I have taken on an exciting new project. A formidable project. A project that will probably result in a lot of tears, frustration, and mispronunciation.
I’m going to try to learn Irish. By myself.
It’s a bad idea. A really bad idea.
I’m at the very beginning of the process (lesson three in my handy little workbook), so if you ask me to say something in Irish, I will probably give you a very panicked look and run in the opposite direction. Give me a few months, at least.
As I was eagerly scanning my lesson and learning lovely things about sentence structure and verb forms and feeling very scholarly and industrious, I came across two sentences that acted as a metaphorical bucket of water dumped on my enthusiasm.
Ireland, the land of gorgeous green hills and faeries and leprechauns, apparently draws the line at frolicking white horses with horns affixed to their heads:
Níl aonbheannaigh ann. Níl a leithéid de rud ann.
Translation: Unicorns don’t exist. There’s no such thing.
I sat there for a good long while, staring sadly at the book and wondering why it felt the need to tell me this.
It’s not that I have any particular love of unicorns. I once wrote a very short, very silly play to entertain my writer’s group with (I hand out parts and let them do what they want with them and the results are always fabulous), that involved an invasion of evil unicorns with toxic glitter horns. The unicorn character in the story lisped. It was exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.
I just don’t like being told by a workbook that magical creatures don’t exist. I have this theory that magical creatures have always existed and still do; they just became very discreet.
In the end, I decided that throwing out the book and my aspirations of learning a new language because of the deep offense caused by a lack of belief in unicorns probably wasn’t the best idea (especially since the book is from the library). Thus, I have forgiven its minor indiscretion and moved on to consonant mutations.
I did make a purchase recently in honor of my plunge into Gaeilge. Something to look forward to.
There might not be unicorns in Ireland, but at least there are still dragons in Middle Earth.
Well… there was. Poor Smaug.
I suppose it’s a bit ironic since Tolkien, linguist though he was, wasn’t a huge fan of Gaelic. He didn’t think it was as pretty as, say, Welsh or Finnish. Hence the Elvish languages sound more like the latter than the former. I respectfully disagree. I think Irish is very pretty.
Also extremely hard to pronounce.
And the spelling… Let’s not talk about that right now.
Someday. Someday, I will read this book.