Podcast 017: Is Eoin a native speaker??

Lots of listener questions, plus emails we have received about learning to speak the native language of Ireland. Eoin also addresses a forum thread about whether or not he’s an native speaker of Irish. What’s your opinion? Read on, and leave your comment at the end of this page.

What you’ll hear

  • How different are the dialects of the Irish language?
  • Where should you visit on your first time to Ireland?
  • Comments about moving to Ireland in a previous episode
  • People’s views on whether Eoin is a native Irish speaker – it was the first language he grew up with

Mentioned in the show

Get the next episode as soon as it’s up

Bitesize Irish Gaelic Podcast

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Eoin

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51 thoughts on “Podcast 017: Is Eoin a native speaker??”

  1. Jamie-Rose Campbell

    I take the point about church Latin, but that is not a fair comparison with Eoin’s background. To say Eoin is not a native speaker because he grew up speaking Irish as his first and home language in Ireland but not in the Gaelteacht and because he was additionally taught Irish at school – well, it’s like saying I’m not a native English speaker because I didn’t grow up speaking a well-known dialect in Surrey and I had English lessons at school. Is anyone really going to dare to tell me my English is to be equated with pig Latin in that case? Not really a reasonable line of thought in my view. Eoin-without-the-fada is a native speaker.

  2. patrick Mc Nally

    This is interesting,Eoin’s pronunciation of an Irish irregular verb “Tabhair”has been called into question. Fair enough. At the present time I am not a subscriber to Bitesizeirishgaelic there are reasons for this. I have done their introductory free lessons that lasted about 10 or 12 days. I managed to complete about 12 lessons in this time because I got stuck on one word that I found difficult to pronounce and that word was “Ainm”. I knew there was an additional vowel in this word and that was not causing the problem for me. It was probably caused by my lack of exposure to the language. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I managed to get it right thanks to listening to Eoin’s recording of the word many many times. I know his pronunciation of this word”Ainm” is spot on because I hear it many times on the television. It is close to the other word “Anam” the word for soul in Irish, so you must get them right at the beginning. Thank you Eoin.! Getting back to the question about Eoin being a native speaker or an imposter as he would put it. This is interesting to all Gaeilgeoirí and learners of Irish. I am no expert on this. But I made a search on the internet to try and find out how it is pronounced in the 3 dialects of Irish. In the Ulster dialect it is given as,”Tór” like the English Tor meaning a rocky outcrop on the top of a hill. In the other 2 dialects it is given as,”Túir” pronounced like the English word Tour in bustour. This is according to my search on the internet. Eoin seems to pronounce it as,Tower. The dialects evolved naturally over a long period of time through early, middle, and modern Irish. They are not written in stone. They are offshoots and branches from the mainstream official standard Irish. To cut another long story short, If the word “Tabhair” pronounced Tower is not in the mainstream official standard Irish or in any of the dialects then Eoin has enriched Irish by coining a new word into th e language.! Good man yourself Eoin!. May the discussion continue. Pádraig

    1. A Phádraig, thanks for the positive feedback.

      For “Tabhair”, we need to pronounce is as “túir” in the lessons, and so it will be corrected.

      Glad to hear that you’re hearing the difference with ainm and anam. They’re similar words, but with distinctive sounds (that broad and slender “m” that David referred to). Sounds like you’re making very good progress, well done.

  3. Eóin, the reason why people question your status as a native speaker is the learner’s quality of some of your pronunciations.

    Take this audio: http://www.bitesizeirishgaelic.com/learn-irish-gaelic/breakfast/

    Tabhair dom an im: first of all a native speaker might be expected to know that “im” is masculine, so it is “an t-im”. Secondly, im has a slender m, but it sounds broad in that file. Thirdly, if it’s Munster Irish you said you lean to, the i is long. It is pronounced “an t-ím”. The nominative is ím, with a long vowel. The genitive is ime, with an short vowel.

    And then a basic word like tabhair should be pronounced correctly. It is not “tower”. It is pronounced túir. I think this reflects cross-influence from the older future of tugaim, “tiubraidh”, which is why tabharfaidh is pronounced túrhig, and tabhair, tabhairt and tabhartha were influenced by that. Notice the difference between tabhartha (túrha), “given”, and tabhartha (tower-ha),”illegitimate” in “mac tabhartha”.

    Tower dom – doesn’t mean anything in Irish. Also tabhair dom, as well as being túir dom, can be pronounced trom. Trom an t-ím, led thoil!

