The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (July-September) » Dialect help « Previous Next »

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

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 11:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Many language programs seem to think it is beneficial for beginners to experience a range of dialects from the first few lessons, but I have found this method to be only confusing and frustrating. Could anyone help me to know how to place a dialect (regionally)? Are there some clear differences between them that could clue me in to where a speaker is from? For instance, one speaker will pronounce the "ea" in the word "seacht" as the a in the English "cat", and another as the o in "cot". What would that tell me?
I have three questions in particular regarding vowels:

1. Foclóir Scoile has the pronunciation of "ui" as equivalent to a short i. Ex: cuid = kij
However, I am sure the speakers on the Teach Yourself tapes are using a short u sound. Ex: cuid = kooj (with oo as in American "book")

2. I've heard déag (teen) pronounced "jayg" and "dyuhg". What is the difference here?

3. Tabhair has at least three pronunciations - "toor", "tower", and "tore". Does each of these belong to a different region?

4. Ok, one more question. I've heard about Ulster, Connacht, and Munster dialects, but whatever happened to Leinster? Aren't there still Gaeilgeoirí there?

The reason for this post is I think it's time I pick a dialect and stick to it, but I can't until I at least know what's what. Still, it's like eenie, meenie, minee, moe. I guess what I really need is an incentive pulling me in a particular direction. But for now it doesn't matter.......... since there's no one around to talk to anyway - lol.

I hope someone can help me with this. I would be SO grateful!

Le meas,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cáit ( -
Posted on Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 12:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


Not much help but for what it's worth - I'd pronounce your examples like 'kwidge', 'toor', and 'jayg'.

I learnt Irish in Dublin (and no, there's not too many gaeilgeoirí to be found there - apart from school-goers). For some time now the general consensus has been that there's Ulster, Connaght, Munster and 'Dublin' Irish - which is considered a hodge-podge of all the others. Probably because as you go through school your teachers will all come from different corners of the country and so will all speak different dialects.

To this day I find myself pronouncing 'raibh' in two different ways depending on the context. (Rev or Row - rhymes with cow). I'll say 'Go REV maith agat' but 'An ROW tú sa siopa?'

Le meas,

Cáit (which I'd pronounce CAWtch)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, August 08, 2003 - 03:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Cháit,

Thank you so much for responding. What you said reminds me of my own State, where pronunciation differs in the southern, central, and northern parts (Illinois being a long State), and in Chicago itself.
I have been listening to the blas programs on bbc radio online, learning to recognize the Ulster dialect. However, I don't think I should spend too much time there, because it is clearly different from what's taught in my course. After listening to only a couple of programs, the phrase "Is MOY liom" keeps going through my head when I have already learned "Is MAH liom". I only want to know enough right now to distinguish between the dialects so I don't get confused, but not so much that I end up even more confused! What bothers me most is that the four speakers on my tapes don't all have the same accent. Question: Does Standard Irish exist in reality or is it only used in dictionaries?
If anyone can tell me particular radio programs on that are in Connaght and Munster dialects, that might be helpful. I'm going to sort through this puzzle yet!

Persevering one step at a time,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 08:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, I saw that you asked me to comment upon this one. The only problem is that a full answer would be very long indeed. But yes, there are different ways to know how every word is pronounced and how it differs between the various dialects. Explaining everything would take some fifty pages (no kidding) and that kind of post would perhaps be somewhat too long ;-)

But sure, I've studied differences between Irish dialects quite a lot so if there's one area of Irish linguistics in which I feel some confidence then it is here. I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. Perhaps you have read my description of the three main dialects? It is somewhere in the tree, I can't remember where. If you don't find it I'll post it again, I think I have it saved somewhere.

For your four questions:
1. I haven't heard the tapes of TYI but both pronunciations could be heard from native speakers. A short i is by far the more common, but it is somewhat retracted and tends toward an u. In parts of Ulster you could well hear it, in Scottish Gaelic it is standard. Still, from what I've been told the pronunciation of TYI is not Ulster Irish...

2. Two things to notice here. In Munster éa becomes /ia/ while in Connacht and Ulster it's /e:/. In Munster and parts of Connacht a slender d, as in d, is pronounced almost like an ordinary d (a bit softer, of course) while in other parts of Connacht and in most of Ulster it is the same as in English judge. (If you're interested I could post an old message I wrote to an Irish list about the exact geographic distribution of this pronunciation)

3. Tabhair has many more pronunciations still ;-) But yes, they belong to different areas. Within a few kilometers in Co. Galway you can hear three different forms...

4. Unfortunately no Leinster Irish remains. There is a Gaeltacht in Leinster, in Co. Meath, but Leinster Irish is not spoken there. The reason is that this Gaeltacht is somewhat different. In every other Gaeltacht Irish has been spoken continuosly for at least 2.000 years - as it once was in all of Ireland. These areas are to be found in Munster, Connacht and Ulster. The Gaeltacht in Leinster was founded in the 1930s when many peasants from over-crowded Conamara moved to new land. They kept their language, which is the same dialect as that of Ceantar na n-Oileán, a subdialect of Connacht Irish. Traditional Leinster Irish has been dead as a community language for more that 100 years and the last native speakers of Leinster Irish died in the early 1950s.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2003 - 03:00 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, a chara,

Is aingeal tú! Go raibh míle maith agat! Your posts are absolutely brilliant. Do you have to look up your information or is it all stored away in your memory? :)

Well, I went searching for your post and think I found it in the archives - written back in the year 2000? Excellent! - I made a copy of it. I was very happy to read your opinion of Munster Irish, as I have always gravitated toward Munster myself. No particular reason really, except maybe because I was so taken by the Michael Collins story (the movie was my first introduction to modern Irish history) and some of my favorite singers/musicians are from there. Also, I think Teach Yourself has influences of the South.

You have really helped me decide which path to pursue. I am indebted to you.

One question - you said Munster has unique conjugations? I'm not sure what those would be.

That was interesting history about Finland. I know so little about Scandinavia. So, are you Swedish speakers considered to be Swedish ethnically?

Thanks again for your help. Is it alright if I call on you again in the future? Without a doubt I'll need to!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2003 - 05:15 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chara!

Go raibh míle maith agat féin. Is deas rud éigin mar sin a chloisint ;-)
(cloisint = cloisteál in Munster Irish)

Here are the endings of Munster:

táim = tá mé
tánn tú* = tá tú
tá sé = tá sé
tá sí = tá sí
táimid = tá muid
tánn sibh = tá sibh
táid** = tá siad

*In Munster you could also hear "táir" or "taoi" for "tá tú" but it is becoming rare these days.
** "táid", "tá siad" and "táid siad" are all options in Munster

bhíos = bhí mé
bhís = bhí tú
bhí sé = bhí sé
bhí sí = bhí sí
bhíoma(i)r = bhí muid
bhíobha(i)r = bhí sibh
bhíodar = bhí siad
No options here, these forms are always used in Munster.

bead = beidh mé
beir = beidh tú
beidh sé = beidh sé
beidh sí = beidh sí
beimíd / beam = beidh muid
beidh sibh = beidh sibh
beid = beidh sibh
The only one of these Munster forms that is used all the time is "beimíd". None of the other forms are extinct though, the same speaker normally alternate between the forms.

bheinn = bheinn
bheifeá = bheifeá
bheadh sé = bheadh sé
bheadh sí = bheadh sí
bheimíst = bheimís
bheadh sibh = bheadh sibh
bheidíst = bheidíst.

The same endings goes for all verbs - even most of the irregular verbs, although some of them are.. well, irregular ;-)

So we would say
dhúnas = dhún mé
fanfair = fanfaidh tú
phósabhair = phós sibh

As for whether we Swedish speakers are considered ethnical Swedes... Actually, in 25 years I've never heard the term "ethnical" applied here. It's virtually impossible to tell from the looks of a person whether he/she is Finnish or Swedish ( or Estonian or Norweigiean). This is especially true of the larger cities where the fashion is almost identical as well. It's a situation where an ethnically similar peopple (not identic from the beginning, but due to constant contact with each other for over 2.000 years) and with the same religion is divided by a totaly different language. In fact, such is the difference between Finnish and Swedish that Irish and English seems like dialects of each other by comparison...

But we do speak of nationality, and in that case no Swedish speaker in Finland would want to be linked with Sweden. Neither Finland nor Sweden (as opposed to Ireland) have ever been monolingual countries. Both Finnish and Swedish have been spoken in both countries forever, since the borders of the countries do not coincide with the language borders. In fact, the areas with the highest percentage of Swedish speakers are to be found in Finland (well over 95%) and there are large Finnish-speaking areas in the north of Sweden. We Swedish speakers in Finland definitely feels like belonging to this country. Fortunately enough there has been no war between the countries, but in every sport competition we always, always support Finland.

Sín é, is dócha ;-) And to answer your last question, you are more than welcome to ask for more help, advic, opinios etc. I must admit that my activity on this board can be somewhat uneven. I've been here for many years and will continue to be, but sometimes I go here almost every day and sometimes it might take a week or two.

Slán go fóill,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 02:52 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, are you serious? I don't remember seeing any of those words before! One exception is táim, which I've seen in Teach Yourself a couple of times. You mean I have to learn verb conjugations all over again? My brain was not working right when I read your dialect discription, and I thought you were talking about conjunctions! Oh, what to do.......

An old Shaker hymn was going through my head this morning. The last two lines seemed to me descriptive of the experience had by those of us who are learning Irish:

"To turn, turn, will be our delight
Till by turning, turning, we come out right."

The trick, of course, is to not become dizzy with all of that turning!

Ok, are you ready for this? I have a whole list of new questions for you. I'll try to keep them short!

1. What is the Munster pronunciation for "ui" and tabhair?

2. Do you know of any Munster radio programs I can listen to on RnaG?

3. What is the difference between tá and bíonn in these sentences:
"Tá triúr mac againne." and "Bíonn beirt mhúinteoirí againn."

4. Teach Yourself makes distinctions between broad and slender for only certain consonants. Are the others too insignificant to matter? I might have to come back with a more detailed question here.

I had noticed that some Irish speakers have a rougher sound than others but couldn't figure out why. Maybe it's dialect, as you said. Ulster is easiest to recognize, it's so unique. I love it, in Irish or English.

I'm wondering if you are a professional linguist? What was it about Irish that interested you, and how long have you spoken it? I almost started studying Swedish several years ago, thinking it would be an interesting change of pace to learn something Scandinavian. I didn't get very far though, plagued with the same problem I've had with any language - there was no one to talk to! As for Finnish, I knew it was not like Swedish. I was told once by a woman who was tri-lingual (French, Spanish, English) that Finnish has a sound all its own, not resembling any other language. Do you agree?

Well, I hope you're not sorry yet for answering my posts. :) I've been told I have a tendency to complicate questions.

I need to start writing earlier in the evening. I'm not getting my sleep anymore!

I look forward to your reply,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Aonghus ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 11:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Munster Program on RnaG 12.08 An Saol ó Dheas (Rebroadcast at 3 am Irish time)
Or look for any program broadcast from Baile na nGall (see

The verbs Jonas mentions are more likely to be used in speech than in writing which pretty much follows the Official Standard (Cáighdéan Oifigiúl), apart of course from books written before the CO was introduced.

Recently, Foinse has been running a page by Breandán Mac Gearailt which is written in the dialect of Corca Dhuibhne.

. What is the difference between tá and bíonn in these sentences:
"Tá triúr mac againne." We have (at present) three sons. "We" emphasised.

and "Bíonn beirt mhúinteoirí againn."
We (usually) have two teachers

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

James Murphy ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 07:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas - three brief questions concerning your message above:
Is the particle 'do' still used before the verb anywhere? How is 'bhiobhair' pronounced? and is 'tathaoi' (ta sibh) ever used?
Thank You

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 10:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks Aonghus! That's very helpful!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 10:51 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


Have you ever seen this page?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 05:13 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia daoibh aríst!

James, here are the brief answers
1. "Do" is hardly ever heard, no. It is still used in writing sometimes but it is very rare in speech before consonants. "Dhúnas" rather than "do dhúnas". Before vowels it is used as in every other dialect "d'itheas".

2. The pronunciation of bhíobhair differs between the Munster Gaeltachtaí. In Corca Dhuibhne (West Kerry, the kind of Irish I speak) it is pronounced /v´i:v@r´/ but in Múscraí (West Cork) it is pronounced /v´i:u:r´/.

3. I've never heard tathaoi, not even from the oldest speakers.

Dawn, yes I've seen the page. It is written by another person from Finland, Panu Höglund. He speaks Ulster Irish.

No, I'm no linguist. I've recently received my MSc and now I'm entering my doctoral studies in service management. I'm just interested in languages and Irish in particular. Having spent so many summers there has helped of course, wonderful people sna Gaeltachtaí.
I first became interested in Irish after having learned Welsh - though I discovered that they were much more different from each other than I thought back then. I became interested in Welsh during my time as an exchange student in England, quite close to the Welsh border. My host family was 100% English but they were very positive about Celtic culture and used to take us to Welsh where I came into contact with the language. My first steps on the field of Celtic languages were taken in the post office of Llangollen. I had written some letters to my family and my friends and went in to post them during a visit to Wales to climb Snowdon. After having bought the stamps I had one pound left and found the leaflet Speak Welsh. A rather humble beginning, I'd say ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Tom Hedderman ( -
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 03:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia dhaoibh, a dhaoine uaisle!

I've been enjoying this exchange, particularly Jonas' contributions about "An Ghaoilinn," Gaeilge na Mumhan. I'm humbled by the depth of both his and Panu's knowledge. Looks like us hopelessly monoglot Yanks have a lot of catching up to do to be in the same league as our Finnish brethren. Just to throw my dha/ phingin on the pile...Although I hue to the Connemara dialect, I think the Munster dialect is the most linguistically interesting of the Irish dialects, retaining as it does the archaic conjugations and constructions. Unfortunately, I think it is the most endangered of the three dialects. Jonas, could you recommend some linguistic or instructional materials on the Munster dialect? I don't have much about it in my little leabharlann. James, I have had Munster speakers greet me with "Conas taoi?" but that is the only instance I can recall of hearing a variant of "tathaoi" being used. Also, back in the early 90s, I used to race currachs against some Kearney boys from Dún Chaoin. They rowed for the City Island club out of NYC. They would pepper their speech with "Do bhíos" this and "Do bhíodar" that. My friend Barra Ó Donnabháin -- Ar Dheis Dé a anam uasail -- who, until his recent passing, wrote Macallaí, the Irish language column for the Irish Echo,was an extremely fluent, but not native, speaker of the Muscraí strain of Munster Irish. Barra frequently used "Do" in constructing the past tense of a verb beginning with a consonant, not only in his writing but in his speech as well. Of course, Barra was an archaeologist of the language and reveled in arcane and archaic words, phrases and constructions. I also recall hearing some of the old folks from the Great Blasket using that construct in Brendan Ferriter's wonderful documentary about them "Deireadh an Áil." Surprising to me, I have even heard a few old Connemara speakers use "do" but only with "bhi/". This is not to contradict what Jonas said. Use of "do + past tense, etc." in Munster Irish is pretty rare and getting rarer. Dála an scéil, chaith mé féin agus mo bhean coicís ar An gCeathrú Rua ar ais sa Samhradh '98 ag freastáil dianchúrsa ag Áras Mháirtín Uí Chadhain. Bhí Panú sa rang le mo bhean, agus é ach ag tosú ag déanamh staidéar ar an Ghaeilge. Panu was in the "Mea/nrang" at the time, but, even then, his knowledge and command of Grammar outstripped any other student at the A/ras. (However, his "blas" was godawful then.) Interestingly, as his surname would indicate, Panu is of a native Swedish-speaking family like Jonas. As I recall, Panu's parents are native Swedish speakers, but he was raised through Finnish. He acquired Swedish as a second language...Irish as a third, Russian and Polish as fourth and fifth, German as sixth, Estonian.... Impressive. -- Tomás

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 02:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Happy to have you join us, a Thomáis! This has turned out to be a worthwhile thread afterall (thanks, Jonas :)). As you can see, I am not advanced enough to absorb the grammar info. you have contributed, but it sounds interesting! You have spent time in the gaeltachtaí then?

