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Question regarding Welsh and Irish, Celtic languages.

First of all, I'd like to thank the Welsh team for the quality, speedy delivery of this interesting language! :)

I just wanted to know, which of the two Celtic languages, Irish or Welsh, would be better to learn first? I do not plan to use these languages much in real life and I'm doing it merely out of curiosity as well as to expose myself to the Celtic language family. I have heard that Welsh is a bit easier than Irish? If this is true, I'm guessing that logically, it would make more sense to learn Welsh first? Any suggestions or insights would be appreciated. Thanks.

January 27, 2016


  • 2095

I'm no expert, but I've looked at both languages some, so here's what I can tell you:

Welsh pronunciation would be much easier than Irish, I expect. If you're into linguistics, you might find Irish's slender/broad split interesting (I did) and that could be a plus. Welsh also has its own weird sounds, though, like its ll.

Orthographically, they're both pretty weird but do follow their own rules. Irish's spelling is probably more confusing at first glance and is frequently ambiguous even once you know the rules. I think Welsh is more straightforward there.

Grammatically I think they generally share the same interesting bits (e.g. initial mutations) so if you think grammar is cool, you probably can't go wrong. As far as which is harder, I don't know enough of either to say for sure.

I don't know about Welsh yet, but Irish does have a small vocabulary, meaning that a lot of things are expressed in fairly poetic ways - e.g. instead of saying you like something, it is good with you or, even more poetic, it shines with you. There are no direct translations for "like," "have," or "must."

Welsh just came into beta, so it own't be as polished as the Irish course, if that matters to you. It's also worth bearing in mind that the Irish course will have a revised tree coming out sometime relatively soon, so you may also want to hold off on Irish until the Tree 2.0 comes out.


I expect that one important advantage of the Irish spelling for learners might be that you can immediately tell whether a word has been mutated or not, because the spelling retains the original first letter and just adds something that makes the mutation obvious. I haven't gotten to Welsh mutations yet, but as far as I know, the original letters aren't indicated like this in the spelling but the first letter simply changes, so finding the basic form of a word is harder.


Personally I think Welsh is easier to pronounce than Irish, but I don't know how they compare in terms of grammar.

Good luck with your learning! : )


The spelling of Welsh seems a bit(!) awkwared, but maybe the grammar is easier:)


Welsh spelling rules are perhaps strange, but it is phonetic. Irish spelling is also strange, with a whole lot of silent letters, so I wouldn't choose based on this.

I don't speak any Irish so can't really give a good reason to learn one over the other. They are very different languages. However the original poster has level 2 in Welsh already, and beta users would help the team improve the course, so how about that as a reason to stick with Welsh?


Welsh grammar is less difficult (as far as my experience of it goes) e.g. the genitive is simple in Welsh, and quite complex in Irish. I love both languages, however there is an argument that Irish has a larger 'Celtic' component as it was less influenced by Latin and even English. Maybe take into account how many speakers of each language you are likely to ever meet and how you start to feel about the cultures. Do a little of both and see how you get on?


In my opinion, I have done both and I find Irish to be easier, if only because listening exercises are much easier to comes to grip with. Both courses are great, if you wanted a challenge grammatically only I would choose Irish because the speech is thinner (not as much "ch" and "th" sounds) and easier to understand, if real world application is your thing (you said it wasn't) than do Welsh. All in all though, I would suggest both courses as both are beautifully crafted for both the experienced language learner and the beginner.


I personally find Welsh much easier. There are a few sounds that are a little difficult to get used to, but the grammar seems much easier and there are hardly any conjugations (which would seem much more intuitive to native English speakers). My recommendation would be to start there, as a seemingly easier transition into the Celtic language family. Irish definitely seems more "Celtic," though. So, if you only get to learn one, you might give Irish a shot, as it's more fleshed out on Duo and may give you more of a Celtic language experience. Although, judging from your language levels, you don't seem to have any apprehensions of tackling multiple languages.

On the language family, though. Welsh is Brythonic and Irish is Goidelic. So, it's not exactly a German-Dutch relation. I'm sure you'll get a very different experience tackling either. Good luck!


Personally, I would imagine that Irish vocabulary would be easier for beginners to learn, given it borrows extensively from both English and Romance languages, so is less of a culture shock. Of course, the converse of that is that Welsh is a "purer" Celtic language, and the audio is much more accurate.


Welsh seems to be a little less awkward grammar-wise. Welsh and Irish don't follow the same grammar rules; to say "I am Duo" in Welsh would be "Duo dw i (Duo am I, literally)" and in Irish it's "Tá Duo mé (Am Duo I, literally). I find the spelling to make more sense too but it could just be me ("w" is a vowel in Welsh, which is important to remember). Irish I haven't looked at as much but it's more confusing to start even though it has more Romance-language inspiration, because the spelling isn't always 100% phonetic... it really depends on what you prefer, and I'm afraid that's all I have to work on with my lack of experience in both.


The welsh spelling is fully phonetic. Ddy welsh langwij iz ffyli ffonetic. Every letter is pronounced clearly every time. Efri letyr iz pronownsd clîrli efri taim. You can’t say that about english! Yw cânt se ddat abowt inglish!

Gaelics have several silent or nearly silent letters fh , sh, th, and uses unpronounced vowels either side to indicate the different consonant sounds.


Of the little Irish I've studied on Duolingo, Welsh is more phonetic to my eyes and ears. I'm not sure if verb conjugations or sentence patters are the same, but I'd imagine there are some similarities :)


I Come from Scotland uk I find welsh easier in the celtic family, but I am on a language venuture starting from bottom language to chineess learning as much as I can and I don`t know to start with french or irish and welsh firs im trying to get fluent in as many languages as I can.

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