Basic notions in Irish
3.3. BASIC NOTIONS IN IRISH
Irish (Gaeilge) is a Celtic language, spoken mainly on the island of Ireland. Its closest relation is Scottish Gaelic, with the two languages sharing a range of vocabulary and grammatical similarities. Irish is one of the oldest written vernacular languages in western Europe, with some existing texts dated to the 7th century AD. At the start of the 19th century, Irish was the majority language of the island but a large-scale language shift to English, provoked by the earlier military and political conquest of Ireland, continued over the following hundred years.
The end of the 19th century saw a cultural revival movement which sought to reverse the trend of language decline. The partition of Ireland in 1921 created two political jurisdictions with two very different language policies. Irish would become the first official language of the new independent Irish state (today known as Ireland, sometimes referred to as the Republic of Ireland), which makes up the larger portion of the island. In the territory known as Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom, the language and its speakers received no State recognition or support until relatively recently.
Today, Irish is a minority language in Ireland. Perhaps because the language is a core part of the primary and post-primary education system, some 1.7 million people claim some ability to use the language according to the most recent census data (2016). It is spoken daily, outside of the education system, by approximately 73,000 people. Regions where Irish has remained a community language, and which contain the largest concentration of native speakers of the language, are collectively known as An Ghaeltacht.
In Northern Ireland, State policy has historically ensured that the number of Irish speakers has remained comparatively low but the past 30 years have shown a steady increase in the number of people indicating an ability in Irish, rising to over 12% of the population in the most recent census (2021). Much of this progress has come about as a result of community action in favour of Irish-medium education, language rights and resources.
While Irish faces many of the challenges common to minority languages existing in the face of a dominant, global language, many worthwhile advances have been made. On 1 January 2022, Irish gained full status as an official language of the European Union. Public attitudes towards the language are increasingly positive and there is significant demand for Irish-medium education on both sides of the island’s political border. Irish has vibrant creative and literary sectors and its economic value as a unique aspect of Ireland’s modern culture is achieving more and more recognition.
Hello. Dia duit.
Hello (in reply) . Dia is Muire duit.
How are you? Cad é mar atá tú?
I’m good. Tá mé go maith.
I’m okay. Tá mé ceart go leor.
It’s a nice day today. Lá deas atá ann inniu.
It’s a bad day today. Drochlá atá ann inniu.
I’m Pól. Is mise Pól.
What’s your name? Cad is ainm duit?
My name is Deirdre. Deirdre is ainm dom.
1 a haon
2 a dó
3 a trí
4 a ceathair
5 a cúig
6 a sé
7 a seacht
8 a hocht
9 a naoi
10 a deich
Where do you live? Cá bhfuil tú i do chónaí?
I live in Roscommon. Tá mé i mo chónaí i Ros Comáin.
Where is the restaurant? Cá bhfuil an bhialann?
Where is the pub? Cá bhfuil an teach tábhairne?
Where is the hotel? Cá bhfuil an t-óstán?
It’s beside the shop. Tá sé in aice leis an siopa.
It’s near the bus stop. Tá sé gar do stad an bhus.
It’s opposite the post office. Tá sé os comhair oifig an phoist.
over/above os cionn
Coffee, please. Caifé, le do thoil.
Thank you. Go raibh maith agat.
You’re welcome. Go ndéana a mhaith duit.
I drink tea. Ólaim tae.
I don’t drink tea. Ní ólaim tae.
Do you drink tea? An ólann tú tae?
1. Fill the blanks in the following short conversation and compare your answers to the recording:
A: Dia duit.
B: Dia is __________ duit.
A: Cad é mar atá tú?
B: Tá ________ go maith. Lá _________ atá ann inniu. Is mise Ciara. Cad is ainm duit?
A: Marc _______________.
2. Read the following telephone numbers aloud and compare your answers to the recording:
0044 38 9016 4281
3. Take a look at the pictures below. Say the outfit’s main colours in each case.
4. Place the following sentences in the correct order and compare you answer to the recording:
Go raibh maith agat.
An ólann tú tae?
Go ndéana a mhaith duit.
Ní ólaim tae. Caife, le do thoil.