What is the best grammar book or combination of grammar books for Irish? Something that explains everything you need to know in a clear and easy to follow manner.
Does it have to be a book? If not, Gramadach na Gaeilge is by far the most comprehensive free source out there. It even details dialects and dialects words/usage.
Next I'd recommend the Christian Brother's Grammar, though the best version of that is in Irish. It can be found online free as well. There's also a good annotated guide to go along with it.
After that, they're all about the same in my opinion.
I sometimes find gramadach na gaeilge to be a bit overwhelming and that it doesn't really explain things very clearly, for me at least. I don't think a grammar book in all Irish would be of much help either to a beginner like me. Oh well, I just thought i'd ask. I suppose i'll just stick to the resources I have at hand then. Thanks for the help.
I mean, there are other grammar books, but they lack a lot of nuance and detail.
I agree with galaxyrocker; Gramadach na Gaeilge and Graiméar Gaeilge na mBráithre Críostaí are the best online sources. [A little German helps with the incompletely translated bits of GG ; sometimes the original German language site helps to explain oddities in the English language site. A determination to read Irish is needed for GGmBC (it’s a PDF file) — I hope that I’ll refer to it more frequently as the years pass. ;*) ]
My most-used Irish grammar book is the Christian Brothers’ New Irish Grammar (my copy was published in 1991); it’s not perfect (e.g. sometimes it’s not particularly clear), but it’s pretty good. I’m not familiar with what’s been published in the last 20-odd years, though, so perhaps a more recent edition of it has further improvements, or maybe another grammar book would be a better choice if clarity is your highest priority.
The next time that you’re in a bookshop with a good selection of Irish grammar books, have a look at what’s available there and jot down a comment or two on each one, strengths and weaknesses (e.g. pick a grammatical topic such as verbal noun syntax and see how each book fares); a future post on your findings might be helpful to others who also seek a good guide to Irish grammar.
Thanks. I've been using Nancy Stenson's Bacic and Intermediate Irish, which is free online. She explains things pretty clearly, but I would have liked for her to go into more detail about each topic while continuing with her straight forward explanations. I'll continue looking around to see which other books fit my certain needs.
No idea. I'd say it probably is. But doesn't legality differ from country to country anyway?
I don't think they are legal; I haven't seen her publicly release them on the internet.
And generally, yes, but they're recent enough copyright I wouldn't be surprised if they're protected almost anywherr.
When my son's (Irish) primary school teacher heard that I was attempting to learn Irish, she was delighted and recommended that I buy Gaeilge Gan Stró! - Beginner's Level to help me along.
The book includes 4 CDs with native speakers, so that the student can develop an ear for what conversational Irish sounds like.
I don't know much more about it beyond that, as I haven't yet bit the bullet to buy it.
I just found the whole series of these online. http://goo.gl/ENhKFW
What variety!!! But definitely not free! :)
Capped off by a free radio program called:
Culchies sa Chathair
produced by students on UCD's Scéim Chónaithe.
Of course, everyone here already knew about Culchies. Well now so do I.
According to the Urban Dictionary -- Rural folk, i.e., everyone outside of Dublin. :D :D :D
Thanks for the suggestion, but I feel like I would already know most of the information that it provides.
I've found Nollaig Mac Congáil's Irish Grammar Book (the English version of his Leabhar Gramadaí Gaeilge) to be quite helpful. It is very concise but relatively user-friendly. Unfortunately it contains nothing about pronunciation.
I presume the annotated guide to the Christian Brothers' Grammar mentioned by galaxyrocker is Pól Ó Murchú's A Grammar of Modern Irish. I haven't had a chance to do more than glance through it but it seems like a very good reference work in its own right. Also, it's in English. Nicholas Williams, translator of An Hobad, had some high praise for it.
The annotated guide makes a lot more sense if used along with the Christian Brothers grammar. Nollag's is... very basic.
I suggested Mac Congáil's book since proinsias123 was looking for something accessible and in English. Perhaps shamefully, I haven't yet read the Christian Brothers' New Irish Grammar. (To me at least, a grammar book in my target language would have to be in very accessible terms, and I haven't heard that about Graiméar Gaeilge na mBráithre Críostaí).
Do you have any thoughts about Gramadach gan Stró as an entry point for relative beginners? Also, I agree that Gramadach na Gaeilge is excellent but I find that I am, perhaps counterinuitively, more likely to use a reference book if I have a physical copy, despite the lack of a search function.
I'm actually quite interested to know what you are leaving unsaid about Mac Congáil, perhaps out of politeness, behind your ellipses. Do you consider it 'basic' in the sense of dumbed-down or misleadingly oversimplistic? If you'd rather not say, that's fine.
I've met Mac Congáil. He bragged that everything about Irish grammar can be found in his book. Yet it leaves out a lot of nuance, and often just plain leaves out stuff, like information on the verbal noun. It's really just a very basic grammar.
Of course, that could just be the English and the Irish version could be much better.
It also includes things long extinct like Vocative plurals, e.g. A chaoracha
galaxyrocker is right about Gramadach na Gaeilge. I couldn't have made it through the Irish tree without it. The table of contents is little help, but googling your query usually turns up the GnG page you need. And as scilling says the original German version helps you over the (very few) rough spots in the English translation. But I'll note the Christian Brothers' grammar. It would be helpful to have something definitive on the book shelf.
Reality Check. When I reached the Duolingo numbers skill, I rounded up all the usual suspects (I mean sources) and very carefully constructed my paradigm. 1 singular, 2 dual, up to 6, masculine nouns do this, feminine nouns do that. You have lenition here and not there. Unless it's eclipsis. But after a hundred do this... And on and on to victory... Whew!
