Irish Language

Conas atá tú? For a good brief overview of the Irish language see:

Or even Caide mar atá tú.

The following borrowed from a sister site to fix a broken link

If you're talking about the page on WhyClublet, the link worked for me...

I wrote up some stuff applicable to both ScotsGaelic? and the Irish under GaelicLanguage -- KeithGaughan?

See the following Ethnologue entries:

For numbers of speakers in the UK, see

For numbers in Ireland, see

Extracted from LanguagesWithoutScripts (found on a SisterSite) The language I speak calls itself Gaeilge. It is part of a language group which linguists call Goidelic languages, or Q Celtic. The other languages in that group are Scots Gaelic and Manx. Most speakers of Irish refer to the language as Irish when speaking English.

Goidelic having split from Brythonic somewhere in the first millennium B.C. The Brythonic Celtic languages included Welsh, Breton and Cornish. -- ps

There is a long history of contact between Ireland and England, and at various times the language has been called Irish, Erse and Gaelic.

There are political and historical overtones to all of these.

Irish has no equivalent to the Academie Francais, so I guess the best authority I can quote is the written Irish Constitution.

Not strictly true. There is the Caighdeán Oifigiúil but, as the name implies, it's only an official ConLang that isn't really used outside the civil services and media. -- KeithGaughan?

Article 8.1 states The Irish language as the national language is the first official language. See

The issue of scripts is trickier. Prior to the introduction of Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, the learned classes passed knowledge on by word of mouth only. There was a script, Ogham which was used for short inscriptions, but was not very flexible. More information in

With the coming of Christianity came the Latin alphabet, and there is a continuous written record in Irish going back to the sixth century.

The letters used are a subset of the normal Latin ones, abcdefghilmnoprstu. In addition, vowels are lengthened by adding an accent á etc.

Some of the manuscripts used abbreviations for combinations of letters, a very common combination is a consonant followed by a h, this became a dot over the consonant, in a similar fashion to the e following a vowel in German becoming an Umlaut.

That's a bit ass-backwards. The séimhiú (punctus delens) came first. It first came into the written language to mark when f was unpronounced though séimhiú. It later spead to the other letters as it became identified with the phenomenon rather than just marking unpronounced letters. The use of h is quite recent, coming about because typewriters and printing presses with the punctus delens were rare at best. H (the only purpose of which in the written language till then was to prevent hiatus) was just a convenient letter. -- KeithGaughan?

The first books printed in Irish used a Font based on the handwritten manuscripts, and used a dot over the consonants. I don't have a source for this information in English; I'll try to find one. But you will find pictures of these fonts, and true type versions for windows at Some history on the fonts in English is at

Since the 1930s, a mix of Roman and Gaelic fonts were used in printing and handwriting, since about the 1960s only Roman characters have been used. The Gaelic fonts are experiencing a revival because True Type and Unicode makes it easier for computers to deal with them. -- Aonghus Ó hAlmhain

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