European status for Irish is besides the point

If it’s true that Eilis O’Hanlon has little sympathy left for any project connected with Irish nationalism, this piece nevertheless comes under the heading of harsh but true. She argues that whatever the granting of official status to Irish in the EU, in Ireland, where it really matters, people are slowly abandoning it.

however much noise a small handful of our most vocal citizens may have made in recent months about European Union recognition of Irish, nobody really cares.

Oh, we say we do. If there was a list of issues we considered important, the status of the Irish language in Brussels might be one of the boxes we ticked – assuming, that is, we were allowed to tick as many as we liked.

It would be right up there with better nutritional labelling on supermarket food, more cycle ways, iodine tablets for all in case of nuclear emergency, universal peace and an end to world hunger, on the infinite wish list of things which it would be quite nice to have.

But deep down, we don’t really give a monkey’s about Irish. We only pretend to because it’s one of the things that educated and sophisticated Irish people are now supposed to believe, and because, well, believing in the spiritually-enhancing properties of the Irish language has become a habit we’re much too intellectually lazy to breakout of.

If we really cared about Irish, then we’d do something about it. Like speak it.

  • maca

    JMcC
    “Of course English is a much richer language than Irish”

    Well then explain how! All you have done there is waffle on with more narrow minded nonsense. Having more books & more speakers does not mean English is a richer language. The truth is you know absolutely nothing about the Irish language and are completely incapable of proving your point.

  • J McConnell

    maca

    The please show me where I am wrong. Explain to me why the Irish langauge is a richer language than English.

    What do you mean by richer?

    Culturally? Artistically? Morally?

    Richer in expression? Richer in nuance? Richer in emotion? Richer in humour? Richer in pathos?…

    Or is it quite simply that you personally associate more value with the Irish language and that, de-facto, makes it a ‘richer’ language.

    Just wondering.

  • J McConnell

    maca

    You keep forgetting one thing.

    I am the typical product of 13 years of Compulsory Irish.

    The Irish I know is the Irish I was taught at school.

    Not good enough for you then write a letter of complaint to the Dept of Education in Marlborough St about the terrible quality of teaching of the Irish language.

    If the Dept of Education decides that most of the Irish literature we were exposed to was straight out of The Poor Mouth then dont be too surprised if we make the natural assumption that its all like that.

    So is there any literature of merit written in the Irish language that does not fit the sterotype?

  • maca

    JMcC
    “Explain to me why the Irish langauge is a richer language than English.”

    Once again … i’m asking you to back up YOUR claim.

    “Culturally? Artistically? Morally?
    Richer in expression? Richer in nuance? Richer in emotion? Richer in humour? Richer in pathos?…”

    I suppose if you start there it would be something. Though not knowing Irish i’m don’t know how you’ll manage the comparisons.

  • maca

    JMcC
    “I am the typical product of 13 years of Compulsory Irish”

    Are you? I don’t think so. I can easily claim that also. I think ‘the typical product’ doesn’t hold such a grudge against the language. IMO.

  • Biffo

    J McConnell,

    “Irish seems to be great if you are some rural type insulting your neighbour.”

    Point taken, the best you came up with up here was “Nordie”, and I didn’t feel insulted, in fact I quite liked it.

  • J McConnell

    maca

    Eh? You really seemed to have argued yourself into a corner this time.

    I say that the English language is a richer literary language than Irish. I give you a bunch of reasons for my *subjective* opinion.

    You refuse to give any reasons for your *subjective* opinion on the (implied) superiority of Irish over English as a literary language, or even what your definition of a richer languge actually is.

    Now you want me to prove to you that your *subjective* opinion, which have not so far volunteered, is wrong. But it does not matter anyway because my standard of Irish does not reach an acceptable standard.

    I’ll ask it again. By what criteria do you want me to compare and contrast the English and Irish languages? And which literary works in the Irish language do you consider valid for such a comaprison?

  • J McConnell

    biffo

    > “Irish seems to be great if you are some rural
    > type insulting your neighbour.”

    > Point taken, the best you came up with up here was
    > “Nordie”, and I didn’t feel insulted, in fact I
    > quite liked it.

