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Saturday 19 January 2019

Love Irish? Here’s how to use it more in your everyday life

We’re surrounded by the Irish language every day in Ireland, from road signs to programmes on the television and radio, but how many of us can say that we use it every day?

There’s a common misconception that you have to be a grammar genius or fluent in Irish to be an ‘Irish speaker’. Perhaps we are all just a little bit too critical of ourselves. What if we all gave it a go? What if we tried to use those random Irish words floating around our head without fear of making mistakes? What if we set aside the preconceptions and had fun with our language?

To mark the end of Bliain na Gaeilge 2018, there’s a new campaign called ‘An Chaint’ which is encouraging us all to have ‘The Talk’ with friends and family about using more Irish in our everyday lives.

Irish is, after all, the language first used to vocalise the quirks, idiosyncrasies and predilections of the Irish people. It’s the language that influenced how we speak English and the language that encapsulates weeks of craic in the Gaeltacht with that teenage crush.

So why not spark a mini revival amongst your family and friends? Sit down this Christmas and encourage them to speak more Gaeilge with you. You don’t need to be fluent. It all starts with using a cúpla focal together.

Here are six ways to ensure your Christmas chat becomes a New Year’s resolution:

1. Get talking

Do you know someone who speaks a little bit of Irish? Maybe a friend you went to the Gaeltacht with years ago? Why not chat to them about using more Irish together? Or if you’re someone who’s lucky enough to be able to string some sentences together as Gaeilge, bain triail as do chuid Gaeilge a úsáid le Gaeilgeoirí eile.

2. Start using all the Irish you already have

Do you remember the word buachaill? What about cailín or bainne? Do you remember when your madra ate your obair bhaile? Why not use these words in your everyday speech and surprise yourself with the amount of Gaeilge you already know - cáca milis for cake, airgead for money, and even Nollaig Shona for the time of year that’s in it.

3. Send WhatsApp messages as Gaeilge

Why not sprinkle a few words as Gaeilge into those WhatsApp conversations? With all the online Irish dictionaries available, it’s easier than you might think to start messaging each other in Irish. To get a fada on your phone, just hold down the letter and scroll across.

Try making the greeting or sign-off exclusively Irish. It will become second nature in no time. You can also change your language settings to Irish, so that your “last seen” on WhatsApp becomes “feicthe inniu ar...”

4. Use Irish when travelling

Have you ever heard a French couple on the bus share loving whispers? Or wondered what the Spanish guy is saying on the phone in your local shop? Well, Irish can be your very own undercover language when you’re travelling abroad. So you can use it to sneakily chat to your friend about the hot guy you’ve spotted on the beach in Sri Lanka – just make sure there isn’t another undercover Irish speaker around!

5.Turn it into a game

Everyone knows that repetition helps to improve language skills, but sometimes you may need a little boost to get the conversation started. We all love games, but they’re also a great way to learn.

Put little sticky notes with Irish translations on some of your favourite board games (from Monopoly to Scategories) or for the more adventurous types, take it off-board with some good old-fashioned charades or Pictionary. You could even throw in a few words during your weekly five-a-side. Focusing on the game rather than the conversation will help those Irish words to flow more easily.

6. Have ‘let’s speak Irish’ places or occasions

Have ‘An Chaint’ with your family and friends to figure out when and where you’re going to start speaking more Irish. You could make the dinner table a place to bring out the cúpla focal and even host a regular Come Dine With Me as Gaeilge. Why not start your own pop-up Gaeltacht at a party or event with your friends. A pint might even help to improve your linguistic confidence!

Maybe your evening walks or jogs with friends are a good time to put your growing vocab to good use. You may be a little bit shy at first, but don’t give up. Find something that works for you and keep chatting in Irish.

How can you have ‘An Chaint’? Sit down with your friends and family this Christmas and ask them to speak more Gaeilge with you. You don’t need to be fluent. Start off using more of your cúpla focal with them and surprise yourself at how much you know. Más Gaeilgeoir thú a chur aithne ar Ghaeilgeoir eile trí Bhéarla agus go mbíonn sibh ag labhairt lena chéile as Béarla anois, is féidir libh ‘An Chaint’ a bheith agaibh freisin.

For more information, go to the An Chaint website (le tuilleadh eolais a fháil téigh go suíomh An Chaint).

Sponsored by: Conradh na Gaeilge

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