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 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic)

Source: United Nations Department of Public Information, NY




Profile


Native Name
Gaeilge

Total Speakers
260,000 (1981)


Usage By Country
Official Language: Eire (Ireland) together with English
Home Speakers: chiefly in Connemara and Donegal


Background
Irish Gaelic, often known simply as Irish, is an official language of the Republic of Ireland. It belongs to the Indo-European family, Celtic group, Goidelic subgroup. Over 200,000 people claim to be fluent or native speakers and perhaps another 100-200,000 have a good command of the language. Latin script is generally used but sometimes also the Gaelic script, which was evolved from the Latin one during the 5th century. Always during the 5th century Gaelic was carried from Ireland to Scotland. With the course of time the Scottish variety diverged to the point where it was clearly a separate dialect. Irish is taught as an official language in schools and encouraged by the government. As all other Celtic languages (e.g. Cornish, Welsh, Breton), a characteristic distinguishing it from other Indo-European linguistic groups is the loss of the original Indo-European sound "p". Its rules of pronunciation are extremely complicated, as the spelling generally does not correspond to the pronunciation. English words of Gaelic origin include hard, glen, bog, slogan, whiskey, blarney, shillelagh, shamrock, colleen, brogoc, and galore.

Received 2/20/1998
Posted 2/20/1998
Checked 11/12/1998