vocabulary in common through the proto-language.

  • Diarmuid Hayes

    Am listening to the Irish language station now (http://www.rnag.ie) and there is a lady from Scotland who speaks Scots Gaelic on a program now-they stop every 30 seconds or so to make sure they understand each other..there are expressions/vocabulary that are so different as to be unintelligible..however when they start singing they sing as Gaels not Irish or Scots!

  • Diarmuid Hayes

    I´m sure you know your name is Gaelic, no? Cam shròn!

    • GM

      I see you didn’t translate it, I suppose it might have put their nose out of joint.

  • http://corcaighist.blogspot.com Corcaighist

    Cén clár a bhí tú ag éisteacht air? An Saol Ó Dheas a ba é?

    • Diarmuid

      creidim gur chlár le daoine ó dTír Connaill agus le slua ón Óileáin Uidhist

  • http://www.minimalistme.net/ Jesse Bishop

    Thanks Benny! This was all a big help! :)

  • http://www.erinserb.wordpress.com/ erinserb

    Thank you very much for this Irish post. I have never been to Ireland, but ancestors came from there. The language truly is beautiful (almost mystical). I have some self-study materials, but I just have to get dedicated. The pronunciation is a little confusing, but that seems like something which can be overcome.

    This summary of Irish is perhaps one of the best that I've ever read. Kudos to the author!!! :-)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Great tips from Corcaighlist there! Dingle is gorgeous; I was hitchhiking around there a few years ago :)
    The video I linked to above is in Glencolmkille in Donegal, and includes an inexpensive weekly course in Irish that is great to get a start in the language. There is also a similar course in Connamara in County Galway. Although these 3 places mentioned each have their own dialect, but for beginners they would teach pretty much the same thing.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Go raibh maith agat a Charmen!
    Gracias Carmen!
    Best of luck with your Irish studies :)

  • Wouldeye

    Thanks so much for posting this!
    I live in VA, USA, a far cry from any Gaeltacht. One of the mothers of a dancer at my sister's Irish Dance troupe used to give weekly lessons in Irish. It was a good start, but she discontinued when she realized there wasn't much more she could teach us until she got back to Ireland and refreshed her own skills.

    Since then, my life has been pretty Irish-less. But a few weeks ago, I was cast in a Brendan Behan play. Since then, I've been trying to catch up and refresh my memory as much as possible. Your post couldn't have come at a better time. Go raibh maith agat!

  • http://www.learnspanishfastcourse.com/ Fast Jay

    Very insightful indeed. One year ago i didn't even know there was such a thing, a friend told me he spoke irish and i just assumed he was speaking about his dialect.

    There is something about learning old, native languages which appeals to me. When i was in Mexico i thought Nahuatl sounded ultra cool.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Glad you liked it! Tá fáilte romhat! ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Thanks for the compliment! It's still a brief summary of a vast and complex language, but I'm glad you liked it :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Tá fáilte romhat!! Thanks for sharing your story :) I hope you get your Irish back!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Yeah this is why I tend to use the term “Irish Gaelic” when abroad. It's annoying since the language is genuinely called “Irish”, but this has caused a lot less confusion. I would simply call my dialect in English, English of course…
    Hope this post educates a few people about Irish :)

  • AndreaClaire

    My own Irish learning experience. I was back in Ireland for two months during the summer I was 16. Two of my cousins had done those intensive two week summer courses in Irish, so as we drove back to Dublin from somewhere green and lovely they taught me to count to 20 and say all the counties in Irish. Feeling pretty proud of myself, I decided to show off what I had learned when I was out at a pub with three other cousins the following night. Impressed with what I had learned in less than a day, they start teaching me some additional phrases including what I was told was “I'm visiting my family; I'm from Canada”. It was only after I tried it out on some unsuspecting (and attractive) third party that I found out Matt and Connor had taught me to say “I would like to take off your pants. Canada.”

  • Russ

    Bhí sin suimiúil. Go raibh maith agat do scríbhinn sé. Bhí mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge le tamall. Tá sé teanga spraoi a fhoghlaim.

  • http://www.autoanything.com/floor-mats/10A50185.aspx Mat

    I want to learn but I think I should try perfecting English first!

  • http://www.bodytaller.com/blog/ grow taller naturally

    This article is very interesting, I like it. I will always come to visit after.I will recommend your blog to my friends.

