Manny's Reviews > Buntus Cainte: a first step in spoken Irish - part I

Buntus Cainte by Tomas O'Domhnallain
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Jul 12, 12

bookshelves: to-read

In Dublin, Ireland, for a project meeting. For some reason, I've never been to Ireland before, and pretty much the first thing I did was to buy a book on the Irish language.

The first page of an elementary language text is always so revealing! If you're learning Japanese, you'll probably start by learning to say that I am the student, you are the sensei, and this is a cherry blossom. In Irish, the first dialogue goes like this:

NÓRA: Dia duit, a Cháit.
CÁIT: Dia's Muire duit, a Nóra.
NÓRA: Tá sé fuar.
CÁIT: Tá sé an-fhuar, ach tá sé tirim.
NÓRA: Tá sé tirim, buíchas la Dia.

In English:

NÓRA: Good day, Cáit.
CÁIT: Good day, Nóra.
NÓRA: It's cold.
CÁIT: It's very cold, but it's dry.
NÓRA: It is dry, thank God.
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Reading Progress

05/14/2012 page 12
9.0% "Aaargh! On page 12, and the lack of grammatical explanations is already distressing me. Why do they keep inserting an 'h' in the nouns? Why only some of the nouns?"

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Whitaker (last edited May 11, 2012 02:21AM) (new)

Whitaker Yeah! And the French one has a guy picking up a woman. LOL!

I'm not kidding.


message 2: by the review man (new)

the review man That's too funny. I wonder what the first page in an English language book says!


message 3: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny the review man wrote: "That's too funny. I wonder what the first page in an English language book says!"

I asked my Belgian colleague Pierrette, and the first sentence she learned in her English course was "It is a lovely day for cricket". It nearly put her off the language permanently.


message 4: by Kevan (new)

Kevan My first Thai book had the phrase, and I transliterate of course, "Tii mii kon kamoi mark gern bpai" or "There are a lot of thieves here."

There may very well have been ;)

Back to the Irish language - presumably Dia for God comes from the Latin - what about fuar for cold?


message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane Hilarious. One of my first English 'textbooks' (I learned English as a second language) was Clifford the big red dog. I understood it to mean that English speaking people love big things and red things. Oh and also dogs.


message 6: by Manny (last edited May 13, 2012 05:12AM) (new) - added it

Manny Hi Kev!

Yes, Dia must originally be Latin. Looking around on the Web, this page says fuar is a Celtic word related to Welsh oer and Cornish oir.

Jane, I think English-speaking people often love big red things, though the late Soviet Union was a notable exception.


message 7: by David (new)

David Oh man, I still have my Buntus Cainte books from that one semester of Irish I took in college.


message 8: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny I must read on!


Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic) One summer when I was a kid I decided, for reasons which I do not recall, to try to teach myself Irish from this very old book that was in the house, Easy Lessons in Irish. Unfortunately, the lessons were not particularly easy. I still remember some of the phrases you were supposed to memorize from the very first lesson - "hunger and sorrow," "slaughter and death."

I didn't get very far.


message 10: by Jane (new)

Jane I really wish I could "like" comments.


message 11: by Manny (last edited May 13, 2012 11:44AM) (new) - added it

Manny Thank you Abigail! I was wondering what the "Muire" was. I actually wanted to get a formal grammar of Irish, but this textbook was the only one they had at the book shop. The proprietor told me that they had tried to stock grammars, but they didn't sell.

I must persevere. So far, it isn't even obvious to me that the language is Indo-European, though I know everyone says it is.


message 12: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny That is so incredibly Irish. Thank you again!


message 13: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 It's good to see that they got God in from the get-go. So how are you liking Ireland? I used to live in Cashel. If you get a chance you should go and see the Rock, and make sure you visit Feehans pub. It used to be my local (part pub/part undertakers).


message 14: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny Already back in Geneva, alas - only got to stay three days. But next time we will try to make it a longer trip!


message 15: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 Manny wrote: "Already back in Geneva, alas - only got to stay three days. But next time we will try to make it a longer trip!"

Ah, boo. Oh well, perhaps another time. Cashel is like Craggy Island without the watery surround.


message 16: by Azzageddi (new)

Azzageddi Ha! "Buntus Cainte"! Never thought I'd see that book on anyone's shelf. My copy is currently under an inch or two of dust somewhere, having been thrown there in utter disgust. It's been about a decade since I cracked it, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday: directionless, utterly useless smatterings of phrases and vocabulary words; useless not because they were of no value in polite conversation, but because they seemed completely chosen out of the blue, and never explained beyond "this is the phrase, memorize it." But I suppose it made some sort of positive lasting effect, as I did give my dog an Irish Gaelic name, replete with confounding spelling and all: Caoimhe.


message 17: by Manny (new) - added it

Manny I admit that my progress has been slow, and your description seems all too accurate...


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