First Impressions on Meeting the Irish Language

Arabic and Spanish are both beautiful languages to speak. Arabic is especially beautiful to write and it is drastically foreign compared to what I, as a native English speaker, am used to. Maybe that’s why it’s been easier for my brain to accept the Arabic alphabet than the Irish one. .tfel ot thgir sdaer cibarA hguoht nevE [Even though Arabic reads right to left.] Irish is still more difficult to take in.

Irish alphabet: A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T U

Because the letters are shaped the same as in English, my brain refuses to acknowledge that a word spelled “dearg” is pronounced “jeer-ig.” That “Samhain” is pronounced “sow(as in cow)-in.” That the letter “f” becomes “fh” and isn’t pronounced at all until it becomes “bhf” and then it sounds like “v” or “w.”
…Or something like that.

My brain loves poetry, though. My brain was stressed, but happy, during my senior seminar where I focused my writing on poetry and short-shorts. That part of my brain makes it easier to connect with Irish when I realize the intrigue.

“Yes” and “no” do not exist in Irish, so you can’t get by as you might in Spanish. “Sí. Sí. Oh, sí.” (What a shame! My old standby.) In Irish class we speculated that this could be because the Irish people, in their origin, were story tellers. Without good listening and a steel-trap mind the culture would have been lost in many ways. If your friend said, “Did you go the store?” You have to say, having listened & considered the actual question, “I went to the store yesterday.” or “I went not to the store.”

Hanging up in my workspace

Another poetic intrigue? The meaning of words makes sense. Earlier I mentioned the word “dearg.” It means “red” but red as in “lit, glow, to blush, etc.” If you’re talking about a red-haired person you’d say “rua” as in “red haired, rusty, wild.”
To say pink, the words for red and for white combine. For the word cream, the words for yellow & white combine.
“Ban” is the word for white. It means “white, blank, empty.” “Beal ban” means, literally, “white mouth” and is used to say “flattery or sweet talk.”
There is a different word for green(“glas”) (“of grass, trees,” and….wait for it… “politics”) and green (“uaine”) (“of painted or dyed items”).

How fantastic is that?

I think things will work out just fine…and it will be interesting to see what I have to say in a month. ; )

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One thought on “First Impressions on Meeting the Irish Language

  1. Pingback: The Voice of One [Woman] Crying « Catch + Color Justice

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