  • http://gadget-reviews.org/ Gadget Reviews

    This is really really hard!! I can’t even spell Gaeilge

  • Is brea liom gaeilge

    I have never really thought about the way we pronounced words as gaeilge, I suppose we’ve been learning it since we were 4 so it almost comes naturally. I love irish and want to fluent one day and wish i had more opportunaitites to speak it

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      You’d be surprised how many opportunities are around you! Even on the other side of the planet I found people online (and even occasionally in person!) that would give me some practice :)

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/Learning-Multiple-Langugages-Simultaneously learn multiple languages

    You apparently mastered to become a polyglot. I will share this page.

  • http://tips-for-better-sleep.com/the-4-different-stages-of-the-sleep-cycle-that-are-important-components-of-sleep sleep cycle

    really nice article, loved your opinion about the subject

  • http://twitter.com/ukuleleface Dean

    Hey Benny! A bit unrelated, but where did you get your T-Shirt? :D

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Gift shop in Glencolmkille, Donegal – you may be able to get it on O’Connel Street in Dublin too though!

  • http://www.ratestotravel.info RatesToTravel

    Really interesting and make Irish sounds quite easy to learn, I enjoyed reading your article, bookmark’d for later reading, thanks a lot for sharing :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Oideas Gael is the summer course I’d recommend and I linked to it near the end.

    • faberm

      Chuaigh mé ansin fosta le cúpla bhlíain anuas. Thaitin an cursa go mór liom. Tá cleachteadh de dhith orm, ach atá athas orm faoin dul chun cinn deanta agam. Ní raibh mé abálta tada a rá cúpla bhliain ó shin. Go raibh maith agat as do chuid spreagadh. Tá mór agam duit!

  • http://removals-cleaning.com.au FurnitureRemovalistsMelbourne

    Always wanted to learn this language now you’ve inspired me to do it thank you.

  • http://www.rosettastoneallset.com Rosetta Stone

    well,look like very useful and effective! good post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liam-Ó-Brádaigh/100002090059741 Liam Ó Brádaigh

    “Firefox, Open Office, Ubuntu and many more interfaces are available as Gaeilge.”

    Tá Windows 7 agus Facebook ar fáil as Gaeilge freisin
    Windows 7 and Facebook are available in Irish aswell.

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=a1a48de1-e264-48d6-8439-ab7139c9c14d&displaylang=ga

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

      Excellent!! I knew about Facebook, but didn’t know Microsoft were finally doing something about their products for less commercial languages. Good on them!

  • http://www.topseotarget.com/ Social Media Optimization

    You are a true writer man. Normally I just skimp through various websites but your article is just superb. You actually kept me thinking and imagining while reading your article

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Glad to have helped! For the pronunciation, try to watch TG4 online including soap operas like “Ros na Rún”! ;)

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  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    Cherche Teach Yourself Irish sur Amazon ;) Sinon, j’ai donné bc de liens ici pour t’aider !!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    If you speak French, I highly recommend the pocket book “L’irlandais de poche”. It’s about 6 euro and explains the language better than most English books do. I’ve otherwise listed free resources on this page already.

  • Anonymous

    Naming the child especially when it is a baby boy can be very exciting and exhaustive as well. Baby boy names are numerous and one can witness a never ending name lists once peeped in to baby boy names book. To choose name for a baby boy can be as important as choosing a life partner itself. Naming a child is an art. Modest care has to be taken to analyse all the intricate details of the name chosen. 

  • Anonymous

    Naming the child especially when it is a baby boy can be very exciting and exhaustive as well. Baby boy names are numerous and one can witness a never ending name lists once peeped in to baby boy names book. To choose name for a baby boy can be as important as choosing a life partner itself. Naming a child is an art. Modest care has to be taken to analyse all the intricate details of the name chosen. 

  • Anonymous

    It is such a nice and useful informative post. It is a good detail knowledge of Irish language. There are so many different languages all over the world. 

  • http://www.innokoda.nl Davey N

    I’m gonna give it a try, haha.

