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IRISH LANGUAGE Q&A

Q&A Le Siobhán Agus Emma – Thursday February 17Th 2021

Watch back February’s Live Q&A with Siobhán and Emma above or find below a summary of what we covered. We answered questions from Irish learners on various topics related to the Irish language and in particular the Connacht Irish dialect. The questions quoted below are abridged summaries of the original questions.

Click on the timestamps below to go directly to the question and hear its answer as it was given during the livestream.

Is it “A ghrá mo chroí” or “A grá mo chroí”? 0:54

Annette

Is there a table or list available that contains the majority of the rules to Irish pronunciation? 2:54


Mícheál

Do you think it’s likely that someone living in Loughrea at the beginning of the 20th c. would have known Irish, or was English being favored so much that it would have been rare? 5:48

Kristen

How do I say I want or would like? ‘Tá mé ag iarraidh’ or ‘Ba maith liom’? 10:35

Edward
  • Tá mé ag iarraidh contains the verbal noun form of ‘iarr’ which means ‘ask, demand or request’. This would be used if you want to specifically say I want to do something. Tá mé ag iarraidh Gaeilge a fhoghlaim – I am trying to learn Irish. Ba mhaith liom is ‘ I would like’.

Where in Ireland should I live to speak Irish the most? Which county? 15:59


Jim
  • The strongest Gaeltacht areas, according to the 2016 Census, are in South Conamara in County Galway, which is in Connacht so would therefore, of course, speak Connacht Irish. Garmna is the strongest area within that larger area. It’s an island connected by road. The Donegal and Kerry Gaeltachts would be the next biggest Gaeltachts.
  • There are many opportunities to speak Irish in Ireland’s cities, such as Dublin, Belfast and Cork. Galway city too. There are meet ups, comedy nights, conversation circles and classes available in those cities and in other parts of the country.

In Gaeilge Chonnacht, is the “bh” sound always pronounced like a “w” and is the “mh” pronounced like a “w”? In Gaeilge Munster, I believe “bh” and “mh’ are pronounced with a “v” sound. 24:47

Mary
  • So, first off, both bh and mh are pronounced the same, whether that be a W or V sound. Though bh and mh are more inclined to sound like a W in Connacht Irish and more like a V in Munster Irish, there’s a little more to it than that. A lot depends on the spelling of the word.
  • If a slender letter, which are i & e, is next to the bh or mh, it will sound like a V. A good example is the verb Bhí (was). No matter the dialect, that’ll always have a V sound. Same goes for An mhí (the month), that’s always a V sound. So, if bh or mh are follow or preceded by either an i or an e, they’ll sound like a V.
  • With the likes of mhaith, which means good but has a séimhiú (lenited) for grammatical reasons, that can be pronounced either way as the mh is followed by a broad vowel.
  • The broad vowels are a, o & u.
  • The same goes for bhád, for example. Mo bhád = my boat.
  • Now, as often is the case, there are exceptions and some words are pronounced differently from what one would expect. A great example, given how common it is, is the verb tabhair, to give. It’s pronounced a few different ways but never with the bh sounding as a V. Teanglann is a great site to double check the pronunciation of a word on.

I have found it difficult to focus on one dialect. Is a mash-up of all three dialects a huge concern? Will people understand me? And should I be more focused on just one dialect? 34:17


Lynne
  • To continue learning one specific dialect, I think you need to try and immerse yourself in it by seeking out speakers of that dialect, even if that be just radio presenters who speak that dialect. Also, seek out books written in that dialect. Listen to old recordings from the area, on sites such as Doegen.ie. It’s also good to note that the major dialects such as Connacht Irish, for example, have many, many subdialects. A speaker from a specific area of Ceantar na nOileán in Conamara will have quite different Irish than someone from one of the Mayo Gaeltacht areas.
  • When in comes to speaking a mash-up of dialects though, there’s varying opinions on the matter. I, personally, see no problem with it. I think many people find they do speak a mash-up themselves, often unbeknownst to themselves, even in English. People move about and know people with different dialects and varying pronunciations and phrases are picked up along the way. I don’t think would have any trouble understanding a mixed dialect.
  • If you do choose to focus on one dialect, I would recommend also making sure you get your ear accustomed to other dialects, at least eventually if you feel that you need a specific period of being solely immersed in one specific dialect.
  • People will definitely understand a mixed dialect.

Hear our special announcement! 32:06

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