Irish Orthography

Gaeltacht Map of Ireland 2006 by Angr
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gaeltacht.svg?uselang=fr

The Irish language was a mode of the Goidelac branch of Celtic language, it was known also as Q – Celtic.  It was closely related to Manx (Gaelg / Gailic), or Scottish Gaelic (Gáidhlig): it is distantly related to Welsh Cymraeg plus Cornish Keenewek also Breton Brezoneg, these form the Brythonic brand of Celtic language known as P – Celtic.  The language of Middle Irish was known as Gaoidhealg, in Classic Irish as Gaoidhealg also as Goídelc in Old Irish.  Within Ulster or North Connacht; it is known as Gaedhilic / Gaelic / Gaeilig /or Gaedhlag, in Munster it is represented by Gaedheilaing / Gaoluinn or Gaelainn.  [i]  Indo – European language was possibly the speech used from as early as 2400 BC to 2000 BC within Ireland.  It evolved over centuries to Archaic during 3rd or 4th, Old Irish from 5th whilst Middle Irish began during the 6th century.  [ii]  Irish orthography has evolved over many centuries, since Old Irish was first written down in the Latin alphabet in about the 6th century AD.  Prior to that, Primitive Irish was written in Ogham.  The origin of Gaelic Gael + Ic represents Scots – Gaelic, a derivative of Gaidheal from 1590 – 1600.  [iii]  The first book to be printed in Ireland was a Protestant ‘catechism’ that contained a guide to spellings plus sounds in Irish by John Kearney, Treasurer of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during 1571.  [iv]

Up to the 17th Irish had been the spoken language of the citizens.  Later with the British dominance plus the effects of the Famine ie. mass emigration, the language mostly died out or was confined to areas called The Gaeltacht.  [v]  Initial moves to reverse the decline of the Irish language was promoted by Irish Protestants ie. William Neilson & Samuel Ferguson towards the end of the 18th Century.  [vi]

At the later end of the 19th century members of the Gaelic Revival Movement encouraged the daily use of the Irish language.  [vii]

Douglas Hyde founded Conradh na Gaeilge in 1893; by 1904 it had 50.000 members!  [viii]  During 1914 the Church of Ireland’s campaign to promote worship & religion through Irish was enabled with the foundation of Cumann Gaeltact na hEaglaise.  The Roman Catholic Church replaced Liturgies from Latin to Irish. In 1928 the Irish language was made a compulsory subject in the Intermediate Certification followed during 1934 of the Leaving Certificate.  [ix]

Translations

The first Irish translation of the New Testament begun by Nicholas Walsh, Bishop of Ossory until his demise in 1587; it was continued by his assistant John Kearney with Dr. Nehemiah Donnellan, Archbishop of Tuam, this was finally completed by Uiliam Ó ‘Domhnaill (who had succeeded Bishop Donnellan) then published during 1602.  The work of translating the Old Testament was undertaken by William Bedel: it was not published until 1680 by Narcissus March, Archbishop of Dublin.  John Richardson published a revised edition of the 1606 Common Prayer Book in 1712.  [x]

Dictionaries

Several dictionaries were published over the years: from ‘The Royal Dictionary’ of 1699 & 1729 by Abel Boyer to The English – Irish Dictionary of Begley & Mc Curtain in 1732.  John O ‘Brien published ‘Foclóir Gaoidhilge – sags – béarla Or’ in 1768.  An English – Irish edition of 1814 by Thaddaeus Connellan was produced.  During1855 an English – Irish edition by Daniel Foley was printed. Edward O’ Reilly’s Irish – English 1864 edition was later revised by John O ‘Donovan.  [xi] The Irish Texts Society’s 1904 Irish – English Bilingual Dictionary by Patrick S Dineen used traditional spellings. [xii]  Timothy O ‘Neill Lane published Foclói béarla – Gaedglige during 1917.  An English – Irish phrase Dictionary was published by Lambert Mc Kenna in 1922.  [xiii]  Following the creation of the Irish Free State during 1922 all Acts of the Oireachtas included Dineen’s spellings plus were translated into Irish.  These were followed by several simplifications over the years.  [xiv]

Old Spellings

The following are some old spellings criticized by T. F. O ‘Reilly with their simplifications from old Spelling to New Spelling: Beirbhiughadh to Beiriú, Imthighthe to Imithe, Faghbháil to Fáil, Urradhas to Urrús also Filidheacht to Filíocht.  His publication ‘Irish Dialects past & present; with Chapters on Scottish & Manx’, 1932 Brown & Nolan Dublin was expanded in 1947, then republished during 1957 combined with the standard  grammar of 1953    It attracted initial criticism as unhistorical or artificial; several spellings failed to represent the pronunciation of many dialects, while others preserved letters not pronounced in any dialect.  Its status was reinforced by use in the civil service also as a guide for Tomás de Bhaldraithe‘s 1959 English–Irish dictionary.  During the early 1940’s Seamus Dalton issued his own guidelines re standardization of Irish spelling & grammar.  [xv]

Election / Constitution

Eamon de Valera, President of the Executive Council from the 1932 Election insisted that policy reverted to older spelling which was then used for the 1937 Constitution.  During 1941 he decided to publish a ‘popular’ edition of the Constitution.  De Valera also established a committee of experts that failed to agree to recommendations; instead the Oireachtas’s own translation service prepared a booklet; ‘Litriú na Gaeilge: lámhleabhair an Chaighdeáin Oifigiüil’ which was published during 1945.  [xvi]