    I can claim no originality. I first read the term on the Portadown News message board…

    And it was not meant as an insult, more an informal term of endearment. You all know how much you come to mean to me during the last few days…

  • J McConnell

    > Are you? I don’t think so. I can easily claim that
    > also. I think ‘the typical product’ doesn’t hold
    > such a grudge against the language. IMO.

    According to other studies referred to by the UCC study, about 10% of the population hold very neagtive views about the Irish language, and another 30% to 40% are not terrible enthusiastic about the whole subject either.

    Maybe its just that I am the first person you have run into who actually says what a lot of other people are really thinking.

  • maca

    JMcC
    “You really seemed to have argued yourself into a corner this time.”

    Really? You’re the one who’s not able to back up his claims.

    “I give you a bunch of reasons for my *subjective* opinion.”

    Note now it’s just a subjective opinion, it was stated pretty much as fact earlier. Trying to back out now?

    “You refuse to give any reasons for your *subjective* opinion on the (implied) superiority of Irish over English”

    You’re having trouble with this one. For the third time (maybe it will sink in this time), I have never claimed (or implied) that Irish is superior.

    “But it does not matter anyway because my standard of Irish does not reach an acceptable standard.”

    It just seems obvious to me that in order to examine the ‘richness’ of a language one must know the language. Othewise all you can do is guess.

    Both Chinese & Spanish have more native speakers than English, but I wouldn’t claim they are richer languages because without an indepth knowledge of the languages what could I base such a claim on, gut feeling? just a hunch?

    “about 10% of the population hold very neagtive views about the Irish language, and another 30% to 40% are not terrible enthusiastic about the whole subject either.”

    IF that survey is right it means you are part of the 10% and hardly “the typical product” as you claim. 30-40% may not be ‘terribly enthusiastic’ but are not negative towards it and it must mean the remaining 50%-60% hold positive views about the language.

  • barnshee

    “Believe it or not, you don’t have to sound English to be educated. Maybe if you and your pals were more linguistically lithe then there wouldn’t be a comprehension issue.”

    Says it all really –when your use of your native language is less effective than a foreigners(whose english is immaculate)–its their fault —there is no excuse for levels of poor diction and grammar which render your speech incomprehensible to anyone outside your immediate circle.

  • aonghus

    JMcConnell wrote (although not to me)

    Or is it quite simply that you personally associate more value with the Irish language and that, de-facto, makes it a ‘richer’ language.

    This is an example of what makes discussion with you so wearisome, JMcC. It is not sufficient to counter your points, you expect us to prove the opposite argument for Irish which none of us have made.

    The only case I have been making from the start of this thread is that Irish is not a dead language, and that there are people who would really care if it died. That is in the context of the article at the start of this thread.

    nobody really cares.

    .

    I am not a lecturer in literature as Denny Boy is. Personally, I prefer Tomás Ó Criomhthain’s island wit to Thomas Mann’s bourgeouis decay. So what? (And yes, I have read both in the original, again so what?)

    English is currently in the ascendant because it is the language of the current military and economic superpower – the USA. It’s literature is irrelevant to that fact.

    There is a broad and wide discourse in Irish on Irish. But one thing that all Irish speakers are agreed on is that An Roinn Éadochais [sic] has done a perfectly appalling job of teaching Irish. That is why the Gaelscoil movement was started – as a grassroots movement, not state sponsored. And getting a new Gaelscoil approved in the 26 counties is slightly easier than in the North, but it is still like pulling teeth.

    If you are genuinely interested in Irish speakers ideas on Irish, then I suggest you read this book:
    Who needs Irish which will give you a flavour of what Irish speakers actually think, although we are not some gleichgeschaltete bunch of idelogues as you persist in implying.

  • J McConnell

    Maca

    I’m beginning to have a greater appreciation for what Denny Boy was talking about…..

    Let me explain. Richness is a quality. So when I make a statement about the richness of a subject I am by definition making a statement about my perception of, and my opinion about, that quality. And by definition I am making my value judgment about quality (either implicitly or explicitly) in comparison to something else.

