Saturday, March 15, 2008

Learning Irish

As it is coming to an end of Seachtain na Gaeilge for 2008, I decided that I will reprint a previous blog of mine that I put on my myspace page... Hope it is enjoyed.

As a Wordsmith and a person who has been living in Ireland for 6 years I say with complete shame that I am still totally unfamiliar with the Irish Language. Despite my New Year resolutions for the past 5 years being, 'This year I'm going to make a concerted effort to learn Irish,' it has never been achieved, or even remotely started. As a user of Irish Rail I did learn that:
'Nil Cead Na Leithris a usaid fad is ata an traein I stasiun' means
'It is not permissible to use the toilets whilst trains are in the station'
but as I tend not to use this phrase much in everyday speech it is meaningless information.

Imagine my joy when on completing my third ever poetry reading, which was in Blackrock Library Cork to a Class of girls, I was approached by all the girls wanting my autograph... Then imagine my embarrassment when asking the girls to spell these gorgeous Irish names they have, to not know what a Fada is. To those, like me, who don't know what a Fada is, it is and accent over certain letters in Irish Words which according to Wikipedia, 'serves to lengthen the sound of the vowels and in some cases also changes their quality'. When one of the girls spelt their name they inserted the Fada, to which I replied, 'I am unfamiliar with that letter.' Looking like a complete ignoramus.

But in my defence I have had bad experiences trying to learn other languages, for example in November 2001 I travelled to Japan to visit a friend of mine. I decided to learn a few phrases as I did not want to be one of those English people who travel abroad with the attitude, 'They All speak English don't they!' The phrases were nothing that appeared to difficult and were practiced silently on the plane on the way over. When I got through customs and had a much needed Cigarette, I approached the ticket office for the Airport Shuttle and asked in my best Japanese, 'Can I buy a ticket to Shinjuku please?' This phrase was met with a strange look from the salesperson who said, 'I beg your pardon.' Suddenly feeling guilty that I had obviously butchered this Woman's 'mother tongue' I asked the same question in English... This happened every time I entered a shop and bought something. After every purchase I said, 'Arigato' to thank the salesperson and I was not understood and had to say, 'Thank you'

But this is not an excuse and this year I will make an effort to learn the Irish Language...

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