The Importance of Language
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Should we at least be able to speak one of the celtic languages - Gaelg, Gaeilge, Gàidhlig, y Gymraeg, or Kernewek - or all of them?
If you do speak one of these languages, which books would you recommend for a beginner?
I have a smattering of Cornish (be advised the EU recognises 3 or 4 separate variants with different spellings and occasionally grammer) and my partner a reasonable amount of Ulster Irish (not to be confused with Southern stuff..). Its not really enough but we muddle by.
I want to try a new system for learning Cornish, I'll let you know how it goes and ask the other half about ways of learning Irish in general.
I was once a graduate student in linguistics. Ten years later, I'm returning to it as a hobby. Right now I'm working on getting a handle on French. (Which is itself a life-time project, I know...) Once I've progressed further with that, I'm curious about Breton, as well as the now-dead Continental Celtic languages. Don't know how much I'll actually learn them, though, as opposed to simply learning *about* them, as linguists, amateur and otherwise, tend to do...
I don't know how true this is for other Celtic literature; my school's program tended to be pretty Ireland-centric.
I've got some suggestions for learning Medieval Welsh and Old Irish on my Web site.
If you learn Medieval Welsh, Medieval Cornish in terms of the Cornish drama we have is quite doable.
For the Continental Celtic languages, you really need a fair amount of I.E. historical linguistics/philology, Old Irish, Old Welsh, and Latin, at least.
Modern Irish won't help you much with medieval/Old Irish; Modern Welsh will help you lots with Medieval Welsh.
And honestly, if I can do it, anyone with perseverance can do it.
> And honestly, if I can do it, anyone with perseverance can do it.
Totally agree. I learnt (modern) Welsh on my own and I can now read Welsh without resorting to dictionaries at the same speed I read English or Dutch. I think that my passive knowledge of Welsh is now greater than my passive knowledge of which I learnt at school. I am not in the language business at all, unless you count computerlanguages:)
I find it quite doable to read (and understand) medieval texts with a bit of help from specialist literature, but I read Y Mabinogion in the excellent modernized Welsh version by Dafydd and Rhiannon Ifans anyway.
Another book I can recommend: Cerddi Dafydd ap Gwilym by Gawsg Prifysgol Cymru (2010), it has the original text on one side and the modernized Welsh version (with notes) opposite to each other. Much better than using the English translation for a reference (in my case). Also available online but I prefer a book.