  • Livia Amaral

    Hi! I ran into your blog while looking for Irish courses… Very good blog btw! I have been trying to go beyong English and Portuguese (my native language) for a while now, but never manage to leave the basic levels. So I speak in a basic level Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese. I’m learning (er.. trying) Irish on my own, but its too damn haaaarrd!!! So I decided to look into studying it abroad (nowhere I could be tought here in Brazil :( .. ), just like everyone does with English. Thing is, I’m having a loooot of trouble finding schools that teatch Irish in Ireland. Do you think you can help in any way?! Thanks!!

  • Éamonn Ó Fhlannagáin

    Maith thú, a Bhreandán. Tá an píosa suas iontach suimiúil ar fad. Táim ag fhoghlaim Gaeilge arís tar éis triocha bhliainta. Thug mé tuaras ar a lán súiomhnna idirlín agus silím go bhfuil an súiomh seo iontach mhaith. Coinnigh an obair mhaith suas!

  • http://degreesearch.org/online-degrees/area/criminal_justice_and_legal criminal justice degree

    Thank you so much considerably to do this Irish place. Relating to for no reason done Ireland, however , ancestors began certainly, there. Any terms seriously is certainly amazing (more or less mystical). Relating to certain self-study substances, however , That i will just get hold of concentrated. Any pronunciation may be a bit of bewildering, however , the fact that looks like an item which are often beat.

  • http://www.headwise.net/index.php/virtual-services/globalseo multilingual seo

    Create an account that help you to promote your knowledge and increase your speaking power in different type of language like.
      One i was search websites that help me to promote different type of language course so i search best reference that help me to learn different type language.

  • http://degreesearch.org/online-degrees/associates associates degree online

    It was amazing! We have all for ages been curious about attempting dip to numerous celtic languages. Am i going to you can ask some subject? Solely could.. which means here are a second: Most people said a tiny bit regarding welsh was basically completely different.. So i am even interested in learning Scottish Gaelic, is that it even similar to Irish?

  • http://parispassionnee.tumblr.com Anna

    Just got back from a trip to Scotland with a desire to pick up a bit of Scottish Gaelic and came upon your post which gives such a great layman’s explanation of the Irish side of the article I was reading on the differences between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Don’t know if I want to try Irish instead but it’d be neat to learn a few phrases in any case :-)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    There ARE these letters in Irish because we can use many loanwords, brand names, people’s names etc.

    Best of luck with your project!

  • Fireflyjms318

    Thank you for the helpful information.  My ancestry is English (Fulford), Irish  (Dalton), Scott (Locke) and German (Sparrow).  It’s my U.K. ancestry that I’m most interested in.  After reading your post I decided to learn Irish (With Scott Gaelic on the side).  I hope by doing this I can in some way reconnect with my “roots”.  Success in all you do.
                                        
                                                                                         Respectfully,
                                                                                                    James Fulford [USA]

  • http://profiles.google.com/fabermcmullen Faber McMullen

    Maith thú a fear a Bhreandán.  Níl mé ach foghlaimeóir chomh maith.  Thosaigh an nGaeilge a fhoghlaim b’fhéidir dhá bhlíain anuas agus chuaigh mé go hOideas Gael freisin an samradh seo caite.  Tá mé ag an point nuair beagnach is féidir liom an nGaeilge a labhairt i gcomhra etc.    Creidim go mbeadh mí amháin sa Gaelteacht labhairinn gan stoppadh agus briseadh.  Tá comhra agus tá cleachteadh de dhith orm.  Smaoiním a thosaigh arist eisteacht leis an ráidio.  Nuair a dhéannan mé é ní feidir liom beagnach tada a thuiscint.   Go raibh mile maith agat as an suiomh seo!  Féabar MacMaoláin, Texas

  • http://goldingdamien.blogspot.jp/ Damien Golding

    This is a great article. I am from England, and would love to learn more about Irish language and culture. I am trying to spread British culture in Japan, and would be happy to do the same for Irish as well. I have bookmarked this page, and will be using it as a reference.

    Thanks a lot.

