|Region||Ireland, mainly Gaeltacht|
Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value). in Ireland (2012)|
L2 speakers: 1 million in Ireland (2012), 65,000 in Northern Ireland (2011)
|An Caighdeán Oifigiúil|
Latin (Irish alphabet)|
Official language in
23x15px Ireland </small>(Statutory language of national identity (1937, Constitution, Article 8(1)). Widely used as L2</small> in all parts of the country (Salminen 2007). Encouraged by the government.)|
23x15px European Union
|Language||Number of speakers|
Irish is represented by several traditional dialects and by various varieties of "urban" Irish. The latter, though sometimes referred to as "school Irish," has acquired a life of its own and a growing number of native speakers. Differences between the dialects make themselves felt in stress, intonation, vocabulary and structural features.
Roughly speaking, the three major dialect areas which survive coincide with the provinces of Munster (Cúige Mumhan), Connacht (Cúige Chonnacht) and Ulster (Cúige Uladh). Records of some dialects of Leinster were made by the Irish Folklore Commission and others prior to their extinction. Newfoundland, in eastern Canada, had a form of Irish derived from the Munster Irish of the later 18th century (see Newfoundland Irish).
Down to the early 19th century and even later, Irish was spoken in all the counties of Leinster: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Offaly, Wexford and Wicklow. The evidence furnished by placenames, literary sources and recorded speech indicates that there were three dialects spoken in Leinster: one main dialect and two of lesser significance. The minor dialects were represented by the Ulster speech of counties Meath and Louth, which extended as far south as the Boyne valley, and a Munster dialect found in Kilkenny and south Laois. The main dialect was represented by a broad central belt stretching from west Connacht eastwards to the Liffey estuary and southwards to Wexford, though with many local variations.
As the main dialect was of the Connacht type, it typically placed the stress on the first syllable of a word. Another Connacht characteristic, found in placenames, was a preference for the pronunciation cr where the standard spelling is cn. The word cnoc (hill) would therefore be pronounced croc. Examples are the placenames Crooksling (Cnoc Slinne) in County Dublin and Crukeen (Cnoicín) in Carlow. East Leinster showed the same diphthongisation or vowel lengthening as in Munster and Connacht Irish in words like poll (hole), cill (monastery), coill (wood), ceann (head), cam (crooked) and dream (crowd). A feature of the dialect was the pronunciation of the vowel ao, which generally became ae in east Leinster (as in Munster), and í in the west (as in Western Irish).
Early evidence regarding colloquial Irish in east Leinster is found in The Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge (1547), by the English physician and traveller Andrew Borde. The illustrative phrases he uses include the following (with regularised Irish spelling in brackets):
- How do you fare? Kanys stato? (Conas ‘tá tú?)
- I do fare well, I thank you. Tam agoomawh gramahogood. (Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat.)
- Syr, can you speak Iryshe? Sor, woll galow oket? (Sor, ‘bhfuil Gaeilge [Gaela'] agat? )
- Wyfe, gyve me bread! Benytee, toor haran! (A bhean a’ tí, tabhair dhomh arán.)
- How far is it to Waterford? Gath haad o showh go port laarg. (Cá fhad as seo go Port Láirge? )
- It is one an twenty myle. Myle hewryht. (Míle ar fhichid.)
- Whan shal I go to slepe, wyfe? Gah hon rah moyd holow? (Cath uain rachmuid a chodladh?)
The Pale (An Pháil) was an area around late medieval Dublin under the control of the English government. By the late 15th century it consisted of an area along the coast from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk, with an inland boundary encompassing Naas and Leixlip in the Earldom of Kildare and Trim and Kells in County Meath to the north. Into this area of "Englyshe tunge" the Irish language steadily advanced. An English official remarked of the Pale in 1515 that "all the common people of the said half counties that obeyeth the King's laws, for the most part be of Irish birth, of Irish habit and of Irish language".
With the strengthening of English cultural and political control, language reversal began to occur, but this did not become clearly evident until the 18th century. Even then, in the decennial period 1771–81, the percentage of Irish speakers in Meath was at least 41%. By 1851 this had fallen to less than 3%.
English expanded strongly in Leinster in the 18th century, but Irish speakers were still numerous. In the decennial period 1771-81 certain counties had estimated percentages of Irish speakers as follows (though the estimates are likely to be too low):
- Kilkenny 57%
- Louth 57%
- Longford 22%
- Westmeath 17%
The language saw its most rapid initial decline in Laois, Wexford, Wicklow, County Dublin and perhaps Kildare. The proportion of Irish-speaking children in Leinster went down as follows: 17% in the 1700s, 11% in the 1800s, 3% in the 1830s and none in the 1860s.
