Test Driving Languages – Irish

Flag_of_Ireland.svgI’ve begun my test drive of all the languages on Duolingo. And the first is Irish. Irish is the native language of Ireland, but is only spoken as a first language by around 80,000 people in Ireland. The country is dominated by English now. But there are more than a million people studying Irish on Duolingo.

Is fear mé.

— I am a man.


This is easy. It’s the same as English, so you don’t need to learn anything. There are some vowels with accents on them, and those alter the pronunciation.


Wow. Difficult! It’s very difficult for a native English speaker to understand how to pronounce the words, as they just don’t seem to follow English rules. This will take a lot of getting used to. The word “fear” is pronounced “far” and it means “man” in English.


Completely different than English. English is Subject-Verb-Object. Irish is Verb-Subject-Object. It takes time to get used to. Also, the thing I find very difficult is verb conjugation.

Overall Impression

Irish is difficult! I went through the first few lessons without reviewing, and I retained very little. I had to keep checking to see what the words meant. The language is so foreign to me, that it’s not at all easy to pick up. This is a language that will take considerable time and dedication to learn. But I’ll do it!

Are you interested in studying it? Or can you speak it? Let me know in the comments below.


6 thoughts on “Test Driving Languages – Irish”

  1. I’m interested in learning it. We live in an area with deep Scottish and Irish root and there are many Gaelic speakers (some road signs are even in Gaelic). There’s a Gaelic College about an hour and a half from where we live. I’ve head the language often, I know that it will be a difficult language to learn. While the letters are the same as English, not much is pronounced as it looks. The name Ceilidh is pronounced kay-lee.

    1. I’m trying to figure out how some of the names are pronounced. There’s a teacher here with an Irish name, although she’s from New Zealand. I have no clue how to pronounce her name. She uses a nickname instead.

  2. Very difficult, I agree. I had a very brief flirtation with Irish many many years ago and have at least a vague idea about the pronunciation, but even so it still manages to baffle me. Dublin, for instance, is Baile Atha Cliath, and you pretty much pronounce it Blah Cliath.

    Personally I feel this is the one language where I’d like a list of all the proper forms, rather than just learning it by getting example sentences. Also, the vocabulary is very hard to remember because it doesn’t look like anything else I know in many cases. I know a little about a lot of languages, which makes it easier to link words to other languages (Norwegian kniven with knife and smiler with smile), and I just don’t get that in Irish.

    All that said, I’m finding it very, very interesting, and every time I remember something or construct a sentence right, it feels like a triumph. 🙂

    1. Yeah, it looks like nothing I’ve ever studied before, so it makes it difficult. Japanese was that way at first, but I’m used to it, and the language sounds like actual words and sentences to me now. Russian, however, sounds just like noises. Angry noises.

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