The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (April-June) » Beginner Gaelic Student - Introduction and Surname Question « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Leigh_Silent ( -
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 10:52 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


'S mise Leigh. Tha mi ochd deug ... years old and a beginner student in Gaelic. I just started today, actually, but I have a good track record of sticking with foreign languages. I'm one of those bookish souls who love studying various languages, but Gaelic has always been a favorite of mine. Others close to my heart are German, Czech, Japanese, and Tolkien's invented languages. This forum seems wonderful and I look forward to spending much of my summertime here.

I study German and Czech because my family traces its ancestry back to them, so it's appropriate that my first question on this forum is about my possible Scottish or Irish ancestry. A tradition in my father's family is to pass down an old surname from eldest son to eldest son in the form of his middle name. The surname is "McHyne."

It's NOT MacHyne, which is what's throwing me for a loop. The preliminary research I've done so far hasn't turned up any Gaelic surnames with Mc as an element; plenty of Mac's of course, but no Mc's. Are there Gaelic surnames out there with Mc a part of them? Is it possible that McHyne used to be MacHyne, and the vowel a dropped out sometime ago?

I'm asking this because I'm curious as to whether I have Gaelic blood in me. It won't matter one whit to my continued study of Gaelic, but it'd be nice to know. After all, I study their languages, but I'm not Japanese and certainly not an Elf. ;-)

Tapadh leat ... for helping out this poor befuddled novice. Respectfully,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

deirídh ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 12:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

mc v. mac: if it is not Bran, tis his difference
mc/mac= son of
O= grandson(or more distant yet)

most likely a "hynes" variety: hynds, o'heyne, et al.
from ó'hEidhin, which means "ivy"
most notable: mulroy o'heyne, father-in-law of brian boru
mostly found in galway.

btw the "gaelic" you are using is na hAlban

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

James ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 05:27 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Leigh, A Chara,

It matters not one whit whether your ancestry is Scottish or Irish. Either way you have Irish blood running through your veins! A brief history lesson will clear it up.

1) The area we now call Ireland was once inhabited by a group of people called the Scotti, one of the Celtic tribes of ancient Europe.

2) A number of these Scotti migrated to a land that was at the time known as Alba. That area lies in the north of the island land mass that is present day Britain.

3) The inhabitants of the rest of that island eventually came to refer to the region of Alba as Scotti-Land. Hence, Scotland.

4) A linguistic/historical link to all of this is seen in the Irish word for Scotland (Alba) and the Scottish People (Albannach).

So, you see--you've got Irish blood in you either way!

I've read that at one time a person could travel from southwest Ireland to Northeast Ireland and cross to Scotland all the while speaking the same Gaeilge without missing a beat. Sadly, that is no longer true. The Irish (Gaeilge) spoken in An Daingean (Dingle) and that spoken in Ulster are vastly different in sound. Grammatically they are the same but they have a very distinctly different sound. Scots Gaelic (Gaelic), that language spoken by the Albannach (Scottish) in Alba (Scotland), is even farther removed from Gaeilge. It sounds different and possesses different grammatical structure most notably, the presence of the indefinite article.

I don't know which you are studying but it really doesn't matter. Both are in a horrendous situation with regard to daily usage and prospects for survival. Although, Irish seems to have a much better chance than Scots of surviving into the next century. Either one is worthy of study, however, so pick one and have at it.

Ádh Mór Ort.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Brian ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 11:01 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,
I've also begun to study Irish, yet I have not found any consensus on pronounciation. I want to learn a consistent dialect, but this seems impossible, especially learning abroad. How is this handled in the Irish schools? Who is learning what?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Maidhc Ó G. ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 12:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I've come to understand that as there is a standard English being tought in schools, there is also a standard Irish being tought.
More than likely, the same standard English is being tought in London, England that is being tought in Scranton, PA, USA.
So, too, the same standard Irish is probably being tought in Cork as well as in Donegal. The dialectal differences come from being there. While he is learning Irish in the standard, the student in Cork will "speak" the Munster dialect. The student in Scranton, while being tought standardized English in school, will "speak" the dialect of the Wyoming Valley.
I don't know which Irish course you're taking, but I've come to find that they generally teach standard Irish grammar, but in a selected dialect. It seems the trouble you may be encountering is in finding other students taking the same or similar course leading to alternate pronunciations. This isn't always bad.
Try going to and listen to "RnaG". You'll hear people speaking in many dialects with each other, and this might help clear things up a bit. - It's also just great spraoi.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Brian ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 01:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Mhaidhc, what you describe of course is the distinction between the colloquial and written form of any language. I don't believe the standard British English is the standard English taught in America, certainly the pronounciation is independent. Though everyone is taught the same written grammar, Americans are not taught a standard pronunciation in school. Native Irish speakers are rare in the U.S., so there isn't opportunity to hear and watch people interact in Irish, or often even take a formal course. Books, tapes, Internet sites, and, as you described, "RnaG" are all spoken (or phonetically spelled as the case may be) in different dialects, with no one apparently preferred. Though I've just begun Irish, I know I'm mixing dialects from whichever source I first heard a word. It has to sound ridiculous to any native Irish speaker. Any advice?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Maidhc Ó G. ( -
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 02:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Of course I was taught pronunciation in school! The first book I recieved in kindergarten class was my "phonics" book. It continued as reading class thereafter in the following grades.
The teaching of how the pronunciation of the vowel changes from short to long with the addition of the letter "e" - e.g. CAN - CANE.
The differences would be dialectal. A student in Alabama would still pronounce it differently from a student in Pennsylvania. The quick, more crisp speach of a northerner vs. the southern drawl - e.g. CANE: in PA (KAYN), in AL (KAY-UN). Even though they learned it from the same book.
I realize that British teachers almost certainly take a different approach to the teaching of grammar than their American counterparts, the rules of that grammar are still the same because at its base it's still the same language.
I also, more than likely, mix dialects when I try to speak Irish. Though, now that I've started taking Ó Siadhail, the more consistant hearing of the Cois Fharaige dialect will definitely have an impact.
Advice? Try to find more speakers to talk and learn from. Get some tapes. Listen to "RnaG". Get the sound of the language into your ears as much as possible and your own pronunciation will eventualy come around.
-Ádh mór ort!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

James ( -
Posted on Sunday, June 22, 2003 - 01:59 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Bhrian, A Chara:

My advice is to pick a dialect and stick with it for a while. Don't make the mistake that I did and buy every distant learning tool on the market. It'll only confuse you in the beginning stages. Pick one, get as proficient as you can and then stay in touch on this site. You'll get more clarification and better explanations here than in most books.

I'm working almost exclusively with O Siadhal's "Learning Irish". Initially, I hated it. I thought it was too clumisly written, too bogged down in confusing, grammatical terms and the dialect it teaches is full of contractions and mutations, etc. Now, though I think it's the best thing going. I have found that I've learned more, been forced to get to the root of things more and little by little I am able to grasp bits and pieces of other dialects.

So, just pick a dialect and run with it. Who cares if you say "Go raibh maith agat" or "Go raibh maith'ad"? What does it matter if you say "Cén chaoi a bhfuil tú" versus "Conas tá tú"? The important thing is that you'll be learning Irish and that is what this language desperately needs---more speakers! Regardless of dialect!

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Brian ( -
Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2003 - 04:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

James and Maidhc, you give good advice! I had an easy time finding O'Siadhal's book, but a lot of difficulty finding the tapes. I read back a few postings and found a suggestion for where to look. I'm ecstatic that I finally found them! Thank you!

Add Your Message Here
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.

©Daltaí na Gaeilge