  • ElliotM

    I went to University in Belfast, Northern Ireland (from England originally) but it wasn’t until my final semester there I actually gained an appreciation for the Irish language! “Politics of Irish Literature” module gave me that in a wonderful way and the best grade I got in my whole degree was for an essay entitled “Why was the Irish language so important to the Gaelic League generation?”. Unfortunately before this I had met far too many Irishmen who “really wanted” to speak Irish but their excuse seemed to be something along the lines of “the english stole my language”, a bizarre take on the find any excuse to avoid putting in hard work mentality. After being exposed to the amazing revelation that speaking a language is the best way to pick one up (sounds slightly sarcastic but I mean it) I wish I had used the few people I knew who spoke Irish fluently to pick something up. Definitely going to be going back over that way with a mission to learn Irish soon enough (to Dún na nGall/Thír Conaill, one of my favourite places in the world).

    :D

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    Sea means “it is”, NOT yes, and you can only use it to mean “yes” when the question is phrased with a copula or similar.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

    Fixed. Thank you!

  • Timothy Clark

    I’m making an effort to learn Irish between now and grad school. I’m making progress but unfortunately have yet to find a native speaker who can help me practice speaking. I practice alone and will use words or phrases throughout the day but without a native speaker, it’s hard to become a comfortable speaker. Any advice or any forums or websites where I could look online? Or if there are any native speakers on here, feel free to post a reply so I can contact you.

    Thanks.
    Tim

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003957805940 Laura Krische

    I am going into Archaeology/Anthropology and I really want to specialize in Irish culture and history. I want to learn Gaelige because language is very important to culture and because Gaelige is AWESOME! The only problem is that Gaelige isn’t taught at my College and I have to take a language class. Can anyone give me a short list of what languages are closely related to Gaelige or will help my transition from English to Gaelige? I know some Spanish but not very much. Other than that I have no experience with foreign languages. Thank you so much!!

    • Olga @East Hill Gallery

      My own experience with Irish has taught me that knowing other languages makes learning Gaelige more difficult. Unknowlingly you will appy the rules from other languages to Irish. I spoke english and Spanish before i started learning Gaelige (my mother tongue is Russian) but it only slowed me down in comprehending Irish.Good luck!

  • Gun

    I hate to be rude but I am Irish and I have lived in Ireland all my life and I noticed that you said mo mhadra is pronounced mo wadra but its actually like a v – mo vadra

    eile ná sin, go maith ar ort Gaeilge a fhoghlaim :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      No, it’s wadra because lenition here is before a broad consonant, and in this case mh is a w sound. It would only be ‘v’ before a slender consonant, such as cé mhéid. Although I’ve heard that in the Muster dialect these rules are different, so perhaps that’s what you have learned.

  • matxalen

    Thanks for your post, really interesting. Im about to go for a 3 month internship in Belfast and Id love to learn some basics before my arrival. There Ill probably attend to english classes, but since Im Basque I really appreciate wen someone tries to communicate in basque instead of spanish. I think its the best way to really meet people and a culture, and thats why Id love to learn some. I already speak basque (official and some dialects), spanish and italian other than english (with much more mistakes than Id wish for) Ill definitely check out the links you sheared with us, but, even If id already realized you are not so fun of them, I would like to take the chance of asking for some audio like learning guides. I´ve already searched for some in Bilbo (my town) but its been impossible and it would be great to have some notions so I can really use my time in your country.

  • tom

    Hi,
    I’m a Belgian student and I was wondering: do you know of a summer course at an Irish university where foreign students can learn Gaeilge?
    Much obliged!

  • Tim Hassan

    you are smart as all get out if you know all those languages. My grandparents were from Belfast and spoke gaelic but passed little to my father. I want to learn it as I may want to retire and move there to live out my days.

  • Jenchr

    Dia duit!!! :) I’m from Colombia and I’m pretty interested in learning a bit of Irish… Thank you so much for this post… It helped me a lot :) Beannacht

  • Stan Morgenstern

    Very interesting site! As a great fan of Ireland and Irish culture I’ve been thinking of giving it a go for a number of years. I’ll definitely come back. However, I’m in need of someassistance. Could you please help me out with the Irish translation of the latin phrase ‘Dum Vivimus Vivamus’ which is translated loosely in English in ‘While we live, let us enjoy life’
    Would be grateful!

  • Stan Morgenstern

    Today I found on a translation site that ‘Cé go bhfuil cónaí orainn, a ligean dúinn taitneamh a bhaint as an saol’ is a translation of the English ‘While we live, let us enjoy (the) life. Is this the correct translation?

