Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

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mysti
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Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby mysti » 2012-06-05, 2:20

Hey, I am a Canadian girl with ancestors (and family) in both Northern Ireland and Scotland. Now, I have always been interested in the Celtic culture and I thought I would up my game by learning the language. Now here is my problem, Irish or Scottish Gaelic? I have no preference but I would like to make this challenge I have set myself as productive as possible so which one would have the most resources? I mean like language learning software and/or books, but also things after I have become more advanced like novels, poems, etc. I have also heard that Ulster Irish and Scottish are very similar sounding languages, so, if I learned one would I be able to learn the other more easily later on? Since I am in Canada, there is more Scottish language areas here than Irish, so I was thinking about learning that one. Any suggestions or comments? Thanks

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-06-05, 2:54

There are definitely more resources for Irish. Ireland has a population of four and a half million and Irish is one of its official languages. It is a required subject in schools and used to be mandatory for the civil service as well. Scotland has over five million people, but Gaelic is spoken by only about 1% of them and there are less than 3000 students receiving Gaelic-medium instruction. (In Ireland, the equivalent figure is over 40,000.) Despite the recent creation of an official regulatory body for Scottish Gaelic, the language does not yet have full official status.

It's true that there are more similarities between Ulster Irish and Scottish Gaelic than between other dialects, but all the Goidelic languages are closely related, so learning any one of them will give you a considerable leg up on learning the others. Someone even recently posted a video here of a speaker of Munster Irish (the variety geographically and grammatically most distant from Gaelic) and a speaker of Manx (the variety geographically and grammatically the closest to Gaelic) conversing with each other.
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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby księżycowy » 2012-06-05, 11:37

I don't have too much more to add, as I agree with Linguoboy. But I will also point out that Irish also has TV and radio stations freely available online.
I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think Scottish Gaelic has equivalents of TG4 or the like.

EDIT: They do have BBC Alba, but it seems the stream (for live TV at least) is only available for the UK.

So it might be easier to at least start with Irish. As Linguoboy also points out though, it really doesn't matter which in the end, as you can easily pick up another Goidelic language after learning one. That's actually what I'm planning on doing, as I also have an interest in Scottish Gaelic.
I just decided to learn Irish first, as I have Irish ancestry and I just happened to have resources for it first.

Anyway, good luck with which ever you choose.

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby ceid donn » 2012-06-05, 15:08

If you're in Canada, I'd recommend going with Scottish Gaelic. Ignore all that doom-and-gloom crap about statistics. I don't mean to be rude, but I get so sick of people boiling this wonderful, living language down to numbers and third-party observations of how active its community is. :roll: I've learned this lanaguage to an advanced level and while I do wish there were more speakers worldwide, I don't go around thinking I wish I had learned Irish instead because of the number of speakers. Like you, I wanted to learn Gaelic because it's my ancestral lanaguage, and even though I've both Irish and Scottish blood too, I'm very glad I went with Scottish Gaelic.

I've used a Canadian long-distance learning program for the past 4 years and have been to Cape Breton to study Gaelic at the Gaelic College. I can honestly say there are some really great people in the Canadian Gaelic community, in Nova Scotia/Cape Breton primarily, but elsewhere in Canada. There's definitely more community and support for it in Canada than for Irish, and there's been a real push in the past few years to encourage growth in the Canadian Gaelic community, and their efforts are seeing some fruit. There are more classes available, more summer programs and weekend workshops, more events and ceilidhs, and just more people involved in general than when I started studying Gaelic 4 years ago. (I wish I was a Canadian so I could take advantage of these!) And there is plenty of literature, traditional and contemporary, in Scottish Gaelic, and more and more is becoming available each year, in print and digital.

Scottish Gaelic is a little less complex grammatically in regard to Irish, but both a pretty distinct from English, which can be intimidating. But they are learnable languages. Best of luck with which ever one you choose!

