https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358

Secret similarities between Irish (Gaeilge) and other languages?

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I am posting this to see if anyone has noticed any strange or secret similarities that the Irish language has with other languages. I don't mean obvious borrowings like "sport", "banc", raidio" etc.

I am thinking more like this one:

The word "four":

Irish- ceathair Russian - chetire (четыре)

I can't think of any others at the moment, but I have seen some very interesting ones that I will add in comments later.

For those of you studying Irish, anyone else notice any peculiar similarities like the one above? I am very curious to learn ;)

2 years ago

57 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/LuchairF
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Apart from the late imports there are also Latin and Norse influences which will account for some similarities but I think the example you gave points to proto Indo european, from which many European languages derive.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/otsogutxi
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The word "jumper"

Irish ~ Geansaí, Norwegian ~ Genser

That's one I noticed:)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Good find :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iambarra
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Just commented below that this word also seems to link to arabic!

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fr224
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Yep. Irish and Russian are both Indo-European languages, along with all the Germanic, Romance, Indo-Iranian languages, plus Armenian, Albanian, Greek and the other Celtic and Balto-Slavic languages.

Most of the numbers are cognates. Aon is akin to French un, une and English an, one. Dó is akin to deux, two, два. Trí is akin to three, trois, три. Etc. Rí (king) is similar to French roi.

But I've also noticed some things shared between Irish and English. In both languages, the words for to and two are pronounced the same. I think the use of "a" before verbs in Irish is similar to the use of "to" before English infinitives.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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And I have also noticed that unlike most other Western European languages that can "reverse" the order of subject and verb at the beginning of a sentence (Vous allez vs Allez vous?; du laufst vs Laufst du?), both Irish and English require a special question word to form questions (An or Ar for Irish, and "do" in English at least for the simple present tense). I wonder if English got this peculiarity (it "should" be like German or Norse languages due to its provenance) from Irish..

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martin_Ryan

A classic Hiberno-English rhetorical question is "What do you be doing in there?"!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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“Do”-support isn’t always required in English, e.g. “Baa baa, black sheep, have you any wool?”.

EDIT: A brief historical explanation of “do”-support can be found in this PDF document; one theory not noted in that document is that supportive “do” functioned as an aspect marker in Middle English, but lost that function in early Modern English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Oh, well I suppose I didn't consider older constructions in British English / Hibernian English. In American English, such a construction is completely obsolete. And doesn't that construction sound sort of stilted even in varieties of English that still support it?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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I shouldn’t think that it would sound stilted to people who use it. (Does “gotten” sound stilted to US English speakers who use it?)

How about a thoroughly modern US English question without “do”-support, such as “Is the drone from Amazon.com here?”

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Ok, sorry I didn't realize this was still a construction commonly used in any modern English variety!

Yeah, I suppose my remark should have been that subject-verb reversal doesn't seem to be nearly as common in English as it is in other Western European languages, and that this might possibly be due to early contact with Goidelic languages in the British Isles. Such languages as Irish seem to have originated the question particle, and that perhaps influenced English development of sentence structure. Just a guess.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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I’d guess that the author of the document is a US English speaker, since its ESL focus is based on US English as the second language.

Regarding non-supportive “do” in normal declarative statements, what about e.g. “I do the dishes every night.”?

Apart from Scottish Gaelic a(m) (analogous to Irish an), Polish has czy as an initial question word for yes/no questions, but it can be omitted, in which case a rising intonation could be needed to distinguish a question from a statement. (Czy undoubtedly influenced Esperanto ĉu.) French est-ce que could be viewed in the same light.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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The "do" in "I do the dishes" is the main verb, whereas the do we are debating is really the auxiliary verb. They are two separate uses completely. Like in "Do you have any money? I DO have money", this do simply adds to the main verb's meaning (though I would argue that this "do" now functions more as just a question/emphatics marker in modern English).

Interesting to learn about the Polish example! I wonder if the particle functions similarly to either "an" in Irish or "do" in English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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As far as other western European languages, Basque has two separate question words, al and ote (used for different types of questions), but they directly follow the verb rather than appear first in a sentence.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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(I’m replying here because the comment that I’m really replying to doesn’t have a Reply link.)

See the edit in my “Baa baa” comment above for a document with a brief overview of “do”-support origins.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Very interesting. I like the descriptions of informal uses (that look like very colloquial American English which is very familiar to me).

I guess I should further modify which "do" uses interest me the most. I am particularly interested in the use of do in questions where the corresponding statement would never take the word (except in stating things emphatically). Example:

Do you walk every day? I walk every day. (Saying "I DO walk every day" sounds emphatic/confrontational/contrasting, like you are specifically clarifying someone's wrong impression of your behavior. But you would never use the word "do" in a normal declarative sentence, except to answer briefly to replace the word "yes" as I do. This also reminds me of similar patterns in Welsh.)

