Irish Gaelic language

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Goidelic language spoken in Ireland


Irish is a Celtic language (Goidelic branch) spoken in the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann) and to a lesser degree in Northern Ireland (Éire Thuaidh) and by the Irish diaspora around the world. Irish, or Gaeilge, is the first official language of the Republic of Ireland. It has recently received a degree of recognition in Northern Ireland.

In the south and west of Ireland there are pockets where Irish is the major language. These regions are known as Gaeltachtaí (sg. Gaeltacht). The most well known of these are in Connemara in County Galway (Contae na Gaillimhe) and the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry (Contae Chiarraí).

The written language looks, to those unfamiliar with it, like a lot of unusual consonantal combinations and vowels everywhere! Once understood, the orthography is relatively straightforward. The acute accent, or fada (´), serves to lengthen the sound of the vowels and in some cases also changes their quality. For example, in Munster Irish (Kerry), "a" is /uh/ or /ah/ and "á" is /aw/ in "law" but in Ulster Irish (Donegal), "á" tends to be /ah/ lengthened.

About the time of WWII, the Government of Ireland issued "Caighdeán Oifigiúil" which simplified and standardized the orthography. Many words had silent letters removed and vowel combination brought closer to the spoken language.

Examples: Gaedhilge / Gaolainn => Gaeilge, "Irish language" Lughbhaidh => Lú, "Louth" biath => bia, "food"

See also Common phrases in different languages