DUBLIN, Ireland — We’ve never been abroad before. Every sign we’ve ever seen on the streets, at school, in restaurants, and so on, have all been in English. So imagine our culture shock when we landed at Dublin Airport to find that everything is not primarily in English. The Irish language, or Gaelic, is pretty much unlike any other language you’ll find while still using the Latin alphabet. With the Romance languages you might have studied in school—French, Italian, Spanish—you can notice similar verb constructions and vocabulary. Same goes for Germanic languages.
Gaelic, one of the few surviving Celtic languages, largely stands alone with its vocabulary. It’s not even widely spoken among the Irish. Of Ireland’s 4.75 million people, a mere 54,000 people speak Gaelic daily outside of the education system, according to a 2011 study of the Irish Census—only 1.8 percent of the population. Additionally, only about a million people in Ireland speak Gaelic as a second language. Because Gaelic still the national language of Ireland, however, all of the street signs must display both.
So, we decided to put you to the test based on pictures of some signs we saw. Can you guess these Gaelic phrases that you’d find on the street? Some have context clues based on their location or the pictures accompanying the signs. For others, well, you’re on your own—especially the last one. Also, No. 7 is funny. And disclaimer: we only got half of No. 9 correct. (Click the arrow on the right side of each picture to reveal the answer.)
Images by Alec Greaney / Heights Editor