The Irish census of 1851 showed that there were still a number of older speakers in County Dublin. Sound recordings were made between 1928 and 1931 of some of the last speakers in Omeath, County Louth (now available in digital form). The last known traditional native speaker in Omeath, and in Leinster as a whole, was Annie O'Hanlon (née Dobbin), who died in 1960.
Munster Irish is mainly spoken in the Gaeltacht areas of Kerry (Contae Chiarraí), Ring (An Rinn) near Dungarvan (Dún Garbháin) in Waterford (Contae Phort Láirge) and Muskerry (Múscraí) and Cape Clear Island (Oileán Chléire) in the western part of Cork (Contae Chorcaí). The most important subdivision in Munster is that between Decies Irish (Na Déise) (spoken in Waterford) and the rest of Munster Irish.
Some typical features of Munster Irish are:
- The use of endings to show person on verbs in parallel with a pronominal subject system, thus "I must" is in Munster caithfead as well as caithfidh mé, while other dialects prefer caithfidh mé (mé means "I"). "I was and you were" is Bhíos agus bhís as well as Bhí mé agus bhí tú in Munster, but more commonly Bhí mé agus bhí tú in other dialects. Note that these are strong tendencies, and the personal forms Bhíos etc. are used in the West and North, particularly when the words are last in the clause.
- Use of independent/dependent forms of verbs that are not included in the Standard. For example, "I see" in Munster is chím, which is the independent form – Northern Irish also uses a similar form, tchím), whereas "I do not see" is ní fheicim, feicim being the dependent form, which is used after particles such as ní "not"). Chím is replaced by feicim in the Standard. Similarly, the traditional form preserved in Munster bheirim I give/ní thugaim is tugaim/ní thugaim in the Standard; gheibhim I get/ní bhfaighim is faighim/ní bhfaighim.
- When before -nn, -m, -rr, -rd, -ll and so on, in monosyllabic words and in the stressed syllable of multisyllabic words where the syllable is followed by a consonant, some short vowels are lengthened while others are diphthongised, thus ceann [kʲaun] "head", cam [kɑum] "crooked", gearr [ɡʲaːr] "short", ord [oːrd] "sledgehammer", gall [ɡɑul] "foreigner, non-Gael", iontas [uːntəs] "a wonder, a marvel", compánach [kəumˈpɑːnəx] "companion, mate", etc.
- A copular construction involving ea "it" is frequently used. Thus "I am an Irish person" can be said is Éireannach mé and Éireannach is ea mé in Munster; there is a subtle difference in meaning, however, the first choice being a simple statement of fact, while the second brings emphasis onto the word Éireannach. In effect the construction is a type of "fronting".
- Both masculine and feminine words are subject to lenition after insan (sa/san) "in the", den "of the" and don "to/for the" : sa tsiopa, "in the shop", compared to the Standard sa siopa (the Standard lenites only feminine nouns in the dative in these cases).
- Eclipsis of f after sa: sa bhfeirm, "in the farm", instead of san fheirm.
- Eclipsis of t and d after preposition + singular article, with all prepositions except after insan, den and don: ar an dtigh "on the house", ag an ndoras "at the door".
- Stress falls in general found on the second syllable of a word when the first syllable contains a short vowel, and the second syllable contains a long vowel, diphthong, or is -(e)ach, e.g. biorán ("pin"), as opposed to biorán in Connacht and Ulster.
Historically, Connacht Irish represents the westernmost remnant of a dialect area which stretched across the centre of Ireland to the east coast. The strongest dialect of Connacht Irish is to be found in Connemara and the Aran Islands. Much closer to the larger Connacht Gaeltacht is the dialect spoken in the smaller region on the border between Galway (Gaillimh) and Mayo (Maigh Eo). The northern Mayo dialect of Erris (Iorras) and Achill (Acaill) is in grammar and morphology essentially a Connacht dialect, but shows some similarities to Ulster Irish due to large-scale immigration of dispossessed people following the Plantation of Ulster though it is this form of Irish which is closest to the true original Connacht dialect which would have been spoken in Counties Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and East Galway.
