‘My boy is learning Irish and it’s an education for the whole family’ | Parents and parenting

Kenneth Palmer

‘What’s that in Irish?’ my son asks, pretty normally. Now that he’s begun studying and crafting, he’s drunk on the electricity of text and cleaves to the modest, cardboard-backed textbooks of Irish gifted to him by his nana, a keen Irish speaker.

Teaching him to study has been enlightening. He’s previously begun correcting how I pronounce terms like ‘cow’ and ‘now’ (which I do so in the appropriate, Northern Irish way), substantially to the mocking glee of him and his mum. The wrinkle of him also seeking to study Irish has difficult points even more.

For one particular thing, teaching him the rudiments of English is a approach we discover so bewilderingly complex, we routinely generally marvel that any one, which include ourselves, ever managed it. I be concerned that the more neural load of training him Irish vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation in parallel would be over and above my primitive grasp of the language.

The sad point is, I did not understand a lot Irish expanding up. Exterior specialised bunscoilleana (Irish-language primaries), Northern Eire only offers Irish from secondary faculty, as an elective ‘foreign’ language. I did it for a few yrs from the age of 12 to 15, which, in fairness, seems to have has given me approximately the exact same shallow competence as most of my good friends from Dublin, who have been taught it each and every day for all 13 years of their schooling. This is broadly correct for my wife, who’s in the identical ‘recognises random terms and can talk to the place the library is, so prolonged as the person presents explained instructions in English’ as myself.

So, final 7 days, I purchased a copy of Buntús Foclóra (Vocabulary Basics), jam packed with Irish text. My son greedily pores about it, pointing at issues and demanding I say them out loud.

His favourites are these words that seem a bit like their English equivalents, with just ample distinction to be vaguely humorous to his ears. Main amongst these are ‘iógart’, ‘hata’ and ‘babhla’ – yoghurt, hat and bowl, respectively – the declaring of which fills him with a deep, laughing glee that we pick not to interpret as mocking condescension from our English son, and fairly an enthusiasm for his Irish roots.

As the reserve progresses, I quickly realise this primary vocabulary is more sophisticated than my very own, by several levels. Complicating things additional, I uncovered Donegal Irish, which appears great to me, but which the relaxation of Eire appears to be to feel is like listening to someone speaking Irish though they are drowning. Pronunciations vary wildly, meaning that when my spouse and I do both know a fundamental word, like ‘madra’ (canine) she pronounces it ‘mawdra’ and I choose for ‘madhu’, leaving my son no a lot more enlightened than right before.

The good news is, our problems that this will overload his mind are unfounded, and he proves a lot more than capable of accepting that the very same word can be pronounced differently by his moms and dads, as we rattle by means of dozens extra text at bedtime. His eyes are drooping by the time we get to the Zoo segment (the title of which, Zú, prompts a different sleepy laugh).

‘Now,’ I say, as he places down the ebook and I prepared him for snooze.

‘Niiiiauuu?’ he states, mocking me with his very last acutely aware breath, and I realise he’ll be high-quality.

Did Ye Listen to Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is out now (Minor, Brown, £16.99). Purchase a duplicate from guardianbookshop at £14.78

Stick to Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats

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