Jonas, we should never despise small beginnings. Thanks for reminding us.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Tom Hedderman ( -
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 04:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, a chara, -- I spent a bit of time in each of the Gaeltachts over the years between '88 and '98, and was a regular and teacher at Daltai/ weeks and weekends here in the Northeast between '91 and '00. I've not been back to Ireland to visit the friends and rellies since '98. In the absence of anybody else more qualified AND willing, I taught classes here in Albany from '92 through '01. I've been out of the loop -- and cleachtadh -- these last few years. Not merely coincidentally to these facts, my wife and I have a 4-1/2 year old and a two-year old. They keep us busy. Anyhow, there are a lot of barnacles on the rusting hull of my Irish right now. By popular demand and, again, the lack of anyone else remotely qualified and willing, I will be resuming teaching in a few weeks. So, I am wading back in again. That's my CV.
Stick with it. Tá gach tosú lag. It is an incredibly beautiful, interesting and enchanting language. However, being seduced by it can be painful too. Observing the slow erosion of the Gaeltachts and loss of fluency and homegenization of the language, even over the scant decade that I had the opportunity to pay visits to Ireland, wounds my heart. Thank God for the internet. Irish is thriving in the ether, nach bhfuil!
-- Tomás

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 12:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hello again, I'm just back from an intensive doctoral course out in the woods (almost)... ;-)

Tom, it's great to hear about your experiences! In fact I've never met Panu myself although we're member of the same Irish Internet-List and thus have a lot of communication. I've heard him admit himself that his accent isn't his strongest card, but his knowledge of the written language is second to none. Especially when it comes to Ulster Irish. Have you visited the Na Gaeltachtaí of An Rinn, Ceathrú Thaidhg, An Fod Dubh and Cléire? Those are the ones that I haven't been able to visit yet, though I hope I'll get the time some day. Usually I stay in the Corca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht for most of my time in Ireland as well as some time in Galway. My best friends live in those places and it is from them I've learned most of my Irish. It is always a great pleasure going back there and that's the reason I've never visited the smaller Gaeltachtaí. Though I've been to the Aran Islands at least 15 times and lived for two months on Garmna out in the Conamara Gaeltacht, so at least I've covered that area as well ;-)

Dawn, thanks a lot for your nice words. Go n-éirí leat!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 01:43 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tá fáilte romhat, a Jonas.

I wonder, since you know so much about Irish dialects, can you tell me in what part of Ireland does English sound most like Midwest American English? I sometimes hear Irish people speaking whom I don't even notice at first are Irish because they sound so American. Or, I guess, maybe we just sound so much like them. : )

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 03:52 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

There you have me, Dawn. I must confess that I can't even guess the answer... I'm afraid my knowledge of American English dialects is very limited indeed. I have many relatives in the Boston area and I know that dialect rather well. I also regocnise the Texas dialect quite easily ;-)

The Midwest American dialects are a different story. I've met some speakers from the Midwest, most of them Irish in fact, but I can't say that I've found their English sounding particularly like any form of Hiberno-English (meaning the form of English spoken in the line south of Dundalk-Sligo, Ulster-English north of it). That is not to say that there aren't similarities, I just mean that I don't know them.

The English dialects of England I know somewhat better and there it is obvious that the western counties sound most like Ireland (or the other way around.) The grammar is a different story altogether since the grammar of Hiberno-English is so heavily influenced by Irish, but the pronunciation is very similar indeed. Most, in fact almost all, pronunciation features that are typical for Hiberno-English can be found in the English of the area around Bristol. The intonation and sentece-rythm is also very similar. Listen to an old farmer from Devon, Cornwall or Sommerset and he will sound exactly like an old farmer in Wicklow, Meath or Kildare.
The reason is, of course, that the English came to Ireland from that part of England.

But for America I don't know. But if you could tell me which kind of similarities there are then I could try to locate them. There's definitely a difference between the English in Dublin and in Galway, not to mention the English spoken in Cork and Kerry.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Oilver Grennan ( -
Posted on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 09:30 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Some Irish people (only a small number) who go to the US very quickly lose their Irish accent. It's a very easy thing to do, the American accent is very easy to slip into.

Any who return to Ireland very quickly regain their accents too.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 03:51 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm sure that's true Oliver, but the people I am speaking of were Irishmen in Ireland, so I don't think they were influenced by American English (I hope not anyway!).

Jonas, I would have to hear the speakers again to listen for exact similarities. I'll just have to let you know if I ever find the answer. Do you ever watch or listen to American news broadcasts? The newscasters for national news programs use standard American English, which is Midwestern. (By the way, this does not appear to be the case in Ireland, where each journalist uses his own local accent, isn't that right?)

I have been confused before by Irishmen who sounded more English than Irish. I thought it was perhaps due to them spending time in England. Besides, aren't there still a number of English upper class in Ireland?

There are also parts of the American Northeast where the local speech retains strong remnants of England (although it is distinctly different). Off the top of my head, I can think of three similarities.
1.The softened final R ;
2.The clear articulation of T (whereas in the rest of the country, T is more usually pronounced as a D when it comes between two vowel sounds. An example of 1. and 2. would be the word "better" which in parts of NE would be "BET-ah", in the Midwest "BED-r" and in Boston "BED-ah") ;
3.The sound of A in a word like "call" would be pronounced like "cawl" in the NE, but "cahl" in the Midwest (it's the best phonetic representation I could come up with)

Thanks again for taking the time to respond,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 05:07 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, I would have to admit that I don't watch American news broadcats. I watch BBC, YLE (Finnish) and SVT (Swedish) each day, I read newspapers from four countries (including New York Times and Financial Times) but no, I don't watch American news. The simple reason is that they are on cable-tv, and I'm quite happy with the ten channels I have. I normally prefer reading news. Oh well, that was a long and rather uninteresting departure from the subject, sorry about that ;-)

The English upper class in Ireland is very small indeed. Most left at one time or another during the last 80 years. On the other hand, there is a tendency in the posher parts of Dublin to imitate the Oxford pronunciation.

All of the tree traits you mentioned are of interest in "English" English Hiberno-English, so even though I don't know the American Midwest it is obvious that you are right.
1. The main thing about R, both in Ireland and in the US is that is pronounced at all, of course. The English normally avoids it. (All this is well known to you, of course) A soft final R is what could be expected from Hiberno-English dialects since the influence of slender R in Irish would be just that. I can't say I know much of it's distribution in Ireland, though.
Still, That the NE retains it and the Midwest doesn't does indeed bring the midwest closer to Hiberno-Irish, no doubt about it.
2. Again, the D is what would be espected in Ireland, not T. Which brings to mind another thing, in some parts of Ireland they've done away with both "th" sounds. This means that "this thing" would be "dis ting". I find this a very nice development since we Scandinavians tend to have the same pronunciation. As opposed to the French "zis zing" ;-)
In all cases the reason is that neither Irish, Swedish, Finnish nor French have kept the "th" sounds. I seem to remember that at least East Galway is such an area, but there are others as well.
3. This is a favourite of mine, the a-phoneme ;-)Still, I have to admit that I know next to nothing about it in Hiberno-English, but I think it is one of the most interesting featurs of Irish. Just by the way an Irish speaker pronounced his A:s you can locate his home with some hundred meters in most cases. I don't think there is any single pronunciation feature that is equally revealing and shifting from dialect to dialect.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 01, 2003 - 10:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


I haven't yet found anything you say to be uninteresting. I find anything related to language in general to be interesting. In fact, I'm always afraid my posts will bore you.

Actually, I did have a question about the languages you speak but thought my last post had gotten long enough already. I wondered which language you consider your first language and how you determine when to speak Finnish and when to speak Swedish. Is one more comfortable, more personal to you than the other?

Some clarifications:

1.Do you really think the English softened R and the Irish slender R are the same? To me, they are two distinct sounds. Also, there is somewhere in England (I think the north) where the final R is hard. Perhaps that's where that influence came from.
2.When I said that in the Midwest T becomes D, this only happens between vowels, never at the beginning of word (as in Ireland) and not when the T is between a vowel and a consonant. Well, as I am thinking about it, there are some people here who would say "dis ting" (especially in Chicago), but it sounds uneducated and is certainly not standard. (No offence to any Irish on this point! As I've said before, I think Irish English is beautiful. I'm only outlining a generally held conception in the U.S.)
3.Interesting. I listen mostly for the intonation to place a person. Otherwise, O and U stand out to me the most.

You have been busy today! The verbal noun/infinitive examples were very good. I understood before what their English cognates were but never thought about positioning in a sentence.

Please let me know if my preoccupation with details becomes too annoying,
:) Dawn

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, I'm glad I haven't bored you. ;-)
I'm definitely not bored, no need to worry about that.

My first language is definitely Swedish. No doubt about it. I grew up in an area where more than 95% of the population is Swedish speaking. In fact, I would say that my two first languages are Swedish and Ostrobothnian. Officially Ostrobothnian (Österbottniska) is a dialect of Swedish, but that could be discussed. The difference between it and Swedish is far greater than between Swedish and Norweigian or Spanish and Portuguese. If I speak Ostrobothnian no Swede from outside the area would understand it at all (tested many times). It is a very archaic form of Swedish, closer to Icelandic and Old Norse than to Standard Swedish. So those are my first two languages and it very much depends on the situation when I decide which one to use. Here in Helsinki I always use Standard Swedish. I also speak Standard Swedish with my parents, brother and all of my closest friends. Normally I would begin in Standard Swedish when speaking to someone unknown, but if I noticed that he speaks Ostrobothnian I would switch to it.

The question of Swedish and Finnish is at times somewhat tricky. In the past there have been tensions in Finland between the language groups and that served to strengthen one's loyalty with the own group. Thankfully those days are long gone, they were worst between 1920-1940. I was actually discussing this issue with my best friends over a cup of coffe last week. We are all Swedish speakers and always want to use Swedish when in Finland. On the other hand, we all agreed that if abroad, we would feel better hearing Finnish than hearing Swedish. The reason is that we would rather meet fellow countrymen from Finland than fellow Swedish speakers from Sweden. Still, we thought, the best thing would be hear Finland Swedish. There you have it, I guess ,-)

Actually, I've always had some difficulties in saying which language is my second, third etc. I usually divide them into groups, but without differences within the groups. It would look something like this

1. Native language:

2. Fluent or almost fluent languages:
English, Finnish, German, Irish

3. Languages for everyday conversations but not for adcanved or academic discussions:
French, Spanish, Russian, Welsh, Croatian

Then concerning your clarifications
1. No, I don't thing that the English softened R and the Irish slender R are the same. I'm not sure, though, whether you're refering to
a. The loss of R in words like "car - kaa" or "order - oh-dah"
b. The retention, but softening, of final R which is quite common in (at least some dialects of) Hiberno-English.
But I don't think any of them are the same as slender R. Still, I could imagine it having influenced alternative b. above.

2. I quite agree, and you made your point clear. The inclusion of word inital T and D was just my hike into another area ;-)
And it is considered uneducated in Ireland as well, no doubt about it.

Sin é anois, is dócha. And I'm definitely not bored, I hope no-one else is

Slán go fóill,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Maidhc Ó G. ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Some of Dawn's examples are quite common in the area I live in N.E. PA. 'Dis t'ing an' dat. Better sounding like 'bed-r'. t'anx alot. And the vowels for chalk, ball and dog pretty much all being the same. Some of my relatives from out owd-uh town used to tease about (wok)ing our dogs. Of course, then there's ever famous "Hay-nuh?" or "Eh-nuh?" ("Ain't it" the truth?). Or headin' up t' th' mahl t' get a cahfee an' a san(g)uitch. And also, the "T" in 'Scranton is'nt always pronounced. And the'O' NEVER is. Scran(t)'n. When the 't' is pronounced, it's like as Gaeilge broad.
Slán go foill,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:02 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, you wouldn't happen to speak a bit of Elvish too? :)

It about knocked me over to read the list of languages you speak! I know polyglotism (if that's a word) is more common in Europe than America, but really - ten languages! Didn't you say you're only twenty-five? You must have a natural gift for it. Otherwise I don't know where you find the time! When I was a child, my goal was to speak five languages by the time I was twenty, my dream being to be a missionary in Japan. However, as a teenager my health failed (quite severely) and my opportunities to advance in any language were practically diminished to whatever I could teach myself through books and tapes. So, I would start with one language, and then, when it got to be more than I could master on my own, I would get distracted by another language and start on that one. The result is a knowledge of language which is broader than it is deep. I've had approximately one year's worth of Spanish, Latin, Japanese, and German. Then I started on Irish last year (the hardest one yet!) and Italian a few months ago. By the way, Jonas, how can you say that TYI is "very easy"? I gave up two or three times before I finally determined to persevere. I can't imagine what "hard" programs must be like!

I have heard of a modern European language that is close to Latin, but it's spoken in either a Germanic or Scandinavian country. It wouldn't be Ostrobothnian, would it?

I'm getting the impression from you that Finns and Swedes are not terribly fond of each other. Is that correct?

I don't know about the softening of final R in parts of Ireland. I guess that's why I was confused.

When I watch videos about Ireland, the people who live in the big estates often sound English, which is no surprise; but I don't know if they consider themselves Irish or English.


Happy to have you join us! Well, I've been sitting here repeating "chalk, ball, dog, walk, wok" to myself and I can't hear any significant difference in the vowels. But I'm sure my "aw" is more "open" than Pennsylvanians' (sorry, don't know the technical term for what I mean, but you know what I mean). I have never heard "hay-nuh' or "eh-nuh" before, but I do often say "san-witch". I guess it's just easier to say than "sand-witch". It also sounds less............gritty. :)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 05:20 am:   Edit Post Print Post

No Dawn, I have to admit that my Elvish is a bit weak. Or indeed that I don't speak a single word and never will. The reason is that I don't find languages _as such_ that interesting. That is, I don't get excited by conjugating verbs and different noun cases don't give me any thrill

I'm interested in learning languages because of the possibility to interact with people, to take part of the culture and so on. Because of this I have never been able to muster any motivation for learning Esperanto or, indeed, Elvish.

