linguoboy wrote:But Irish orthography isn't a mess. It's actually ingenious both in how it covers dialect variation and how it manages to represent a plethora of phonemes (45+ for most dialects) with a minimum of characters (23, including diacriticised vowels). It's just not intuitive to English-speakers--whose sense of entitlement in these matters simply boggles the mind. It's not designed for them, but for L1-speakers of Irish (who, incidentally, I never here complaining about the Irish orthography the way Anglophones complain about English spelling).
You're not "calling a spade a spade". You're calling a spade a fucked-up garden fork because you're used to doing all your planting with a bucket trowel and a rusty icepick.
I like the metaphor! But in all seriousness, I retract my statement that Irish orthography is fucked up. What it really was, was that as kevin said:
Okay, so I understand that only half of the vowels is actually meant to be pronounced - but how am I supposed to figure out which half?
And perhaps TYI will go on to explain further how you get a sense of which vowels to pronounce, but the first 9 pages I've read were fairly confusing. I think it was the fact that they introduce the alphabet, then very briefly mention how to pronounce the vowels (saying that they are pronounced as in Latin - though the examples they use seem to contradict that, unless Latin vowels, especially <a> became /ə/ in certain circumstances) and consonants (basically saying they're like in English), and then go onto talk about the various intricacies of orthography. Even with those intricacies, at first they mention the broad/slender distinction, aspiration, and then eclipsis. But then they start in on vowel combinations, and to be honest, that's where I got quite confused. I would try to figure out the pronunciation based on all that I had just read, and I think every single time I got it wrong. Which is ok, but the difficulty was that I couldn't seem to see a pattern, nor quite understand the rules TYI was explaining. But all in all, if Irish orthography is regular, then I know it's just a matter of understanding it fully.