I had a very hard time understanding anyone when I first got to Ireland. They were speaking English, but I was not understanding the accent. When I had to go to the Emergency Room, they called in an Indian doctor to “translate” for me, since I was not answering their questions right.
But, within a few days, I was mostly understanding things.
People were very amused by my accent. One woman ran and got her husband, asked me to say it again, then exclaimed, “She sounds just like someone on the telly!”
Irish or Gaelic is the national and first official language of Ireland. It is an officially recognized minority language in Northern Ireland. It is on all the signs and there are TV shows in Gaelic. This is all part of an effort to promote and revive the language.
Almost every sign was in English, too. The few that weren’t were easy to figure out by the context. I guess if I couldn’t figure it out, I didn’t need to know.
Only a very small number of Irish still speak Irish or Gaelic as their first language. It is a second language for a lot more people.
The Great Famine of 1845 to 1852 greatly affected the population of Ireland. Many from Irish-speaking areas were lost to starvation or emigration. By 1900 the population was about half of its 1840 high and continued to fall until the late 1920s.
There are now only a few areas, mostly near the West coast, where Irish is spoken as a first language. I visited that area and couldn’t even guess what they were saying most of the time. I’ll post video when I get to that part of the trip and see how many repetitions it takes till you know what they were saying. I just nodded and smiled.
Examples of Gaelic.
This was a TV Commercial for the American TV show Cold Case in Gaelic.
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