On the other hand (and I'm on one of my lingustic hikings again) both of Tolkien's Elvish languages are rather familiar. If you're interested in his works you'll probably know that one Elvish language is modelled very closely on Welsh, the other on Finnish. According to Tolkien these two languages are the two most beautiful in the world (I would disagree). In fact, I once showed a text in Elvish to a fried who is not interested in The Lord of the Rings and asked him what language he thought it was. He said that it looked just like Finnish even though he did not understand it. He was quite right. And if you read Tolkiens desrciption of how the other Elvish language should be pronounced and compare it to a pronunciation guide for Welsh you will see that they are almost identical. While were at it, the Tolkian language of Rohan is so close to Old Norse (and Old English) that when I went with my friends two watch The Two Towers we could understand those few lines of Rohan that were used

But no, I will never even try to learn those languages. And the number of languages I speak (to some extent) is not that impressive either. I know hardly anyone in Finland (under the age of 35) who does not speak at least four languages. These four are almost always Swedish, Finnish, English and German. Well over half of my friends also speak French while a number of them also manage either Spanish or Italian. Blame it on our education ;-)

As we were once told concerning writing a CV and filling in language ability:
-Speaking Finnish, Swedish and English is not language ability, it is a prerequisite. Language ability is the languages you speak apart from these.

I think our situation can't be compared to the US. You are able to travel the world with only English so the absolute need to learn isn't as strong. By speaking Finnish I can travel in Finland and Estonia, by speaking Swedish I can travel in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The combinded population of these five countries is substantially smaller than the population of California...
And I don't think the Americans are any worse at languages than the English who are the ones you should be compated to. The larger the language, the smaller the need to learn another one.

Concerning a modern language that is close to Latin then...
Well, the modern language closest to Latin is Sardu, spoken on the island of Sardinia. That island is a part of Italy and can't be described as being even close to any Germanic country. No such language is spoken in any of the Scandinavian coutries, that's for sure. In Switzerland, with a solid German majority, a small language called Romansch is spoken. It is fairly close to Latin, but hardly much closer than Italian and not as close as Sardu. Still, that would be my guess.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 05:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

My answer would have been so long that I decided to cut it into two pieces. Here is the second part:

Then on to the feelings between Finns and Swedes. Not a very easy subject, I have to say. Still, one aspect is easy to desribe. If you wonder whether there is any kind of hatred or potential violence between us (like between India and Pakistan or in fortmer Yugoslavia) then the answer is a resounding "no!", buíochas le Dia; nothing of the kind. Neither is it exactly like the Irish-English feelings, Finns and Swedes have never had the problems that have plauged the relationship between the Irish and the English. Perhaps more like that between the Scots and the English or the Spaniards and the Portuguese. That is, if either Sweden or Finland would be struck be any major disaster of be dragged into war (God forbid) then the other country would be the first to help.

Among the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) Sweden is not that popular. The simple reason is that Sweden has been the regional power that at times has occupied all of the others (except Iceland). These five countries co-operate very much indeed, so much so that the term Nordic co-operation is quite well known in Europe. There is one superb picture that fully describes the situaion. It is a picture of the five countries in an air-balloon that is loosing height and has to get rid of some weight. All the other four immediately throw out Sweden and shout "Long live Nordic co-operation!". The feelings you would find between Finns and Swedes are exactly the same as between Norweigians and Swedes and, to a lesser extent, between Danes and Swedes.

The feeling are rather different in Sweden, though. A good example is soccer or ice-hockey, both very popular here. If Finland (or Norway) is playing against another country then all the Swedes will hope we'll win. If Sweden is playing against another country (be it Germany, England, Ireland, the US, Korea etc.) then all the Finns and Norweigians will support the other country. In Ireland they always cheer for England's opponents, in England they cheer for Ireland.

Still, this does not mean that Swedes like us and we dislike them. The Swedish attitude towards the neighbours is the problem (I say it as a Finn). Sweden sees itself as the leading power here (this is a country that has a population half the size of Moscow alone) and more or less ignore "the lesser countries". I doubt you could find many Finns or Norweigians who could NOT name the Swedish prime-minster and the main Swedish parties. I very much doubt you could find many Swedes who COULD do the same for Finland or Norway or Denmark. We are more or less ignored. It is very common to read in Swedish newspapers about things that Sweden "is the first in the world to introduce" when it has been common in Finland or Norway for a long time. As far as the Swedes are concerned we don’t really exist. Very much the same attitude you’ll find in England towards Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

What really disturbs us is that the outside world does its best to reinforce this view. Count the times Sweden is mentioned in any American (or English or French) newspaper and compare it with the frequency of Finland or Norway. The difference in population and area is not that big, but judging by this you would think Sweden is ten times Finland or Norway. Blonde Swedish girls are almost a concept in much of the world, yet they are more common in Norway. There are even those who think that Sauna is a Swedish thing although the very word Sauna is Finnish. (The number of saunas here outnumber Sweden by more than 10:1). The most disturbing thing for me (as someone who is interested in languages) in the constant praise of Sweden as a country of language-genies. Almost no article about Sweden in an English language newspaper fail to mention the Swedes’s language capability. I know very few Swedes who speak more than Swedish and English. True, most Swedes speak excellent English. As a native Swedish speaker I know how easy it is, considering how close the languages are. In fact, the Swedes find English so easy that most tend to go the English/American way that I mentioned above. Speaking English is enough. Major Swedish newspapers have reported about an alarming decrease in the ability to speak German/French; the percentage of students taking these languages is down with about 75% over the last ten years!

Danes speak English just as good as the Swedes but they also speak German. Finns (native Finnish speakers) have a much harder time pronouncing English but they normally speak German. AND most of them know Swedish. The number of Swedes (in Sweden, that is) speaking Finnish is probably enough to fill a bus. (In Finland we take great pride in the fact that our foreign minister speaks Swedish when in Sweden, English when in any English speaking country, French in France and German in Germany.)

Any big country risk being disliked for it’s actions, something that the US, England, France, China etc. have experienced. Small countries rather risk being totally neglected. It is this neglect that has made the other Nordic countries somewhat critical of Sweden. To Swedes we are more or less stupid peasants, just as the Scots are viewed in England. As you may know, Scotland has a much higher share of graduated students than any other part of the UK. More people from the Scottish highlands (in proportion to the population) have a doctoral degree than those from London. Still, larger nationes always tend to look down upon their smaller neighbours who in turn respond with a feeling of resentment.

Well, I’ll avoid long and tedious explanations like this one in the future, but I’m afraid I couldn’t have said it any shorter. The important thing to remember is that you’ll never see any headlines of armed conflict between the countries here ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cáit ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 10:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post


You asked:

"can you tell me in what part of Ireland does English sound most like Midwest American English? I sometimes hear Irish people speaking whom I don't even notice at first are Irish because they sound so American."

When in Canada recently (and funnily enough also when in London) some people assumed I was an American from Wisconsin or thereabouts when in fact I'm from Dublin ... perhaps this answers your question. Though that said, I do not have a particularly strong 'Dublin' accent when speaking English so you certainly couldn't say everyone from Dublin would sound like a mid-Westerner. In fact I've a hint of 'Monaghan' in my accent too - so maybe Monaghan/Dublin hybrids fit the bill ???

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jen ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 02:40 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Chairde,

I've a few comments to share regarding this thread.

I've never really noticed that an Irish accent sounds like an American midwestern accent. However, I've never spent any time in the midwest, so maybe I'm just not very keen on the speech patterns there.

Also, to the comment that "American newscasters speak standard American English, which is midwestern" - I don't know that to be the case. As far as I am concerned "standard American English" is not midwestern. As an American, I recognize people with accents from different parts of the country (some are stronger than others) and those with no accent at all (which is what could be labeled "standard American"). Newscasters and many TV stars fall into this category. I would definitely not categorize those who speak with a midwestern accent into this category; they most definitely have an accent.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania and I have noticed that a lot of speech patterns there mirror those in Irish English. This is of course because western Pennsylvania was heavily settled by Irish and Scottish (and German) immigrants during the 18th and 19th century. Western Pennsylvania (with the exception of maybe Pittsburgh) does not have a large influx of modern-day immigrants (Asian, Hispanic, etc.) to further influence regional speech. Especially in more rural areas, Irish-influenced speech patterns have remained very much intact.

I live near Philadelphia now and people often ask where I am from. I think, and most would probably agree, that I speak standard American English (in other words, I don't have a strong marked accent), however there may be a little twist thrown in from time to time. Philadelphia area natives recognize that I don't speak the same way they do. Someone once swore that I must be from Michigan (which is strange since I've never even been there), and I was once actually asked if I have lived in Ireland. I was quite flattered by that comment! :)

If this is possible, I've noticed that my learning Irish has been influencing my English in subtle ways. Sometimes I catch myself pronouncing a word differently, sort of as if with an Irish accent. Maybe my English is easily influenced in this way because of my exposure to speech patterns that were very influenced by the Irish.

Slán go fóill,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Ah, Jonas, that is where you and I differ. I love writing out my own charts of verb conjugations and noun declensions. I have rarely been impressed with the layout of grammar books. I often think I can find a clearer way of showing the relationships words have with each other. Being a visual learner, it is important for me to be able to see everything in a pattern on the page. Whether it be etymology, penmanship, grammar, dialect, if it has any connection to language, it interests me! You say you're not excited by the grammar, but you do enjoy the dialects, don't you?

Tolkien used Old English for Rohan because he wanted his tales to be a kind of ancient history of England. He thought England didn't have a good native folklore that was entirely its own. However, I can not bring myself to study a language that is practically useless, like Elvish. What is the point? Learning a living language is far more rewarding. So, which language would you find the most beautiful? I don't know that I could choose a favorite, but I think Japanese is beautiful.

You must travel a lot then. Well, I don't know if Europeans travel more or it just seems like it because they don't have as far to go before they're in another country with another culture and language. That is another reason Americans are monolingual. Many Americans never have the opportunity to even step outside our borders. The ones who do can't afford to do so often. Why spend much time learning Italian if you're only in Italy once, for two weeks? Some will go to Canada just to have the experience of visiting another country. How exotic. :) Well, if I never get the chance to travel, living close to a major city like Chicago is the next best thing. We certainly don't lack for diversity here! As a missionary in New York said once, "Why should I go out into the world, when the world is at my doorstep!"

Thank you for the explanation on Nordic relationships. They are about what I expected, although I had to think about the soccer example for a minute before it made sense! I didn't know England cheered for Ireland. Hmm.

I don't think Sweden is mentioned so much in the American news, but then Finland and Norway are never mentioned, that's true. If you want foreign news, you have to go searching for it. Our national news is about America. Our international news is about America in the world. For goodness sake, even the BBC world news is about America! When we do get news clips from another country, the journalist almost always has an English accent. I realize you can't have a news program from EVERY perspective and newsmen must choose what they think is of "interest" to the general populous. That's fine. I'm sure it's true in other countries as well. But it is foolish to be wilfully ignorant of or indifferent to what is going on in the rest of the world.

When I joined Daltaí, I didn't think I would end up learning more about Finland than Ireland. Haha. But really, Jonas, I hope you never stop rambling for my sake. The reason I searched for a site like this was to find like-minded people, that is, people with a love of language and culture. These people are too scarce in America.

Beidh mé ag caint leat go luath,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:12 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you Cáit. You may be right. I have picked up on the fact that Dublin has more than one accent. Some are quite thick in fact, and would never be mistaken for Midwestern English.

Since you're from Ireland, perhaps you can answer this. Is saying "dis ting" for "this thing" a Leinster phenomenon, or can it be found all over Ireland?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 02:46 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jen, a chara,

I appreciate what you have to say, but there is no such thing as having no accent. Sure, there are numerous accents in the Midwest (at least four distinct ones right here in Illinois). The same is true for any part of the country. But Standard American English does have its roots in the Midwest. That's not just my opinion.

Also, the newscasters I speak of are those in the national news, not local news. The average journalist in national news broadcasts uses Standard American English.

As for Irish influence in the Northeastern States, I was just thinking about this myself today. I wondered if the (more commonly) Eastern pronunciation of "or" as "ar" (for instance, the word orange being pronounced "AHR-ihnj" rather than "OHR-ihnj" was part of that influence. It was just a thought.........

I also feel the force of the Irish articulation working on my tongue sometimes, especially after listening to a native speaker. I think the rhythm of the speech has a enchanting quality that draws you into it. The hope is that it doesn't happen in conversation with a fellow American .........haha.

All the best,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 11:22 am:   Edit Post Print Post

As you can see, I was on the computer quite late last night. I wasn't thinking entirely clearly, so this morning I wanted to add this:

You are right about there being a sense in which a Standard is considered to be without accent. That is for the purpose of having a reference point with which all other accents can be compared. There is somewhere in the U.S. where the people "have no accent". I don't know where it is exactly, but it is in the Midwest.

With Pennsylvania being right next door to the Midwest, I'm sure there are many people living there who speak Standard or something very close to it. After all, accents don't change the minute you cross the State border. They change progressively throughout the country.

Sorry for the confusion,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Toma/s ( -
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 01:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Haló arís,

It's been a busy week. I've been reading the discussions, but have been unable to contribute.
Dawn, -- Good thing you said "Midwestern dialects." Pronunciation around the Great Lakes and Northern Midwest is quite different from -- say -- that in southern Illinois. But then you know that. I'm not sure either bears much resemblance to any Hiberno-English dialect that I've heard. I can tell you that the accent begins in the Mohawk Valley just west of here (Albany). You begin to pick it up around Amsterdam. Here in Albany (Awl-buh-nee or Aww-buh-nee), the sentence "Carol I'll call you" would sound like KAAH-rull EYE'll KAWL YEW (or YUH). In Utica, Syracuse or Rochester it would be KARE-ull AHH'LL CAHL YEH. Very flat, nasal vowel sounds. It's really strong around Rochester. Anyhow, guess to where the folks from the Mohawk Valley migrated? The Mohawk Valley's original European settlers were Dutch, English, Scottish, Irish and German. I'm sure they all contributed to the accent.
As for your question regarding a modern language close to Latin, there is a language spoken in the Italian Tyrol and a few other parts of the Tyrol called Laidin. I don't know much about it, but perhaps, as the name would indicate, it bears close resemblance to its root language.

Jonas, -- I should have qualified that I've spent time in the larger Gaeltachts. I've only stopped but briefly in An Rinn. I did converse with a shopkeeper as Gaeilge while there. So, I can vouch that there is Irish to be found there. My wife and I and some friends were at the Fleadh Cheoil in Béal an Átha in '98 and drove out to Ceathrú Thaidhg one day, ach ní raibh duine ná deoraí thart timpeall. But, then, the weather wasn't the best that day. I haven't been to An Fhód Dubh, though I believe there is still a bus that runs a few times a week from Béal an Átha to An Fhód Dubh. So, as the old timers say just east of here in New England. YUH KAHN GEHT THAY-uh FRUM HEE-uh. (You can get there from here.) I've only passed through Tuar Mhic Eadaigh; never spent any time there. I also haven't been to Cléire, but would love to go. About a dozen years ago or so, I met a woman, a teacher of Irish at a girls' school, while visiting the Arans. She was enthralled with Cape Clear and the dialect they speak there. Two books I want to purchase when I can spare the change are Ó Sé's on the Irish of Corca Dhuine and the one -- I can't remember the author -- on the Cape Clear dialect. I've spent a bit of time in Rath Cairn. We have good friends -- she's a native speaker, he might as well be -- who live not far from Rath Cairn. By the way, Jonas, in what subject are you studying for a doctorate?
-- Toma/s

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 01:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Thomáis,

Welcome back! I lived in Southern Illinois as a child, have relatives in Central Illinois, and now live in the Chicago area, so yes, I am very familiar with the range of dialects that can exist even within one State.