Features in Connacht Irish differing from the official standard include a preference for verbal nouns ending in -achan, e.g. lagachan instead of lagú, "weakening". The non-standard pronunciation of the Cois Fharraige area with lengthened vowels and heavily reduced endings gives it a distinct sound. Distinguishing features of Connacht and Ulster dialect include the pronunciation of word final broad bh and mh as [w], rather than as [vˠ] in Munster. For example sliabh ("mountain") is pronounced [ʃlʲiəw] in Connacht and Ulster as opposed to [ʃlʲiəβ] in the south. In addition Connacht and Ulster speakers tend to include the "we" pronoun rather than use the standard compound form used in Munster e.g. bhí muid is used for "we were" instead of bhíomar.
As in Munster Irish, some short vowels are lengthened and others diphthongised before -nn, -m, -rr, -rd, -ll, in monosyllabic words and in the stressed syllable of multisyllabic words where the syllable is followed by a consonant. This can be seen in ceann [kʲɑ:n] "head", cam [kɑ:m] "crooked", gearr [gʲɑ:r] "short", ord [ourd] "sledgehammer", gall [gɑ:l] "foreigner, non-Gael", iontas [i:ntəs] "a wonder, a marvel", etc. The form '-aibh', when occurring at the end of words like 'agaibh', tends to be pronounced as an 'ee' sound.
There are a number of differences between the popular South Connemara form of Irish, the Mid-Connacht/Joyce Country form (on the border between Mayo and Galway) and the Achill and Erris forms in the north of the province.
In South Connemara, for example, there is an tendency to substitute a "b" sound at the end of words ending in "bh" [β], such as sibh, libh and dóibh, something not found in the rest of Connacht (these words would be pronounced respectively as "shiv," "liv" and "dófa" in the other areas). This placing of the B-sound is also present at the end of words ending in vowels, such as acu (pronounced as "acub") and leo (pronounced as "lyohab"). There is also a tendency to omit the "g" sound in words such as agam, agat and againn, a characteristic also of other Connacht dialects. All these pronunciations are distinctively regional.
The pronunciation prevalent in the Joyce Country (the area around Loch Corrib and Loch Mask) is quite similar to that of South Connemara, with a similar approach to the words agam, agat and againn and a similar approach to pronunciation of vowels and consonants. But there are noticeable differences in vocabulary, with certain words such as doiligh (difficult) and foscailte being preferred to the more usual deacair and oscailte. Another interesting aspect of this sub-dialect is that almost all vowels at the end of words tend to be pronounced as í: eile (other), cosa (feet) and déanta (done) tend to be pronounced as eilí, cosaí and déantaí respectively.
The Irish of Achill and Erris tends to differ from that of South Connacht in many aspects of vocabulary and, in some instances, of pronunciation. It is often stated that the Irish of these regions has much in common with Ulster Irish, with words ending -mh and -bh having a much softer sound, with a tendency to terminate words such as leo and dóibh with "f", giving leofa and dófa respectively. In addition to a vocabulary typical of other area of Connacht, one also finds words like amharc (meaning "to look" and pronounced "onk"), nimhneach (painful or sore), druid (close), mothaigh (hear), doiligh (difficult), úr (new), and tig le (to be able to - i.e. a form similar to féidir).
Linguistically the most important of the Ulster dialects today is that of the Rosses (na Rossa), which has been used extensively in literature by such authors as the brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna, locally known as Jimí Fheilimí and Joe Fheilimí. This dialect is essentially the same as that in Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair = Inlet of Streaming Water), and used by native singers Enya (Eithne) and Máire Brennan and their siblings in Clannad (Clann as Dobhar = Family from the Dobhar [a section of Gweedore]) Na Casaidigh, and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh from another local band Altan.
Ulster Irish sounds very different and shares several features with southern dialects of Scottish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic, as well as having lots of characteristic words and shades of meanings. However, since the demise of those Irish dialects spoken natively in what is today Northern Ireland, it is probably an exaggeration to see present-day Ulster Irish as an intermediary form between Scottish Gaelic and the southern and western dialects of Irish. Northern Scottish Gaelic has many non-Ulster features in common with Munster Irish.
One noticeable trait of Ulster Irish, Manx Gaelic and Scots Gaelic is the use of the negative particle cha(n) in place of the Munster and Connacht ní. Though southern Ulster Irish tends to use ní more than cha(n), cha(n) has almost ousted ní in northernmost dialects (e.g. Rosguill and Tory Island), though even in these areas níl "is not" is more common than chan fhuil or cha bhfuil.
Another noticeable trait is the pronunciation of the first person singular verb ending -im as -am, also common to Ulster, Man and Scotland (Munster/Connacht/Leinster siúlaim "I walk", Ulster siúlam).
