Irish Language Blog

Abair ‘I Love You’ i nDeich dTeanga (and Irish as the 11th) Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Cad a déarfaidh mé má deir sé (sí) 'Nagligivagit'?  Agus cén teanga í sin, ar aon chaoi? -- Léigh leat chun an freagra a fháil!  (grafaic: fearann poiblí per

Cad a déarfaidh mé má deir sé (sí) ‘Nagligivagit’? Agus cén teanga í sin, ar aon chaoi? — Léigh leat chun an freagra a fháil! (grafaic: fearann poiblí per

‘Tis the season to speak of “amour,” and the more ways, plus on rit, n’est-ce pas?   So let’s briefly review the most traditional Irish phrase for “I love you,” and then we’ll look at the same phrase in 10 other languages.  So how much more Irish will you learn from that?  Well, the matching game part of this blog will give you the language names in Irish.  So you’ll pick up some linguistic geography as you go.  Plus we’ll look at the details for the Irish phrase and review the pronunciation of the voiced velar fricative, a sound that is hard to avoid when saying you love someone in Irish.

There is a caveat about the phrases other than the Irish — they’re culled from the Internet, so if anyone has better suggestions, I’d certainly welcome them.   Some of the languages listed I speak tolerably well, but others, bhuel, níl siad agam ar chor ar bith.

First, let’s look at the Irish (an Ghaeilge):

Mo ghrá thú!, lit. My love you, i.e. You are my love.  Note: there’s no verb in this sentence.  “Love” is a noun here.

For pronunciation:

mo, which means “my” [muh, as in “monk” or “mud,” not like “Mo Willems” (the author) or “Keb’ Mo'” (the musician)]

For “mo ghrá,” let’s look first at “grá” [graw], love.  “Grá” is pretty straightforward to pronounce.  The “g” is “hard” (like English “grand”) and the “r” is flapped (lightly trilled).

Following the word for “my” (mo), grá becomes:

ghrá [γraw, using the IPA symbol /γ/ since there’s no specific way to represent this sound using the Roman alphabet] ] after “mo” (mo ghrá).  This “gh” sound has been described in previous other blogs, such as Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives (Posted on 09 Oct, 2011,  Remember that this “gh” sound is specific to when the adjacent vowels are either “a,” “o,” or “u” (that is, specifically, not “e” or “i,” which trigger a different sound).

Let’s do a brief review of the sound /γ/, just in case.  It’s sort of like the “ch” of “Chutzpah,” but softer and deeper down in the throat.  In other words, it’s nothing like an ordinary English or Irish “g” (as in “good” or “gúna“).  Nor is it like the initial “gh” of Hindi “ghat” (as in “the Western Ghats”) or “ghī” / “ghee,” which you may know as “im gléghlanta” (i.e. clarified butter, used in cooking).  Those Hindi “gh’s” are like a hard “g” followed immediately by a “h” sound, a completely different sound from what we have here in Irish.  And, in Irish, we can’t ignore the “gh”-ness of this sound the way we do in English, where “ghetto” has the same “g” sound as “get” and “gherkin” has the same initial “g” sound as “girl.”  In their original languages (Iodáilis/Eabhrais agus Ollainnis), maybe the “gh” of “ghetto” and “gherkin,” was significant, but not in Modern English.

This change of “g” to “gh” happens routinely in Irish with many other words, such as “gúna” becoming “ghúna” (mo ghúna),”glan” becoming “ghlan” (Ghlan mé an gort), and Gort a’ Choirce becoming “Ghort a’ Choirce” (muintir Ghort a’ Choirce).

But for our purposes, we just need to be aware of “ghrá” for our phrase of the day, “Mo ghrá thú.”

Thú,” the final word in the phrase “Mo ghrá thú,” is easy enough to pronounce but the spelling can throw newcomers off.  The “t” is silent, so “thú” is pronounced “hoo,” as in “hoot.”

So to recap, “Mo ghrá thú” sounds like “muh γraw hoo.”

Now let’s see what some other languages have to say.  First there’s a banc focal, with the names of the languages involved, then the various phrases.  There are eleven language names because one “I love you” phrase is the same in two of the languages.  Where the languages have special scripts, I’ve saved that for the answers, so the script doesn’t give the language away.

BANC FOCAL: Albáinis   Fraincis   Portaingéilis   Gearmáinis   Hiondúis   Súlúis   Aragóinis   Ionúitis   Iarúibis   Sairdínis   Breatnais

Na Frásaí

  1. Je t’aime.
  2. Të dua.
  3. Nagligivagit.
  4. Eu te amo.
  5. Ngiyakuthanda
  6. Mo nifẹẹ rẹ.
  7. T’amo.
  8. Ich liebe dich.
  9. Rwy’n dy garu di.
  10. maiṅ tumhaiṅ bahut cāhatā (cāhatī) hūṅ.

Tá súil agam go mbainfidh tú sult as.   SGF – Róislín


  1. Fraincis (French): Je t’aime.
  2. Albáinis (Albanian): Të dua.
  3. Ionúitis (Inuktitut/Inuktituk): Nagligivagit (ᓇᒡᓕᒋᕙᒋᑦ).
  4. Portaingéilis na Brasaíle (Brazilian Portuguese): Eu te amo.
  5. Súlúis (Zulu): Ngiyakuthanda.
  6. Iarúibis (Yoruba): Mo nifẹẹ rẹ.
  7. Aragóinis (Aragonese) agus Sairdínis (Sardinian): T’amo.
  8. Gearmáinis (German): Ich liebe dich.
  9. Breatnais (Welsh): Rwy’n dy garu di, lit. I am loving you, or even more literally, “I am (in) your loving you.”
  10. Hiondúis (Hindi): मैं तुम्हैं बहुत चाहता (चाहती) हुँmaiṅ tumhaiṅ bahut cāhatā (cāhatī) hūṅ (feminine form in parentheses)
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

Leave a comment: