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Irish language

The meaning of «irish language»

Irish (also called Gaeilge in Standard Irish) is a Goidelic language of the Insular Celtic branch of the Celtic language family, which is itself a part of the Indo-European language family.[1][3][5][6] Irish originated on the island of Ireland and was the population's first language until the late 18th century. Although English has been the first language of most residents of the island since the early 19th century, Irish is spoken as a first language in broad areas of counties Cork, Donegal, Galway, and Kerry, as well as smaller areas of counties Mayo, Meath, and Waterford. It is also spoken by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers, mostly in urban areas where the majority are second-language speakers. Daily users outside the education system number around 73,000 (1.5%), and over 1.85 million (37%) people across the island claim to be at least somewhat proficient with the language.

For most of recorded Irish history, Irish was the dominant language of the Irish people, who took it with them to other regions such as Scotland and the Isle of Man, where Middle Irish gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and (after blending with Norse languages) Manx. It was also spoken for a period in what later became the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. With a basic written form dating back to at least the 4th century CE, and written Irish in a Latin script since the 5th century CE, Irish has the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe. On the island, the language has three major dialects: Munster, Connacht and Ulster. All three have distinctions in their speech and orthography. There is also a "standard written form" devised by a parliamentary commission in the 1950s. The distinct Irish alphabet, a variant of the Latin alphabet with 18 letters, has been succeeded by the standard Latin alphabet (albeit with 7-8 letters used primarily in loanwords).

Irish has constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland and is an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland. It is also among the official languages of the European Union. The public body Foras na Gaeilge is responsible for the promotion of the language throughout the island. Irish has no regulatory body but the standard modern written form is guided by a parliamentary service and new vocabulary by a voluntary committee with university input. The modern-day areas of Ireland where Irish is still spoken daily as a first language are collectively known as the Gaeltacht.

In An Caighdeán Oifigiúil (the official written standard) the name of the language – in the Irish language – is Gaeilge (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɡeːlʲɟə]), this being the south Connacht form. The form used in Classical Gaelic and generally up to the spelling reform of 1948 was Gaedhealg.[7] Gaeilge, spelled Gaedhilge before the reform, was originally the genitive of Gaedhealg. Older spellings include Gaoidhealg [ˈɡeːʝəlˠɡ] in Classical Gaelic and Goídelc [ˈɡoiðelˠɡ] in Old Irish. The modern spelling results from the deletion of the silent dh in the middle of Gaedhilge, whereas Goidelic, used to refer to the language family including Irish, is derived from the Old Irish term.

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