  • Laura Neuhaus

    I am just starting to learn irish and I must say, it is real fun :D

    I am from Germany and spent some time in Ireland few years back ( Cork ) onw of my weekends I spent in a gaeltacht near limerick … I did learn some basics there in a pub but unfortunately I don’t remember much.

    For a start I changed my Facebook to irish :D looks crazy but as I know what is to be where it is not that dificult :)

  • http://iwishtobeapolyglot.wordpress.com/ Bálint B.

    Wow, that’s the best article I’ve read about Gaeilge so far, it’s a genuine ‘Benny Lewis quality’ piece of writing! I’m planning on writing an article about this magnificent language, but I have to be careful not to accidentally quote the entire article…

  • master chain

    Cad atá tú ag caint faoi? = Cad a bhfuil tú ag caint faoi, or Cad faoi a bhfuil tú ag caint?

  • Eugenia Svercovich

    Thanks a lot! That was one of the most informative posts I’ve red) And since I’m a teacher I can fully appreciate it)) It’s duch a pity we don’t have teachers like you here in Ukraine((

  • Lisa

    Want to move to south of Ireland from Belfast to teach but need the language qualification certificate. I currently have no irish any idea if its possible to learn it to the required leaving cert level in 3 years?? I’ve found this blog very informative so thank you!

  • eamsy

    Great post Benny. Makes the idea of learning Irish less daunting. I’ll try out some of the sites you have recommended

  • David O’Garr

    Thanks so much for this – I’m definitely going to be bookmarking this everytime to read and remind myself that learning this language won’t be as difficult as I thought. To reiterate what some other folks have said, it certainly seems a little less daunting now, and even more straight forward then English.

  • rashidpatch

    Great information and resources! I’m focusing on Spanish for the next several month’s, but Irish has been on my list for a long time!

  • ghagreine

    Great article Benny! I didn’t manage fluency after 14 years of school Irish but your article has inspired me to give it a go again. I’ll let you know in 3 months if I succeed!

  • Doreen

    i am very happy today for what God used doctor Zaza a great spell caster to do in my life. i had misunderstanding with my husband in the past and so it led to us breaking up for 3 years but one day i saw a post of Mrs Rebeca who posted on the internet that Doctor Zaza a great spell caster helped her with a spell that brought her Husband back so i decided to contact Doctor Zaza the great Spell caster to help me and he assured me that my Husband will come back to me, luckily today i am very glade to write on this wall that Nick my husband has come back to me as the great spell caster Doctor Zaza said. Do you have a problem with you Husband, boy friend, girl friend, relations or in your office and you think you have lost them? worry no more because Doctor Zaza the great spell caster can help you just as he helped me bring my Husband back okay. contact Doctor Zaza today via email: indiaspellcaster@hotmail.com

  • Doreen

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  • John Deely

    Go raibh mile maith agat, a Bhreandán. I’ve been dabbling in Irish for the past 15 years over here in Japan in order to say a few words to my Galway cousins when I visit or write to them. I’ve got all kinds of Irish language books, tapes and discs but few have been as helpful as your post. So, a thousand thanks. Right now, I feel like táim ar muin na muice, buíochas le dia!
    Comhghairdeas galore on a super job!
    Slán agus beannacht,
    Seán in Tokyo

  • jo

    I loved your page- I am doing a school project with my Greek high school students and we will be trying to learn Gaelic…. I’d really appreciate a personal answer if you have the time: I am pure Celtic blood, brought up in Engand, married and living in Greece. I don’t speak Gaelic- my dad was of the “banned” generation even though he was at school in co. Galway and his older siblings were fluent speakers- so our investigation of the Celts is also very personal for me. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  • Sarah Brantz

    I’m from Belgium and a few years ago, I spent a few months in Ireland as an Au-Pair but I didn’t really get the chance to learn irish properly. The kids of my host family always spend some weeks of their holidays at a Gaeltacht. Do you know if there’s any educational programs for foreigners to learn irish in a Gaeltacht?

