Ways to encourage growth of the language

Fáilte (Welcome) Forums General Discussion (Irish and English) Ways to encourage growth of the language

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    Wanted to start a thread on a couple of themes, disregarding how radical they may appear. Think of it as a non-government brain storming session where any idea is welcome barring mass migrations etc etc etc

    In bullet points, list the major ways you think the Irish language speakers could be grew. Not all of them must be implemented but a selection

    I’ll go first:

    – Government funded conversation groups to make them affordable
    – All schools to be Irish medium
    – All government correspondence to be in Irish
    – All signage to be in Irish
    – a set number of mainstream tv and radio hours to be in irish, say 50:50
    – Translation of all documents into Irish set up in the gaeltacht areas with native speakers translating and creating any new terminology. some satellite offices in the main towns and cities (encourages population and economy of gaeltacht regions AND the quality of Irish)
    – Newspapers (or at least the front and back pages) to be in Irish
    – Tax rebates for individuals or business demonstrating Liofa

    I think until the crutch of english is removed there will always be the instinct to revert back to it. If parents get help with Irish it makes it easier to converse with the kids. Grow the gaeltachts by introducing more people and bringing money to the region – not just tread water. People will stay there and people will move there if there are jobs and an income available.

    Only my musings on the subject…..feel free to agree / disgree / add to the discussion

    Tog go bog e

    Héilics Órbhuí

    I’m guessing you’re not from Ireland, but maybe that’s a bad assumption. Some of your points seem to be founded at least partially on the notion that you can coerce people into speaking Irish when they don’t already. That has already failed many times, as I understand it.

    I as I see it there are two things that have to happen if Irish is ever to be less than a minority or dying language:

    1. More young people have to naturally want to speak Irish completely of their own accord
    2. That has to happen enough that as those people raise their children as Irish speakers, the numbers will grow

    Government documents and signage have little to do with what language people use. And sales have proven that people don’t buy Irish periodicals.

    I guess the secondary question, based on my above list would be “what makes young people want to speak Irish?” The answer is: if there is enough legitimately cool stuff in Irish that they don’t have to go look to English media for entertainment. Unfortunately, that’s a catch 22, as in order to have that amount of Irish media, you need a large number of speakers, which Irish doesn’t have. But regardless of that, there has yet, as far as I know, been a really good Irish language feature length movie that in any way resembles or competes with, for example, American or British big budget movies. Why? Because it probably would never be considered commercially viable and that’s probably true. The only way it would ever succeed is if it was marketed to the international film audience as a novelty (the way Apocalypto was plugged as being in Yucatec Maya – something that I’m sure didn’t hurt the number of people that became curious about the film).

    Fortunately, the amount of Irish language books and other written media and to some extent kid’s shows available in Irish is a huge help. That coupled with schools that actually have real native speakers as teachers and not past students themselves (something that’s difficult to realize) are I think the only hope the language has of surviving in the long run. The authenticity is already beginning to disappear from the language, it seems. The “urban Irish” being spoken that is highly influenced by English is not the same Irish of the gaeltachts.


    A Cargin14, a chara,

    Is dócha go bhfuil an plean sin beagáinín ró-radacadh lena chur i bhfeidhm ar fud na tíre. Cá bhfaigheá na mílte dochtúirí, póilíní, múinteoirí, craoltóirí, iriseóirí agus daoine nach iad a bheadh oilte ar a gceard féin agus Gaeilge a bheith ar a dtoil acu?

    Mar sin féin, is iomaí rud a d’fhéadfá a dhéanamh go háitiúil agus gan mórán costais, cuir i gcás ciorcal comhrá nó club leabar a chur ar bun, ócáidí siamsaíochta a reáchtáil trí mheán na Gaeilge, páipéar áitiúil a fhoilsiú srl. Cén fáth nach bhfaigheann tú amach an bhfuil a leithéide de rudaí ar siúl i do cheantar féin agus glac páirt ann? 🙂

    Nollaig shona dhaoibh uilig!


