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The Irish language is usually called Irish, but it is sometimes called Irish Gaelic or Gaelic/Gaeilge.

What writing system(s) does this language use?[edit | edit source]

Irish uses a variation of the Latin alphabet, just like English. Irish does not have the letters Q, W, and Y. Irish has the letters J, K, V, X, and Z, but these are only used in borrowed foreign words. Out of them, only V is common.

Irish indicates long vowels with a diacritic called the síneadh fada or just fada. For example, a short A is written as A, while a long A is written as Á.

Because of these differences, Irish has 27 letters, 1 more than English. The Irish alphabet is:

Upper case A Á B C D E É F G H I Í J K L M N O Ó P R S T U Ú V X Z
Lower case a á b c d e é f g h i í j k l m n o ó p r s t u ú v x z

Diacritic — a mark added to a letter to change the way it is pronounced.

How many people speak this language?[edit | edit source]

In total, there are 1,656,790 fluent speakers of Irish in the Republic of Ireland (click here to learn about Ireland), from the 2006 census. Only about 75,000 people use Irish as their first and daily language. The Irish language is a required subject in schools in the Republic of Ireland, so most Irish teenagers learn the language.

Where is this language spoken?[edit | edit source]

Gaeltachtaí, areas where Irish is spoken as a native language.

Irish is spoken mainly in the Gaeltachtaí, but it is also spoken in some of the homes of native Irish. People also love to speak it on holidays as it identifies them as not British, and only Irish people are fluent in the language.

What is the history of this language?[edit | edit source]

It is unclear when Celtic languages, which Irish is one of, came to Ireland. Primitive Irish, the earliest form of the Irish language, appears to have died out around the 4th century CE. Old Irish, the next form of the Irish language, lasted until around the 10th century CE, when it was replaced by Middle Irish. Modern Irish, which is still spoken today, appeared around the 16th century CE.

Up until the 19th century, Irish was the most commonly spoken language in Ireland. During the 19th century and continuing on to today, the English language replaced much of the use of Irish in Ireland. Under British law in the early 19th century, people were banned from speaking Irish and were severely punished for doing so.

Irish is becoming more and more popular with Irish youth. It is used in day-to-day chat, and every summer thousands of students spend three weeks to a month in a Gaeltacht (Irish area) where nothing but Irish is spoken continuously.

Irish is one of the oldest written languages in the world, and was used by Early Irish Monks in beautiful illustrated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells.

Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?[edit | edit source]

Ré Ó Laighleas is an author of Irish short-stories such as "Punk", "Séimí agus Anna", and "Na Bradmharcaigh". These are standard scéal (stories) that Secondary school "Árdléibheal" (Higher Level) Irish students must study, along with poems to prepare them for the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations.

What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?[edit | edit source]

  • Dia duit (Dee-ah gwit) - Hello (it literally means "God to you")
  • Dia is Muire duit (Dee-ah is Mwurah gwit) - Reply to dia duit (it literally means "God and Mary to you")
  • Dia duit ar maidin (Dee-ah gwit air mah-jin) - Good morning
  • Conas atá tú? (Kunus a-taw too?) - How are you? (Used mostly in Munster)
  • Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? (Kane kwee a will too?) - How are you? (Used mostly in Connacht)
  • Cad é mar atá tú? (Kod ay mor a-taw too?) - How are you? (Used mostly in Ulster)
  • ______ is ainm dom. (_______ is an-im dumb)- My name is______
  • Cá bhfuil ______? (Caw will) - Where is _____?
  • Teastíonn _______ uaim (Tass-tee-on ______ oo-am) - I need _______
  • Oíche mhaith (Eee-ha wah) - Good night
  • Slán agat (Slawn a-gut) - Goodbye (said by the person leaving)
  • Slán leat (Slawn laht) - Goodbye (said by the person staying)
  • Slán (Slawn) - Casual goodbye (lit. "health")
  • Slán go fóill (Slawn guh foal) - See you later

What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?[edit | edit source]

In Irish

Lá breithe shona duit!
Lá breithe shona duit!
Lá breithe shona _______!
Lá breithe shona duit!

In English

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear ______!
Happy birthday to you!

References[edit | edit source]