    1. By the way David, my name is Eoin, not Eóin.

      The slender “m” in “im” is indeed the quality of my pronunciations – I’ll fix that in the next batch of recordings. Thanks for the feedback.

      Regarding “an t-im”, that needs to be fixed by our full review of our lessons by a linguistic expert. I did not write the lesson, so it’s not a question of my grammatical ability. I’m responsible for getting the experts to get it right.

      For “Tabhair dom an (t-)im”, I pronounce it “Túir dom an tím”, so I should stick to that.

      In your expert opinion, David, is “im” pronounced “ím” in Munster only?

      1. Well, I’m not an expert, but I know ‘an t-ím’ has a long vowel in Munster Irish, and according to Micheál Ó Siadhail’s Learning Irish, it has a long vowel in Cois Fharraige too.

        But the books I have on Tourkameady and Erris Irish, both from Co. Mayo, show it has a short vowel in Mayo. I don’t know about Donegal, but presumably Mayo and Donegal go together to some extent?

  4. Let me correct the date. It was during the Convention in 2012 in Dublin at Citywest.

    Pardon my memory, please.

    Marc

  5. I didn’t think this was serious. Let me relate a little experience…

    During the middle two weeks of July 2013, I visited Ireland, at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin (Bla Cliath?). After checking in at the front desk, I walked to the Welcome Desk across the lobby. As her husband was busy with the recalcitrant computer, I introduced myself in Irish to his wife. She responded “Just a second” while completing a form. Looking up, she was surprised to see an American saying this. After a brief chat, she said I should see her 15-year-old son, right over there, as he has been studying Irish since he was three. I did the same with him, saying the greeting slowly and as clearly as I knew how, and we talked for a minute till I ran out of Irish words. He was impressed I had gone so far in only a couple months. Remember, this was when Eoin had just released the seven-part trial program. I’d had about ten weeks or so of listening and practice, to and from work, every day.

    He then asked who the instructor was and where he lived. Now, listen up!

    I said he was Eoin Conchuir, and he lived in Limerick. The boy burst out laughing, and said “I KNEW I heard a Midlands accent!”

    This told me many things. First, Eoin is from Limerick or has lived there long enough to pick up a local accent sound, much as I can tell if someone claiming to be from Texas really is or not. Secondly, this accent, if you will, is transmitted over the MP3 system I’m using, clearly enough for me to pick it up unconsciously and repeat it. And, please, pardon my boardinghouse brag, but I’m learning Irish well enough from Eoin’s program that I can unintentionally let my listener know where my Irish is from, to the point this 15 year old lad can detect it without trying.

    Not native? “I don’t think so, Tim” 🙂

    Don’t let them get you down, Eoin.

  6. Robert Thurston

    Hi Eoin,
    To change the subject, that is a great photo at the beginning of your post,
    with all the sheep, but how the heck am I supposed to count them before my
    nap, if they won’t all stay in one place?
    Bob

  7. First, I agree that a “native speaker” is someone who learned a language as his or her first language (or one of his or first languages, if multilingual). That is not really the issue here, seems to me.

    Second, as mentioned in the podcast, the slowed down version of words on Bitesize Irish Gaelic is so valuable for those of us learning in isolation! Whatever the dialect one ultimately gets into, and I accept that there are definitely differences and probably you have to choose at some point, there are still very broad rules for pronunciation and interpreting the written Irish that can be learned much easier from the slower recorded versions Eoin has made. I found that these recordings were the thing that helped me finally get how the vowels work, and that, alone, is worth so much! I was held up for years by not really getting this, once it finally clicked so I could actually start trying to write things down and sound out words I have been making rapid progress. GRMMA a Eoin!

    Third, there are quite a handful of sounds in Irish that just don’t exist in English, and hearing things pronounced slowly helps me to pick them out and try to figure out how to make them come out of my mouth. At normal speed it”s quite hard to even hear them properly. Again, as you move into more specific dialects I’m sure this is even more the case, but for beginners it’s still a matter of just trying to approximate and get close to these new sounds. That’s how learning a language works. It’s all about gradually refining your first attempts into correct forms. You don’t just wake up speaking perfect anything one bright morning!

    Finally, Bitesize Irish Gaelic is not meant as a comprehensive course in the Irish language. It’s a great resource, it’s a good reference to use with other materials, you can learn some casual phrases and then develop the hunger for more Irish any way you please. The most important thing is that Eoin’s materials help to make this beautiful language, which can be quite baffling at first, accessible to anyone, and the learning of it seem less daunting. Fair play to you, Eoin!

