Speak Irish: Tosach Gaeilge: Beginning Irish, by Bob Carney

One of the most difficult things in learning a language for some adults is overcoming our fear of looking “foolish” (I personally don’t have an issue with this, looking foolish is second nature to me!). We sometimes tend to shy away or hold back, afraid to make a mistake.

Something I’ve noticed however, in our Speak Irish Cleveland classes,is that those who don’t hold back, who aren’t afraid of making a mistake,seem to be the ones who progress the quickest in learning Irish. So with that in mind I thought we would review and add some words and phrases we can use to initiate conversations with others.

A note on dialects before we jump into our vocabulary. We’ve talked about the regional and official dialects in the past and I’m often asked, “which dialect is easiest, which do you teach, which should I study?”
John Handy of Irish Language Learners recently addressed these questions; his response was spot on!  He teaches an American dialect, a combination of all of them, after all, we’re learning Irish here. Why limit ourselves?

Dia duit   (dee-uh gwit)  hello  literally:God to you

Dia daoibh  (dee-uh yeev)  hello to more than one

Dia’s Muire duit (dee-uhs mora gwit)  reply to hello lit. God and Mary to you

Dia’s Muire daoibh (dee-uhs mora yeev) reply to hello to more than one

Conas atá tú? (kun-us uh-taw too) How are you?

The above phonetics are in a Munster or Kerry dialect, in the middle of the country Dia would be pronounced with more of a “J” sound  (jee-uh) Dia Duit (jee-uh ghitch) Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú? (keh hee will too) would be used to ask How are you? In the north (Ulster) Cád e mar atá tú? (kuh-jay mar uh-taw too)  How are you? Is the common way to phrase the question. All are correct, we should be aware of the differences but not make a big deal of it, most people speak a combination of the regional dialects and often move between the three.

Tá mé go maith. (taw may guh mah) I am good.

Go raibh maith agat. (guh rah mah ah-gut) Thank you.

Agus tú féin? (ah-gus too fayn) and youself?

Is mise… (iss mee-sha) I am, Is mise Bob, I am Bob

Cad is ainm duit? (kad iss an-um gwit) What is your name?

… is ainm dom. (iss an-um dom) Bob is my name.

Tá sé go deas bualadh leat. (taw shay guh jess boo-la laht) It’s nice to meet you.

Tá áthas orm bualadh leat. (taw ah-hass or-um boo-la laht) It’s nice to meet you.

Agus ormsa freisin. (ah-gus orm-sa fresh-in) It’s nice to meet you too.

An bhfuil cead agam súi anseo? (ahn will kayd ah-gum see ahn-soe) Can I sit here?

Cén t-am é? (ken tam ay) What time is it?

Cad atá ag titim amach? ( kahd ah-taw ag titum ah-mohc) What’s happening?

An gcabhrófá liom? (ahn guh-row-fa lum)  Can you help me?

Cad as duit? ( kahd ahs gwit)  Where are you from?

Cá bhfuil cónaí ort? (ka will cone-ay ort) Where do you live?

Is as … dom. (iss ahs …dom) Is as gCleveland dom. I am from Cleveland.

Cén post atá agat? ( ken post ah-taw ah-gut)  What work do you do?

Gabh mo leithscéal. (guh mo lesh-scale) Excuse me.

An bhfuil Gaeilge agat? (ahn will gall-ah-gay ah-gut) Do you speak irish?

Tá beagáinin Gaeilge agam. (taw bea- gon-ing gall-ah-gay ah-gum) I speak a little Irish.

Tá sé sin go maith. (taw shay shin guh mah) That’s good.

Tuigim (tigg-im) I understand

Ní thuigim (nee higg-im) I don’t understand.

Níl a fhios agam. ( nee liss ah-gum) I don’t know.

Cad is brí le …?   (kahd iss bree luh …)  What does … mean?

Cuir Gaeilge ar … dom, le do thoil? ( cur gall-ah-gay ar … dom, lay duh hull) How do you say.. in Irish please?

Ná labhair chomh tapa san, más é do thoil é. ( na low-er cove ta-pa san masha duh hol-ay)  Speak more slowly please.

Here are a couple of old triads, you can use the pronuciation guide from the July 2018 issue to help with the pronunciation on the first one and your dictionary to translate the second one. (teanglann also has an audio section that allows you to hear the words in all three dialects):

Trí ghalar gan náire:                                     Three compusions that know no shame:

Tochas                                                         Itch

Tart                                                              Thirst

Agus grá                                                      And love

Trí shólás an tseanduine:                             (tree hol-ahs ahn tShan dinna)

Tine                                                             (tih-na)

Tae                                                               (tay)                                               

Agus tobac                                                   (ah-gus tuh-bac)

Slán go Fóill!

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