Well, you're description of Mohawk Valley pronunciation does sound like me (except for the "yeh" which is "yuh" here too). A strong Chicago accent is definitely nasal, but the suburbs are milder. Having lived in both ends of the State, I have the benefit of choosing which sounds to use. For instance, when I lived "down south", I pronounced the number 10 as "tin". After moving up here, that quickly changed to "ten", especially after being teased by my Chicago cousins for sounding like a Southerner. On the other hand, I conciously have not picked up the Chicago short "a" sound, which is more of an "ee-a" (cat-"kee-at"), because it is less pleasant to the ear.

People move around so much these days that hearing a person's accent is not a fool-proof way of placing them geographically.

If you look at my Sept. 1st post, I explained the English influence on the Northeast. If you take the opposite of that, you have the Irish influence on the Midwest. That's my theory anyway. :) I'm sure German (being the largest immigrant group in the U.S.) and the Dutch had their influence here too, but their sounds are closer to England than Ireland, I think. It's surely due to them being Germanic languages.

Where is Tyrol? I think Romansch might be what I was thinking of. I remember reading about such a place in my Latin course.

It's driving me crazy reading about all these gaeltachts and not being able to picture their whereabouts. Does anyone know of an online map I could view?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 05:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde, táim thar n-ais aríst. Bhí an deireadh seachtaine seo caite beagáinín cruaidh ;-)

Tomás ->
It's the same thing with me. I've spent long periods in Corca Dhuibhne (of course) and a couple of months in the heart of the Conamara Gaeltacht. I've also visited Múscraí and Gaoth Dobhair for some days respectively, 14-15 times on the Aran Islands (I much prefer Inis Meáin, it's the most genuine I think) and short visit in Uíbh Ráthach.
Actually, I have the two books of which you are talking. Actually, I have two books by Ó Sé on Corca Dhuibhne Irish. One is a rather small (87 pages), green book in the "An Teanga Bheo"-series, the other is a huge masterpiece, hundreds of pages and everything you could ever need to know about the dialect. I can vouch for it's accuracy, both from having read it and from what my friends in the area have said. The book on Cape Clear Irish is also in the "An Teanga Bheo"-series, 112 pages. I think it is excellent. The author, Breandán Ó Buachalla, uses a somewhat different system of representing the sounds, but he explains it very clearly so there is no risk of misunderstaning. It is quite interesting that the Irish of Oileán Chléire is so extremely close to the Irish of Corca Dhuibhne, I'd say that about 95-98% is the same. Anyone who would learn to speak any of the West Munster dialects would feel at home in any of the four Gaeltachtaí in Counties Kerry and Cork. Two of proudest moments were when someone in Múscraí thought I was from Corca Dhuibhne and someone in Corca Dhuibhne actually thought the same.
The Irish in Rath Cairn is the same as in Ceantar na n-Oileán, isn't it? How strong is the language in Rath Cairn these days?
And finally, the subject in which I'm studuying is Service Management and Marketing. Not exactly a subject that hightens my credibility in the linguistic world ;-)

Dawn ->
Tyrol is a region that is divided between Austria and Italy. For most of it's history all of Tyrol was Austrian but Italy took it after WWI. If you visit the region (well worth it!) you wont be able to tell when you've crossed the border. On the Austrian side the language is German and the culture is completely Austrian - on the Italian side the language is German and the culture is completely Austrian. Sure, there is a slight dialectal difference. The German spoken in Insbruck (main city in Austrian Tyrol) is somewhat closer to standard German than the German in Bozen (main city in Italian Tyrol) is. The whole of Tyrol is like an image of the "Old Germany", a very friendly place with the typical architecture and folk-culture, as well as beer-drinking, yodle etc. From my personal experience I can speak highly of the girls from the area...

You asked me that impossible question, "which language is the most beautiful?". Rather impossible to answer... Well, it is always the language that is spoken by the girl I'm in love with ;-) Currently that is Swedish, it has almost always been. But if I would try to answer the question based on how beautiful language are as such...

I would guess that I would say Estonian, in my ears it is incredibly beautiful. Another one (though rather common) is French. Of course I also like Irish and Welsh, but then we have to define what beauty is. The beauty of Estonian I would compare to a beautiful girl, that of Welsh and Irish is more like the beauty of nature. I'm young enough to prefer the beauty of girls ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Just a small and 100% unscientific note that came to my mind. If I were to compare Irish and Welsh to nature, as I did above, the sound of Irish brings to mind the sea, waves, islands and green slopes while the sound of Wales is more robust, like gray, high mountains and small valleys.

I would guess the reason is that I've learned my Irish on the coast of Corca Dhuibhne, looking out towards the Great Blasket while I learned Welsh in Gwynedd, between the mountains of Cadair Idris and Yr Eryri (Snowdon). Still, I think that description says something about the difference in how Irish and Welsh sound.

As you saw, it was very unscientific indeed ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 03:39 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Silly mistake on my part:
Yr Eryri = Snowdonia, the whole mountain area with both Cadair Idris, Yr Wyddfa and many other mountains.
Yr Wyddfa = Snowdon, the highest mountain in Yr Eryri.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 07, 2003 - 10:40 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Good to have you back, Jonas.

Yes, I understand your sentiment. :) Personal experience, quality of exposure, and even comprehension level can greatly influence one's perception of a language. The first time I heard Irish spoken, "beautiful" would have been the last word I would have used to describe it; but the more I listen to it and grow accustomed to it, and the more I understand what's being said, the more beautiful it becomes to me. It's like any fine art - the more you learn about its intricacies, the greater appreciation you have for it.

I hadn't thought of Irish in terms of the sea, but then I haven't had your experience. In fact, I've never been to the sea at all. I have always thought of Irish as a very earthy language. To kneel down in the black dirt, dig your hand into the ground, feel it under your fingernails, feel it softly crumble in your palm, smell its earthy sweetness - that's my mental picture of Irish. Someone may not think it a flattering one, but I love it! I love it for what it is. It must be my prairieland heart.

Your answer to the "impossible question" sent me on a journey through the land of online radio this afternoon. I had to hear what you were talking about for myself. If what I said above is true, than first impressions can be misleading, but this is what I came away with today:
1. I didn't find Estonian particularly beautiful (or otherwise), but the voice of the speaker can make all the difference in how a language sounds, and I don't think what I heard was the best example of Estonian. I was surprised when I understood some numbers being spoken. Then I remembered that I had once learned to count to ten in Estonian from a friend.
2. In Welsh I could hear similarities to Irish, but it is definitely different, more so than Scots Gaelic. It seemed to be spoken much faster and had a "rolling" sound to it. Very pretty in a way. It has that unique sound also. I don't know what it is, but it sounds like "wlth". You must know......
3. The Finnish I heard was beautiful, very smooth. I disagree with my friend though. I don't think it sounds unlike any other language. It has an Eastern European sound, though not as strong as, say, Estonian. Btw, why does it have so many double letters?
4. Swedish has more of a lilt to it than Finnish, doesn't it. It has a strong rhythm like Irish. Actually, the pronunciation reminded me of Irish. Being a native speaker, you probably don't think so, but honestly, I wasn't even listening for such a connection - it just jumped out at me. Perhaps that is why your pronunciation of Irish is so good?
5. I tried to find Ostrobothnian (Ostoskavana?), but all that came up were music concert websites.
6. Finally, I looked up Esperanto (although I have zero interest in it). I didn't know anybody REALLY spoke it. In print it looks like an East Euro. language, but it sounds more like Italian. Very strange. Who speaks it anyway?

Before I end, I want to tell you something I learned yesterday. I was flipping through a paper written on the subject of reindeer, and when the word Finland caught my eye, of course I stopped flipping and started reading. Part of the paper was about the Sami or Lapps of Lapland, the reindeer herders. The description of the people's features - "oriental-looking" - and their lifestyle made me think of another reindeer herding tribe in East Russia. I'm not sure how to spell their name, but it sounds like "chookchi". Do you know of any connection?

I bought a pack of computer paper last week so I can print out all of the posts I have copied to my desktop from this site. It's getting a little too crowded! When it's finished, I'm going to copy out this whole thread too. It's been fun. Your friendship is appreciated more than you know.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Toma/s ( -
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 10:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, a chara, -- A co-worker and friend of mine spent part of his misspent youth growing up in Danville, IL. I work in state gov't here in NY. We are in frequent contact with colleagues from other states, including IL. All we have to do is put him on the phone with someone from Springfield and he slips right back into the accent. Yeah, "cat" is KEE-AT from Amsterdam westward in the Mohawk Valley. And, it could be "yuh" instead of "yeh." It's just that neutral, schwa vowel sound slightly flattened.
In any case, the accents are virtually identical. I agree that certain aspects of it can be unpleasant to the ear.

As for na Gaeltachtai/, ...An Fho/d Dubh and Ceathru/ Thaidhg are both in NW County Mayo, on the coast. An Fho/d Dubh is at the very end of the Belmullet Peninsula. Tuar Mhic E/adaigh is in southern County Mayo along the western shore of Lough Mask. Rath Ca/irn is in County Meath about 20 miles (32 Kilometers) west of Dublin. Native speakers from various Gaeltacths were transplanted there in the 1930s in an effort to create a Gaeltacht on land appropriated by the government from absentee British landlords. That experiment failed. The Gaeilgeoirs resorted to speaking English to their neighbors speaking different Irish dialects. The supply of native speakers was replenished in the 50s with people from Connemarara, a region known as Ceantar na nOilea/in, as Jonas pointed out.

Jonas, the Irish is flourishing there, as far as I can tell. There is a long list of native and fluent speakers waiting to be approved to purchase housing sites and build homes in Rath Cairn, so they may raise their families in an Irish-speaking community within a pretty easy commute to Baile Atha Cliath. In recent years, there has been an influx of speakers of different dialects. The Ceantar na nOilea/in influence is still strong, however.

Yeah, it's a proud moment when a native speaker pegs you for another native speaker. My blas is pretty good. I've had native speakers complement me. I'm not fluent enough yet to pass for a native in extended conversation. -- Toma/s

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 12:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, you've made several interesting point. Since we're talking about opinios it is obvious that no point can be claimed to beither true or false, we can just agree or disagree. Concerning the points you've made I agree strongly on some and disagree strongly on some others. In other words, we have all we need for an interesting discussion ;-)

1. It is quite true that no language is likely to sound beautiful all the times. Within Estonian there are some very different dialects, and I don't know what you've heard. If you have the possibility, listen to the songs "Mere Lapsed" by Koit Toome and "Keelatud Maa" by Maarja-Liis Ilus. You may of course find that you don't think the language sounds beautiful even after that, but then you've heard something of the best that Estonian has to offer. Only in my opinion, of course.

2. Did you find Welsh to be spoken faster than Irish? I've always found it to be the other way around. It took a rather long while to get used to hearing Irish but even after having learned Welsh only a short time I found it easy to listen and understand.
The sound you are refering to is indeed unique for Welsh. It is spelled "ll" and pronounced.. well, put your tongue against your teeth as if you were to pronounce an ordinary "l" but instead you blow out air on both sides of the tongue. It's not that hard to pronounce, actually, but rather unusual. It's always great fun to watch Englishmen trying to pronounce the first half of the placename "Pwllheli". The name that is most often pronounced completey wrong is probably "Machynlleth".

3. WHAT?!? This is the part that will take long. I have two questions to which I eagerly await your answers ;-)

3.a What on earth is an Eastern European sound? In my ears Greek sounds rather unique, but not totally unlike (sound-wise) Spanish. Romanian sounds somewhat Italien, which isn't that surprising. What Albanian sounds like is a mystery to me, I have to admit. Then we have the Slavic languages, but they don't sound that similar in my ears. Polish with it's nasal vowels has something of a Portuguese sound, doesn't it? Croatian, especially it's western dialects, has been heavily influenced by Italian. Russian has a sound of it's own, but with all the slender consonants it shows some small similarities with Irish. The Russian intonation and vowel system is a completely different matter of course.

These languages are all Eastern European, as are Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Ukrainian etc. I must say I don't find the common point that would distuingish the Eastern European sound. And, while we're at it, what is then a Western European sound? Irish, English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch etc. don't sound any more (nor less) similar than the Eastern European languages, do they?

I'm not trying to say that you are wrong, there are clearly sounds that you think of as Eastern European. The problem is that I don't know which they are since I suppose you aren't refering to sounds common to all the languages above. Neither do I know if you have corresponding Western European sounds which contrast to the Eastern European and, if so, which they are. Before we can move on it would be interesting (and I really do mean very interesting - and outsider who don't speak the languages can find very interesting aspects) to hear what your definitions of Eastern European and Western European sounds are.

3b. Since I don't know your answer to 3a. above I can't really comment much upon this one. But I do admit I am surprised. I've heard many comparisons about how Finnish sounds (Italian or Spanish being the most common) by non-speakers but I've never heard Finnish likened to any Eastern European languages. Especially languages like Russian are so strikingly different in pronunciation and intonation from Finnish that you could almost think that they were made that way on purpose ;-) If Tolkien had made both Finnish and Russian up he would have been accused of a lack of imagination. If he put one aspect into Russian then he was sure to put the opposite one into Finnish.

As I said, I really look forward to your answers on this one.

4. Now I agree almost 100%. Swedish do have more of lilt than Finnish and you are definitely not the first one to say it sounds a bit like Irish. I've met the same reaction from Swedish speakers who have listened to Standard Irish or Munster Irish. On the other hand, almost all Swedish speakers with no Irish who have heard Ulster Irish or Scottish Gaelic have thought of Russian. I guess it's in the slender consonats.

5. I doubt the English term "Ostobothnian" would yield much success, Österbottniska is probably the word to search for. But don't, I'm always more than willing to direct people to this beautiful dialect ;-)

This wonderful web-page contains samples of 100 different Swedish dialects. All with four speakers of each dialect, giving us 400 dialect samples as well as some information about every location and so on. It would be truly wonderful to have the same thing for Irish dialects. Indeed, if anyone know of similar sites in any other language I would be delighted to hear about them.
The page is only in Swedish, so it can be a bit tricky to navigate. Here is a map with all the dialect locations
Hear is the Ostrobothnia/Österbotten page
My hometown is not included (it's too big, they've only taken samples from smaller villages) but Munsala is the closest you'll get.
On every page you'll find four speakers
äldre man = elderly man
äldre kvinna = elderly woman
yngre man = young man
yngre kvinna = young woman
By clicking on one of them you'll get to two text, the one to the left is in standard Swedish, then one to the right is what is actually said. There, now you can explore the 400 examples ;-)
In Munsala the elderly woman is trying to speak "correct" since she is being interviewed so her speech is somewhat strange. The elderly man in Munsala (closely followed by the young man) speak more or less as I with would speak Ostrobothnian.

