Can you please volunteer to help out with the Irish lessons, if you're not doing so already? I think the whole community would greatly appreciate it, and it might make it less random and inaccessible in terms of what's actually going on in the syntax and pronunciation if someone knowledgeable helped out.
I'm afraid I can't. I try an fit in my own language learning whenever I can, but that doesn't leave me a lot of free time. I can recommend good books, sites, and the like, and I try to help people out here whenever I can, but I simply don't have enough free time to help out.
There are plenty of other people here in the forums more than capable of helping out, and I know they're all trying.
Memrise has very good Irish language courses. This is one and it continues to others.
The written language is mutually comprehensible, and the grammar and syntax are quite close. There are some vocabulary and orthographic differences (because the spelling of Scottish Gaelic is more conservative than Irish), but nothing too difficult.
Where they really differ is in the pronunciation, and that's what trips people up. For instance, for Irish speakers, if a Scottish Gaelic speaker was to say 'Alba', it would sound to them like 'alapa'. In Irish, there's a contrast between voiced and unvoiced consonants, but in Scottish Gaelic, the contrast is between unaspirated and and aspirated consonants, so the SG 'p' sounds like a 'p' with a puff of air after it, as in the English word 'pull', while their 'b' sounds like a 'p' without the puff of air, as in the English word 'sip'. For an English speaker, it can be difficult to hear the difference, however, but Scottish Gaelic speaker definitely hear it.
There are a number of other differences, but that's the single biggest one.
There is a free, older dictionary available online, that gives all the Irish words in Irish and in Scottish Irish. Google Alexander McBain's dictionary to download it - you can find it in various text formats. I have it on my Kindle. It also lists where he reckoned the Irish words came from. The roots of Irish words range from Old Norse to Sanskrit as well as more familiar Continental roots.
"Dia daoibh" and "Dia dhaoibh" both mean the same thing: they're how you greet more than one person. "Dia duit" and "Dia dhuit" also mean the same thing: they're how you greet one person.
The difference is one of dialect. The lenited forms are most associated with Connacht Irish, particularly Conamara Irish, whereas the unlenited forms are most associated with the other dialects.
What's written are the the unlenited forms; what's being pronounced are the lenited forms. Neither is more or less correct and you can go one way or the other depending on your preference and what dialect you prefer, and as long as you're consistent.
Thank you so much for this explanation! Now I have another question for you: In my studies, I've come across phonetic spelling that show the "duit" part of Dia duit is pronounced as "gwitch". Is that correct at all? And if so, which dialect would that be? Because it's very clear that the speaker on Duolingo is not pronouncing it this way. Thanks :)
It's a bit complicated.
The speaker is actually saying 'Dia dhaoibh', which is a Conamara-ism. In other dialects it'd be 'daoibh'.
The broad (non-palatalised; velarised) 'dh' (which used to sound like /ð/ centuries ago) sounds much like the Dutch 'g' sound - /ɣ/, a voiced velar fricative. 'bh' is a lenited 'b', and under lenition, palatal 'b' becomes /v/.
Irish has to resort to using vowels to indicate whether consonants are palatalised or not as the Latin alphabet simply isn't all that well suited to a language with as complex a phonology as Irish. The vowel cluster 'ao' represents the vowel /i:/ and that the consonants to the left and right are broad. Slap an 'i' on the end of that to get 'aoi' and you're indicating that the vowel is /i:/ and the consonants to the left are broad and those to the right are 'slender' (palatalised).
The rules seem arcane, but the spelling is actually pretty phonemic for all the suface craziness. It's a natural consequence of trying to use an alphabet ill-suited to a language with that language, yet somehow it actually works better than it ought to.
Ahh! Thank you so much! I was wondering which letter clusters and such were making which sounds. It's good to know why they do what they do. As it is, when people are giving advice on pronunciation I find they often use English-word examples from the point of view of an American speaker. While the American accent generally lacks inflection this doesn't help me much as an Australian. That you use such a clear and phonetic approach is so helpful. Dia dhuit and all your lovely symbols my keyboard can't replicate. My vocal instructor used a similar alphabet to teach me foreign songs.
No. They sound very different. For a start, 'duit' ends with what's almost a 'tsh' sound further north or a 't' with a slight 'y' sound further south, whereas 'daoibh' ends in something close to a 'v'. The vowel in the middle of 'duit' is a lax 'i' sound as in 'bit', whereas the 'vowel in the middle of 'daoibh' is a long tense 'i' as in the 'ea' in 'beach'.
Since you seem good at explanations... can you clarify what sound the broad "d" is supposed to have? Based on random charts around the internet, it looks like it's supposed to be a voiced dental fricative (like in Óðinn) so I had expected "daoibh" to sound sort of like /ðiv/. (Sorry if this is not understandable. I'm struggling to remember my singular linguistics course from about five years ago... Pronunciation is hard to type!)
