Irish is fun

I had another dentist appointment which was broken up into two other appointments and there are three more in total at least which is exhausting. At least I was exhausted both before and afterwards and I have not been able to get out of being exhausted so I feel much less prosuctive but I feel like I at least accomplished something with Irish. My goal in 12 weeks was to learn 500 words in Irish. I am now alreasy somewhat familiar with more than 50. Though there are always combinations of letters I haven’t encountered yet I can basically pronounce most Irish words now by looking at how they are spelled. I am learning words now, one at a time, guessing based on my understanding of what sounds the letters make what the word sounds like ‘as Gaeilge’, and at least most of the time, getting it basically right. I learned my first words through learning pronunciation at the same time and I have started doing word searches as Gaeilge too, which lets me practice both the meaning and the pronunciation at the same time.

So in a way I think I am coming a lot further with Irish than I expected to at this point. I feel like with Irish the pronunciation is key to so much and really I love the way sounds make, the sound of slender consonants surrounded by e and i vowels, the little vowel sound in words like bolg (belly) gorm (blue). If there were a word ‘golm’ in Irish it would be pronounced much like Gollum, with that cool little vowel sound in between, which is a sound that feels so Celtic to me, as does the whole system of how combinations of letters make sounds, and I love it. Spanish and German had mostly intuitive sounds so I soent very little time studying pronunciation just listening to the language but with Irish I get a lot out of really understanding how sounds are made while learning words at the same time. Once you’ve run into a pronunciation just a few times it gets easier and easier and the way Irish letters make Irish sounds feels harmonious and like a dance: sloinne, pronounced slinn-ya, with the slender vowel after the n, simply means surname, but these sounds and the system that makes them feels kind of natural to me somehow and it feels good, and I don’t want to be stereotypical, but the way Irish letters are pronounced feels so much like dance somehow, though I can’t explain it yet, that it makes sense that dance is such an Irish art. My favourite word in Irish so far may be giemhreadh, winter. It is really helpful to start with a solid understanding of how things are pronounced, and once you learn those rules, reading and remembering words becomes sooo much easier. I am just doing word searches one word at a time and checking that the Irish word sounds like what I think it should sound like based on my knowledge of Irish pronunciation.

I also like the way of signifying masculine or feminine nouns which is quite different than in Spanish or German and I would argue, like a lot of the constructions in the Irish language, quite pleasurable . Unlike Spanish, where you tell by the article and often the letter at the end of the word, or German, which has some general guidelines that can help put certain words in categories but you generally have to just learn the gender with the word, in Irish when you put an (the) before a masculine noun the noun either adds a t- before the word but only nouns beginning with *vowels* are affected. Feminine nouns, but only those beginning in *consonants* take an h after the consonant. So it is almost like not odifferent articles but different processes for each of the genders. So árásan, apartment, a masculine noun, becomes an t-árásan, and máthair, as a feminine noun, mother, with ‘the’ (an) in front of it, becomes an mháthair.

Counting in Irish is fun. You say ‘a’ before each number when counting or calling out a number or citing an address or telling the time. A haon, a dó, a trí, a ceathair, a cúig! A sé, a seacht, a ocht, a naoi, a deich! Try it, it’s fun!

I like the sound of the language a lot, and the way it looks, and the way letters turn into sounds. The sound of Irish is simpler to get than English in that the rules are pretty uniform but there are so many different things letters can do and it feels like there is always some combination of vowels I haven’t encountered yet! These interesting combinations that do not exist in English, or Spanish or German, are part of what makes it fun and fulfilling, but I think it is really helpful to start with a good grasp of pronunciation. The difference is, in Spanisha and German I sort of hated learning the pronunciation rules. In Spanish there wasn’t much to it and the sounds came naturally to me from the start while in German since the sounds were also pretty intuitive I spent very little time actively learning the pronunciation as I didn’t enjoy it. So there are certain sounds or letter combinations that come up once in a while in German that I just never bothered to make sure I know how to pronounce correctly. In Gaeilge it is just sooo much more rewarding though it takes longer to know how to pronounce stuff; just take it  slowly and after you’ve encountered a sound a few times it gets easier and easier. Another benefit of learning Irish is when I am done practicing Irish my accent in English accent sounds different too.

Anyway, conas atá tú? Tá me tuirseach. Slán foill!

Log in to write a note