Fionnchú left some interesting questions on yesterday's post. I answered him there, but I thought I'd put some of that commentary on top, too, and expand a bit on it.
Practice essays: He comments: "Since I try similar practice essays in my bumbling Irish, I wonder how you find such exercises? It's hard to 'make' myself attempt to compose as if thinking for a phrase or two (at best) in broken Irish rather than writing the English down and translating backwards, but it's the only way to wrap one's mind into the other language's 'tracks.'"
My comments: I am currently trying to do more of these pieces. I think it's valuable as an additional step beyond starting to think in the language, in that writing it down lets you try to get all the details (mutations etc) right in what you were just thinking. Writing in English first somewhat defeats the purpose. The trick, I think, is to write about something your active vocabulary almost covers, so you can manage that first coherent thinking step. I mostly mentally "wrote" this one on my way to work that morning (fortunately the traffic was light!) then wrote it down and improved it. The difficulty of course is getting your vocabulary up to that level in the first place; particularly for someone living in North America, this requires continual work and revision to reach and stay at that level.
On learning Welsh for the Gaelic speaker, he comments: "I wonder if you could recommend for a learner of Irish which dialect of Welsh might be easier to grasp. I have not found any advice for what may be admittedly a very limited demographic of students! My hunch based on history leans southward."
My comments: That's an interesting question. I think it partly depends on what you plan to do with the Welsh. For reading purposes there are not a lot of differences between North and South Wales other than the varied forms of the verb "to be", the affirmative marker mi/fe, masculine third person (f)o/(f)e, and a few matters of vocabulary. So if you want to read the news on BBC Cymru, for example, the Hugo book or equivalent should cover the ground for you. Once you start talking, of course, it's more complicated. That's when you find out the North and South are broad generalizations, with local variations in each.
On a broader note, I was interested to find both how similar and how different Welsh and Gaelic are. The "bones" of the languages - the way they deal with a variety of constructions - clearly show their close relationship, but the basic vocabulary is more different than I expected, even for very simple things like "mother" and "father", or numbers from one to ten. A fascinating comparison.
If you want a taste of Welsh, and a chance to ask language questions of some excellent teachers, a good resource is the Cymdeithas Madog one-week intensive course, held every summer in July somewhere in North America. This year's course is in Indianola, Iowa, just south of Des Moines, on July 13-20. I highly recommend it!