It's meant to have a voiced dental stop: [d̪]. The same goes for /t/, which is realised as [t̪]. Basically, you make a 'd' with your tongue against your incisors rather than against your hard palate as you do in English. This makes it sound a bit like [ð], but it's a stop, not a fricative.
Aside: The realisation of /ð/ in Irish English is actually [d̪], and the realisation of /θ/ is [t̪], though many people erroneously think that they collapsed with /d/ and /t/ in Irish English, but the contrast is actually maintained, though with a shift from the sounds being fricatives to being stops.
Added aside: 'dh' and 'th' used to represent voiced and voiceless dental fricatives, but due to sound changes, that hasn't been the case since about the 12th century.
Interesting discussion. I originally started with the Ulster dialect through the "Now You're Talking" program - quite excellent - so the pronunciation was more like "jia gwich" - (not a terribly hard sound on the d or the du and a softened ch on the end). I am specifically hearing "Dia DiT" (with a hard T on the end - a pronunciation I never heard before, including in Ireland). I am hearing a hard "d" on the ends of words as well, which I never heard before. But I never made it to the south of the island, so maybe that's where it comes from? I was of the understanding that "duit" should be used when greeting one person and "daoibh" when addressing more than one person. In the South here in the U.S., it's like the difference between y'all (which is actually singular) and "all y'all" which is plural.
I didn't mean to insult anyone with my comment about religious connotations. I should have added that the greetings I learned were literally "How are you? I'm fine and how are you?" (Sorry, all of a sudden my fadas aren't working, so I can't type it out in Irish). That is what I heard throughout most of Ireland, but especially throughout Ulster. "Dia duit" was rarely used. I should also have written that I wasn't objecting to the USE of "Dia duit," but to the translation given. If you are learning a language, it helps to have a literal translation and THEN an explanation of it as an idiom or colloquialism. Irish has specific greetings for "Hello" and "Hello to you too," and "Dia duit is not it. That's what I was talking about.
The other pronunciation I have never heard, which they use here, is "agoot" for "agat." That one really stunned me. I thought my hearing had gone. Duolingo has made a point of saying that they are using "standard Irish" as opposed to any regional dialect. Is there really such a thing as "standard" Irish? That's a bit like saying "standard English." Someone from Brooklyn is not going to sound like someone from Louisiana and none of us are going to sound like someone from England.
It's what makes language interesting - a lot of regional dialects and even different dialects within regions. This course really is terrific and the discussions make it even more so. Thank you!
The 'bh' is pronounced more or less as /v/: http://www.fuaimeanna.ie/en/Recordings.aspx?PhonemeID=58
The 'd' in 'dia' is pronounced as 'j' (/ʤ/) further north. I'd pronounce it like that. Further south it's pronounced as a 'd' with a slight 'y' sound after it. This is a palatal/slender 'd' and is indicated by the having the vowels 'i' and/or 'e' adjacent to it.
The 'd' in 'daoibh' doesn't sound like an 'r'. I'm guessing you're either American or the variety of English you're most familiar with is American English, and intervocalic 'd' (such as in 'ladder') can sound like that. The actual sound is a 'd' pronounced against your teeth: http://www.fuaimeanna.ie/en/Recordings.aspx?PhonemeID=9
The broad/velar 'dh' is pronounced like a 'gh' (/ɣ/) sound. 'dhún' is a good example of the sound: http://www.fuaimeanna.ie/en/Recordings.aspx?PhonemeID=68
In the Connamara dialect, the 'd' in 'daoibh, 'dom', &c., sounds like it ought to be 'dh', but this is purely a Connamara thing, and other dialects don't pronounce them that way.
You say Dia daoibh! and the people that you addressed respond with Dia is Muire daoibh.
Note that daoibh is plural - you are greeting a group of two or more people, so you use the plural form, and if you are part of a group, they respond with the plural form.
If you are addressing a single person, you replace daoibh with duit - if you are on your own, addressing a group of people, you say Dia daoibh, and they respond with DIa is Muire duit
Seriously? I realize that this is how they greet one another in Gaeilge, but the literal translation is hardly "Hello! Hello to you too!" It is specifically a blessing, "God is with you. God and Mary are with you." Since I am not Catholic or Christian, for me, there is a great difference between "Hello," and a religious salutation. Interesting that they use this translation.
As I understand it, for many people it has lost its connotations and become as empty a phrase as "Goodbye" (= God be with ye) has for English speakers.
Or saying "Bless you" (= God bless you) after a sneeze, which is not "specifically a blessing" but an empty, situationally-appropriate phrase.