An Irish lesson

Let’s learn a little bit of Irish. I’m taking an Irish class this semester and I need to practise a little. But I won’t be the only one profitting by this recall of my so-far-Irish. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. Let’s see if I can teach you a little.

I’m greeting you with: “Dia duit!” – You answer: “Dia is muire duit!”
(These are two versions of hello, literally meaning something like “God for you” and “God and Mary for you” — or similar to the “Grüß Gott!” of Austrian German)
I want to know how you’re feeling today: “Conas atá tú?” Your answer: “Tá mé go breá.” (“I’m grand.” -> perfectly accurate for an Irish person) However, if you’re like me and your answer always has to be that you’re tired, you have to reply with “Tá mé tuirseach.” If you want to share with me that you’re drunk for some reason, you simply say: “Tá mé ar meisce.” (Don’t ask me why this is on my worksheet – my guess is that my teacher has a good sort of humour.)
Now let’s turn to names. By the way, I love Irish names. They’re wonderful because you never know what to expect when you see them written down. That is, you never know how to pronounce them until you hear them. But of course, that applies to the whole Irish language (which is why I like it even more). First nothing is making any sense. But sooner or later you realise, there are rules. You just have to follow them. So, here we go.
You’re asking me: What’s your name? = “Cad is ainm duit?” I tell you: “Aoife is ainm dom.” Obviously, the first word is my name and it’s almost true. There is a dude on youtube pronouncing Irish names, have a look (hear, hear!):
My personal favourite is still the name Saoirse. It’s like Aoife a female Irish name and means freedom. I like that. I first came across that name in my last year at school before the ABITUR, when we had to read a novel by Roddy Doyle. I hated A star called Henry because of all the swearing 😀 and violence and detailed sex description of the hero/star. It was about the Easter Rising, so I get that it has to be violent to some degree but that still doesn’t make it my cup of tea. I know now that Roddy Doyle is a very popular Irish author but I still have missed out on giving him a second chance. Maybe I will read a children’s book by him someday. No chance of appearances of any of the above there. I flipped through one in a bookstore already.
Anyway, Saoirse (Henry’s first daughter with his former teacher who was like 15 years older than him and fell in love with him and had sex with him (as if!) when he was a stupid little boy which is kind of sick) has the same letter sequence as Aoife, at least with the vowels. So for the first time since I came across that Irish freedom, I actually know how to pronounce it. I just have to think of my own name and put some s-sounds in there.
Maybe next time we will talk about numbers – I just got introduced to them this week and I have to tell you that I again see some similarity to the Austrian or Swiss German here. Ains, Swei, Dreii, … No, not really. Well, very quickly, see for yourself: a haon 1, a dó 2, a trí 3, a ceathair 4, a cúig 5, a sé 6, a seacht 7, a hocht 8(ACHT –> deutsch!), a naoi 9 (look at the German neun!), a deich 10.
That’s it for today. Slán leat!


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