    Onuvanja, its a big undertaking surely but worth the while in the long run. Even if we could get the professions to begin with the basics and expand from there it would be great, To be sitting in this day and age and Law or politics are conducted through Irish is crazy. Even if it was a badge of honour / part of their traing it would be a start, We have to start somewhere and our elected politicians have to lead us as well. How to change the will of the Irish people to get away from their lax attitude is a conundrum – we always seem intent on taking the easy route.

    Héilics Órbhuí – yes, Im from Ireland but I’m just looking for any suggestions that are out there that we can pick up on, however drastic or even just more realistic to encourage the growth of our language. Take your point on coercion, but there has to be even subtle ways of getting people to use more Irish in their daily lives.

    A few of things Ive seen recently:
    – Basque rejuvenation and pride in their language – huge appetite to conduct their newspapers and daily lives in Basque from the mechanic to the plumber to the media who embrace the ‘basque only’ policy.
    – Set up a Gaeltacht (however small) in each and every county so that every region has a local base to refer to and expand.
    – we have got to create more job opportunities in the Gaeltacht to keep the young people there, to expand and to make the place vibrant
    – Twin every parish with an area of the gaeltacht and have regular native speakers interaction
    – cut all english newspaper sales from the gaeltacht – only available within hotels and establishments where the tourists are
    – create a rival subsidized channel to TG4 that concentrates on things the kids like – to encourage the Irish word. The more they hear it, the more it becomes 2nd nature.

    As said before, this is a sounding board so all posts are very welcome whether you agree or disagree with the Ideas. Thanks for the contributions!


    *To be sitting in this day and age and Law or politics are NOT conducted through Irish is crazy.


    Bhuel, rinne tú tagairt do Thír na mBascach agus an tsuim atá ag chuile aicme den tsochaí, fiú ag na meicneoirí agus na pluiméaraí, sa mBascais. Meas tú an mbeadh na Gaeilgeoirí cathracha ní ba shásta a gcarr a thabhairt do gharáiste a chuireann seirbhís lánGhaeilge ar fáil dhóibh nó builín aráin a cheannacht ó bhácús a fhreastalaíonn thrí mheán na Gaeilge orthu? Ar baineadh triail as an tseift sin cheana?


    i think it will be a battle but there are bound to be people out there – especially in the towns and cities (increased amount of potential customers) – who would go that extra distance to use a mechanic/plumber/baker/newsagent/chemist etc that conducts their business exclusively in Irish. It works in Wales, it works in the Basque country so why cant it work here? There has to be a market for it, theres enough speakers to make something like this happen. Are we generally feckless or do we just not have enough national pride in the language? Is it a ‘nice to have’ but i cant be bothered learning it attitude?
    Obviously in the economic times that we live in it would be difficult to charge extra for this service so it would be up to the enterprising entrepreneur to keep customers happy (both in cost AND quality) – which would be the same regardless of the language used.
    Getting numbers of people out to support Irish events is always difficult. Im involved in a local level but lack of numbers is continually a problem. As the saying goes ‘if you dont use it, you lose it’ and a lot of people struggle to recall Irish once they leave school. I maintain that continual reminders will at least keep some freshness to their thoughts. Im all on for local papers / newsletters etc but obviously takes a skilled Gaelgoir with better journalistic qualities than myself and exemplorary Irish grammar to make it worthwhile…..needless to say the content would need to be exiting also!


    apologies, on the topic of how to train up the masses of workers in the country, it doesnt have to be overnight but a steady reeducating process over a number of years. there is still the chance of the schools and universities to speed up this process for the emerging generation.
    Something is badly wrong with the system when an entire school career learning a language is forgotten about 3 months after school is finished.
    The plus point in all of this is that the schools still teach it as a mandatory subject. i think if it wasnt then we would be in far greater trouble


    food for thought:

    Extract from Rónán Ó Domhnaill – Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World a number of years ago, the author Jane Stevenson suggested it might be time to adapt the old joke that a language is a dialect with an army, when “the real key to survival is for a language to be a dialect with a civil service”.

    Stevenson wrote: “A class of bureaucrats with the power to defend its monopoly can keep a language going for centuries, as can a set of scriptures, while conquerors come and go.”

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