Do we have anything planned? We have something planned. (Here the word "do" feels much like a question particle, merely there to signal a question. "Have we anything planned?" sounds like an old movie or a book from long ago.)

I'm not going to say that there is a definite link between "do" question word in English and "an/ar" as question words in Irish, only that the pattern seems similar (and contrasts with usage in other European languages). To my knowledge, no other European language has an initial question word like English or Irish. If there are, please correct me :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Corrin7321

(replying here because the comment below doesn't have a Reply link.)

Although "Have we anything planned?" sounds a little archaic, "Have we got anything planned?" is still in common use in colloquial US English. I think I say that (as someone who was born in the northeastern United States and now lives in the southeastern United States) more often than I say, "Do we have anything planned?" On the other hand, I'm far more likely to say "Do we have any plans?" than "Have we got any plans?" although the latter doesn't sound wrong.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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If your point was that auxiliary “do” is never used by itself, then that’s tautological; I was replying to your statement

But you would never use the word "do" in a normal declarative sentence, except to answer briefly to replace the word "yes" as I do.

when offering the “I do the dishes” example.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Oh, no worries, my point wasn't that auxiliary do is never used by itself (that would be silly of me ;D), but that its function in English specifically also serves to mark a question when put in front of a statement (Do you clean the house? / You clean the house). This auxiliary use of the verb do to mark a question is unique to English and, as far as I know, isn't matched by a similar feature in any other Western European language. The fact that Irish shares this unique feature in common with English, marking a question with a special question word, is just interesting to me, that's all. I haven't seen it in any other language, although now I am curious to look up the feature you mentioned in Polish. Thanks for sharing.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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That a is closer to the English relative pronouns “that”, “which”, and “who” than to the particle “to”.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fr224
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So it's sort of like "que/qui" in French?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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Exactement.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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fr224: I never noticed that about the words "to" and "two" in both languages, nice!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lgfanara

"Salach" (dirty) reminds me of French "sale," which means the same thing.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnDunach
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Also, mil (honey) has a clear link to miel, its French equivalent, while seomra (room) has a cognate in chambre.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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Miel came from Latin mel, and both seomra and chambre came from Old French chambre.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnDunach
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Cool! I also believe that 'cill', the Irish word for church, derives from the Latin word for the cell that served as a monk's quarters.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Searlasmane

There's also a suggestion that it may have been infected by coill, a wood, because a lot of monasteries - most, probably - were built in the sacred woods of the religion that Christianity displaced.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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They’re cognates, along with Latin (and English) saliva, Russian соловый (“cream-colored”), and English “sallow”.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/crussmor
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Irish -Tarbh, Spanish- Toro Irish- Tir, Spanish- Tierra Irish- Capall. Spanish- Caballo Irish - tú, Spanish -tú Irish- Foinse , Spanish -Fuente Irish-deireanach, French -dernier Irish- Sláinte, French -Santé Irish- Clog , German - Glocke Irish- Geal, German - Hell

To name a few ;)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AmareloTiago
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Many Indo-European languages have parallels in their verb conjugations and classes of noun declensions, and many that do not today have had such features in earlier forms of the language. The only such form with Irish that I have noticed is the 1st person plural verb forms in the present, the muid forms like taimid, olaimid and so on. The -m- conjugation shows up a lot in other IE languages. The Romance languages feature this pretty heavily, with words like somos or somme or siamo. The copula in Lithuanian is esame. However, it is possible that the -imid form comes from a different source, one related to the -im ending for the 1st person singular verbs.

The pronouns me and tu run parallel to pronouns in other IE languages. Maybe to a lesser extent muid and si.

I would be interested to see a comparison between classes of verb conjugations and noun declensions between older forms of Irish (or any of the other Celtic languages) and other older IE languages, like Latin, Gothic, Slavonic or Lithuanian. I have always assumed that there were quite a few missing links to be found there because Irish and Welsh feel so much more foreign to me than most of the other IE languages. Luckily, Old Irish is better documented than many of its contemporaries, making such a comparison feasible, but I must confess, that is something I would have to leave to someone else.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Very interesting, thanks for sharing these. I will also point out that Hungarian, a non-Indo-European language, has "mi" as the word we, so the association of "m" with 1st person plural may go back very far indeed. (Or it may be coincidence.)

