What is Irish? Cad é an rud é an Ghaeilge?

I guess there are people out there who are sincerely ignorant of the fact that Ireland hasn’t always been a largely English-speaking nation and who are puzzled to find out that there is an Irish language which isn’t the same as the dialect of English spoken in, and associated with, Ireland. Thus, here is a comprehensive posting about Irish today.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuil daoine amuigh ansin nach bhfuil a fhios beo acu nach raibh an Béarla chomh líofa ag bunadh na hÉireann ó thús agus atá inniu, agus iontas orthu a fháil amach go bhfuil teanga Éireannach ann nach ionann í agus an cineál Béarla a labhraítear in Éirinn agus a shamhlaítear le hÉirinn. Mar sin, seo blagmhír chuimsitheach faoin nGaeilge inniu.

Irish is a Celtic language. Celtic languages are one of the branches of the Indo-European language family, which includes Germanic languages (such as English and German, for instance), Romance languages (those which have developed from Latin, such as Italian, Spanish and French), Italic languages (an earlier grouping of now-extinct languages, such as Latin and several other ancient languages spoken in what is now Italy), Indo-Iranian languages (such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Persian) and many others. Thus, Irish is demonstrably related to both English and Latin, although this relationship is not obvious, except to a specialist.

Teanga Cheilteach í an Ghaeilge. Is éard atá sna teangacha Ceilteacha ná craobh de chuid na dteangacha Ind-Eorpacha, ar a n-áirítear na teangacha Gearmáinice (an Béarla agus an Ghearmáinis mar shampla), na teangacha Rómánsacha (a d’eascair ón Laidin, cosúil leis an Iodáilis, an Spáinnis, agus an Fhraincis), na teangacha Iodáilice (teangacha marbha cosúil leis an Laidin agus roinnt seanteangacha eile a labhraítí san áit a bhfuil an Iodáil inniu), na teangacha Ind-Iaránacha (an Hiondúis, an Urdais, an Bheangáilis agus an Pheirsis, mar shampla) agus a lán eile. Mar sin, tá gaol ag an nGaeilge leis an mBéarla agus an Laidin araon, cé nach bhfuil an gaol seo soiléir a thuilleadh, ach amháin don tsaineolaí.

Irish is one of the oldest written languages of Western Europe. It was committed to writing about the year 700 CE, although even before that, a form of Irish was used for inscriptions. The inscriptions were made with an alphabet known in modern Irish as oghamchraobh, and the obelisks on which you can see such inscriptions are called oghamchlocha, Ogham stones.

Tá an Ghaeilge ar cheann de na teangacha scríofa is sine in Iarthar na hEorpa. Thosaigh traidisiún liteartha na Gaeilge timpeall ar an mbliain 700 AD, agus roimhe sin féin bhí cineál Gaeilge in úsáid in inscríbhinní. Iad siúd a rinne na hinscríbhinní seo bhí siad i dtuilleamaí aibítir ar leith ar a dtugaimid an Oghamchraobh i nGaeilge an lae inniu. D’fheicfeá inscríbhinní den tsaghas seo ar oibiliscí ar a dtugtar Oghamchlocha.

The literary language that came about in 700 CE is called Old Irish. This was already a Christianized language which borrowed words and concepts from Latin and Greek, the classical tongues of the Western civilization. Old Irish writers were basically monks, but they weren’t bent on destroying all pre-Christian culture. So they wrote down the old mythologies of Ireland, both the Ulster cycle and the Fenian cycle, although they did omit most references to pre-Christian religion.

An teanga scríofa a tháinig ar an bhfód timpeall ar 700 AD is gnách Sean-Ghaeilge a thabhairt uirthi. Teanga Chríostaithe a bhí ann cheana féin agus í ag tarraingt ar an Laidin agus ar an nGréigis, teangacha clasaiceacha na sibhialtachta Iartharaí, le haghaidh téarmaí agus coincheapanna nua. Iad siúd a scríobhadh litríocht i Sean-Ghaeilge, manaigh a bhí iontu go bunúsach, ach san am chéanna ní raibh siad meáite ar an gcultúr réamh-Chríostaí go léir a chur de dhroim an tsaoil. Mar sin bhreac siad síos seanmhiotais na hÉireann, an Rúraíocht agus an Fhiannaíocht araon, cé gur bhain siad an chuid is mó de na tagairtí don chreideamh réamh-Chríostaí de na scéalta.

The Irish name for Irish is Gaeilge, and many might ask if there is a difference between “Irish” and “Gaelic” as concepts in English (or in other languages). There indeed is. The “Gaelic languages” are a whole branch of modern Celtic languages. They include Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx. Speaking about one Gaelic language is thus akin to speaking about one Scandinavian language. Old Irish, though, could as well be called Old Gaelic in English, because Scots Gaelic and Manx are offshoots of it, together with Modern Irish.

Ós rud é gur “Gaeilge” atá ar an teanga, is dual don Bhéarlóir a fhiafraí, cad é an difríocht (má tá a leithéid ann) idir “Irish” agus “Gaelic” mar choincheapanna sa Bhéarla (nó i dteangacha eile, fiú). Tá difríocht ann ar ndóigh. Craobh iomlan i gcrann ginealais na dteangacha Ceilteacha iad na teangacha Gaelacha. Is iad siúd ná Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gaeilge na hAlban agus an Mhanainnis (Gaeilge Oileán Mhanann). An té a thráchtas ar an “Gaelic” mar aon teanga amháin bheadh sé chomh maith aige a bheith ag tagairt don “Lochlainnis” mar aon teanga amháin. An tSeanGhaeilge áfach, is gnách “Old Irish” a thabhairt uirthi as Béarla, ach san am chéanna ní bheadh sé mícheart an téarma “Old Gaelic” a úsáid, más mian leat béim a chur air gurb aisti a d’eachair an triúr acu, Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gaeilge na hAlban, agus Gaeilge Mhanann araon.

 (MORE TO COME/AR LEAN)

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