Irish was spoken as a community language in Irish towns and cities down to the 19th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was widespread even in Dublin and the Pale. .
The Irish of Dublin, situated as it was between the east Ulster dialect of Meath and Louth to the north and the Leinster-Connacht dialect further south, may have reflected the characteristics of both in phonology and grammar. In County Dublin itself the general rule was to place the stress on the initial vowel of words. With time it appears that the forms of the dative case took over the other case endings in the plural (a tendency found to a lesser extent in other dialects). In a letter written in Dublin in 1691 we find such examples as the following: gnóthuimh (accusative case, the standard form being gnóthaí), tíorthuibh (accusative case, the standard form being tíortha) and leithscéalaibh (genitive case, the standard form being leithscéalta).
English authorities of the Cromwellian period, aware that Irish was widely spoken in Dublin, arranged for its official use. In 1655 several local dignitaries were ordered to oversee a lecture in Irish to be given in Dublin. In March 1656 a converted Catholic priest, Séamas Corcy, was appointed to preach in Irish at Bride’s parish every Sunday, and was also ordered to preach at Drogheda and Athy. In 1657 the English colonists in Dublin presented a petition to the Municipal Council complaining that in Dublin itself "there is Irish commonly and usually spoken".
There is contemporary evidence of the use of Irish in other urban areas at the time. In 1657 it was found necessary to have an Oath of Abjuration (rejecting the authority of the Pope) read in Irish in Cork so that people could understand it.
Irish was sufficiently strong in early 18th century Dublin to be the language of a coterie of poets and scribes led by Seán and Tadhg Ó Neachtain, both poets of note. Scribal activity in Irish persisted in Dublin right through the 18th century. An outstanding example was Muiris Ó Gormáin (Maurice Gorman), a prolific producer of manuscripts who advertised his services (in English) in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal.
In other urban centres the descendants of medieval Anglo-Norman settlers, the so-called Old English, were Irish-speaking or bilingual by the 16th century. The English administrator and traveller Fynes Moryson, writing in the last years of the 16th century, said that "the English Irish and the very citizens (excepting those of Dublin where the lord deputy resides) though they could speak English as well as we, yet commonly speak Irish among themselves, and were hardly induced by our familiar conversation to speak English with us". The demise of native cultural institutions in the seventeenth century saw the social prestige of Irish diminish, and the gradual Anglicisation of the middle classes followed.
The census of 1851 showed that the towns and cities of Munster still had significant Irish-speaking populations. In 1819 James McQuige, a veteran Methodist lay preacher in Irish, wrote: "In some of the largest southern towns, Cork, Kinsale and even the Protestant town of Bandon, provisions are sold in the markets, and cried in the streets, in Irish". Irish speakers constituted over 40% of the population of Cork even in 1851.
The 19th century saw a reduction in the number of Dublin’s Irish speakers, in keeping with the trend elsewhere. This continued until the end of the century, when the Gaelic Revival saw the creation of a strong Irish–speaking network, typically united by various branches of the Gaelic League, and accompanied by renewed literary activity. By the 1930s Dublin had a lively literary life in Irish.
Urban Irish has been the beneficiary, over the last few decades, of a rapidly expanding independent school system, known generally as Gaelscoileanna. These schools teach entirely through Irish, and there are over thirty in Dublin alone.
It is likely that the number of urban native speakers (i.e. people who were born into Irish-speaking households and educated through Irish) is on the increase. It has been suggested that Ireland’s towns and cities are acquiring a critical mass of Irish speakers, reflected in the expansion of Irish language media. Colloquial urban Irish is changing in unforeseen ways, with attention being drawn to the rapid loss of consonantal mutations (which are intrinsic to the language). It is presently uncertain whether the urban Irish of non-native speakers will become a dialect in its own right or grow further apart from native Gaeltacht Irish and become a creole (i.e. a new language).
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil
|This section possibly contains original research. (August 2009)|
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil ("The Official Standard"), often shortened to An Caighdeán, is the standard language, which is taught in most schools in Ireland, though with strong influences from local dialects. It was published by the translators in Dáil Éireann in the 1950s.
