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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.”
Im not on any official course and although i have the fainne airgead I would say that advanced beginner would be suitable. Understand it when you mention regressing – our weekly classes are a winter programme and Ive noticed how things can slip when youre not practicing every week
very helpful, thanks Héilics Órbhuí. the ‘spaced repetition’ concept is very interesting. amazing how the brain works!
TjOC i think its great what you’re doing and is made equally impressive by the lack of fluent speakers around you as well as the dearth of readily available literature and media. It would be great to hear what your plans are to progress further
it is inevitable that there has to be a ‘standard irish’ taught otherwise how else would it reasonably be both taught and evaluated in schools. we have to think of it in the same way that english is taught in schools – correct english grammar is devoid of colloquialisms and slang, which is contrary to how the majority of people speak it. I would be interested in how to spread the gaeltachts even through this standard interpretations as I think dialects will originate again in certain areas. would it be great to see an emergence of longford, waterford, antrim, derry and tipperary dialects within irish – it may is the only way the language will grow
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
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!
*To be sitting in this day and age and Law or politics are NOT conducted through Irish is crazy.
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!January 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm in reply to: #44874
Perhaps the question we should also be asking ourselves then is how we get the ‘will’ of the people back to want to learn Irish. Perhaps we have went too far down the one road but I still believe that if encouragement is made then it is possible to get the bi-lingual society that the government aspires to. Once the kids leave school they listen to the radio (in english), they watch tv (in english as only 1 irish channel), play computer games in english, read comics (in english). Even small household items and instructions are in english. If they go home and the parents are speaking english then naturally they will speak it too. Quite simply anything they want to do outside the school is in english. Until that disappears then ‘school irish’ may be the best they can hope for.
The gaeltacht areas especially require a more proactive / hardening of approach with reducing the influx of english. keeping the people there with jobs would be a start as if the natural speakers leave due to lack of employment opportunites then you have naturally less speakers in the area which exacerbates the problem further. The obvious route is to employ a lot of people in interpretation services.December 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm in reply to: #44840
well said Jeaicín. without getting too radical im not sure how to eliminate the constant invasion of english language into your everyday life. yes we could state all schools have to be irish medium, all government correspondence in irish, all signs in irish etc etc but would it be uproar? to be truthful i think until the crutch of english is taken away people will always fall back to it especially as it is always in the background. for example, you switch on the TV – english. you turn on the radio – english. you read the newspaper – english. even if you go to an irish medium school, the books are written by non-native interpreters whose first language is english.
Interestingly the ‘Liofa’ endeavour by Caral NiChuilin in the north has sprung up numerous conversation classes around the north. the aim is to have 5,000 new fluent speakers in the north by 2015. this is encouragement ot learn of your own accord NOT government funded. To date something like 4750 have signed up. whether they will ever be truely Liofa with english constatntly in background is another debate……
radical views appreciated!!December 19, 2013 at 10:45 am in reply to: #44838
just a few thoughts……Being from the north, perhaps our experiences of Irish are somewhat different. the last native speaker in Antrim died in the 80’s and with it the chance to learn clearly the correct local dialect – who knows…perhaps having 3 main countrywide dialects makes it easier for the language to survive as only a true mongolot would have the ability to adapt if there were many more?? I can only surmise that the Rathlin Island dialect in north antrim would be greatly different to that of Schull in cork.
I always hear that the education system in the south discourages the appreciation of the language and that it becomes a boring chore to learn the language. Personally, the Irish that stayed with me came from my primary school days and suggests to me on a personal basis that if strides are made in that area and made more enjoyable to learn at that age then it will stay longer with the learner. At secondary school Irish is taught for 2 – 3 years (depending on whetehr you took up a language for GCSE) like spanish, french, german and obviously the longer you did it the more you ended up knowing.
On what to do to encourage, maintain and, dare i say it grow the language areas then to me it is a back to basics. It cant be done up here for obvious reasons, but surely simple things like road signage, shop signs, toilets, library etc can be done without the need for english? People adapt, it wont be the end of the world, sure a couple of days on holidays in spain and you would know what the local signage means and the local basic sayings!
English is the language of the economic and business world. it is actually a huge advantage being fluent in english for this reason – its the world’s second language. to have any chance of success with Irish is to encourage its growth outside the school and home. it has to be used on the football pitch, it has to be used at the local chippy, when ordering the groceries online etc etc etc. it has to be used on social networking – twitter / facebook. To me these are all able to be done without going near the world of international commerce, banking and stock trading were english naturally holds the advantage.
The government seem scared to implement any real proposals outside the gaeltacht. why? bad memories from school? too many powerful pro-english politicans/media types in D4? do they think there will be a loss of commerce and tourism by having too much Irish spoken?
At the end of the day we are not English and if we dont maintain our language, customs, music etc then we will just become more and more like an English-lite and without getting into political arguments we’ll just end up like a variant of wales, scotland, yorkshire, merseyside, newcastle, cornwall and so on IF we dont try and encourage our identity of which the language is a key item.
I think people would like to speak Irish but whether through laziness (or too much hassle) its just easier to speak english as it surrounds us everywhere from TV to radio to billboards to road signs to newspapers to work and so on. Until we stop the inundation of english into our lives i personally think it will always be an uphill battle for the Irish language to grow.