Some links for Scottish Gaelic:

BBC's online beginner's course in Gaelic (not the greatest but it will get you started)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/foghlam/beag_air_bheag/

A more comprehensive self-study online course--I've done this entire course with my online classes:
http://www.taic.me.uk/taic.htm

I took four online classes with this program, and I can recommend their beginners class up to the first advanced course:
http://www.gaelicacademy.ca/

The Gaelic College in Cape Breton--they have a summer program that you may wish to check out:
http://gaeliccollege.edu/

Sìol Enterprises, a Scottish Gaelic book supplier in Canada:
http://www.gaelicbooks.com/

The Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia:
http://www.gaelic.ca/

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby linguoboy » 2012-06-05, 15:42

nì eile wrote:If you're in Canada, I'd recommend going with Scottish Gaelic. Ignore all that doom-and-gloom crap about statistics.

I wasn't trying to discourage the OP from learning Gaelic, I was simply trying to answer the question she posed, which was "Which one would have the most resources?" No contest, the answer is "Irish". The statistics are simply there to back up that claim.

nì eile wrote:Scottish Gaelic is a little less complex grammatically in regard to Irish

I don't really know enough about Gaelic syntax to say whether this is really true or not. (Irish--at least in its standard form--is more complex morphologically, but there's much more to grammar than just how the words inflect.) On the other hand, it's pretty clear that Gaelic is more complex phonetically: it has as many as twenty distinctive vowels versus eleven or twelve for most varieties of Irish, as well as preaspiration in stop consonants and a full set of contrasts in the sonorants which has been simplified in most Irish dialects. Some Gaelic dialects (e.g. Lewis) even have lexical tone.

Still totally learnable, as you say, but a bit more challenging at the outset for a complete beginner.
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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby księżycowy » 2012-06-05, 15:54

I was speaking more from a resource stand point myself. It's nice to have access to things like online tv, online radio, book resources, etc. It is a bit harder to get those in Scottish Gaelic. But that's not to say that resources are impossible to get (far from that). And you've provided yourself that people can learn Scottish Gaelic to great effect. So no-one should be turned away from wanting to learn Scottish Gaelic.

I certainly have no wish to turn this thread into a "which is greater/better" type of debate (I don't think any of us want that). They both are great languages in my book.

I guess my best advice to the OP is just look at both the languages. Get a bit of their flavor and see which you like more.

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby corcaighist » 2012-06-06, 6:15

I agree with everything the above posters have said. Irish does indeed have more speakers and resources than Gaelic. However, language learning is made successful because of interest on behalf of the learner. Both languages have rich literature and music. I suggest going on YT and listening to the languages being spoken and seeing what you like, what tugs on your heart more. Personally I am loving the music of Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. She is amazing! I love the single Hùg Air A' Bhonaid Mhòir. And then there is the Puirt a beul by Elisabeth Kaplan and Capercaillie's Tighinn Air A' Mhuir. That said you can enjoy the songs without understanding what is being said. On the Irish side you can not but be moved by this song and there is the fun Dúlamán and Bean Pháidín.

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter which one you learn as you can go back and forth as you get more in to intermediate and advanced studies. I studied Estonian for four years and now I am starting on Finnish and I am enjoying both. I am also picking up Finnish so fast because of the similarities. I personally think I'd be cool for you to learn Gaelic because it could do with more learners and you can always have Ulster Irish on the side as an extra bonus.

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby Sectori » 2012-06-06, 22:21

As a note, I notice you're in Ontario, which means the Permanent North American Gaeltacht (that is, Irish-speaking community) is (relatively, anyway) near you. Not that it means much, given its size, but something to be aware of, I guess. I don't know much more about it than that it exists, but it might be worth looking into.
agus tha mo chluasan eòlach air a’ mhac-talla fhathast / às dèidh dhomh dùsgadh
(mona nicleòid wagner, “fo shneachd”)

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Re: Irish or Scottish Gaelic?

Postby księżycowy » 2012-06-06, 22:41

Wow, that's close (relatively) to me too. :o
My family tends to take vacations in Canada around that general area too, as we have a cottage up there. Might have to try going there sometime. :mrgreen:


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