Its development in the 1950s and 1960s had two purposes. One was to simplify Irish spelling, which had retained its Classical spelling, by removing many silent letters, and to give a standard written form that was mutually intelligible by speakers with different dialects. Though many aspects of the Caighdeán are essentially those of Connacht Irish, this was simply because this is the central dialect which forms a "bridge", as it were, between the North and South. In reality, dialect speakers pronounce words as in their own dialect, as the spelling simply reflects the pronunciation of Classical Irish. For example, ceann "head" in early modern Irish was pronounced [kʲenːˠ]. The spelling has been retained, but the word is variously pronounced [kʲaunˠ] in the South, [kʲɑːnˠ] in Connacht, and [kʲænːˠ] in the North. Beag "small" was [bʲɛɡˠ] in early modern Irish, and is now [bʲɛɡˠ] in Waterford Irish, [bʲɔɡˠ] in Cork-Kerry Irish, varies between [bʲɔɡˠ] and [bʲæɡˠ] in the West, and is [bʲœɡˠ] in the North.
The simplification was weighted in favour of the Western dialect. For example, the early modern Irish leaba, dative case leabaidh [lʲebʷɨʝ] "bed" is pronounced [lʲabʷə] as well as [lʲabʷɨɡʲ] in Waterford Irish, [lʲabʷɨɡʲ] in Cork-Kerry Irish, [lʲæbʷə] in Connacht Irish ([lʲæːbʷə] in Cois Fharraige Irish) and [lʲæbʷi] in the North. Native speakers from the North and South may consider that leabaidh should be the representation in the Caighdeán rather than actual leaba. However, leaba is the historically correct nominative form and arguably preferable to the historically incorrect yet common use of the dative form for the nominative.
On the other hand, in some cases the Caighdeán retained classical spellings even when none of the dialects had retained the corresponding pronunciation. For example, it has retained the Classical Irish spelling of ar "on, for, etc." and ag "at, by, of, etc.". The first is pronounced [ɛɾʲ] throughout the Goidelic-speaking world (and is written er in Manx, and air in Scottish Gaelic), and should be written either eir or oir in Irish. The second is pronounced [iɡʲ] in the South, and [eɡʲ] in the North and West. Again, Manx and Scottish Gaelic reflect this pronunciation much more clearly than Irish does (Manx ec, Scottish aig).
In many cases, however, the Caighdeán can only refer to the Classical language, in that every dialect is different, as happens in the personal forms of ag "at, by, of, etc."
- Munster : agùm [əˈɡʷumʷ], agùt [əˈɡʷut̪ʷ], igè [ɨˈɡʲe], icì [ɨˈkʲi], agùing [əˈɡʷuŋʲ] / aguìng [əˈɡʷiŋʲ] (West Cork/Kerry agùin [əˈɡʷunʲ] / aguìn [əˈɡʷinʲ]), agùibh/aguìbh [əˈɡʷuβʲ] / [əˈɡʷiβʲ], acù [əˈkʷu]
- Connacht : am [amʷ] (agam [ˈaɡʷəmʷ]), ad [ˈad̪ʷ] (agad [ˈaɡʷəd̪ʷ]), aige [ˈeɡʲɨ], aici [ˈekʲɨ], ainn [aɲʲ] (againn [ˈaɡʷɨɲʲ]), aguí [ˈaɡʷi], acab [ˈakʷəbʷ]
- Ulster : aigheam [ɛimʷ], aighead [ɛid̪ʷ], aige [ˈeɡʲɨ], aicí [ˈekʲi], aighinn [ɛiɲʲ], aighif [ɛiɸʲ], acú [ˈakʷu]
- Caighdeán : agam [ˈaɡʷəmʷ], agat [ˈaɡʷət̪ʷ], aige [ˈeɡʲɨ], aici [ˈekʲɨ], againn [ˈaɡʷɨɲʲ], agaibh [ˈaɡʷɨβʲ], acu [ˈakʷu] / [ˈakʷə]
Another purpose was to create a grammatically regularised or "simplified" standard which would make the language more accessible for the majority English-speaking school population. In part this is why the Caighdeán is not universally respected by native speakers, in that it makes simplified language an ideal, rather than the ideal that native speakers traditionally had of their dialects (or of the Classical dialect if they had knowledge of that). Of course, this was not the original aim of the developers, who rather saw the "school-version" Caighdeán as a means of easing second-language learners into the task of learning "full" Irish. The Caighdeán verb system is a prime example, with the reduction in irregular verb forms and personal forms of the verb – except for the first persons. However, once the word "standard" becomes used, the forms represented as "standard" take on a power of their own, and therefore the ultimate goal has become forgotten in many circles.
The Caighdeán, in general is used by non-native speakers, frequently from the capital, and is sometimes also called "Dublin Irish" or "Urban Irish". As it is taught in many Irish-Language schools (where Irish is the main, or sometimes only, medium of instruction), it is also sometimes called "Gaelscoil Irish". The so-called "Belfast Irish", spoken in that city's Gaeltacht Quarter is the Caighdeán heavily influenced by Ulster Irish and Belfast English.
