Word of the day – Gaeilgeoir

A Gaeilgeoir is an Irish speaker or Irish language enthusiast. The plural is Gaeilgeoirí. So I could say Is Gaeilgeoir mé – I am a Gaeilgeoir (in both senses of the word). When Irish was the main language in Ireland, I doubt if there was a need for such a word, though I could be wrong.

There’s an interesting article about recent immigrants to Ireland learning Irish here. It also mentions that attitudes to the language are changing partially as a result of increased cultural and linguistic diversity in Ireland. The author, a Gaeilgeoir from Dublin, comments that she used to get stared at and whispered about when talking Irish to her children in public, but this doesn’t happen so much nowadays as there are quite a few other languages being spoken in Ireland.

In Welsh the equivalent terms are Cymro Cymraeg (Welsh-speaking Welshman), Cymraes Cymraeg (Welsh-speaking Welsh woman) and Cymry Cymraeg (Welsh-speaking Welsh people). Cymru-Cymraeg or y Fro Gymraeg are the areas of Wales where Welsh is the main language – the Welsh equivalent of Gaeltacht. There are also terms for non-Welsh-Speakers: Cyrmo/Cymraes/Cymry di-Gymraeg – e.g. Cymraes di-Gymraeg yw fy mam – my mum is a non-Welsh-speaking Welsh woman.

Are there equivalent terms in other languages?

9 thoughts on “Word of the day – Gaeilgeoir

  1. I don’t know if it actually would come out to meaning a French enthusiast, but the word Francophone means someone who speaks French.

  2. Yes, the word Francophone means somebody who speaks French and Anglophone somebody who speaks English, and the same identical word is used in French and English texts in Canada. But more often than not it’s used to designate an individual coming from that specific langauge and/or culture. The expression “langue maternelle” (“mother tongue”) is very common in texts, placed usually close to the word for the language, to indicate the language and culture of origin of an individual.

    Now and then I come across the expression “breton bretonnant” in texts from France to designate an inhabitant of “La Bretagne” who can speak Breton, the local Celtic tongue in that part of France.

  3. Yes Josh, and it’s exactly the same word in the French language and in the English language.

    Some use it to describe an enthusiast for French culture as well as an enthusiast for the French language, so you can have some francophiles who are very much enthused about Versailles and other such things, and not know much of the French language.

  4. In Basque, euskaldun means someone who is from Euskadi and speaks Basque, though it’s used sometimes meaning just someone who lives in Euskadi and even if he or she speaks Spanish.

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