Why is Celtic languages difficult?

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Giselberga
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Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby Giselberga » 2018-06-26, 16:37

I heard Celtic languages are very hard
Why is Celtic language difficult?

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linguoboy
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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby linguoboy » 2018-06-26, 17:16

Giselberga wrote:I heard Celtic languages are very hard
Why is Celtic language difficult?

I don't find them particularly hard (and I've learned two of them).

I think they have that reputation because they are commonly learned by Anglophones without much experience learning languages. To them, all foreign languages are "difficult".
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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby ceid donn » 2018-06-26, 20:35

Compared to a lot of other languages around, they really aren't. They are, however, very different from more commonly studied languages, like Germanic and Romantic languages, and that presents challenges for many learners.

Some main ways that Celtic languages seem difficult for learners, in my many years of experience with Celtic languages:

-- Celtic languages are VSO (verb-subject-object) languages. Many of world's most studied languages, like English, Mandarin, French, Spanish and Japanese, are either SVO or SOV. Surprisingly, VSO word order is not that hard once you get the hang of it, but a lot of people are scared by it because it's different.

-- They contain phonemes not found in many other languages, and in some cases, Celtic language have more phonemes to learn than the learner's native language. Learners often find these unfamiliar sounds difficult to master. This is one of the more genuinely difficult aspects of learning a Celtic language.

-- Orthography for the Celtic languages is very unique. Since Celtic languages have their own sounds, they need their own orthography that reflects that. And none of the 6 modern Celtic languages use the same orthography. The closest are Irish and Scottish Gaelic, which are both based in the same older orthography for Old and Middle Irish, but today are distinct from each other.

-- There are grammatical concepts that are pretty much unique to the Celtic language. For example, they don't have an infinitive form of the verb. Instead they use the verbal noun, or verb-noun, which can function similarly to an infinitive in Romantic languages, but are not limited to that. As the name suggests, they can be used as a verb or noun, depending on the context, and the way they are used is a very new way of thinking in a language from what most learners already know.

-- Variations among dialects and between colloquial and more formal usage can be very confusing and frustrating for learners to navigate. This is not unique to the Celtic languages, as most language learners encounter this in nearly any language they might study. But within the small world of the Celtic languages, this can get pretty complicated and daunting. And as is the case with nearly any minority language in the world, things get political very quickly. This is why I tend to avoid Irish, why Breton can get so very, very aggravating for me and why I came close to giving up Scottish Gaelic more times than I can recall. You won't be able to avoid politics with any language, naturally, but with minority languages, the room is already small to begin with, so when someone shows up with really big opinions about what they think is correct and proper and right, it can feel a bit...suffocating. And if you're a learner just trying to get a handle of the basics, that can be really off-putting.

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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby Multiturquoise » 2018-08-29, 17:24

Giselberga wrote:I heard Celtic languages are very hard
Why is Celtic language difficult?


The most difficult parts of almost every language, including Celtic languages, are the verbs and the idioms. I once focused on Irish and it was the idioms which generally drove me crazy, but there are lenitions and eclipses in Irish, which may seem difficult to the learner when they start learning from scratch. I've also studied Welsh and a little bit of Scottish Gaelic.

By the way, I think you can correct texts of your native language's learners and also post on the Translations forum. Do not forget, no one's perfect, you're always welcome to ask whatever question you want us to answer.
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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby linguoboy » 2018-08-29, 17:27

Multiturquoise wrote:The most difficult parts of almost every language, including Celtic languages, are the verbs and the idioms. I once focused on Irish and it was the idioms which generally drove me crazy

Idioms or just ordinary constructions? Like I wouldn't call the prepositional expression of possession (e.g. "Tá airgead agam") an "idiom", but it is a nonintuitive construction to those whose native languages lack it.
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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby Multiturquoise » 2018-08-29, 17:35

linguoboy wrote:
Multiturquoise wrote:The most difficult parts of almost every language, including Celtic languages, are the verbs and the idioms. I once focused on Irish and it was the idioms which generally drove me crazy

Idioms or just ordinary constructions? Like I wouldn't call the prepositional expression of possession (e.g. "Tá airgead agam") an "idiom", but it is a nonintuitive construction to those whose native languages lack it.


Constructions like "Tá airgead agam." are a little difficult, but not as much as idioms. For example I mean those (e.g. in English "It's raining cats and dogs" or in Turkish "Ayağını yorganına göre uzat", sorry for not being able to give an example in Irish.)

Even prepositions decline by pronoun. (e.g. "ag": agam, agat, aige, aici, againn, agaibh, acu)

Note:
The English and the Turkish don't mean the same thing.
Last edited by Multiturquoise on 2018-08-29, 17:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why is Celtic languages difficult?

Postby linguoboy » 2018-08-29, 17:46

Multiturquoise wrote:For example I mean those (e.g. in English "It's raining cats and dogs" or in Turkish "Ayağını yorganına göre uzat", sorry for not being able to give an example in Irish.)

The Irish is tá sé ag cur sceana gréasaí "It's casting shoemaker's knives". So yeah, kind of obscure.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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