On the other hand, as I've pointed out, my own native language is Standard Swedish as spoken in Finland. That means the Helsinki-area, and that is the language in which I think, in which I speak with my family and almost all my friends.

The two young speakers in Borgå as well as the young woman in Kyrkslätt speak almost exactly as I speak. There you have it, that I how I would sound if we were talking in Swedish.

The most divergent dialect is that found in Älvdalen, in Sweden. I've tested the recordings of the two older speakers on many Swedish speaking friends, and no-one understand anything

Oh, I know, I know. I should get on with it now ;-)

Concerning the Sápmi / Sami (Don't use "Lapps", it's offensive) you are quite right in making that connection. In Finland and Scandinavia they do look somewhat oriental. On the other hand, if you dropped them in East Russia they would look European. There are many similar tribes all along the tundra, stretching from the opposite side of Alaska all the way to Scandinavia. The Sápmi is the westernmost group, living on the Atlantic coast and inwards in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

One of the great linguistic riddles in Europe is the confusingly similar soundchanges that have taken place in all the European languages that are close to the North Atlantic. They include Scottish Gaelic, Icelandic, Sápmi, Finnish as well as some Swedish and Norweigian dialects. Totally unrelated languages that all have taken on similar pronunciations. Why and how? Give an affirmative answer and your place in linguistic history is made. Irish doesn't have these pronunciations though it's sister Scottish Gaelic does. Finnish has it, most other Finno-Ugric languages don't. Icelandic + some Swedish and Norweigian dialects do; Danish, Standard Swedish and Standard Norweigian don't. This has confused lingustists for a long time, just like the similar and more widely described "problem" in Southeastern Europe where some unrelated languages share a remarkable set of features that is lacking in the various sister languages of the languages in question.

I wonder if this is my longest post ever? Might well be, hope you have all managed to get this far without falling asleep ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 12:42 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It's very interesting to read about your experinces in Rath Cairn, that it the least known Gaeltacht to me. It's particularly encouraging that people with Irish want to move to the area, that is of course of critical importance for the language's survival in the long term.

As you said, it's always very nice when someone takes you for a native Irish speaker. I would hate to have someone thin I speak better than I do, though, so I hasten to add myself to your category. Even if there are some who have thought so after a short conversation I'm sure they would soon discover that I'm not native even if I didn't tell them. Actually, even after a somewhat longer discussion, a man from Wales thought I was Irish even after we had discussed quite a while in English. (He spoke no Welsh). That doesn'y say a bit about my Irish, of course ;-)

Actually, the first Irish speaker I met was from An Fod Dubh. He lived next door to the family I stayed with during my first summer in Ireland and he used to come in almost every evening. I've never met such a story-teller in my life, you could sit and listen to him for hours! He also told many stories from his childhood in the Belmullet Peninsula in the 1930s when none of the children spoke any English (neither did all adults) and of all the traditions there. His Irish is really beautiful and because of him I've always had a special feeling for the Irish of Co. Mayo although I speak Munster Irish.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 10:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, I was expecting some disagreement, but I really thought you would have your fill with that last post, haha. I have just gotten so used to watching people's eyes glaze over as I talk to them about language. We are a rare breed, I think.
Okay, I'll do my best to answer your questions, but I have to think about it first. I am going a little beyond myself here. If you're interested in the opinion of someone who is almost completely ignorant of Eastern European language, than I would be more than competent to give an answer. I'll visit those sites you listed too, and try to respond in the next day or two.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 10:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Thomáis,

My father is from south-central Illinois, and we always know when he is on the phone with his relatives because he slips back into the old accent. I know an American woman who married a Japanese man. He grew up in a small village but later moved to the city. Even though she is not fluent in Japanese, she said she can also tell when her husband is talking with family because she can hear the change in pronunciation.

Ronan Tynan said his mother sent him to Irish school because she thought anyone who hadn't learned the language as a child could never speak it properly. It sounds like some people today are proving her wrong.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 03:29 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, of course I'm interested in your opinions! That's the reason I wrote all that ;-) As I said, someone from the outside can contribute some interesting aspects, and I would really like to know what the Eastern European sound is.

By the way, here is a link that you might find interesting, it's about the Romansch language

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 09:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

First off, I realize that, since my knowledge of these languages is nil, I may be hearing things wrong. Everything I hear I can only relate to what I already know (i.e. hearing the Welsh ll as "wlth"). Also, not being able to read much at the sites I have visited, I don't know exactly what I've been listening to. Finally, I can't rule out my own bias. I am not saying I have anything against the people of Eastern or Southern Europe, but having a greater familiarity and closer racial connection with the people and cultures of Northern Europe, I know my preferences lean in that direction. So, I have tried to be as objective as I can in evaluating my "second impression" below. Now, I can't use any fancy symbols, so you'll have to bear with me when I try to describe pronunciation. Okay, here we go..........

1. Estonian sounded a little more distinct this time around. The "ks" combination stood out the most to me. Also, in the speech I heard the consonants had a "clicking" sound that I didn't find very pleasant. It had to be dialect since there was more than one speaker, and they all had this sound.

2. Welsh still sounded faster, but that could be because I don't understand it. I have found that as I gain greater understanding of a language, it seems to slow down. If I had to come up with a nature metaphor, a rugged, rolling wind would be my thought. It's fascinates me, though, how it seems to roll on other consonants besides R. I really like this language.

3. This one is the toughest, for sure. The Finnish speaker I heard last time must have been speaking in monotone because it didn't sound quite as smooth this time (though not rough either).
I have to admit that when I think of East Europe, my thinking is limited to the Polish/Russian sound. All of those other countries are in the East, but I don't know anything about them. So, Eastern Europe to me is a nasalized nyeh, nyah, ski, ska. I have to say I didn't notice these so much in Estonian.
Not being a linguist, I would say Western European languages tend to be lower, rounder, and more open.
You say Finnish and Russian couldn't be more different. I'm not going to argue with someone who knows, but I listened for what sounds in Finnish could be sounding Eastern to me. They are (phonetically) Shay-tsah, Ahk-sah, Stah, Shpah. I know I may be waaaaay off, but there's my answer. I think too that the Finnish "u" sounds Northern. I say Finnish sounds more like Russian and Norwegian than Italian or Spanish.
I have no idea what Portugese sounds like.

4. Swedish has 400 dialects?! Surely you mean accents?
I don't know how Ulster sounds anything like Russian, but I never thought about Russian having slender consonants. Of course, I never thought in terms of broad/slender until studying Irish. Years ago an Egyptian friend of mine tried to explain that Arabic consonants had two sounds each. At that time, I couldn't figure out how in the world that was possible.

5. Thank you so much for directing me to the Ostrobothnian site. I LOVE this language! It's so beautiful! I love a strong lilt, so this one was a real treat for me. The vowels are so soft and open. The sounds that stood out to me were (phonetically) ock, ohp, ahng-guh. There is a bit of Irishness here too, particularly "a" (with the two dots above it) and the "r".
You're right - the old woman does sound strange. Even I could hear that!

6. I take it back. Esperanto doesn't look like anything. Actually, I really meant to say it looks Scandinavian, because of the j's, but I take that back too. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that. Probably brain-fatigue (like I have now - haha).

7. I forgot to mention French last time. French is such an odd mixture of very beautiful but very exaggerated sounds that I can never decide what I think of it. I don't normally like to listen to it, but I think it would be fun to speak it.

Just how offensive is the Samis' other name? The author of the paper seemed positive toward the Sami, and they even mentioned that the people preferred to be called Sami, but then they used the "offensive" term throughout the paper. They must not have known any better. I couldn't find much of anything on the web about the Chookchee except the correct spelling of their name. I just like saying it, haha.

Jonas, I hope you'll look into the Midwest dialect. I couldn't find a dialect site, but you can hear an excellent example of it if you listen to John Williams on one of our local radio stations. There are archives at the following address. You can listen to any of them, but if you would like to hear Amer. Midwest in contrast with Brit. English, go to "how to determine if you are lucky" (highlighted in red - date 4/9/03). There, John Williams is interviewing an English author.

I hope this post is more than just a string of uninformed babblings.
I'll be interested in your response,

P.S. Your comment about people would think Tolkien unimaginative........wouldn't it be the other way around?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cáit ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 08:46 am:   Edit Post Print Post


Gabh mo leithscéal (I'm sorry) I only check in here every week or so - so I'm late in responding to your question.

This, That, These, Those ...
Dis, Dat, Dees, Does ...
dis, dat, dees, does ...

It's hard to describe this, but I'll try ...

In areas of Ireland where the accent is very 'FLAT' you will certainly hear DIS, DAT etc. And yes it can be considered 'not as educated' by some.

BUT no matter where you are in the country or who you're talking to you'll very rarely hear 'th' pronounced as per in English. It comes out somewhat softer than a flat DIS, DAT more like 'dis, dat'. Apparantly, (I got this explanation from a site dedicated to linguistics - can't remember which one) the reason being is that the Irish tend to pronounce 't' in English very much as they would pronounce it as Gaeilge. The 't' sound is produced with the tongue touching the area where the teeth touch the gum rather than from between the teeth.

I tried this 't pronouncing' exercise with some friends of different nationalities and the results were hilarious. But the results seemed to bear out the supposition. They could do a reasonable 'Irish' accent when making a 't' sound as described above!

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 01:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, I'll get back to this discussion tomorrow. Since your last contribution is so very interesting and deserving of a long and detailed answer it would take at least 30 minutes to write it. That is time well spent in a discussion such as this one, but unfortunately I've had to attend doctoral seminars untill six o'clock and I've promised some friends (half of them Finnish, half of them Welsh) that we'll go and watch the Euro-qualifier between Wales and Finland on a widescreen. Apart from this, there is a sweet girl who I neither will nor can avoid devoting the rest of my time to ;-) I told you that that's the reason I think Swedish sounds beautiful...

I should have more time tomorrow so I'll be back then with a lengthy post.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Tomás ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 02:23 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, a chara,

Yeah, I love to hear older native Gaeilgeoiri/ speaking Irish. There is an expressiveness and melodiousness to their speech that I seldom encounter in younger native speakers. Perhaps it has been education and exposure to Irish language media that has knocked the peaks and valleys -- a bit of the color and "lilt," as Dawn would have it -- out of the speech.

I envy you the opportunity to have heard your friend's stories. My cousin's husband grew up in Cois Fharraige in the 30s and 40s. He, too, had great stories. I wish I had time to have listened to them all. Another thing that seems to have pretty much vanished in Ireland in the last 20 years -- due to greatly improved television reception, I believe -- is the evening "cuairt." I remember visiting my cousins in Galway. Every evening neighbors came and went. The conversation and stories were the entertainment. Now it's just the telly, like everywhere else.

I attribute the compliments on my blas to the kindness of my native-speaking friends, relations and acquaintances, not to the fact that any native speaker whoever conversed with me for more than a minute would mistaken me for a cainteoir dhúchais.

However, Dawn, as to becoming fluent as an adult. I have an old acquaintance, a fellow currach racer and founding member of Daltaí who fell in love with Irish as a young man in the mid-80s and quickly became so fluent that his Irish is indistinguishable from that of a native Connemara speaker. About 10 years ago, he took out his Irish citizenship (courtesy of his grandparents) moved to Connemara, changed his name legally to its Irish form, fell in love with a local cailín got married, has a family, bought a house and lives in Indreabhán. He writes -- as Gaeilge -- for both TV and theater, and -- wonder of wonders -- has been the "Irish Language Consultant" -- for several productions at Taibhdhearc na Gaillime. "Is ait an mac an saol." Admittedly, this friend is an exceptional fellow, but it is possible to acheive fluency and good pronunciation as an adult, even for us hopelessly monolingual Yanks. -- Tomás

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 07:27 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


No need to apologize, a chara. I wasn't necessarily expecting an answer (I know people come and go here). I just thought that since you were "in the neighborhood" I might as well ask.

I'm not sure what you're trying to convey by using capital and lower case letters - slender and broad?

Your experiment was interesting because I discovered the same thing through practicing with myself. Learning the difference between broad and slender consonants is important for pronunciation, not only of consonants but sometimes of the vowels next to them. As I said above, broad and slender were new concepts for me when I started Irish and I had to spend a lot of time reading descriptions of how to pronounce them (which are rarely as good as they could be - I discovered a lot through sheer experimentation) and listening to tapes before I began to catch on. Once I developed an ear for the variation (which still is by no means reliable), I began to understand what it is that makes Irish English sound different. The American t is often pronounced differently than the English, too, in the final position. In American English, the t in bat will stop at the point the tongue makes contact with the roof of the mouth, but the English will carry the sound all the way through. If you combine this with the American tendency to pronounce t between vowels as d, you get the following:
Englishman - "I goT iT."
American - "I godit."


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 11:21 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


Your comments raise a question in my mind. The very instruments which have made it easier for us to explore each others' cultures are turning us into people without identities. How then do we come together and learn about each other without losing our own cultures? I don't mean losing our cultures to each other, but losing both of them to a non-descript, empty, and universal pop culture? How can we be educated "properly" without losing our uniqueness? But maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Were the cultures of European countries more distinct from each other in the Middle Ages than they are now? Probably not.

If a man is perfectly content to be farmer in a small town with an accent so thick no one outside the area can understand him, are we going to look down on him for that? Is it a shame that he wasn't educated to speak "properly" and seek a job as CEO of some big corporation in the city? Would that make him more "successful"? I don't think so. I don't think there is anything in the world that adds more meaning to life than having friends. That means you have to know how to be a friend, and sitting in front of a screen doesn't do it, especially when most of what is on the screen is so mindless and shallow. They say the art of conversation is dead. That is only true when you're talking with someone who never has to think and therefore has no depth (unlike the good people here at Daltaí :) ).

I'm not one to say we say we would be better off without the tv. It serves us well if we use it properly. But if we want to have full lives, we must know when to turn away from it and reach outside of ourselves to others around us.

I had no intention of writing this much, but you touched on something I have lamented myself.

In conclusion, let me say this. The Irish are known to be great talkers. I hope they never stop talking because of "improved reception"!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 11:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A whole 30 minutes, Jonas?!

No, I'm not even going to tell you how long it took me to write all that.

I'm assuming you're talking about a soccer match. Hope you all had a great time!

Yes, do spend some time with that lovely girl (reference the above post :) ).

Oh yeah, and I realize that even I myself have been using the terms accent and dialect pretty loosely, so ignore my response on #4. The fatigue factor was setting in, you know........


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cáit ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 07:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post


When I was using lower case d's as opposed to upper case D's, I was trying to convey a softening in the sound ...

I've since learned that what I was describing (using the lower case) is what's called a 'Dental T'. (Hopefully that means something to you ...)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 11:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Yes,isn't a dental t the same as a broad t?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 04:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


I will try to answer your message as good as I can. The sombe tone is not due to anything you have written but to the brutal murder of Sweden's foreign minister. Her death on this date that already is marked in history as a most sorrowful one has left the Nordic countries in shock and disbelief. Little else is discussed today.