The differences between dialects are considerable, and have led to recurrent difficulties in defining standard Irish. In recent decades contacts between speakers of different dialects have become more frequent and the differences between the dialects are less noticeable.
An Caighdeán Oifigiúil—Caighdeán Athbhreithnithe
As of August 2012, the first major revision of the Caighdeán Oifigiúil is available, both online and in print. Among the changes to be found in the revised version are, for example, various attempts to bring the recommendations of the Caighdeán closer to the spoken dialect of Gaeltacht speakers, including allowing further use of the nominative case where the genitive would historically have been found.
In pronunciation, Irish most closely resembles its nearest relatives, Scottish Gaelic and Manx. One notable feature is that consonants (except /h/) come in pairs, one "broad" (velarised, pronounced with the back of the tongue pulled back towards the soft palate) and one "slender" (palatalised, pronounced with the middle of the tongue pushed up towards the hard palate). While broad–slender pairs are not unique to Irish (being found, for example, in Russian), in Irish they have a grammatical function and can pose a problem for English-speakers.
Diphthongs: iə, uə, əi, əu.
Syntax and morphology
The grammar of Irish shares with other Celtic languages a number of features that, although not unique, are unusual in an Indo-European context. The grammatical features most unfamiliar to English speakers of the language are the initial consonant mutations, the verb–subject–object (VSO) word order, and the use of two different forms for "to be".
None of these features are peculiar to Irish. They occur in other Celtic languages and sometimes in non-Celtic languages: morphosyntactically triggered initial consonant mutations are found in Fula and Shoshoni; VSO word order is found in Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew; and Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Italian have two different forms for "to be". The use of prepositional pronouns recalls the Semitic languages, as well as some lesser-known European languages such as Venetian.
The situation is complicated by dialect variations, by a recommended standard and by what appears to be a colloquial simplification of both grammar and pronunciation by fluent urban speakers.
Irish is a VSO (verb–subject–object) language, and uses two verbs of "to be". One of these, the copula (known in Irish as an chopail), is used to describe the permanent identity or characteristic of a person or thing as opposed to temporary aspects.
The adjective normally follows the noun (the possessive adjectives are an exception), but there are a certain number of adjectives and particles which may function as prefixes.
Irish is an inflected language, having, in its standard form, the following cases: common (the old nominative and accusative), vocative and genitive. In Munster dialects a dative form persisted, though this has been largely discarded by younger speakers. The present inflectional system represents a radical simplification of the grammar of Old Irish.
Irish nouns may be masculine or feminine (the neuter having disappeared). To a certain degree the gender difference is indicated by specific word endings, -án and -ín being masculine and -óg feminine.
Another feature of Irish grammar that is shared with other Celtic languages is the use of prepositional pronouns (forainmneacha réamhfhoclacha), which are essentially conjugated prepositions. For example, the word for "at" is ag, which in the first person singular becomes agam "at me". When used with the verb bí ("to be") ag indicates possession; this is the equivalent of the English verb "to have".
- Tá leabhar agam. "I have a book." (Literally, "there is a book at me.")
- Tá leabhar agat. "You have a book."
- Tá leabhar aige. "He has a book."
- Tá leabhar aici. "She has a book."
- Tá leabhar againn. "We have a book."
- Tá leabhar agaibh. "You (plural) have a book."
- Tá leabhar acu. "They have a book."
Irish shares with other Celtic languages a feature known as mutation, whereby initial and final consonants may change to express nuances of grammatical relationship and meaning. Mutation affects verbs, nouns and adjectives. Certain consonants may be capable of changing in two ways, depending on the context.
In Irish, there are two classes of initial consonant mutations:
- Lenition (in Irish, séimhiú "softening") describes the change of stops into fricatives. Indicated in old orthography by a buailte (a dot) written above the changed consonant (as in the dot shown above the c in "Gaelac" below), this is now shown in writing by adding an -h:
- caith! "throw!" – chaith mé "I threw" (this is an example of the lenition as a past-tense marker, which is caused by the use of do, although it is now usually omitted)
- margadh "market", "market-place", "bargain" – Tadhg an mhargaidh "the man of the street" (word for word "Tadhg of the market place"; here we see the lenition marking the genitive case of a masculine noun)
- Seán "Seán, John" – a Sheáin! "O John!" (here we see lenition as part of what is called the vocative case – in fact, the vocative lenition is triggered by the a or vocative marker before Sheáin)
- Eclipsis (in Irish, urú) covers the voicing of voiceless stops, as well as the nasalisation of voiced stops.