Reviews

The Oireachtas’s own translation in 1945 printed a booklet ‘Litiúna Gailge: Lámhleabhar an Chaighdeain Oifigiúil.’ (Published in Early Modern History1500-1700 issue 5 Sept – Oct 2012 Vol 20.)  This booklet was expanded during 1947 then republished as ‘An Caighdheán Oifigiúi’ in 1959, combined with a standard graminer of 1953.  During 1959 Tomas de bHaldraille’s English – Irish Dictionary was mandated within the Irish Civil Service.  [xvii]  This publication ‘An Introduction to Old Irish (Introduction to Older Languages)’ 1975 Lehmann R. P. M.  & Lehmann W. P. was intended to enable students to understand the Old Irish writings plus spellings.  [xviii]  During 1977 Niall Ó ‘Dónaill’s 1977 Irish – English was mandated into the Irish Civil Service.  [xix]  A review of the written standard, including spelling, was initiated during 2010, with a view to improving “simplicity, internal consistency, and logic.”  [xx]  An updated publication of ‘Caishdean Oifiguil’ occurred during 2017.  [xxi]

Grammar

The grammar of early Modern Irish was initially presented in a series of grammatical Tracts.  These were edited & published by Osborn Bergin as a supplement to Éiru between 1916 to 1955.  [xxii]  Irish has a case system like Latin or German.  It has four cases showing functions of nouns or pronouns in a sentence.  In phonology it exhibits initial sandi in which the first consonant of a word is modified according to the prehistoric finial sound of the previous word in the phrase, eg An tobar ‘the wall’ or Mo thobar ‘My wall.’  [xxiii]

Dialects

Presently there are three main dialects in the Irish language: Munster (An Mhumháin), Connnacht (Connachta) also Ulster (Ulaidh).  The Munster dialect is spoken mainly in Kerry (Ciarraí) plus Muskerry (Múscraí) in the western part of Cork (Contae Chorcai).  The Connacht dialect is spoken mainly in Connamara (Conamara), the Aran Islands (Oiléain) also in Tourmakeady (Thur Mhic Éadaigh) in Co. Mayo (Maigh Eo).  The Ulster dialect is spoken in the Rosses (na Rosa) area while in Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) they speak mainly in the Ulster dialect.  [xxiv]

Current Irish

In Modern Irish there are just a few sounds not found in some dialects of English.  It has an unique spelling system.  Spoken Irish has only a few sounds not found in some dialects of English.  Although it may appear complicated it is in fact more regular that English spelling.  Except for a few common words, that have an unstressed prefix – all words are sharply accented on the final syllable.  [xxv]  Gaelic Irish Type today with the buailte are rarely used except for when ‘traditional’ type is required, ie as the Motto of UCD, on Coat of Arms or as symbol of Óglaigh na Éireann.  [xxvi]  Irish Language has experienced a revival with a radio service, a television service plus new publications.  There has been a growth in Irish – medium education.  [xxvii]  The Geltacht areas, several Gaelscoileanna throughout Ireland, official Language Act 2003, RTE, TG4, Radio na Gaeltachta also Foinse are the modern ways of protecting the Irish Language.  [xxviii]

Footnotes

In Northern Ireland the Irish language was recognized following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.  [xxix]  On the 1st January 2007 Irish became an official language of the European Union.  [xxx]

A copy of ‘An Irish – English dictionary’, 1864 O ‘Reilly Edward / O ‘Donovan John was published by J. Duffy Dublin.  It may be assessed online at this link: https://archive.org/details/irishenglishdict00orei/page/n8/mode/2up

An ‘Focloir Gaedlighe agus Bearla’ was produced during 1904 by Dineen Patrick S, 1904 M. H. Gill & Son, Dublin.  [xxxi]

This site has several interesting items plus list of dictionaries with: https://www.lexilogos.com/english/gaelic_irish_dictionary.htm

A Guide to Old Irish Spelling & Pronunciation may be read at this link (Dennis King): http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/sengoidelc/donncha/labhairt.html

One may read a PDF of the Irish Language by Mícheál Ó Searcóid 1990 at this link: http://www.tug.org/TUGboat/Articles/tb12-1/tb31searcoid.pdf

This site is very interesting as it includes spellings, verbs etc: http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/ortho.htm

A UTube video re Irish language may be seen at this link (31st December 2018): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLNY8JrVYFU

[i] Irish Language, alphabet & pronunciation (https://omniglot.com/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[ii] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[iii] Definition of Gaelic (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/gaelic) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[iv] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[v] Irish Language, alphabet & pronunciation (https://omniglot.com/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[vi] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[vii] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[viii] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[ix] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[x] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[xi] Irish Dictionary (https://www.lexilogos.com/english/gaelic_irish_dictionary.htm) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xii] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xiii] Irish Dictionary (https://www.lexilogos.com/english/gaelic_irish_dictionary.htm) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xiv] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xv] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xvi] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xvii] Irish Orthography (https://en.wikipedia.org/) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xviii] An Introduction to Old Irish ( https://www.amazon.com/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[xix] Irish Orthography (https://en.wikipedia.org/) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xx] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxi] Irish Orthography (https://en.wikipedia.org/) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxii] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[xxiii] Irish Spelling & Pronunciation (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Irish-language) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxiv] Irish Language, alphabet & pronunciation (https://omniglot.com/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[xxv] Irish Spelling & Pronunciation (http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaeilge/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[xxvi] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxvii] Irish Language, alphabet & pronunciation (https://omniglot.com/) [assessed 10th January 2020]

[xxviii] History of the Irish Language (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/) [assessed 11th January]

[xxix] The Good Friday Agreement (https://www.dfa.ie/our-role-policies/northern-ireland/the-good-friday-agreement-and-today/ ) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxx] Irish Orthography (http://dictionary.sensagent.com/irish) [assessed 11th January 2020]

[xxxi] An English – Irish Dictionary (https://celt.ucc.ie/Dinneen1.pdf ) [assessed 10th January 2020]

 

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