Then hard on the heels of my triumph, AnLonDubhBeag put up a great post about how Irish is really spoken. Including numbers. "...aon always lenites and dhá usually lenites". After that nobody follows the rules, or better said everybody follows their own rules. So, long story short, even though I'm still in reference grammar mode, I'm prepared to be knocked for a loop anytime I hear real people speaking real Irish. (Wouldn't have it any other way. It's half the fun.)
At best, my substantive comments usually elicit a polite yawn. And this innocuous little post draws all these comments!!!
Everyone’s comments are excellent. Really appreciated. Lingots for all.
Even Irish beginners (i.e. Heather) understand that Standard Irish is nobody's baby. For native speakers it's an odd beast. But it’s a very useful construct and serves as safe entry point for learners like me. Since the subject of the thread was grammar books, my post was just a reminder that Irish on the ground could be VERY different from Irish found in the grammars.
Native speakers are geographically and linguistically all over the map and follow their own rules rather than standardized rules, as patbo points out (and as is explicit or implicit in all the comments).
All languages are constantly shifting towards ease and clarity. And all languages are constantly updating in real-time. Archaic morphology, syntax and semantics drop out of use; those functions are taken up by modern word formations, sentence structures and vocabulary. That process is alive and well in modern Irish and that is knocksedan’s point. It would be really interesting for someone to study the usage of the numbers in modern Irish to see what’s actually going on.
Now, while I'm flattered to think that the people of Ireland might be adapting their language for my convenience, somehow I have my doubts. :D :D :D I suspect they're actually adapting it to suit themselves.
Of course, galaxyrocker realizes that. He is deeply steeped in the language and culture of the Gaeltacht. Probably just a bit of bravura to make the point the Irish is under pressure from English and that the rather well developed (!) system of Irish sound mutations is far from obsolete!!!
I wouldn’t argue that point, but I would submit that all languages are under radical and unprecedented pressure from digital communication and social collaboration. That factor simply dwarfs every other influence in speed and breadth of impact. Just witness the flotsam of cherished linguistic theories, awash on the tidal wave of Big Data. (all of which makes me intrigued with Urban Irish, Diaspora Irish, and "Learners' Irish" in all flavors. Lots of energy there.)
So where am I going with all this???
Back to the Irish tree to practice verbal nouns :D :D :D
Handing it off to the experts (that's you folks).
GRMA, Slán agaibh. Heather
Thank you! I think it's also notable that, while we're often told "only in Munster" or "Ulster Irish uses ...", this inconsistency in what rules are followed for numbers is not being attributed to differences between dialects.
It's a pity that they didn't fix the numbers when they standardized the spelling - many of the rules around numbers don't seem to serve any useful purpose in Modern Irish (which is probably why speakers tend to ignore them - nobody is going to misunderstand you).
Most of the lenition or eclipse rules 'don't seem to serve any useful purpose'. However, native speakers still use them. So why remove them to make it easier for non-natives? That's just English-cebtrism. Natives just don't use the standard form all the time.
The post by AnLonDubhBeag that HeatherMagoo linked to confirmed my own limited observation that native speakers don't actually use them (at least in spoken Irish). It would make for a more consistent standard if it reflected the fact that the rules are more honoured in the breach than the observance. The fact that that would make the language easier for learners doesn't make it English-centric. Native speakers aren't ignoring these rules because of the influence of English, they're ignoring them because they don't serve any purpose.
It may well be the case that these rules were more widely observed when the spelling was standardized. That must have been a huge task, rendering a lot of older texts redundant, so it would have been an opportune time to implement such a change, though it wasn't supposed to affect the spoken language, so it probably wouldn't have been entirely appropriate to make such a change at the same time.
No. ALD's post says that they're not fixed. Not that nobody uses them. There is a difference there, and native speakers I know certainly eclipse and lenite after numbers. It's just not always what the standard says or done in a consistent manner.
And, actually, it's more likely they are ignoring them because of English, given how much influence English is exerting. If it was because there's no purpose, why aren't other mutations disappearing? They're not, except among non-natives.
Other mutations aren't disappearing because they do serve a purpose. They carry information about number or gender, even if people whose primary language is English don't find gender information useful and tend to ignore it. Given the ratio of native-peakers to learners, it's certainly conceivable that gender could disappear from Irish in a generation or two, given the failure of the Gaeltachtaí, but that's not what's happening with the rules around numbers, they're just archaic, and native speakers aren't bothering to remember them. Maybe if the rules were simpler, native speakers would use them consistently, and so would learners, to everyone's advantage.
You mistake how native speakers learn a language. They don't learn something because it's 'easy'. Natives acquire a language regardless of the rules, in roughly the same amount of time. They don't have to explicitly learn it like L2 learners.
And,if L2 speakers are changing a language because they fail to learn it correctly... well, that's not natural language shift.
But that's exactly my point - many native speakers aren't acquiring these particular rules the way they are acquiring the rest of the language! It's not as if they're acquiring them naturally, and then just dropping them because of peer pressure from L2 speakers.
I'm not even going to bother posting my response to the notion that there's anything "unnatural" about this - we both know that we don't agree on that issue (or that it even is an issue). It's not adding anything to the discussion.
Knocksedan, I think the important point to understand here is that the standard isn't an accurate description of how every native speaker speaks the language - because they don't all speak the same way. It's just an artificial standard and kind of a compromise between the various dialects that isn't really spoken natively anywhere. (Well, it couldn't be spoken anyway because it only standardises the written form, but not pronunciation...)
So yes, native speakers are acquiring rules for numbers without any problems, including mutations, but it can be different rules for different people depending on their environment and not necessarily the same rules as are written down in the standard.