The first tough bit of Old Irish is the spelling system and phonology.
There are two issues here, for the native speaker of English
- Old Irish uses phonemic contrasts that we don’t (particularly palatalisation)
- The Old Irish spelling system doesn’t reflect its phonology in a couple of important places.
Old Irish uses 17 or 18 letters (five vowels and 11 or 12 consonants, depending on how you count <h>): <a>, <b>, <c>, <d>, <e>, <f>, <g>, <h>, <i>, <l>, <m>, <n>, <o>, <p>, <r>, <s>, <t>, <u>.
The “additional” letters in Modern English (i.e. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been twenty odd years since I last studied Old Irish. So when a former student of mine, James Bell, came and asked if I’d work with him on Old Irish, Old Norse, Gothic, or something else old, I thought it sounded like a fun idea.
For our textbook, we’re using An Old Irish Primer by Wim Tigges in collaboration with Feargal Ó Béarra. But unlike 20 years ago, there are also lots of resources around on the Internet.
I’m going to use this blog series as a kind of notebook/reportage about what we are up to. Since this is a case of the blind leading the blind, corrections and suggestions are very much appreciated.Read the rest of this entry »