1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Irish
  4. >
  5. The Irish alphabet

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaulCulloty

The Irish alphabet

One thing that has remained constant throughout the various changes in Irish orthography in recent decades is that the alphabet still uses 18 letters, with j, k, q, v, w, x, y, z generally only appearing in loan-words from English. The most radical change, however, occurred in the mid-Sixties, with the transition from Gaelic to Roman typefaces, on the grounds of making printed Irish more legible. Books in the old type can often be found in second-hand shops, and the most striking differences concern the "s", which resembles "r", and the placement of a dot above consonants, where "h" would now appear.

March 11, 2015

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TanagerMoonmist

The old typeface was so pretty (except for the "s"!).

Personally, I think the dot was a much more elegant and less confusing solution than the "h". Pity they didn't keep it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bob1745

I love the dot! My cousin who was born recently was christened Medb (dot over the "b") which is the really old irish for meabh which is Maeve! i love it!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rosalina362467

MY name is Maeve but I did not now about Medb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ConorHoughton

It was pretty, even the "s", but it would be hard for a different script to survive typewriters and the dot for the seimhiu forces you to use a different script since not of lenited consonants can have an ascending stroke, hence the "d" and "b" bowing backwards and forwards and the "t" like a tau.


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

Oh, but it was available on (certain) typewriters — see a picture of part of one such keyboard here, and the keyboard layouts of three other such typewriters can be found here. (A full picture of an Underwood keyboard layout can be seen here.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ConorHoughton

cool, even the tironian et of glorious memory!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwasson

They moved 'y'--just different enough to be annoying. But very cool.


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

If you’re referring to the Underwood, then they’d actually moved Q through Y and A through L — a typical “QWERTY” keyboard would have Q A Z in the first column and W S X in the second column, but it has ´ ˙ Z in the first column and Q A X in the second column.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwasson

Oh, I see now; wasn't as obvious as the "T" and "U" being adjacent. In practice, would that just mean that the bottom row would feel like it's shifted one column to the left? I guess that's all relative based on your typing style,but assuming a home-keys, middle-row oriented style.


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

In practice, based on the usual “ASDF JKL;” home keys, the bottom row, the numeric row, and the right hand side of the QWERT row would feel as though they’d been shifted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyEvilSlosh

I tried out putting a dot above the consonant in Duolingo's Irish course just to see what would happen. It didn't accept it. :P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bob1745

How did you put the dot there?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyEvilSlosh

I use Debian GNU/Linux and have a compose key set up. If you use Linux the command setxkbmap us -option compose:paus should set your keyboard layout to US QWERTY and break to the compose key (it's possible to use other keys, a friend uses caps lock). You can add a dot to most letters via compose . letter: ȧ ḃ ċ ḋ ė ḟ ġ ḣ ṁ ṅ ȯ ṗ ṙ ṡ ṫ ẇ ẋ ẏ ż. If you use it with i you get a tittleless i: ı.


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

In OS X it can be done by selecting either the “U.S. Extended” input source or the “Irish Extended” input source, and entering either Option-W letter (for a precomposed dotted letter, such as those shown in HappyEvilSlosh’s list) or letter Option-Shift-W (for an independent non-spacing dot character that can be put on top of any character — letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.). A precomposed letter typically looks better than a letter followed by an independent non-spacing character.

EDIT: The U.S. Extended input source was renamed to ABC Extended in OS X 10.11.


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

See this discussion for how to use the {@style=font-family: 'Bunchlo Arsa GC', 'BunchloArsaGC', serif; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12pt; color=#169B62}cló {@style=font-family: 'Bunchlo Arsa GC', 'BunchloArsaGC', serif; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 12pt; color: #FF883E}Gaelaċ in the forums here.

Learn Irish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.