Well, it is Thanksgiving, or it was until a couple hours ago. We went to a place at a train station that served a buffet with plenty of vegetarian options. I am stuffed from eating too much not just today but the last few days… and I don’t really think I am as stuffed as I usually am on Thanksgiving. At least not until I decided to crumble some macaroons to put inside some ice cream.

I was scheduled to leave the country in about three hours but instead I am lying in bed. I kind of switched over to Spanish last night, suddenly finding myself overwhelmed with so many Irish grammar points at the same time, and I thought a short break from it might be helpful. Thankfully I can just practice Spanish instead. So I started rereading in Spanish and making sure to grab the vocabulary for flashcards the way. Reading in Spanish is sooo much faster now. I think I need to change the way I do flashcards because writing down words and/or highlighting them to write down later and then, when I get around to it, inserting them into flashcards, feels like a whole lot of time spent just making flashcards. Instead I think I will try a new approach: highlighting words on my first reading, adding them to my flashcards when I read that part again, and then making a little compromise and letting my list of flashcards be my vocabulary list too. It’s just that when I make a list of words for a personal dictionary I am usually more detailed than I am when I just put the definition  into a flashcard… but I think I am too attached to my word lists anyway, like there was a time I think I felt like I needed to have lists of words that were mine in order to be okay! I need to spend more time with the flashcards, less time making lists.

Once I am done this rereading, which despite plugging words into flashcards while I am doing it is going quite quickly, I will have a good set of flashcards in Spanish and Irish to integrate, and when I am doing flashcard work I think I like to do just that, while I take breaks from some other activity like playing guitar or watching movies. Oh, Spanish and Irish work great together. When I needed a break from Irish I went to Spanish which suddenly felt even easier than before: I mean, all these words that have simple spellings that do not change and nothing that causes lenition! It’s so weird! So when I have flashcards I want to integrate I probably tend to do other stuff where flashcard study works really well when take breaks: playing music, watching TV, writing. Then I go back to reading or grammar study or whatever I’m doing and start creating more flashcards…

One thing I like about Irish is, despite so many complex pronunciation rules, and despite seeing dipthongs over and over again but sill being unsure how to pronounce at least a hundred of them, my ‘guesses’ get better every time I see words, and luckily a lot of times things *are* pronounced as they look. There are certain vowel combinations that have a clear unambiguous sound, and others, I kind of just compromise on what the two vowels together sound like and very often it is correct at least in one dialect. ‘Standard’ Irish is just a compromise between the three main dialects anyway. So, no fear, take a guess at a vowel sound, and there is a good chance you will be right somewhere. There was a girl who I think is even from Ireland who was posting about the Irish language pronunciation and how it’s like Itish is great, you just can’t do anything wrong! I am not sure if she was joking but it is kind of hilarious either way.

So there are some sounds I know how to pronounce and others where I have a choice between different possibilities and intuit what feels right. A lot of times because there are so many rules (and then there are also dipthongs with a fada or long sound on one vowel like aí and eá though thankfully those are not that hard: the vowel without the fada contributes a little to the sound but if there is a long á of í or é sound in a dipthong that is mostly the one that’s going to be pronounced, but at first I was worried, like I can’t possibly leaen all these dipthongs and because there are so many I forget even the clearest and most obvious rules! I kind of make intuitive decisions about how something is pronounced and the more I practice that the better my intuition gets… but honestly it just feels good to be writing and speaking Irish rather than it being this ever so dreamily close but faraway language I will never be able to spell or pronounce… I just learned the word aislingeach which means dreamy or romantic. Already I feel so much more ready than ever to travel to the Gaeltacht and I only just started…

Log in to write a note