Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Teach Yourself Irish

A Book You Can Buy From Me

Book Title: Teach Yourself Irish

Author: Diarmuid O Se et al.

Publisher: Teach Yourself Books

Date: 1993 (U.K.), 1994 (U.S.)

Length: 316 pages

ISBN: 0844238651

Illustrations: maps and other drawings

Quote: "We have limited this course to the simplest and most straightforward ways of saying things."

To people whose native language is English (or French or Spanish) it can seem that there aren't many simple, straightforward ways to say things in Irish. The grammar is full of surprises. Additionally the spelling and pronunciation parted company a few hundred years ago; as in English, it's usually possible to guess how a word sounds by looking at it, but not always.

Additionally, as the introduction affirms, even Irish people "who have learned some Irish at school" may "have had little opportunity of speaking it." Upon consideration of which, the English-speaking reader might be tempted to aim the book at the nearest wastebasket, crying "Then why bother?" And no, after reading this book, I don't know how to say "why bother?" in Irish.

Nevertheless the Irish language is a wonderful thing, as wonderful in its own way as English, and although I don't anticipate ever needing to speak it I appreciate this book's help toward being able to understand it, when I see it printed, or hear it sung. No book of this size could fully explain all of a language that a person is likely to read or hear, but this book goes a considerable way toward explaining most of the words and much of the grammar one will encounter.

To buy it from me online: $10 for the book, $5 for shipping, and according to the British publisher ( Dr. O Se (O'Shea) is still active and should receive $1.50 out of this amount. If you click on that publisher link, you'll have the opportunity to purchase a somewhat thicker book with CD's, which will be a great help toward visualizing (audializing?) how the Irish phrases actually sound. And, as always, if you happen to be in Gate City, Virginia, and you look quickly, you can get a cleaned, mold-exposed copy for less than $5 in real life.