Which Celtic language?

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Which Celtic language?

Postby Delodephius » Thu 07 Apr 2011 8:43 pm

I would like to add a Celtic language to my list of language I plan to learn, but I cannot decide which one. I'm undecided between Irish and Welsh. Which one sounds cooler? :D
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby linguoboy » Thu 07 Apr 2011 9:03 pm

Delodephius wrote:I would like to add a Celtic language to my list of language I plan to learn, but I cannot decide which one. I'm undecided between Irish and Welsh. Which one sounds cooler? :D

Depends what you think sounds "cool". Irish phonology is considerably more complex (phonemic palatalisation, phonemic vowel length, etc.), but Welsh has a rich and distinctive fricative inventory (notable for its inclusion of /θ/, /ð/, and /ɬ/) plus voiceless nasals.

Really, I recommend listening to some samples (both spoken and sung) of each and then coming to a conclusion based on those. They're not hard at all to find on YouTube or on various sites geared at learners.

Here's a little clip of my favourite Irish comic, Dara Ó Briain, giving an interview in Irish: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WaKdIIdiFg.

There was a cute video of Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys bumming around LA together speaking Welsh, but it's been taken down. So here's Gruffudd alone making a PSA for Welsh devolution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z6aH3cN_NU.
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby Delodephius » Thu 07 Apr 2011 9:24 pm

Hm, Welsh does sound a lot better, for some reason. I'll do some more research.

As for Irish, I like their use of diactrics in writing, but the language itself does not sound so appealing to me.

From a demographical point of view, Welsh is spoken by about 8 times more people than Irish, about so, right? Does it however mean that Welsh has more media available? Are there more websites, books, television and radio channels available in Welsh?
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby linguoboy » Fri 08 Apr 2011 1:51 am

Delodephius wrote:From a demographical point of view, Welsh is spoken by about 8 times more people than Irish, about so, right?

Depends on whether you mean native speakers or total speakers. Everyone in the Republic of Ireland--over four million people--learns Irish in school, but as you can imagine, their command of the language is often poor to nonexistent. The number of fluent native speakers is probably about 40,000. The number who claim fluency is about ten times that, with 1.6 million insisting on some degree of competency.

The number of Welsh speakers in Wales is 611,000, of which 62% claim to speak it daily. (In Ireland, the figures is a measly 72,000.) There may be another 100,000-150,000 fluent speakers living outside of Wales.

Does it however mean that Welsh has more media available? Are there more websites, books, television and radio channels available in Welsh?

IME, it seems about roughly equal. Welsh has more active speakers, but media production in the Republic is better funded. (At least historically; we'll see what the budget crunch does.) There's a lot of music in both languages, but the Welsh music scene seems more diverse. That is to say, maybe there is good Irish-language country, hip-hop, dub, ska, and punk to be found and I just haven't had any luck finding it. I also seem to come across a higher ratio of original literature in Welsh; a lot of the Irish children's books I've seen, for example, are translations. On the other hand, I've seen more original research and academic writing in Irish.

So it may depend what you're interested in. Either way, there should be more than enough material to reinforce your learning. It just might not be the material you're most interested in.
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby Sprochamaedli » Thu 09 Feb 2012 8:21 pm

Welsh! I mean Irish is interesting too, but personally I think Welsh is beautiful sounding. And the spelling is a lot easier. ;)
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby Tikolm » Wed 15 Aug 2012 2:44 am

I really shouldn't be posting here, but I actually have sort of the same question as the OP did. In my case, though, the question is pretty much whether to learn Welsh or not and if not what I should do instead (other than practice X, Y and Z, obviously).
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby choc_pud » Mon 29 Oct 2012 11:29 pm

Welsh absolutely, all the way! It sounds so mush nicer than Irish, has more support, you're more likely to find someone else who speaks it (I do myself a little). And one can tell how a word is pronounced from the spelling! Hoorah! Unlike in Irish (though I am starting to find that easier now than I was).
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby linguoboy » Tue 30 Oct 2012 1:01 am

choc_pud wrote:And one can tell how a word is pronounced from the spelling!

That's as true for Irish as it is for Welsh.
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby Tikolm » Fri 09 Nov 2012 4:39 pm

linguoboy wrote:
choc_pud wrote:And one can tell how a word is pronounced from the spelling!

That's as true for Irish as it is for Welsh.
Is it? I remember looking at several descriptions of what Irish vowel digraphs do and still being unsure of what actually went on. I'm pretty sure that ea is [_ja] and ai is [a_j] (palatalization goes on following consonant -- sorry, I'm being sloppy with transcriptions), but then some people seem to say that ea is actually [j_E], [j_æ] or something, and that confuses the heck out of me. Can't anyone make up her mind?! And don't even ask me what ia and ae do; I thought I knew at one point, but I just couldn't get a clear picture from anything I ran into. Maybe I should do some more research on this subject, but I'd probably just get overwhelmed and run away making vague noises of consternation.
And then, of course, just when you think you know what's going on with all those vowels and slender/broad consonants, you run smack up against the inevitable dialectal variation. I know, I know, dialects are so great and wonderful and we mustn't squash them because they show the character of the region or whatever, but they're so confusing if you don't know which is which or which one you're learning or reading about. They also result in countless variant spelling schemes, regardless of whether someone's already devised a unified orthography. Welsh and Irish both have lots of dialectal variation (yes it was hard for me at first with Welsh but soon I got it all straightened out), and I think Irish has some sort of unified orthography too, which Welsh doesn't seem to, but my impression was that whereas Welsh spelling varied slightly based on local pronunciation, Irish spelling varied greatly based on how the writer felt like spelling it. Admittedly both their spelling schemes probably vary based on both factors, but I think one is predominant for Irish and the other for Welsh. Correct me if you think I'm wrong, as I may well be.

So, in short, I've read up almost equally well on Irish and Welsh pronunciation and spelling rules, but I was frightened away by the former and I've pretty well mastered the latter. (My r's are still a bit of a mess and I struggle with ll's at the ends of syllables, but at least I know roughly what does what.) If I really wanted to verify that one was in fact "easier" than the other, I should try to learn Irish, but somehow I don't really want to. This is why you may not want to trust what I have to say.
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Re: Which Celtic language?

Postby Tikolm » Sat 10 Nov 2012 12:25 am

Tikolm wrote:but then some people seem to say that ea is actually [j_E], [j_æ] or something
Whoops. I meant [_jE] and [_jæ].
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