    So the statement “English is a richer language than Irish” is not a statement of fact. It cannot be a statement of fact because there is no objective criteria by which one can measure the absolute or relative richness of a language or literature. One cannot say Spanish has a relative richness quotient of 7.3, or Farsi has a relative richness quotient of 8.1.

    So the statement “English is a richer language than Irish” was written under the assumption that the reader, having a reasonable command of the English language, would understand that it was a statement of preference or opinion.

    The statement can be no more proved or disproved than a mathematic axiom.

    I gave reasons why English, for me, was the richer language. And why the Irish language, as I was taught it, had little cultural attraction.

    So I would like to know why you find Irish to be a richer linguistic and cultural experience than English.

  • barney

    Maca,

    I feel your pain.

  • maca

    JMcC

    You very clearly were stating it as fact.
    Look at your 10:56pm yesterday
    “Of course English is a much richer language than Irish”

    Not “I think it is..” or “in my opinion” but very clearly “of course it is”.

    And if you wanted to clear up this debate (June 29, 03:45pm) up why not say it was your opinion rather than trying to actually prove it by comparing LC Eng & Ir?
    Why, when we challenged you the first few times, didn’t you just say it was personal opinion?

    I believe you’re right (though I happy to bow down to someone with greater knowledge of the subject) that “there is no objective criteria by which one can measure the absolute or relative richness of a language” (although a net search will highlight some interesting articles) & “The statement can be no more proved or disproved”, which is why I pulled you on your claim.

    “I gave reasons why English, for me, was the richer language. And why the Irish language, as I was taught it, had little cultural attraction.”

    Shifing the goalposts there. You just said “Irish”, which implies the entire language, not just the bit you learned in school.

    If you personally think English is a much richer language I have no problem with that, and I can understand why you might think that. When you claim it as fact then i’ll question your claim.

    “So I would like to know why you find Irish to be a richer linguistic and cultural experience than English.”

    Do I have to repeat myself for the 3rd time?

    Btw, i’m off on my holidays in a couple of hours. It’s been an interesting one J, take care.

    Cya lads!

  • J McConnell

    Aonghus

    Thanks for the book reference. I’ll check it out when I’m back in Dublin.

    Maybe I should elaborate at this stage on my “Irish is dead” statement.

    The criteria for my opinion is one that is based on the stated goals and aims of the people who put into place the current national Irish language policies back in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Their goal was not to turn the Gaeltachts into slowly dying language reserves, to create small islands of fluent Irish speakers and a large mass of people with a marginal fluency in the language.

    They fully expected that in a generation or two they would have created a vibrant Irish speaking nation were the Irish language was the daily language of the majority of people. I think they would be horrified if they could see the status and use of the Irish language in Ireland today.

    So the current Irish language policies have been a failure by the standards set by the originators of the policy.

    Are there any signs that there will be a radical change in current policies any time soon? Not that I can see. The last major push for radical reform was in the 1960’s and that fell apart very quickly.

    So I just see more of the same. Inexorable decline.

    One of the more interesting conclusions I drew from the data in the UCC study was the Gaelic Revival Movement was not a total failure. Over the last 100 years or so it has been very successful at building the link between the Irish language and national self-identity. More than 70% considered the language a key part of the Irish national identity, even though the total with any kind of positive attitude toward the language was around 50%.

    So a success at cultural nationalism but a failure at cultural revival.

    Where the movement failed was to build any kind of large scale personal commitment or enthusiasm for the language. I thought it was interesting that all the questions in the surveys were about how much more the government should do for the language not how much the responded was willing to personally do for the language.

    In my opinion a living language needs more than small groups of committed enthusiasts, a few shrinking rural communities, and a general population though generally favorable disposed towards the language that rarely use it.

  • Biffo

    J McConnell

    “So the statement “English is a richer language than Irish” was written under the assumption that the reader, having a reasonable command of the English language, would understand that it was a statement of preference or opinion”

    If you said “Today is a colder day than yesterday”. I would therefore understand that you mean you prefer the colder weather today in comparison to yesterday.

    What bollocks!

    What you’ve concisely illustrated is that most of what you posted above is nonsense that you don’t actually believe.