I understand you when you talk about greater familarity with Western European countries. I must point out, though, that the racial connection is non-existent. The genetical pattern of Europe is quite complex, but the broad outline is belts going from the north to the south. No racial difference whatsoever can be found between Eastern Europe on one hand and Western Europe on the other.

Apart from that, I think your comments are excellent and very informative. I will go through the same points that you've made.

1. Yes, the 'ks' is certainly found in Estonian - never as the first sequence of a word but often the last. It's actually a part of Estonian grammar and signifies change.
"Elu läheb paremmaks" = "Life is getting better"
The -ks- at the end means that there is a change and the situation is CHANGING to the better. I don't know what you listened to, but it can hardly have been a historical program ;-)
A politican's speech is probably the best place to find lost of this.

It would be most interesting to know exactly what you've listened to. I'm not sure about what you've mean with a clicking sound. Some African languages have such sounds, Estonian certainly don't. It would be nice to be able to listen to know which kind of sound it is.

2. I agree with everything here. Welsh relies heavily on it's consonants, and I agree 100% that it is a beautiful language.

3. Now I would really want to be able to listen to what you've listened to. Again, I'll divide this point into 3a and 3b.

3a. Your description of what you think of as "Eastern European" is very descriptive. I think that most people in Finland, Scandinavia and the rest of the English speaking world would agree although not everyone could have formulated it as good as you did.
It is true that most Western Europeans seem to think of Russian as the model for Eastern European languages. It is of course the largest one and the second largest, Ukrainian, sound almost identical. Polish is the third largest and also sounds a bit like Russian.

On one point I must contradict you. Nasalised vowels are found in Polish, and in Polish only among all the languages that can be said to be Eastern European. It is also used in French and in Portuguese and in some Irish dialects. Nasal vowels definitely belong to the Western European sound pattern, not the Eastern European (assuming such a difference could be made, which I doubt).

The nya, nye, nyo, lye, lyo etc. etc. are indeed a part of Russian, more so than in any other language beside English (new, onion, pure, endure etc. etc.). This is found in all Slavic languages - most common in Russian, least common in Slovene, Croatian and Serbian. Definitely a phenomena that one would associate with Eastern Europe. The other part of Europe where it exists is the Brittish Isles - English, Irish and Gaelic have it, Welsh lacks it.

The ski, sko, ska, skoi, skovski, slavski etc. are definitely Slavic, abundant in all Slavic languages.

I think you've made it clear what you view as Eastern European sounds and I would tend to agree with you on most them. Still, Romanian, Moldavian, Hungarian and Greece don't have any of these features. But thinking of Eastern European languages as Slavic is motivated by the fact that most Eastern European languages, and all the large one, are Slavic.

3b. I'm unable to get this. Could you please give me the links you've listened to, can it really be Finnish. Most of the sounds you have listed are indeed common in Eastern European languages but they are non-existant in Finnish. I don't mean that they are rare, I mean litterally non-existant. As common as the Welsh "ll" sound is in English. Russian, and many other Slavic languages, are full of palatalised consonants - just as you rightly pointed out. Finnish don't. Monolingual Finns can even repeat them if you ask them to. The most significant is the different "s"-sounds that you've commented upon.

Russian has five different "s"-sounds:
s, z, sh, zh, scch
English has three:
s, z, sh
Finnish has only one:

Nasalised consonants are unheard of in Finnish.

Most importantly. Finnish cannot begin a word with more than a single consonant. Russian can begin with ever four or five, true, but Finnish can't even say "church", "sleep" "shop" etc. Three of the four words you've give begin in ways that no Finn could pronounce, no more than any Englishman could say "Mae o yng nghwch"

Swedish, Norweigian and Norther Scottish Gaelic has the typical northern "u" sounds, Finnish doesn't. It is one of the best way to tell whether a person is a native Finnish speaker. Even if he has learned perfect Swedish he tends to be unable to pronounce this "u".

I hope you understand that I have difficulties with the description you've given - not only it is unlike Finnish, it is so 100% opposite to the most fundamental principles of Finnish pronunciation. Finnish radio broadcasts in Finnish, Swedish, Sápmi, English, Russian, Latin and German. If you give me the link you've listened to I will take the utmost interest in listening to it.

But please, don't accept all of my views! No matter what I say about Finnish, I neither can nor wish to contradict what you've heard. I'm only very curious since you've compared Finnish to Russian, which is so absolutely different. Far more different that differences in pronunciation between English and Irish, or indeed English and Persian.
I look forward to continuing this interesting discussion!

4. No, I would never claim that Swedish has 400 dialects. It could have far more, it could have far less - the classification of dialects (in all languages) is fabously vague. I only meant that there are 400 sound recordings.

I don't think that Ulster Irish sounds Russian myself, far from it, but that is indeed a common responce I've received.

5. Thank you very much!! Praise my native language and I spin like an old cat ;-)
Did you mean all of the samples I sent you? Anyone you liked in particular?

6. Still know very little of Esperanto ;-)

7. Speaking French is not much fun... Almost all European people will be delighted if you speak a bit of their language, even if you speak with a strong accent. The French and the English are the only exceptions. They expect the rest of the world to speak THEIR languages perfectly and rarely know any other. (The largest European language is Russian, followed by German...)

"Lapps" is as offensive as "nigger". It would never be used in any official text in Finnish or Swedish.

On to American Midwest English, and now you're the expert. I must say I think you're right when you said that it's very close to "Standard American". If I hear someone from Texas, California, Alabama etc. I normally notice their accent but here I wouldn't have thought much about it. Perhaps a little bit sharper, but that might well be just that speaker. (Brit. English is of course very familiar to me after having been an exchange student in England.)

It would be interesting to listen to some more Midwest samples before I say anything more. Just to avoid the risk of taking the voice of John Williams as the only basis. The strongest impression is certainly how very "neutral American" it sounds, I wouldn't have thought about it as dialectal if I had heard it in any other circumstance.

Lastly, you are definitely not babbling. To quote my research professor "A researcher should always be a novice", he is of the opinion that a novice lacks the "right" information that can affect our judgement. You are of course hearing Finnish, Russian, Welsh, Estonian and Swedish in another way that I can - you actually hear the sounds while I only hear talk. Useful for communication, yes ;-) Still, I'm biased by it.

Sin é anois, tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh domhan níos fearr lá éigint...

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 06:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I apologise for all the spelling errors, I wrote rather fast. As always ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 06:24 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, I just missed you before, and now it looks like I have again! I'll get back to you.........I'm glad you're still enjoying this conversation!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 11:23 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, here are some interesting links about what I've said about the genetic landscape of Europe. It's quite fascinating since it's a clue to how Europe was populated.

About Basques in particular, but including other people

About Celts and English

A rather critical overview, very interesting

And I'm still waiting for your answers, don't think I've forgotten them, a chara ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 05:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I should point out that I don't agree with what is said in all of the articles above. I posted them because they are interesting, but they are also contradictory.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 01:20 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I haven't forgotten them either, a chara. : )

I've just had a full weekend, and responding to this thread is taking an increasing amount of time.

No complaints here, though! This is fun for me, and I look forward to spending my moments of free time studying this topic (odd hobby that it is). It has been a good learning experience for me, revealing assumptions I have made, as well as the gaps that exist in my knowledge and understanding of European relationships, and it has uncovered to me some of my own failure in my attempt to be completely objective. Preconceived notions can be terribly difficult to overcome because we don't even recognize them as such. That is why I benefit from hearing your perspective and receiving your knowledge, because it opens up my mind and I see and hear peoples and languages in a different way than I did before, in a more complete way. I have been doing this on my own for far too long. Thanks for helping me to air out my brain. : )

Thanks for the sites. I have one for you too, but maybe you've seen it already.
This was a great find! I have been "touring" Helsinki through it. It looks like a beautiful city - I like the architecture!

Jonas, did you ever see an email that went around a few years ago concerning the European Commission's "agreement" to use English as the official language of the EU, instead of German? If not, I'll post it. It's hilarious.


P.S. I am wondering how you would pronounce your name, since it is surely different from the English pronunciation. I have probably been hearing it in my head wrong all this time. Does it make a difference to you?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 01:22 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Oh yeah, and could you look at my ná post again (since no one else is)? Thanks!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 05:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Right, I won't post new topics untill you've had the chance to catch up with the much awaited answers. ;-) If it's any consolation when you start to answer, I've spent almost an hour this evening writing a not-too-long mail to a friend in Croatian trying to analyse Croatian poetry. That mail took much longer than it takes to write a post twice as long here. I wished I could have changed into Irish... ;-)

By the way, I've replied to the ná-post.
Great to hear you like the looks of Helsinki! If you ever come here I'll be glad to guide you around the city.
I'm not sure I've seen the mail about the English as "official language", please send it - I always love a good laugh ;-)

My name, which of course is Swedish, is pronounced... Well, in Irish it would have to be spelled "dhiúnas", in English "yoonas". In both cases, the final "a" would still be wrong, it's as clearly pronounced as the "o", only shorter. It sounds like the "ai" in "maith".
In IPA it's easy, /ju:nas/

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 05:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Ok Jonas, I have all my notes ready, but I'm waiting to hear back from you first........

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 05:58 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

you did two minutes ago ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 06:16 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A chat in Irish would be a great thing, by the way. Once there was such a chat, that's where I practised my first written Irish. It has been dead for some three years, though...

Well, time to sleep. I look forward to reading all your notes!

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gavin ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 06:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I couldn't help but be caught up in the posts about "midwestern" accents. I come from Iowa, and there it is said we have a talk all our own.

The thing about how Iowans talk that makes them different from everyone else is that it isn't so much how they say to what they say. The use of expressions is heavily mixed in their speech. For instance, when my cousins from California came to visit they got lost because my brother gave the instructions "take a fool's left at the end of the road." This is a very common way of saying to the right in Iowa. Things like this often cause confusion to people from outside of Iowa.

As for accents I wouldn't say they (Iowans) have very strong ones. Now I say they for a reason because my parents come from Belfast and Donegal. My mother has a thick accent, and even I have a hard time understanding my father sometimes. I will let you decide who is from where!

My brothers and I being born and raised in Iowa were the butt of many jokes because of our accents. In fact, I remember having to stand outside of the class because the teacher thought I was playing a game with her. It took our principal Sister Marie from Dublin to set the matter straight. She heard me and instantly knew what was wrong, "He has the northern tongue about him," as I recall. Even to this day the way I talk is a source of amusement for my friends.

Having left Iowa some four or five years ago for school all that really remains of my accent, or so I think, some say otherwise, can be heard in my "O's and A's." Most people now just think I come from Wisconsin. With exeption to my "a". Words such as family come out like "fah-mil-eh."

However, all it takes is for me to hear an Irish accent from any county and sounds like I am fresh off the boats. Also, I have noticed that when most people hear a thick Irish accent they have trouble understanding what is being said sometimes...I can not only understand them but 9 out of 10 times I can tell you where the person is from.

Something I always wanted, is to be able to have a sortment of people from every county in Ireland read the same text and have it be recorded so that a person can hear and compare the differnces. Has this ever been done, I would think so, but I can't find any resources on the web were I can easily hear the different accents together and compare them to each other.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 12:19 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Haha - that's hilarious. You know, I had the oddest feeling that was going to happen, but I posted anyway. I'm a firm believer in reverse psychology. : )

Never mind the spelling errors. I probably read over half of them without noticing anyway. Besides, I've made some pretty stupid ones myself.

I had heard of the Swedish foreign minister's murder but not of any suspected motive?

When I spoke of a racial connection, I simply meant the majority of my ancestors came from the northern half of Europe.

Now for the established points.........

1. (Estonian) No, clicking is not the best description to use, but the articulation is different, esp. of the K. If I remember correctly, the program I listened to was Rahva Teenrid at

2. (Welsh) The writing is also very cool. It's all those w's and y's, I think.

3. a. (East Europe) Nasalized sounds are Western? Really? I'm all turned around now. This is a completely new perspective for me.
Speaking of new,I wouldn't have thought of a word like "new" in English because it's not pronounced the same way here (nu: ). But why didn't you mention Scandinavia? With all those consonants followed by j (y), wouldn't you have the same sounds?

b. (Finnish?) Now I'm curious too! I'm beginning to wonder if I listened to Finnish at all. I wish I could tell you what program I heard, but I'm not sure! I couldn't read anything there. I don't even remember how I got there! Haha - maybe You should give Me the right link. All I can say is it was somewhere on YLE radio. I listened to some Swedish radio too and forgot to label some of my notes. Could that explain it? I'm also still trying to figure out why I said Finnish sounds like Norwegian. I don't recall even listening to any Norwegian! I guess I'm in too much unfamiliar territory lately.
What is meant by palatalized consonants? Do dental and palatal correspond to broad and slender?
Btw, English has the zh sound too (s in measure). I would be interested in hearing a Finnish accent in English if they're unable to pronounce so many sounds.

4. (Swedish) I know! I told you to ignore this one! Brain fatigue - remember?

5. (Ostrobothnian) Finland has some of the coolest sites. Yes, I listened to all of the examples you gave me, and I couldn't find a sound I didn't like. Of the four speakers, I liked the young man the best, because he sounded more relaxed and his speech had a nice rhythm to it. I liked the young woman too, but she was always on the verge of laughter, which strained and broke up her speech somewhat. The older man's speech was less distinctive, typical of an older person, I guess. The older woman spoke at the top of her voice throughout. Well, that's my impression. Are there other Ostro. links? It appears that it is spoken in the rest of Scandinavia too? What is Gotaland?

6. (Esperanto) Good.

7. (French, etc.) Yes, everyone knows that about the French. It's part of their identity. But just speaking the language (to oneself if necessary) would be fun.
Of all native English speakers, Americans are probably the most ridiculed (along with the Irish, of course). The English aren't the only ones. Anyone with a British-like accent (Aust., N.Z., parts of Africa) might consider their speech superior. Even the Scots will laugh at us sometimes (which I don't understand, because they don't sound any more English than I do). Canadians believe their English is better than ours because they pronounce some words more like the English.

Can. (MIL ih tree)
Amer. (MIL ih tare ee)

Can. (HUR ih kihn)
Amer. (HUR ih kane)

However, Americans are quick to point out words that the Canadians pronounce differently.

Hawk they pronounce "hock" but
Hockey they pronounce "hawkey"

About sounds more like "abote" (I think this might be the Scots' influence?)

Anyway, you can tell the difference when someone is just teasing you and when they are ridiculing you, and that's just cruel. It's also silly, in my opinion. What a boring place the world would be if everyone spoke Oxford English!

(Sami) Are you sure the term Lapp isn't offensive only in Finland? I saw it used in one of the articles you gave me, and it's also in the American dictionary, but Sami and Sapmi are not.

(Midwest) Yes, it's neutrality is why I chose it. I was sure you would recognize it when you heard it. Well, that's basically what I sound like (only my voice is a tad higher : ) ).

(Helsinki) Did you see the site? I would love to travel Europe someday, but who wouldn't. Ireland is definitely the most popular destination amongst the people I know (half of whom have no Irish ancestry at all). Ireland, Britain, and Germany are the places I would most like to see (the farmhouse owned by my ancestors in the 18th century is still standing in Germany today.) Finland would not have even crossed my mind, until now. Thanks for the offer. I'll keep it in mind. : )

I'll have to get used to the pronunciation of your name. Of course I hear it in my head as JOH-nuhs. If I guessed at the Swedish pronunciation, I would have said YOH-nahs (jo:na:s). But you gave me something quite different! So the o is oo and the a is short, like in cat?

