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IRISH LANGUAGE Q&A

Q&A Le Siobhán Agus Emma – Thursday November 18Th 2021

Watch back October’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.

I’m struggling to understand the difference in use of ‘faighidh’ and ‘gheobhaidh’. Are there easy rules around this or any other advice you can give?

Fraser, Edinburgh
  • There are three answers to this. As the verb faigh, of which both faighidh and gheobhaidh are a part of, is an irregular verb, different forms of the verb resemble either faighidh or gheobhaidh. For example, when saying someone will get something, you say ‘Gheobhaidh sé é,’ he will get it. However, when saying someone won’t get something, you say ‘Ní bhfaighidh sé é.‘ Now, the second way they are used is that faighidh is used in an indirect relative clause and gheobhaidh is used in a direct relative clause. For example, ‘An fear a gheobhaidh an post,’ the man who’ll get the job, but ‘An fear a bhfaighidh a mhac an post,’ the man whose son will get the job. The third way faighidh is used is when it’s a conjunction, for example ‘Tá a fhios agam go bhfaighidh mé an litir inniu,’ I know I’ll get/receive the letter today. But, if you were to simply say ‘I will get/receive the letter today,’ it would be ‘Gheobhaidh mé an litir inniu.’ So, to find out more about these changes, look up online or in a grammar book both the relative clause and conjunctions. 

Looking for a word meaning ” Sailplane” or “Glider”, and a phrase “Let’s go Soaring”

Gene, In the State of Illnois, USA
  • glider – faoileoir (tearma.ie)
  • ‘Let’s go soaring’ – Téimis ag faoileoireacht. / Ar aghaidh linn ag faoileoireacht.

Some languages are more intelligible with poor grammar while others are like a computer programming language where slight errors render a sentence unintelligible or dramatically change its meaning.

Seán, Naples, Florida, USA
  • Possibly somewhere in the middle. Similar to English, for example, many grammatical errors can be made and still the sentence will be intelligible. Also similar to English, sometimes just the change of one word can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence.

I would like to integrate more Irish into my writing beyond “dia dhuit” and “go raibh maith agat,” but how can I be certain that the Irish I include is grammatically correct? I don’t want to accidentally add something to my work that would sound ridiculous or wrong to native and fluent speakers.

Marc, Seattle, USA
  • Most, if not all, native or fluent speakers wouldn’t shame you for any mistakes that you might make so don’t be afraid! You could have a look on our YouTube and Blog to see if you see any phrases that you might like to use and audio pronunciation would of course be included in those videos! Focloir.ie can be very useful with example phrases.
  • To be fully confident, you need to reach a certain level of proficiency that takes some time to reach. You may also find it helpful to send your written work to a fluent speaker who will guide you in how to improve your syntax and grammar.

Is there a public service requirement for television and radio companies in Ireland that mandates that a certain % of their output must be as Gaeilge?  If not would it be a sensible step forward?  Even if people alleged it was only tokenism, I think it would be a good symbolic gesture if all programmes used Irish greetings at the start and end of them as well as well known or easy to learn pleasantries within the programmes themselves.  It’s not a panacea but it’s a start if nothing else.  Also it would be a positive I think if short set piece programmes like the weather were in Irish with the English version the exception, say once or twice a day.  Has there been any calls for similar requirements? If so how have these been met by the populace at large in Ireland?  

Maitiú, Manchain, Sasana

Some people say Irish is a very poetic language. How is it poetic and is it more poetic than other languages?

Herbert, Virginia, USA
  • A compliment to the unique beauty of the Irish language.
  • A word used to convey how descriptive the Irish language can be in everyday phrases.

I’m a little confused. I have learned two apparent variations of how to say hello or greet someone in Irish. Version 1 is pronounced like “dee-arr doo-it” and the other pronunciation sounds like “jeeah gwitch”.  Are they different dialects or am I totally mistaken about the pronunciation. Literally don’t they both mean “God’s day”.

Robert, Seattle
  • The second pronunciation is closer to how it’s pronounced. There are a few variations of the pronunciation of ‘Dia duit’ (also spelt as it’s often pronounced: ‘Dia duit’). In Munster, it’s a bit more similar do /Dee-ah ghwit/. It means ‘God to you.’
  • You can hear some different pronunciations on Forvo.

What is the correct interpretation of *Mo chuisle mo chroí* and when is it used in conversation?

George, South Africa
  • It literally means ‘pulse of my heart’ or ‘my pulse of my heart’ to be even more literal. It’s an endearment which is similar in meaning to calling someone the love of your life.
  • It has been anglicised as macushla. There’s even a film of the same name: Macushla (1937)!

Why do we sometimes say d’imigh and at other times just imigh ? Is this a rule that applies to other verbs at other times – what is the rule? What does the prefix d’ mean? Thank you!

Robin, Co. Cork
  • Imigh is the stem or base form, also known as dictionary form of the verb ‘to go’. It is also used as the imperative so if you are telling someone to go i.e giving an order, you would just say ‘Imigh!’ or ‘Imigh leat!’. The d’ here is indicative of the past tense. When you have a verb that you want to put in the past tense you usually add a ‘h’ or a séimhiú (lenition). This is for consonants. When you have a verb such as ‘imigh’ or ‘imir’ or ‘ith’ which all begin with vowels, you can’t lenite or put a ‘h’ on a vowel so you add a d’ instead. 
  • Imir‘ – to play changes to d’imir.
  • It comes from the word ‘do’, which is used in some of the Munster dialect before many verbs in the past tense, such as ‘do bhí’ instead of ‘bhí.’

In this case I’m not sure which to use eclipsis (Urú) or lenition (Séimhiu), or possibly just leave it alone. “Tá éan ar do (carr, charr, gcarr).” [The bird is on your car.] My inclination is use an eclipsis because the of the transition from “do” to “carr”.

James, Orlando, Florida USA
  • Tá éan ar do charr. = There is a bird on your car.
  • Following mo, do, and a (when meaning his) – séimhiú/lenition: mo charr, do charr, a charr (my car, your car, his car).
  • When a mean her – no change: a carr (her car).
  • Following ár, bhur, and a (when meaning their) – urú/eclipsis: ár gcarr, bhur gcarr, a gcarr (our car, your [plural] car, their car).

We want to help you achieve Gaeilge Gach Lá – Irish Every Day. We’ve a whole set of resources collected for you in our Gaeilge Gach Lá email series. It starts with an ebook for 10 secrets for Gaeilge Gach Lá. You’ll also get our weekly newsletter with upcoming live Q&As. Get the Gaeilge Gach Lá emails from Bitesize Irish.

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