    “In my opinion a living language needs more than small groups of committed enthusiasts, a few shrinking rural communities, and a general population though generally favorable disposed towards the language that rarely use it.”

    That’s true.

  • maca

    JMcC
    still here…

    You’re 11:38 was a good post, more of that kind of opinion would be appreciated 🙂
    You’re last two paragraphs in particular I completely agree with.

  • Baluba

    ‘Baluba said earlier that he was a native speaker but somehow a lot of his postings sounded a bit more like Norn Iron than the Free State gaeilgore he claimed to be.’

    When exactly did I make any such claim? I am from Norn Iron. I am a native speaker of Irish. But I suppose I’ll be derided as a liar now because if you come from the ‘Black North’ you can’t possibly be native speaker of Irish?

    Did people never move? Was there/is there no rural-urban drift…..?

  • aonghus

    Perhaps you should research current policies before you make such a sweeping statement. The main thrust of the Official Languages Act is to “provide[s] a statutory framework for the delivery of services through the Irish Language”. That is a change for the better
    You will find a summary of Government policy here
    The revival policy was never implemented. The assumption that an under-resourced education system could single handedly reverse the decline in Irish was incorrect. None of this is news, Irish speakers have been saying this from the beginning.
    Now we are finally getting services in our own language, and the end of what was effectively compulsory English for Irish speakers is in sight.

    You will find Conradh na Gaeilge’s policy here. Regretably, they do not find it necessary to translate that policy into english (yet).

  • J McConnell

    maca

    Have a nice holiday.

    From the somewhat tortured logic of your last few postings it sounds like you need a break…

    Hope you are going somewhere nice..its pissing rain here in Brittany at the moment.

    So much for those warm sunny French summers..

    See you when you get back.

  • aonghus

    In the context of this board, and this discussion, it is noteworthy that the Minister for Communication included an Irish speaking Unionist Journalist in the new RTÉ Authority:

    Press Release here

    Ian Malcolm has a regular column in Lá.

  • Denny Boy

    Hullo again. I’ve just scrolled through the intervening posts – and no quotes yet! Didn’t Aonghus say he’d do his best to provide some in “a day or two”?

    Their continued absence seems to cast doubt on whether they actually exist. Sorry, but that’s the conclusion I have to draw. When I joined this discussion I voiced my suspicion that my thirteen years of compulsory Irish couldn’t be justified. So unless somebody produces the goods soon to prove otherwise, can I state now that I was conned by my teachers and the government?

    They told me that fluency in Irish would allow me to read some astonishing literature in the original. Well, where is it? It doesn’t exist, does it? Had they been honest with me (and given the choice) then I’d have wished to learn, say, Russian. Now THERE is literature. And it’s a useful language too – unlike Irish.

    Or, failing a foreign language, more emphasis on English would have been welcome. J McConnell reminded me of those poetry-prose anthologies we had in secondary school, and they were indeed wonderful. They certainly stimulated my interest in so many writers. More such teaching aids, more English lessons, more drama and more debating would have been infinitely better than all those hours wasted on Irish.

    As it was, when I went to university in England I found myself (despite my earlier extracurricular reading) seriously disadvantaged compared to my fellow students. Quality time that should have been spent knocking back pints and getting laid was instead given over to cramming English, not only Eng Lit but grammar too.

    And you wonder why I’m miffed!

  • aonghus

    I have given up on providing you quotes for several reasons.

    1) I don’t think you really want them. You did not react to the poetry links (with German translation) I provided, or the bibliography.

    2) Our opinions on literature are clearly divergent. What I consider great literature is probably not what you consider great literature.

    3) I am not confident of my ability to do the Irish justice in an English translation. You don’t want the original, you want a translation. Literary translation is difficult.

    4) By your own admission, the time you spent learning English at school was wasted. Since (I assume) you wanted to learn English, I have no reason to believe that the time you spent other subjects was not also wasted.

    5) I have made my opinion on the teaching of Irish in schools perfectly clear. I see no reason why I should prove what I consider to be a failure to be a success.

    Táimse ag dul ar saorie anois pé scéal é. Go Corca Dhuibhne. Áit, pacé JMcC, a bhfuil Gaolainn beo le clos go flúirseach. Slán tamall.