Did they used to have a chatroom here? I was surprised they didn't when I first came. I would be too slow to chat in Irish. I can't even post in Irish! Ugh.

I'll send the Euro-English later, or I'll be up too late tonight.

Good night (Good morning to you)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 12:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It's funny. You never know who is "listening in" until they decide to respond. : )

Welcome Gavin! Glad to have you with us.

Well, I have always had the most difficulty understanding the Northern Ireland accent. It's the combination of the difference in the vowels and the upward swing of the pitch. To an American ear, even declarative statements sound like questions. That in itself is enough to throw us off. I had to listen to Gerry Adams speak many times before I could understand Anything he said. However, it has always been one of my favorite accents, even when I don't understand it.

I really like your idea of recording people from all over Ireland, in both English and Irish. That would be most interesting and helpful.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Alex McGrath ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

OK! Hello! My name is Alex and I am tackling Irish slowly... I have several questions...

Number one is this correct?

Conas tá tú?


tá se/sí fuar(taw shay/she foo-arh)

and then if anyone would help me with this-
I am looking at websites and worry if its correct or not and was wondering if someone could look over the link I am using right now?


does this go into my email when I get a response?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Larry ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 05:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Alex, a chara,

Conas tá tú? is one way of asking somebody how they are. You'll also see it written as conas atá tú. There are other ways of asking the same question but if you're just commencing your study of Irish I wouldn't get too bogged down in the variations just yet.

Tá sé / sí (note the fada on "sé") is also correct. If you're referring to the weather, you'd use "sé". Your phonetics are also correct.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

gavin ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 07:20 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I stumbled on a site a few months ago where there were a few people from different counties speaking. There were only a few counties represented but it was a pleasure to listen to.

I have not been able to find that site since...though I have looked a great many times.

I have posted before, for the most part I just like to read what others have to say about things. Every now and then I might make a comment, but usually no one cares to hear it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Maidhc Ó G. ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 11:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Would you be lookin' for ? a chara?
It sounds like you were listening to a bit of "RnaG".

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 11:16 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I haven't read too many posts from you Gavin, maybe because there aren't very many of them, as you said; but I've enjoyed reading what you have written.

I am too much of a beginner to add anything interesting myself (it's interesting to me, of course, but not to the more advanced). I probably would have soon ended up in the same place as you, if not for Jonas.

I'm afraid I can't be of much help to you, as far as the language, but you are more than welcome to post your thoughts here.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gavin ( -
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 11:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

No, it wasn't RnaG although I have quite a few recordings from was like someone's personal page where they had a similar idea and took a trip to Ireland to interview various people from different places about their lives.

I don't even remember how I came about the page. That's why it is so frustrating that I can't find it again. It had about sixteen recordings of interviews mainly from the middle and southern counties...they had two from Belfast which was like hearing my Dad all over again.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 01:55 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Gavin, I see you posted directly after me, so I hope you didn't miss what I said.

Look forward to seeing you around,

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 02:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Welcome Alex!

>>"I am tackling Irish slowly... I have several questions..."

Then you're in the right place! The depth of knowledge and experience you will find here is astounding. Only you'll want to ask your questions of someone other than me, because I'm in the same boat as you. :)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Gavin ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 08:26 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, mo chara...I just might do that from time to time:)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2003 - 03:47 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Back again ;-)

There is one topic that will be prominent in this post so I'll begin with with it: I have good news and bad news...

The good news: almost all European languages pronounce the letters of the alphabet in the same way, more or less. That means that a speaker of one European language can make a rather good guess of the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word in an unknown language if he sees it written.

The bad news: English is the odd language of Europe, it's concept of the alphabet is radically different both from it's Latin origin and from it's use in the rest of Europe. It would be idiotic to say that English speakers pronounce it wrong, but they have certainly changed it very much.

Irish is also one of the more different languages regarding it's use of the alphabet, but still much more logic than English. This is, of course, a problem for monolingual English speakers who want to pronounce foreign words correctly. The result is hilarious or tragic, depending on your sense of humour ;-)
Some, especially the French, tend to view this as English ignorance but I disagree. If one has learned a certain way to use the alphabet it is only natural to pronounce words according to that. I don't see the need for any snobbery on this issue - there are 6.000 languages in the world and not even a professor in lingustics would ever come close to getting 25% right.

Living in Finland provides an excellent oppotunity to study this phenomena. Virtually no foreigner speaks Finnish but a lot of tourists come to Helsinki - listening to how they pronounce Finnish words (names, signs etc.) is really quite interesting. The Germans are really good, they get almost everyting right. The same goes for the Italians and the Spaniards. I know a man from Bogota who speaks no Finnish but is married to a Finnish girl. Even though he can't speak Finnish he can still read books in Finnish to his babys. He doesn't understand what he reads, but his pronunciation is so accurate that they understand everything. The Swedes, French and Russians are in the middle, they get a lot of things right, but they also make many typical errors. The English and Americans are simple incomprehensible ;-)

This was a rather long introduction, but I think it was needed. The important things to remember:
1. English pronunciation of the alphabet is strikingly different from all other European languages.
2. This means that the only thing an English speaker can be confident about is that his pronunciation will be wrong ;-)
3. This has nothing whatsoever to do with a poor language-ear, lack of education or ignorance. It's simply a matter of different traditions. England has always prefered to isolate itself from the rest of Europe.

Now, on to our standard topics
1. Ouch, I understand you know. I'm afraid the Estonian you've listened to might have been nothing of the kind... When I clicked the link I found myself listening to a comic program with a man making hilarious voices. No resemblance whatsoever with normal Estonian.

2. Yes, w and y are the factors making Welsh look rather formidable to pronounce. In fact those two are very easy, "w" is English "pOOl". When "y" is stressed it is like "i" in "pIn", otherwise like "e" in "thE". It's the "ll" and "ch" that are almost impossible for English speakers. The "ll" is hard for everyone ;-)

3a. Yes, nasalised sounds are definitely Western. You could hardly find any French or Portuguese phrase without many nasalised sounds while Polish is the only Estern European language to use them. They are also rarer in Polish than in French or Portuguese.
Moving on to your comment about Scandinavian consonats being followed by "y" we come back to my introduction. Loads of Scandinavian contains "y", but English is almost alone in using "y" as a consonant, in most languages it is a vowel. Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish "y" is the same sound as German "ü" or French "u". It's not found in English, but is a full vowel. As you'll understand, a Swedish phrase such as "köpa nytt dyrt tyg" would be rather impossible if "y" was a consonant ;-)

3b. Here you can listen to Finnish and read what you hear
The problem is that it's directed at foreigners and the speaker's pronunciation is too articulated, doesn't sound natural.
Fortunately we have ;-) Go to this link
and listen to song nr 3 Kylä Vuotti Uutta Kuuta, a traditional Finnish song. After having heard it you will exactly how Finnish sounds, the pronunciation is excellent.
(The first song, Seelinnikoi, is in a strange dialect. I wouldn’t identify it as Finnish... The other songs are quite normal but they might be somewhat fast if you want to listen to the pronunciation.)

4. We'll skip this ;-)

5. I've made an error, my apologies. I wasn't clear enough about what Ostrobothnian is. All the speakers in "Munsala", the link I sent you above, speak Ostrobothian - the Swedish dialect of Österbotten which is very far from standard Swedish.

The other speakers, those in Borgå and Kyrkslätt, do not speak Ostrobothnian - they speak standard Swedish as spoken in Finland. Just as in the case of English, there is one standard form in Sweden and one in Finland. In writing they are identical but the pronunciation differs to some extent. I sent those links to show how standard Finland-Swedish sounds, my own native language. It is not Ostrobothnian, and I should have explained the disticntion. Sorry about the confusion.

Is Ostrobothnian spoken in other places, you asked. Well, yes and no. The dialets in Sweden on the opposite coast to Österbotten are indeed very close, but they have different names. The site is not only for Ostrobothnian, it is for all Swedish dialects.

Hm, Gotaland can mean two places:
A. Götaland. A traditional Swedish landscape, some would say one of the cradles of Swedish culture. (Together with Svealand). The dialects there are rather close to the standard language in Sweden.
B. Gotland. An island in the Baltic Sea of the Swedish coast. In sharp contrast to Götaland, Gotland was one of the last places to come under the Swedish crown and it retains a very different feeling. It's main city, Visby, looks completely different from all other Swedish cities and the dialect spoken on Gotland is, together with Ostrobothnian, one of the most archaic dialects. It enjoys high prestige and is considered very beautiful by most Swedes.

Both Götaland and Gotland are named after the Goths, who are tought to have originated here.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Myron Scholes, (If you are into economics you'll know all about him) professor at Stanford and Nobel Prize Laureate in 1997. I noticed that his pronunciation sounded rather like the one in the link you sent me. He was in fact born in Ontario but went to university in Chicago. He had the same "harsh" sound that I commented upon. It's not unpleasant, I'd say. If an English Oxford-pronunciation brings to mind, well... Oxford (surprisingly enough...) and an academic feeling then this was more of the thing you would associate with mountains and steep ravines (I'm into my babblings of comparing language sounds to nature again...) That is not the nature around Chicago, I know, but that was my impression of it. If I didn't speak the language of Montenegro I would associate it with Montenegro's mountains ;-)

I'm afraid I'll have to be somewhat shorter today - I have to get back to my book on calculating option-prices. I'd rather write more here, I assure you, but there is an exam coming up...

If I missed any topic in my hurry please remind me of it. I haven't left anythinh out on purpose ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 02:55 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Gavin, mo chara,

Glad to hear it. :)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Friday, September 19, 2003 - 03:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post


I'll get back to you, tomorrow if I can.

Wishing you the best on your exam,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 03:11 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hei Jonas!

>>If one has learned a certain way to use the alphabet it is only natural to pronounce words according to that. I don't see the need for any snobbery on this issue.

>>This has nothing whatsoever to do with a poor language-ear, lack of education or ignorance. It's simply a matter of different traditions.

With these statements,you were comparing English speakers to the rest of Europe, but I wish more native English speakers understood this about each other as well. I heard a British person deridingly say that they couldn't understand how Americans could teach their children to read using phonics when we pronounce all the vowels wrong. But if we pronounce our vowels wrong so consistently, then phonics SHOULD still work for us, shouldn't it? :) Anyway, I think you've shown your sensibleness on this issue.

I wonder how it came to be that English pronunciation is so different from the rest of the Roman alphabet-using world. Was it the great vowel shift? One of the wonderful aspects of having a ridiculously complicated phonetic system is the potential for great creativity in the use of the language. A certain spelling may have several pronunciations, and a sound many spellings. Yes, it can cause confusion, misunderstanding, and aggravation, but I'd rather live with it than without it!

Spanish is the same as Finnish in that way. I can read Spanish almost perfectly without knowing half of what I'm saying.

Where did you get the figure of 6,000 languages in the world? I am sure I remember reading on a leaflet from a translation school that there are only 3,000. Perhaps a more generalized way of counting was used. It's not an exact science, after all.

1. (Est.) Lol. No wonder. That's the problem with not being able to read the site you're on! Is there a better link for Estonian?

2.(W.) What is the double d pronunciation?

3.a. (E. Eur.) Ok, I think this is an example of the English phonetics problem you spoke of. I meant the LETTER j, which in Scandinavian languages has an English "y" sound. I was saying, wouldn't Scand. languages have the "nya, nye, nyo" type sounds with so many consonants being followed by the letter j?

b. (Fin.) The song is very beautiful, Jonas. Kiitos! It's been going through my head most of the day. It's hard to know the sound of a language from a song though, so I spent some time listening to the other link you gave me. At the risk of sounding incredibly DENSE, I must say it still has a Russian sound to me (although I am beginning to hear more of a distinction between them). I listened for which words were sounding Russian, and I came up with this: kello on, tiedatko, tarjota, ilma. The k+vowel and il stand out the most. You said Finnish doesn't have "sh". It must be the recording then, because all the "s's" sounded like "sh". Is there a radio station you recommend?
I just read that Finnish and Estonian are closely related. Do you think they are similar?

4. (Ost.) I wasn't confused. The four speakers I wrote about were the ones from Munsala. You told me before that Ostrobothnian was one of your two first languages, so you ought to still be pleased. :) How long have you spoken it? Is it a family language?
Favor? Can you tell me what language is on the left side of the Ostrobothnian and Swedish pages, and what subjects the two young people at Munsala are talking about?
The Gotaland I was looking for was A. I'm just unable to put the two dots above the o.
I went back to the Swedish sites again. I like the young woman from Borga the best. Her articulation is the most distinct, and she sounds just like how I think Swedish would sound. I like the Swedish vowels. Aren't they like Norwegian?
Alvdalen - I might hear a difference - not sure.

5. (Midwest) Oh no! I never meant to imply that Chicago English is Standard. In fact, to tell someone that they sound like Chicago is not considered particularly complimentary. Chicago is known for being very nasal. Chicagoans even laugh at themselves sometimes! I gave you John Williams as an example of Standard American English, not Chicago English (which I don't sound like either). Do you think it's possible that the "hardness" you are hearing is the "radio voice" and not so much the accent itself?

I like your nature comparisons. It's a good way of being descriptive.

The couple points you missed:

- I am getting the strong impression from what I read that "Lapp" is not considered a derogatory term in English.

- I wanted to be absolutely certain I've got your name right.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

James ( -
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 09:52 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Where the heck am I? Let me check.....yes, it's still the Daltai na GAEILGE web site. Thought for a minute I had stumbled into the Ostrobothnian/Estonian/Finnish/anything but Irish site.

No offense, guys, but look at the intent of this site---it's to promote the IRISH language. I'm sure you can find a whole host of other sites to expand, expound and wax poetically on the laudible merits of the Scandinavian and Slavic languages. Sorry, to sound so "pissy". Just wish we could get back to the Irish theme.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 10:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James, the fact that I'm having this discussion with Dawn hasn't stopped me from answering other questions. In fact I think I'm rather active in aswering questions here, most of them connected to Irish. So I've never left the Irish theme, not at all. Neither do I think that this discussion has caused any problems to others.

I agree with you in principle, this forum is for messages in Irish and about Irish. On the other hand, I don't think it is a problem for anyone if Dawn and I continue our discussion untill we have finished it. As you can see if you read the other discussions, both of us have taken part in discussions about Irish. I will certainly continue to do so.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 10:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, I'm rather busy today (well, if going to parties equals being buse... ;-) ) so I'll get back to the topics tomorrow. I'll answer the two short questions that I forgot right away.

If you talk with a Sámi in English and call him Lapp you'll see what he thinks about it ;-) I don't know how you feel about being called "Paddy", but most Irish dislike it. It is the same with the Sámi. There is undoubtedly a derogatary term. I know Sámi-speakers so I'm not only guessing.