As far as comparing different branches of languages derived from PIE in terms of verb conjugations and noun declensions, I think this has been done before. Just one of many examples I found on verbs:

https://borissoff.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/sanskrit-russian-lithuanian-and-latin-conjugations-compared/

I would love to find sources that compare noun categories/declension patterns in the different branches and see if any of it has remained preserved in the modern languages.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dubhglasM

It's usually said that Lithuanian is the most conservative extant IE language, preserving more of the PIE inflectional system than any other descendant. The work to figure out what PIE looks like depended to a great deal on the kind of comparisons you mention. It's interesting to compare Primitive Irish with Sanskrit, they have a lot in common. Finally, there has been a bit of work on the interesting tendency of pronouns to have nasals (eg 'm', 'n'), but it's too widespread to be due to shared inheritance from some presumed ancestor, but rather a linguistic tendency of some sort. THere's an interesting paper that touches on this starting at p. 25 of this book: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=tBsd89VO4HsC&pg=PA256&lpg=PA256&dq=linguistic+tendency+pronouns+nasals&source=bl&ots=Ggd_5JwW_2&sig=pr8jUbIcIgI0QtTVinB6tYz5OL0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiP0trL78rRAhXHk5QKHZ8LB0AQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=linguistic%20tendency%20pronouns%20nasals&f=false

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Very interesting to learn of the nasality of pronouns, I am going to look for this in each language I study now!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dubhglasM

This Wikipedia page includes a table comparing: '...the thematic present indicative of the verbal root *bʰer- of the English verb to bear and its reflexes in various early attested IE languages and their modern descendants or relative'. It includes Old Irish and (modern) Irish.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PolMicheal
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I thought you meant grammar similarities when I first read the title of your post. Two similarities between Celtic and Semitic languages are conjugated prepositions and (originally) a VSO (verb - subject - object) word order.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Those are interesting similarities

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PolMicheal
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Aontaím leat!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Searlasmane

Quite a lot like French, probably because there was, historically, a lot of travel between Ireland and France - mediaeval monks like St Malo and St Ronan; later priests educated in Rouen, the many middle-class kids sent to French nuns or monks up to the early 20th century, etc. A lot of these, like "ceithre scór" ("quatre-vingt") have given way to Béarlachas, or the infection of English usage "ochtó".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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Very interesting to learn about ceithre scór - might these be called Frainceachas / Gallachas? :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cdub4language
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It wasn't just travel, the Norman French had a big presence in Ireland starting from around the time that they conquered England (French was language of the elites of England for some time ... hence all the Latin-based words in English). Many of the Norman-French assimilated completely into Irish culture, hence names like "Fitzgerald" (=fils+Gerald, parallel to the mac+name construction). I wouldn't be surprised if many of the French-sounding words date from this era and come from the Norman French dialect. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normans_in_Ireland

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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Ochtó came from Old Irish ochtmoga ; ochtmoga was used centuries before the English language arrived in Ireland.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WillowSkidmore

It has a fair amount of simularities to Old English. My Old English is rusty though, so I'm sorry I can't give you a direct example. Here's a video though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p72ciUaTBCk If you listen is sounds a fair amount like Irish. (At least to me)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nieve9
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"Tu" means "you singular" in both Irish and Spanish (sorry, can't figure out how to put accent on it). Verb conjugation in Irish is very similar to conjugation of Latin based verbs, i.e. take root and add endings for first person singular, second person singular, etc. Also, there are 2 "to be" verbs like in Spanish, although ser and estar function differently than bi and coppula.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nieve9
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Thanks for the lingot

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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How you put on accent on it depends upon which device you’re using and which operating system it runs — each has its own way of selecting a software keyboard through which accents can be applied.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WillowSkidmore

I'm pretty sure that broga also means shoes in Swedish, and I've noticed that Irish sounds like Swedish a lot.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fatty-Lumpkin

The IM ending in verbs in Irish reminds me a lot of the IM ending of verbs in Turkish. Very interesting as Turkish is not indo European!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Searlasmane

Words are promiscuous little beasties. Look at 'eile' in Irish, and how like 'ailleurs' it is, and 'else'…

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fr224
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Réadaigh mé go bhfuil "chomh maith" cosúil le "as well" as Béarla. Tá an aistriúchán litriúil beagnach céanna.

I just realized that "chomh maith" and "as well" have almost the same literal meaning in both languages. It's just that the English uses an adverb while Irish uses an adjective.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Searlasmane

Hmm… et le français, "aussi bien"…

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fr224
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Ah oui, c'est similaire... bien qu'il utilise "aussi" en lieu de "comme" ou peut-être "autant". Et il utilise un adverbe comme l'anglais.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Searlasmane

What about French and Scottish usage - dinna fash yersel' - se fâcher

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cdub4language
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I was just looking up the etymology of a French word that traced back to the Greek παῖς (paîs, “child”) - a striking similarity to páiste!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Q112358
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I love this one! Never noticed this before but I think you're definitely on to something here..

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iambarra
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Just noticed the (modern standard) arabic for jumper is "gkanzatun" and in my native irish it is "geansaí". Anyone know if there is any link between two languages or is this coincidence?

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dubhglasM

According to Wiktionary geansaí is a borrowing from English 'guernsey', which (according to Etymonline) gets its name from the island. So unless 'gkanzatun' and the island share an origin it would seem to be a coincidence. In comparing any two languages it is to be expected that there would be hundreds of coincidences in both form and meaning. But where did you find 'gkanzatun'? It shows no hits on google.

10 months ago
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