are not aware that the Irish have their own language just as Germans,
Russians, Chinese and Swedish have their own.
Irish is a
Celtic (pronounced KEL-TICK) language. Within the Celtic group,
it belongs to the Goidelic branch of insular Celtic. Irish has
evolved from a form of Celtic which was introduced into Ireland
at some period during the great Celtic migrations of ancient times
between the end of the second millennium and the fourth century
BC. Old Irish, Ireland's native language when the historical period
begins in the sixth century of our era, is the earliest variant
of the Celtic languages, and indeed the earliest of European native
languages north of the Alps, in which extensive writings are still
8 of the (Irish) Constitution makes the following affirmation:
Irish language as the national language is the first official
English language is recognised as a second official language.
(From the Government of Ireland Web site.)
Irish Language in History
In 1366, the
English government passed a series of laws (the Statutes of Kilkenny)
to stop the Anglo-Irish from becoming totally absorbed in the
Gaelic culture: Englishmen were forbidden to wear Irish costumes,
speak the native tongue and intermarry. Teaching of Irish was
forbidden by the English and was done so in an effort to force
the Irish to follow British rule and law.
Even as recently
as 1999, was there censorship against the use of the Irish Gaelic
language lurking in the dark depths of the World Wide Web. The
speaking (or rather, typing in this case) of Irish Gaelic was
banned for a short period of time on America Online's (AOL) Irish
Heritage Forum Message boards. This news hit even the big time
magazines and Web sites, and, of course, all the Irish newspapers
printed here in the U.S. And just as suddenly as they closed the
boards "for review of said usage of language we don't understand",
the boards were restored--but missing several postings (perhaps
in the hundreds) that contained the use of Irish Gaelic. It caused
quite a stir and many Irish Diaspora (Irish born) and Irish-American
subscribers canceled their accounts because of it.
widely spoken in Ireland today, about one percent of Irish citizens
still speak Gaelic regularly. There are also newspapers and
sites (here's the same
web page in English) exclusively in Irish Gaelic.
speak even just the basics of Irish Gaelic say it's not hard to
learn once you get the sounds down.* The
Lesson Board is updated when Webmiss is usually on-the-fly,
but she shoots for five or more new lessons per month. So pull
up a chair and a good cup of tea and give it a try yourself! If
you look at some of our own English words, other languages don't
seem so odd. For example, the pronunciation of the word "patient",
as found in Webster's Dictionary, is "pã-shant".
If you compare the pronunciation of the word to the spelling of
the word, it does look rather funny and you can't imagine what
they were thinking when they decided to spell the word the way
they did. You'll find yourself saying the same thing about Irish
pages on the Lesson Board are courtesy of The Irish People
Newspaper and are used here with permission/credit.