You've got my name more or less right. The "o" is more or less like "oo" in pool. The "a" is not like the "a" in cat, the difference between "a" and "ä" is as important as that between "b" and "p". It's like the "a" in Irish (Munster and standard Irish) as, bacach, cad, cas, cathair etc. I hope you don't pronounce the "a" in Irish words like the "a" in English "cat", "hat, "man" etc. ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Alex McGrath ( -
Posted on Saturday, September 20, 2003 - 05:41 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hey Thanks Garry! Phonetics? You mean Fadas by this correct? I stress it being correct...last thing I want is to be talking and someone to correct me...not good. I do the same with spanish's accent marks. I really enjoyed that you replied and am greatful for that little help you gave me...It helped me realize that Irish seems to have TONS of variations. Correct me if I am wrong. If I may ask one more thing...Can you maybe let me know of some good sites that are set up in a lesson type plan on learning Irish, books, and/or tapes? Perhaps any tips as well? Id love to thank you again and say that you people(those of Daltaí) seem like splendid people and are absolutely wonderful and helpful. Id like to share this with you as well on fadas...

There is a simple way to get many characters on the screen you get on character map!

1) you hold down the alt key

2) you press the specific sequence of numbers I am about to list on the bottom

3) you realease the alt key and BEHOLD! YOu have done great sorcery and magic! lol

ó=62 Ó=211
ú=63 Ú=218
á=160 Á=0193
é=130 É=144
í=161 Í=0205

This is great and you can get tons of different things like ¡ ¿ ñ ë Ñ and gods know what else lol


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Larry ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 07:37 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Alex, a chara,

By phonetics I meant your pronunciation of words such as 'tá' etc...

There are many sites available for people who are learning Irish alone. I make no recommendations, but one such site can be found at

Another method of achieving the fada is to hold down the Alt Gr key and press the relevant vowel, although I understand this doesn't work on all systems. The fada is the only accent you'll need in writing modern Irish, but this topic has received much coverage previously on this site so I'll say no more about it.

Good luck with your studies.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Alex McGrath ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 02:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well thanks again! And a little warning, I would compliment my pronunciations...I probably speak the bits of Irish I know more like

Thanks for the link

And to the alt plus the vowel thing, that would be MY SYSTEM ::rolls eyes:: this thing causes more stress than anything else

Your from Ireland? If not don't ask why I think this...I tend to be a bit slow sometimes

And I will come back with more I am like a can't get rid of me now ;-)

And a Question, is kaht(sp) how you say cat in Irish, and pronounced SIMILAR?

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Alex McGrath ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 04:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

2 things

#1 it should be you SHOULDNT compliment my pronunciation,

and #2 Its amazing that you send me the SAME exact site I began learning on...well mine is this other thing and I had to sign up, but its all word for word lol

Here it is:

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 05:21 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Alex, the pronunciation of Irish "cat" is /kat/ according to the IPA. The English pronunciation is /kaet/. Actually it's only three symboles k + ae + t, the "ae" should be written together but I can't write it.

In some Scottish Gaelic dialect there is a strong h, in some dialect even a ch, before /t/, /k/ and /p/. There "cat" would become /kaht/ or even /kaxt/, and "mac" would be /maxk/This gives the following distinctions between Irish, Scottish Gaelic and English

Irish /kat/
Sco.G /kaxt/, /kaht/
English /kaet/

So the difference between Irish and English is a difference in the pronunciation of "a" while they have the same consonant sounds. The difference between Irish and Scottish Gaelic is in the consonants while the vowel is the same.

To give an example of IPA, in case there is someone who doesn't know it, I'll write the paragraph above in IPA.

/s@u D@ difr@ns bi'twi:n airiS aend iNliS is @ difr@ns in D@ pronansi'eiS@n @v "a" wail Dei haev D@ seim kons@n@nt saunds. D@ difr@ns bi'twi:n airiS aend skotiS geilik is in D@ kons@n@nts wail D@ vau@l is D@ seim./

Unfortunately I can't give all the correct symbols, so I've used D for the "th" sound in "the", S for the "sh" sound and N for "ng"

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 06:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, here are some more thoughts and opinions. First the easy ones ;-)

Yes, I definitely think Estonian is very similar to Finnish. Understanding written Estonian is not hard at all. Sure, it does take a bit longer to read for me than to read Finnish, but still I manage to understand it. I normally speak Finnish when visiting Estonia, just as I speak Swedish when visiting Norway or Denmark.

Then, continuing on the easy ones, the Welsh "dd" sound. It is exactly the same as the English "th" in "the". The Welsh "th" corresponds to the English "th" in "thing". As a foreing learner of both languages I must side I appreciate the Welsh approach - you always know which sound to use while it's far from obvious that the two "th" in "this thing" are pronouncd differently. Old Irish had both these sounds as well, as did many European languages, but like most of them Irish dropped them long ago.

And the last easy one: Yes, the Swedish vowels are very similar to the Norweigian ones. In other words, a nightmare for foreigners. Whereas the Spaniards and Italians are happy with five vowels and the Irish with six, we have nine. A E I O U Y Å Ä Ö.

Moving on to the words you thought sounded like Russian: It's fine with me that you are "dense", I hope you'll allow me to be equally dense. ;-)
None of the words you've mentioned as sounding particularly Russian could even be pronounced by Russians (unless they had learned very good Finnish, of course)
"kello" - Since the "E" is stressed a Russian would lengthen it somewhat (in Finnish it is short) and since the "o" is unstressed it is turned into an "a"-sound. (or rather the @ sound in "the") These two rules are fundamental to Russian pronunciation. Thus it would be "ke-ella" instead of "kello". A word like "kello" couldn't even appear in Russian, according to the rules of Russian pronunciation, just as "vstretil", a Russian word, couldn't appear in Irish, English or Finnish.

"tiedätkö" - This one is even more impossible in Russian. (Well, perhaps not - I've never heard of shades in the impossible...) Neither the diphtong "ie" nor the vowel "ä" are found in Russian. There it would be "tjedatkö" which is far off.

"tarjota" - A Russian could pronounce this, yes. But it could not appear in Russian. Since the first "a" is stressed, the "o" would be turned into @. That sound doesn't even exist in Finnish.

"ilma" - I'm sorry for being dogmatic but not even this one could found in Russian, although it is certainly the easiest of the words you mentioned. For a Russian speaker, that is. Still, he would lengthen the "i" to much, saying "iilma".

In other words, none of the "Russian soudning" words you named could even be found in Russian. On the other hand, you never said that - you only said you thought that they sounded Russian and an opinion can never be wrong.
Now, I've given you some links to listen to in Finnish. Perhaps you would find it interesting to listen to this one, in Russian.
and compare it with this one in Finnish.
Both are news, and while you're at it, here are some more:

Serbian, close to Russian:

German, distantly related to Russian:

Turkish, unrelated to all the others

And to finnish of, compare two of the most closely related languages in Europe


By comparing these, do you think that
1. Finnish and Russian sound particularly like each other?

2. German, Spanish and Portuguese sound like each other as Western and that the other sound Eastern?

I'll wait (eagerly) for your answers to my last two replies to you. Then I'll adress those two final questions, both concerning the development of sounds and alphabets. And yes, it will include the Irish development too ;-)

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Sunday, September 21, 2003 - 10:37 pm:   Edit Post Print Post


I think I've got it now - YOO-nahs. I like that better anyway. :)

I think Foclóir Scoile has this IPA symbol wrong. It says the nearest English equivalent for a is the sound in bat. The Irish examples they give are bean and mac. In a German dictionary I have, the the example for a is swat, whereas the sound in hat is written as ae. That is more in line with what you told Alex.

Hmm.......I have difficulty imagining someone calling me "Paddy", since I don't in any way fit the stereotype. My family is more German than Irish, so what upsets me most is how Germans are ALWAYS the bad guys in movies, portrayed as Nazi-type personalities, even if the movie has nothing whatsoever to do with WWII.

1. So, Estonians can understand you when you speak Finnish?

2. I didn't know that about th. I thought it was unique to English, at least in Europe. Is it found anywhere else in the world that you know of?

3.a. Now this is something I can never understand. Spanish has five written vowels, but they are not always pronounced exactly the same way. "E" is sometimes like "ay" and sometimes like "eh". "I" is sometimes "ee" and sometimes closer to "ih". So why do the Spanish have difficulty with our short vowels? In fact, they often get the long and short vowel sounds completely reversed. The word "live" they pronounce as "leave" and "leave" sounds like "live".

3.b. You don't always hear sounds correctly when you don't know what they are. I could listen to that Finnish song a dozen times and still not be able to write the phonetics perfectly, and I would not notice that the Finnish i in ilma is slightly shorter than a Russian would say! Perhaps my brain made a connection with the Russian name Ilya. Is that logical?
Oh this is interesting. I had two friends of mine (who have very little language experience) listen to Finnish, without telling them what language it was. One listened to the phrases on the first site you gave me. The first thing she said was it definitely wasn't Welsh (I had played some Welsh for her a few days before). She finally said she just didn't know, because it didn't sound like anything she recognized. The second friend heard the radio broadcast, and her first thought - are you ready for this - was that it sounded RUSSIAN. Oh yes! She said it had a Russian sound to it. She made two more guesses, first Italian, and then Spanish. What do you think of that?

This was exactly what I needed. What struck me about the Russian news program was how VERY Russian it sounded. The Finnish didn't sound so Russian anymore in comparison, but there is SOME kind of similarity still. I don't know how to describe the similarity any differently than I did in my last post. I would say now that Finnish sounds more in between Russian and Swedish. Am I getting closer?

I could tell Serbian is a little different from Russian.

German I'm much more familiar with, and I had a year of it after school, so it's harder to be objective here. The sounds are more distinct to me since I know them. I wouldn't think of German as Eastern (Central, I guess), but it is closer to Russian than it is to Spanish, no doubt. I always thought Germanic languages were closer to the Scandinavian ones than the Slavic ones. Is that wrong?

The Turkish is unlike the rest; but, if Russian is the standard for Eastern, then it sounds more Western, more "open" (I'm going to drive you crazy with that, huh?). The "u" sounds like the French "eu", I thought.

I had two years of Spanish. I would never compare it to German!

This was the first time I listened to Portugese. I felt like I should be understanding more than I could. It does have a little different sound than Spanish.

To answer your second question, I can't tell you what a Western language sounds like. I hear French, Spanish, German, English as unique. I wouldn't confuse one with the other. Many Americans wouldn't because we hear them more often(in the news, movies, etc.). This idea I had of an Eastern sound was the sound of Russian and Polish because those were the only two I was familiar with. Again, I think that is a common perception in America.

Well, I hope that's a satisfactory explanation and not just more confusing. :)

Not to be a nuisance, but could you tell me what the two young people at Munsala are talking about (just a general idea would suffice). I would really like to know!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Larry ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 08:30 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Alex, a chara,

Jonas has given you a full description of how the word 'cat' is pronounced in Irish so I won't elaborate on that.

No, I'm not Irish - I'm English and living in the UK

I'd like to make a little suggestion if I may. We're currently using a discussion on various dialects and any questions you may wish to ask may be missed by some readers on this board. If you scroll to the top of this page and click on the link "General Discussion (Irish and English) and then scroll to the bottom of that page, you'll see a button "Create New Conversation". Click that and you'll be able to start a new thread.

Keep up with your studies and good luck.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Bradford ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 09:02 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas agus Dawn,

You might consider exchanging email addresses to continue your discussion. It seems to be pretty much a one-on-one conversation-type entity anyway.

This thread has gotten so big that it's downright unwieldy, and as Larry pointed out I think elements of it are probably getting lost in the shuffle.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

James ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 09:19 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I'd suggest that as long as you are talking about these issues as the pertain to Irish, that you start a new thread. If you are going to get into the variances between slavic languages, norwegian dialects, ostrobothnian nuances, esperanto and whatever other linguistic side-roads float your boat, I would then suggest you go to the appropriate web-site/discussion forum and explore your interests there.

It isn't that I begrudge you your interests in these other languages, but as has been pointed out...this thread is getting HUGE and it really has strayed quite far from Irish.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,

I understand everything you have said - it has all passed through my own mind before. I think Jonas and I are on the other end of this conversation, though. I really couldn't discuss the relationships between Eastern languages any further without studying them in depth, which it is not my intention to do.

The reason I didn't break up this thread was so as not to appear to be "taking over" this whole site. I never meant to do that! I had a friend once who enjoyed discussing this same topic (similarities vs. differences in languages), but I lost contact with her several years ago and haven't had anyone of similar interest to talk to until I found this place. I apologize if my enthusiasm has become a thorn in the side of the good people at Daltaí. It is the last thing I would want to happen!


It is not my habit to give out my email address. If you want to continue this conversation somewhere else, I'd be happy to; otherwise, if we have to wrap it up in the next few exchanges, that's ok too. Whatever suits you.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Larry ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, a chara,

Far form being a thorn in my side, I have enjoyed following this discussion on the wide varieties of dialects within different countries. As an Englishman with no first hand experience of the many dialects you have discussed with Jonas, I have been educated by your many questions and observations. Please don't misunderstand my previous posting. I was merely trying to point out how start a new thread to a relatively new user, Alex, in order that his queries don't get lost within another discussion.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Bradford ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 05:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, a chara,

I'm certainly not annoyed at you, nor at Jonas. And I definitely don't consider you a "thorn in my side". However as you've noted this thread has gotten quite big. If you'd like to start another thread where the subject indicated that it wasn't about Irish in particular and was regarding your topic of conversation with Jonas, you certainly could.

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Monday, September 22, 2003 - 10:15 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well, Larry, that is why I thought it was ok to continue this conversation - because some of you who have been on this board longer than I said they were enjoying it (not the least of whom was Jonas himself). Otherwise I would have been much more careful not to take up space discussing languages other than Irish on an Irish board. I'm not that insensitive.

No, I didn't misunderstand your post. Actually, I was about to post the message to Alex, for his sake as well as ours. But I don't know why the length of this thread should bother anyone other than Jonas and me?


When this thread started getting long, I considered starting a new one. However, I was afraid it wouldn't be appreciated, and understandably so. It appears that would be true, in at least one case. I don't know who's "in charge" here and whose opinion matters.

I really appreciate your graciousness, both of you. Now I'm just waiting for Jonas to show up.......


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Jonas ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 04:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde, I've just had an exam in Corporate Finance (as interesting as it sounds...) so I've been away a few days.

I'm glad so many are interested in this discussion, and my suggestion is really quite simple. We just open a new discussion, named "Linguistics", and continue in it. Linguistics will of course include Irish linguistics as well as that of other languages. I hope that solution is satisfactory to everyone

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Bradford ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 08:55 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dawn, a chara,

None of the regular posters are "in charge" here. In fact, the "in charge" people only intervene if things get really out of hand!

That said, I think Jonas' idea to start a thread called "Linguistics" is an excellent one. That way those who are interested can pop in, and those that aren't know the topic and can skip over it.

Of course that's just my two cents. :)

Le meas,


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 10:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,

That's fine with me, but I'd like to pick up where we left off. So Jonas, can we carry this conversation over to the new thread? Perhaps you would do us the honor of starting it? I just don't want anything I said in my last post to you to get lost in the transition. I put too much time into it!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dawn ( -
Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Jonas, I just saw the new thread - you're always one step ahead of me!



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

©Daltaí na Gaeilge