    1. Well go raibh míle maith agat, a Isa.

      I will point out that the lessons are not written by me, so I can’t take credit there.

      It’s great to hear your perspective, and that you’ve gotten value from our slow+fast recordings in conversational lessons.

Leave a Comment

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This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

51 thoughts on “Podcast 017: Is Eoin a native speaker??”

  1. Jamie-Rose Campbell

    I take the point about church Latin, but that is not a fair comparison with Eoin’s background. To say Eoin is not a native speaker because he grew up speaking Irish as his first and home language in Ireland but not in the Gaelteacht and because he was additionally taught Irish at school – well, it’s like saying I’m not a native English speaker because I didn’t grow up speaking a well-known dialect in Surrey and I had English lessons at school. Is anyone really going to dare to tell me my English is to be equated with pig Latin in that case? Not really a reasonable line of thought in my view. Eoin-without-the-fada is a native speaker.

  2. patrick Mc Nally

    This is interesting,Eoin’s pronunciation of an Irish irregular verb “Tabhair”has been called into question. Fair enough. At the present time I am not a subscriber to Bitesizeirishgaelic there are reasons for this. I have done their introductory free lessons that lasted about 10 or 12 days. I managed to complete about 12 lessons in this time because I got stuck on one word that I found difficult to pronounce and that word was “Ainm”. I knew there was an additional vowel in this word and that was not causing the problem for me. It was probably caused by my lack of exposure to the language. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I managed to get it right thanks to listening to Eoin’s recording of the word many many times. I know his pronunciation of this word”Ainm” is spot on because I hear it many times on the television. It is close to the other word “Anam” the word for soul in Irish, so you must get them right at the beginning. Thank you Eoin.! Getting back to the question about Eoin being a native speaker or an imposter as he would put it. This is interesting to all Gaeilgeoirí and learners of Irish. I am no expert on this. But I made a search on the internet to try and find out how it is pronounced in the 3 dialects of Irish. In the Ulster dialect it is given as,”Tór” like the English Tor meaning a rocky outcrop on the top of a hill. In the other 2 dialects it is given as,”Túir” pronounced like the English word Tour in bustour. This is according to my search on the internet. Eoin seems to pronounce it as,Tower. The dialects evolved naturally over a long period of time through early, middle, and modern Irish. They are not written in stone. They are offshoots and branches from the mainstream official standard Irish. To cut another long story short, If the word “Tabhair” pronounced Tower is not in the mainstream official standard Irish or in any of the dialects then Eoin has enriched Irish by coining a new word into th e language.! Good man yourself Eoin!. May the discussion continue. Pádraig

    1. A Phádraig, thanks for the positive feedback.

      For “Tabhair”, we need to pronounce is as “túir” in the lessons, and so it will be corrected.

      Glad to hear that you’re hearing the difference with ainm and anam. They’re similar words, but with distinctive sounds (that broad and slender “m” that David referred to). Sounds like you’re making very good progress, well done.

  3. Eóin, the reason why people question your status as a native speaker is the learner’s quality of some of your pronunciations.

    Take this audio: http://www.bitesizeirishgaelic.com/learn-irish-gaelic/breakfast/

    Tabhair dom an im: first of all a native speaker might be expected to know that “im” is masculine, so it is “an t-im”. Secondly, im has a slender m, but it sounds broad in that file. Thirdly, if it’s Munster Irish you said you lean to, the i is long. It is pronounced “an t-ím”. The nominative is ím, with a long vowel. The genitive is ime, with an short vowel.

    And then a basic word like tabhair should be pronounced correctly. It is not “tower”. It is pronounced túir. I think this reflects cross-influence from the older future of tugaim, “tiubraidh”, which is why tabharfaidh is pronounced túrhig, and tabhair, tabhairt and tabhartha were influenced by that. Notice the difference between tabhartha (túrha), “given”, and tabhartha (tower-ha),”illegitimate” in “mac tabhartha”.

    Tower dom – doesn’t mean anything in Irish. Also tabhair dom, as well as being túir dom, can be pronounced trom. Trom an t-ím, led thoil!

    1. By the way David, my name is Eoin, not Eóin.

      The slender “m” in “im” is indeed the quality of my pronunciations – I’ll fix that in the next batch of recordings. Thanks for the feedback.

      Regarding “an t-im”, that needs to be fixed by our full review of our lessons by a linguistic expert. I did not write the lesson, so it’s not a question of my grammatical ability. I’m responsible for getting the experts to get it right.