- athair "father" – ár nAthair "our Father"
- tús "start", ar dtús "at the start"
- Gaillimh "Galway" – i nGaillimh "in Galway"
Mutations are often the only way to distinguish similar grammatical forms. For example, the only way (apart from context) in which the possessive pronouns "her," "his" and "their" can be distinguished is through initial mutations, since all these meanings are represented by the same word a. It is seen here in apposition to the word bróg (shoe):
- their shoe – a mbróg (eclipsis)
- his shoe – a bhróg (lenition)
- her shoe – a bróg (unchanged)
Modern Irish traditionally used the ISO basic Latin alphabet without the letters j, k, q, w, x, y and z, but with the addition of one diacritic sign, the acute accent (á é í ó ú), known in Irish as the síneadh fada "long mark", plural sínte fada. However, some gaelicised words use those letters: for instance, 'Jeep' is written as 'Jíp'. (The letter v has been naturalised into the language, although it is not part of the traditional alphabet, and has the same pronunciation as "bh".) In idiomatic English usage, this diacritic is frequently referred to simply as the fada, where the adjective is used as a noun. The fada serves to lengthen the sound of the vowels and in some cases also changes their quality. For example, in Munster Irish (Kerry), a is /a/ or /ɑ/ and á is /ɑː/ in "father" but in Ulster Irish (Donegal), á tends to be /æː/.
Traditional orthography had an additional diacriticTemplate:Spaced ndasha dot over some consonants to indicate lenition. In modern Irish, the letter h suffixed to a consonant indicates that the consonant is lenited. Thus, for example, 'Gaelaċ' [see illustration] has become 'Gaelach'.
Around the time of the Second World War, Séamas Daltún, in charge of Rannóg an Aistriúcháin (the official translations department of the Irish government), issued his own guidelines about how to standardise Irish spelling and grammar. This de facto standard was subsequently approved by the State and called the Official Standard or Caighdeán Oifigiúil. It simplified and standardised the orthography. Many words had silent letters removed and vowel combination brought closer to the spoken language. Where multiple versions existed in different dialects for the same word, one or more were selected.
- Gaedhealg / Gaedhilg(e) / Gaedhealaing / Gaeilic / Gaelainn / Gaoidhealg / Gaolainn → Gaeilge, "Irish language"
- Lughbhaidh → Lú, "Louth"
- biadh → bia, "food"
The standard spelling does not necessarily reflect the pronunciation used in particular dialects. For example, in standard Irish, bia, "food", has the genitive bia. In Munster Irish, however, the genitive is pronounced /bʲiːɟ/. For this reason, the spelling biadh is still used by the speakers of some dialects, in particular those that show a meaningful and audible difference between biadh (nominative case) and bídh (genitive case) "of food, food's". In Munster the latter spelling regularly produces the pronunciation /bʲiːɟ/ because final -idh, -igh regularly delenites to -ig in Munster pronunciation. Another example would be the word crua, meaning "hard". This pronounced /kruəɟ/ in Munster, in line with the pre-Caighdeán spelling, cruaidh. In Munster, ao is pronounced /eː/ and aoi pronounced /iː/, but the new spellings of saoghal, "life, world", genitive: saoghail, have become saol, genitive saoil. This produces irregularities in the match-up between the spelling and pronunciation in Munster, because the word is pronounced /sˠeːl̪ˠ/, genitive /sˠeːlʲ/.
The dot-above diacritic, called a ponc séimhithe or sí buailte (often shortened to buailte), derives from the punctum delens used in medieval manuscripts to indicate deletion, similar to crossing out unwanted words in handwriting today. From this usage it was used to indicate the lenition of s (from /s/ to /h/) and f (from /f/ to zero) in Old Irish texts.
Lenition of c, p, and t was indicated by placing the letter h after the affected consonant; lenition of other sounds was left unmarked. Later both methods were extended to be indicators of lenition of any sound except l and n, and two competing systems were used: lenition could be marked by a buailte or by a postposed h. Eventually, use of the buailte predominated when texts were written using Gaelic letters, while the h predominated when writing using Roman letters.
Today, Gaelic type and the buailte are rarely used except where a "traditional" style is required, e.g. the motto on the University College Dublin coat of arms or the symbol of the Irish Defence Forces, The Irish Defence Forces cap badge (Óglaiġ na h-Éireann). Letters with the buailte are available in Unicode and Latin-8 character sets (see Latin Extended Additional chart).
