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Please help with Irish words and grammar?

I am currently doing Irish as a course, but I can barely pass Basics 1! The words are very confusing and I cannot remember where to put the accents, so my strength bar always goes to zero and stays there if I don't check the tips and notes page. How can I learn more efficiently (without going to and from two tabs)?

February 1, 2015



I'm going to have a look at my notes for basics 1 and see if I can help you a little bit better. To help you to remember words, when you see the word, as well as writing out as many times as you need to remember it, write down how it sounds as well, this will teach you to get the hang of pronounciation, also say the words in front of you out loud. I will have a look over them and drop you a line shortly :)


Ok, so here is a little something to get you started off.

A man - Fear (Far) A woman - Bean (Ban) A boy - Buachaill (Boo-Kall) A girl - Cailin (Ca-leen) the second I is where you will place the accent making it a long e sound

The word in Irish for THE is An, so to say the man you will say "An fear" (Ahn-far)

The word for AND is agus (uh-gus) so to say a man and a woman you will say "Fear agus bean"

When speaking about your own gender in terms of whether you are man or woman etc... You will use Is.......mé And you will insert your gender in between those two words....

I hope this helps a little.... Just take it a little bit at a time until you do remember. I would suggest not moving forward until you have got a grasp on this because the next lot of lessons build from these simple sentences. Don't give up though. Perseverance is the key :)


They are just extremely hard to remember and spell, especially words in Lesson 2, Basics 1 with all of the different accents. Thanks for the advice, though! It feels easier to remember when someone explains it to you. :)


You are right because Irish isn't a very phonetic language so it does take some getting used to, practice makes perfect as the old saying goes. I'm happy to assist where I can. I'm sure in time that you will make progress. This is a difficult language for non native speakers. But it can be done :D


Actually, Irish spelling is pretty regular once you learn how the orthography works.


I.e, words like chaoi, faoi, spraoi etc?? I know what you're saying but that's not what I was getting at.... I just meant that for a native English speaker it's not easy because things don't sound how they look. Being an English speaker if I had no knowledge of how the letter combinations work so to speak I would assume that the aforementioned words were spelled a little something like cwee, fwee and spree upon hearing them. That's all I really meant to say. I also learn to pronounce new words by regularities in the spelling like the "faidh" sound in deanfaidh, chaithfaidh.... So I see exactly what you're saying but to see the regularities in Irish spelling you first have to learn the sounds if that makes any sense.... It gets easier the more you learn and the more you know. In my opinion any way


So, I'll admit I'm going to get a little pedantic here.

First off, there's no such thing as a "phonetic language." You mean a phonemic orthography. The first thing to realize is that writing != language. It's merely a representation of a prestigious dialect of a language - it is not the language itself.

Second, the issue is that you're judging Irish orthography by English spelling rules. That's where the issues arise. One wouldn't do that with, say, French, or Spanish. You need to learn the Irish orthographic rules, and then you'll realize it does make a lot of sense, actually. This Wikipedia page is really good


I understand that, and I'm sorry if I came off as rude - I admitted I was being pedantic. It's just that Irish spelling is fairly regular, once you learn the rules to it.

And I do apologize. Irish and linguistics are both things I'm passionate about.


It's ok.... I'm Also passionate about the same two things. I'm Just doing the best I can and trying to help others where I can because for most of the process of learning Irish I haven't had anyone to help me and at times it makes it difficult. I do know what you're saying because I'm starting to see lots of regularities in the spelling. Everyone just has a different process and mine is to just learn as I go :)


I'm just here to learn like everyone else.... I'm no expert, I just saw someone who needed help and was trying to help them and give a relevant answer to the question since the part they were having trouble with is one I have already grasped, i don't know the ins and outs about 'phonemic orthography' so I was just trying to explain it the best way I knew how. I really don't see what the problem is to be honest.


writing != language. It's merely a representation of a prestigious dialect of a language

... as it was spoken a few hundred years ago (at least for English).


Where could one learn this orthography?


The Wikipedia page on Irish orthography is fairly helpful.


The Wikipedia article isn’t a bad place to start.


The first thing I do when starting a new lesson is to write down the list of new words to be given, then add the definition as it appears. Then, when the speaker pronounces the word or phrase, I wear that blue button out repeating the pronunciation until I can get a feeling. Also, I do as many repetitions of the lessons and practice sessions as I can to drill it into this ancient mind (I'm 76 years old). I have learned that Gaeilge pronunciation is nothing like Béarla, and I wish there was even more actual demonstration in the lessons. But keep trying. Nothing difficult is accomplished easily. I notice you are a level 6, same as I, so you must be doing something right.


Can you elaborate more on what you're having trouble with? I always take notes and I constantly revise.... I sometimes write a sentence ten times and that helps with remembering.


It is easier to remember where the accents go if you remember how to pronounce the word. For example, á sounds quite different from a, so if you can hear that long á in your mind, you'll know to add the accent. Unfortunately, DL isn't a reliable source of pronunciation help, so I suggest keeping http://www.forvo.com/languages/ga/ open in another tab and checking the pronunciation of each new word as it appears in Duolingo. (Edit: I reread and saw that you specifically didn't want to go back and forth between tabs. Sorry, but that's what's working for me.)


i dont use the accents and i still get it right with the acception of a typo.


I know this is very basic, but I'm having trouble remembering arán, ólaim, ólann, uisce, agat, táim, biachlár, and pól and linking stuff such as and, because, with, etc.


My best advice to you is to continuously write out everything you're having difficulty with.... Just keep copying it down, the more you write it the more it will sink in, you can't look at something a few times and expect to remember everything, the trouble you're having is normal. I also do revision tests on everything I know.... I have four revision tests all up so far and I have the test questions I've set out for myself in my notes app on my iPad..... It really does work, you will just really need to apply yourself. Doesn't matter how long it takes you to get it, just keep practicing and you will be amazed at how far you'll have come from not knowing much to quite a sight more in the long run, just keep on drumming it in and practicing.


I agree that writing the new words and definitions down is valuable to your learning. I list each new word in a word document and print the list out for reference. Over time with practice, you'll find yourself referring less and less to the word list as you begin to learn the words. I do a minimum of ten practice sessions with each new lesson.


I would advise you to try and make up sentences with the words you know no matter how basic they are so you remember what words go together which might help you with remembering them. For example: Ólaim uisce-I drink water

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