  • vivian

    My Name is SANTO WESTLEY..I never believed in Love Spells or Magics until I met this special spell caster when i contact this man called okutemple@hotmail.com Execute some business..He is really powerful..My wife divorce me with no reason for almost 4 years and i tried all i could to have her back cos i really love her so much but all my effort did not work out.. we met at our early age at the college and we both have feelings for each other and we got married happily for 5 years with no kid and she woke up one morning and she told me she’s going on a divorce..i thought it was a joke and when she came back from work she tender to me a divorce letter and she packed all her loads from my house..i ran mad and i tried all i could to have her back but all did not work out..i was lonely for almost 4 years…So when i told the spell caster what happened he said he will help me and he asked for her full name and her picture..i gave him that..At first i was skeptical but i gave it a try cos have tried so many spell casters and there is no solution…so when he finished with the readings,he got back to me that she’s with a man and that man is the reason why she left me…The spell caster said he will help me with a spell that will surely bring her back.but i never believe all this…he told me i will see a positive result within 3 days..3 days later,she called me herself and came to me apologizing

  • master chain

    As someone who has been sometimes sporadically and sometimes diligently studying Irish for the past 10 years, I found this post interesting. On the one hand, many of the things you point out about the language are true, however, there are many difficulties inherent in the study of Irish that have not been discussed, perhaps so as not to scare people away. Beyond the grammatical complexities of the language, the dialectical differences are one that most learners are not aware of before they start, and I believe that in order to learn “real” Irish, one should really begin by studying one of the dialects in particular. Obviously this creates a problem: which dialect to choose without knowing anything about the language? Also, while it is possible to learn to read and write in Irish quite well without ever conversing with anyone in Irish, I believe it’s completely necessary to verbal fluency that one spends time in the Gaeltacht or in a class taught by a native or extremely fluent speaker. As I have never been able to do either of these things, i still struggle after all this time to understand even basic conversations by native speakers, even though must fluent speakers are relatively intelligible to me (and for those who don’t know, the native speakers of Irish are in short supply – by some census figures probably about 30,000 total). It seems to me that there is a stark contrast in Irish even between the way native speakers and fluent speakers speak. I believe it’s actually nigh impossible to learn this without spending time with natives. Perhaps that’s true to some extent of any language, but I feel my year or two of learning German on my own applied far more when I actually went to German than all my years of Irish amount to when watching Ros na Rún.

  • sempre

    This is fascinating. I’m teaching my Year 11 students an Australian novel (The Lieutenant) which deals with the first settlement and attempts to learn one of the 200 or so Aboriginal languages. I was making the point that some other languages had almost died out but had been ‘rescued’ and they all said they didn’t know Irish was a language. I found this site through Google, which was very helpful. One of my g-gmothers was a Kerry woman who spoke English as a second language, but I never met her, unfortunately!

  • Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    44) Classic Irish

    3. Khaggavisàna Sutta. -
    An srónbheannach.

    clasaiceach na hÉireann

    58. Cairde uasal Comhlach, a bhfuil foghlamtha Mhúinteoireachta, iompróidh sé agus d’fhéadfadh sé a mhúineadh,
    Eolas ar na bríonna dispel amhras, agus táille ina n-aonar cosúil leis an srónbheannach horned aonair.

  • Tabbatha Seward

    Awesome post Benny ^_^ learning Irish will help me embrace my Irish heritage on my grandmother’s side of the family :)

  • Ann

    Brilliant. Or Maith thu I can’t find the fada. I have done a level irish 30 years ago but want to relearn it

  • Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    70. Bí diligent, ciallmhar, d’fhoghlaim, agus aireach a bhaint amach ar an scrios craving,
    Dúisigh iarracht a bheith i gceannas ar an state1 uncompounded, táille ina n-aonar cosúil leis an srónbheannach horned aonair.

    Nach bhfuil VVPATs saor in aisce freisin ó cur isteach. An CÓD FOINSE an clár a úsáidtear
    sna VVPATs tá a phoibliú. Tá oiliúint is gá a chur ar fáil do gach oifigeach, Meán agus an uile gníomhairí mboth páirtí i gceist i ngach toghcháin amach anseo mar gheall ar an CÓD FOINSE. Tá an meán chun dúisigh an vótálaithe i dtaca leis seo an daonlathas a shábháil.

  • Shiner

    is there anywhere online to learn the Ulster dialect? my Irish side of the family are from Derry…

  • Jeremy L

    Finally stumble via search onto this.article/blog…

  • Ray Feighery

    Thanks for posting this. Actually have a strong desire to learn the language. Not that there would necessarily be any day to day use but more out of a desire to better understand my heritage.