      For “Tabhair dom an (t-)im”, I pronounce it “Túir dom an tím”, so I should stick to that.

      In your expert opinion, David, is “im” pronounced “ím” in Munster only?

      1. Well, I’m not an expert, but I know ‘an t-ím’ has a long vowel in Munster Irish, and according to Micheál Ó Siadhail’s Learning Irish, it has a long vowel in Cois Fharraige too.

        But the books I have on Tourkameady and Erris Irish, both from Co. Mayo, show it has a short vowel in Mayo. I don’t know about Donegal, but presumably Mayo and Donegal go together to some extent?

  4. Let me correct the date. It was during the Convention in 2012 in Dublin at Citywest.

    Pardon my memory, please.

    Marc

  5. I didn’t think this was serious. Let me relate a little experience…

    During the middle two weeks of July 2013, I visited Ireland, at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin (Bla Cliath?). After checking in at the front desk, I walked to the Welcome Desk across the lobby. As her husband was busy with the recalcitrant computer, I introduced myself in Irish to his wife. She responded “Just a second” while completing a form. Looking up, she was surprised to see an American saying this. After a brief chat, she said I should see her 15-year-old son, right over there, as he has been studying Irish since he was three. I did the same with him, saying the greeting slowly and as clearly as I knew how, and we talked for a minute till I ran out of Irish words. He was impressed I had gone so far in only a couple months. Remember, this was when Eoin had just released the seven-part trial program. I’d had about ten weeks or so of listening and practice, to and from work, every day.

    He then asked who the instructor was and where he lived. Now, listen up!

    I said he was Eoin Conchuir, and he lived in Limerick. The boy burst out laughing, and said “I KNEW I heard a Midlands accent!”

    This told me many things. First, Eoin is from Limerick or has lived there long enough to pick up a local accent sound, much as I can tell if someone claiming to be from Texas really is or not. Secondly, this accent, if you will, is transmitted over the MP3 system I’m using, clearly enough for me to pick it up unconsciously and repeat it. And, please, pardon my boardinghouse brag, but I’m learning Irish well enough from Eoin’s program that I can unintentionally let my listener know where my Irish is from, to the point this 15 year old lad can detect it without trying.

    Not native? “I don’t think so, Tim” 🙂

    Don’t let them get you down, Eoin.

  6. Robert Thurston

    Hi Eoin,
    To change the subject, that is a great photo at the beginning of your post,
    with all the sheep, but how the heck am I supposed to count them before my
    nap, if they won’t all stay in one place?
    Bob

  7. First, I agree that a “native speaker” is someone who learned a language as his or her first language (or one of his or first languages, if multilingual). That is not really the issue here, seems to me.

    Second, as mentioned in the podcast, the slowed down version of words on Bitesize Irish Gaelic is so valuable for those of us learning in isolation! Whatever the dialect one ultimately gets into, and I accept that there are definitely differences and probably you have to choose at some point, there are still very broad rules for pronunciation and interpreting the written Irish that can be learned much easier from the slower recorded versions Eoin has made. I found that these recordings were the thing that helped me finally get how the vowels work, and that, alone, is worth so much! I was held up for years by not really getting this, once it finally clicked so I could actually start trying to write things down and sound out words I have been making rapid progress. GRMMA a Eoin!

    Third, there are quite a handful of sounds in Irish that just don’t exist in English, and hearing things pronounced slowly helps me to pick them out and try to figure out how to make them come out of my mouth. At normal speed it”s quite hard to even hear them properly. Again, as you move into more specific dialects I’m sure this is even more the case, but for beginners it’s still a matter of just trying to approximate and get close to these new sounds. That’s how learning a language works. It’s all about gradually refining your first attempts into correct forms. You don’t just wake up speaking perfect anything one bright morning!

    Finally, Bitesize Irish Gaelic is not meant as a comprehensive course in the Irish language. It’s a great resource, it’s a good reference to use with other materials, you can learn some casual phrases and then develop the hunger for more Irish any way you please. The most important thing is that Eoin’s materials help to make this beautiful language, which can be quite baffling at first, accessible to anyone, and the learning of it seem less daunting. Fair play to you, Eoin!

    1. Well go raibh míle maith agat, a Isa.

      I will point out that the lessons are not written by me, so I can’t take credit there.

      It’s great to hear your perspective, and that you’ve gotten value from our slow+fast recordings in conversational lessons.