My poor daughter is a textbook example of this. She is struggling with reading. I sometimes feel we can’t have helped her by introducing a third language into her life.
I saw her painstakingly spelling out words in her Irish book the other day. I did sympathise. “Leanbh”, for example, is a bit of a killer, if it were English it would be spelt “lan uv”, I cannot imagine that this word could ever be written any way whatsoever in French, so at least we can rule out this difficulty.
Small prize (gasp of awe from me perhaps) if any non-Irish person can tell me what leanbh means without googling. Residence in Ireland also disqualifies. I’m going on the honour system here.
It means song.
Go on, gasp in awe.
Angeline LeLeux says
Leanbh = páiste. Tá an leanbh ag léamh? Buíochas le Día! (Child. The child is reading? Thank God!)
Angeline LeLeux says
Blast. That should have been “An bfhuil an leanbh ag léamh?” Never mind.
Well, the anecdote from the other day (Mr. Waffle helping with homework) made me think that she will have a huge advantage over children who can only think of Irish as translated English, if you see what I mean.
Even though all languages have their own sound-spelling conventions, the Irish language one is a lot further away from either English or French than they are from each other. I suppose it is after all derived from Latin as pronounced by Dark Ages Northumbrian monks. In its defence it’s probably more internally consistent than English, in that if you encounter an unfamiliar word (that’s not a proper name*) you can be pretty sure of pronouncing it correctly.
I was discussing Manx with a Welsh acquaintance once, and explaining that I find it weird as I can’t read it without sounding it out, out loud, and waiting for my brain to hear it. “But surely their system’s much easier than Irish?” she protested. “Not for me,” I told her, “I have Irish installed.”
By the way, vaguely regarding your EU /newspaper comments of the other day, I commend Sarah Carey’s article on What has the EU ever done for Us? (answer – lots, if you’re an Irish woman) in the Irish Times the other day.
*names fossilize older spellings and can be tricky
Actually neither language nor literacy are innate, both rely on a variety of cognitive systems plus input. It’s just that spoken language emerged a long time ago in our evolutionary history, and is easier to learn, and literacy emerged more recently and is harder to learn…