- Béarlachas, Anglicisms in Irish
- Buntús Cainte, a course in basic spoken Irish
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- Comparison of Scottish Gaelic and Irish
- Goidelic substrate hypothesis
- Hiberno-Latin, a variety of Medieval Latin used in Irish monasteries. It included Greek, Hebrew and Celtic neologisms.
- Irish name and Place names in Ireland
- Irish words used in the English language
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- List of Irish-language given names
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- "Ireland speaks up loudly for Gaelic". New York Times. 2005-03-29. An example of the use of the word "Gaelic" to describe the language, seen throughout the text of the article.
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- William Gerard commented as follows: "All Englishe, and the most part with delight, even in Dublin, speak Irishe", while Richard Stanihurst lamented that "When their posteritie became not altogither so warie in keeping, as their ancestors were valiant in conquering, the Irish language was free dennized in the English Pale: this canker tooke such deep root, as the bodie that before was whole and sound, was by little and little festered, and in manner wholly putrified." See "Tony Crowley, "The Politics of Language in Ireland 1366-1922: A Sourcebook" and Leerssen, Joep, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the Nineteenth Century, University of Notre Dame Press 1997, p. 51. ISBN 978-0268014278. There were still an appreciable number of Irish speakers in County Dublin at the time of the 1851 census: see Fitzgerald 1984.
- See Ó hÓgáin 2011.
- Berresford Ellis 1975, p. 156.
- Quoted in Berresford Ellis, p. 193.
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- McCabe, p.31
- Cited in Graham Kew (ed.), The Irish Sections of Fynes Moryson’s unpublished itinerary (IMC, Dublin, 1998), p. 50.
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M67B Gramadach na Gaeilge 9781406425766 390 10.00
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Rinneadh iarracht ar leith san athbhreithniú seo foirmeacha agus leaganacha atá ar fáil go tréan sa chaint sna mórchanúintí a áireamh sa Chaighdeán Oifigiúil Athbhreithnithe sa tslí is go mbraithfeadh an gnáthchainteoir mórchanúna go bhfuil na príomhghnéithe den chanúint sin aitheanta sa Chaighdeán Oifigiúil agus, mar sin, gur gaire don ghnáthchaint an Caighdeán Oifigiúil anois ná mar a bhíodh.
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Triaileadh, mar shampla, aitheantas a thabhairt don leathnú atá ag teacht ar úsáid fhoirm an ainmnigh in ionad an ghinidigh sa chaint.
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|40x40px||Gaeilge edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|40x40px||For a list of words relating to Irish, see the Irish language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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|40x40px||Wikisource has several original texts related to: Irish language|
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|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Irish language.|
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- Language Links Database - language links and resources for Irish language
- BCI: Irish-language media stats
- Discover Irish
- Gaeilge ar an ghréasán Irish online resources
- 'Gael-Taca (Corcaigh)'
- "Learning Irish?," BBC
- "Social Network for learners, teachers and speakers,"
- Gaelscoil stats
- Giotaí and Top 40 Offigiúla na hÉireann programmes
- Irish Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- An Bíobla Naofa Gaeilge (Gaelic) Bible, published by An Sagart in 1981
- Ó Cuinn Tiomna Nua 1970 Gaeilge (Gaelic) Bible, published by Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise
- Bedell An Biobla Naomhtha 1817 Gaeilge (Gaelic) Bible, published by the British and Foreign Bible Society
Grammar and pronunciation
- Learn Irish Grammar with audio and pronunciation
- An Gael Magazine – Irish Gaelic Arts, Culture, And History Alive Worldwide Today
- A short Irish and Breton phrase list with Japanese translation(Renewal) incl sound file
- Braesicke's Gramadach na Gaeilge (Engl. translation)
- Die araner mundart (a phonological description of the dialect of the Aran Islands by F. N. Finck, from 1899)
- A dialect of Donegal (a phonological description of the dialect of Glenties by E. C. Quiggin, from 1906)
- Trinity College Dublin The Irish Language Synthesiser
- Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Ó Dónaill, 1977)
- Acmhainn.ie – Dictionary and terminology resource
- Collaborative Irish dictionary
- Foclóir Téarmaíochta, a large terminology database developed by FIONTAR, DCU
- General Gaelic Dictionaries
- Online English–Irish dictionary
- Irish-English Audio/Image dictionary