  • Denny Boy

    My dear Aonghus, do you recall that little Saramago quote? Easily arrived at, and posted here for all to read and assess.

    It might not be an outstanding snippet of writing but it does answer several of the criteria by which we judge literature, i.e. it’s well formulated, precise, defines a universal truth, and is thought provoking.

    Lastly, we’re reading it in translation and it stands up to scrutiny.

    Surely to God you can produce at least ONE such line from the much-vaunted Irish literature, translated (like the Portuguese quote) for the benefit of those who do not speak minor languages.

  • foreign correspondent

    An fiu bacaint leis na boic seo? Is leir gur fuath leo an Ghaeilge, go bhfuil naire orthu faoi rud ar bith a bhaineann leis an nGaeilge, go bhfuil coimpleacs isleachta ar a laghad duine amhain acu…
    Ta rudai iontacha le fail i litriocht gach teanga. Is teanga iontach i an Bearla agus scriobhadh agus scriobhfar a lan leabhar maith sa teanga sin. Ach leigh me ait eigin go gcuirtear amach milliun leabhar i mBearla gach bliain. Is cinnte go bhfuil cuid mhaith cac le fail ina measc sin chomh maith.
    Nach dtuigeann na boic seo gur uirlis ar doigh i gach teanga le litriocht a chruthu?
    Nil a fhios agam an bhfuil moran ceille leis an teachtaireacht seo, ach ta na boic seo agus a ndearcadh sotalach ag cur isteach orm agus nil me ag gabhail a aistriu seo go Bearla mar nil siad ag gabhail a dheanamh athchomhairle ar scor ar bith.

  • Denny Boy

    Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.

  • George

    Denny Boy,
    I gave you a link where you can buy over 2,000 titles in the Irish language, did you find nothing to tickle your fancy?

  • George

    How about this Irish phrase Denny Boy,

    Fad a bhíos an cat amuigh bíonn na luchain ag rince

    Translation:

    While the cat’s away, the mice will play.

  • aonghus
  • aonghus
  • aonghus

    Damnú air.

    Seo an nasc

  • Denny Boy

    Gentlemen, I just KNOW your sense of pride in the Irish language will produce a line or two yet. And don’t worry: nobody’s sitting waiting to criticize unfairly. It would be genuinely pleasing to learn that my 13 years had not been wasted and that there are in fact untold delights awaiting me should I decide to renew my acquaintance with the language. There’s also £20 I stand to collect. So come on, put up or shut up!

    Hint: links to bibliographies, and aphorisms don’t count. I want to read a line or two of literature. Sweep me off my feet with lyricism! Is that really so much to ask?

    Must dash. I’ve been dragooned into helping with the preparations for an awards ceremony. What an exciting life I lead :0)

  • aonghus

    Have you so much as glanced at the poems to which I directed you?

    I have not found the kind of canned quote you are looking for online, in the brief time available to me. I do not have Irish works in translation at home to quote to you from, for reasons which should be obvious. I have explained why I will not translate prose. And I am now going on holiday. I would however point out that almost all aphorisms originated in works of literature. Irish has the oldest literature in western Europe, and is therefore rich in aphorisms. The aphorisms I quoted were a reply to your quoting Ockham’s razor at me.

    Tosach feasa fiafraitheacht.

  • Biffo

    Denny Boy

    “Quality time that should have been spent knocking back pints and getting laid..”

    So the Irish language is responsible for you remaining a virgin. Hee hee hee hee (out loud)!

  • Denny Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny-Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Denny-Boy

    Extraordinary. Another week begins and still nothing….

    Had a foreigner made deprecatory remarks about my language, and suggested that English writing had no literary merit, then I’d have pulled out the stops to prove him wrong. I’d have quoted from any number of wonderful writers to support my position. Emerson alone would have provided enough material to silence all criticism.

    But Irish? Nada, no quotes. So thanks a heap, fellas. I lose a £20 bet.

    On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I’ll suggest that Algonquin might be more rewarding:

    “Many, many moons ago, there lived an old man alone in his lodge beside a stream in the thick woods. He was heavily clad in furs; for it was winter, and all the world was covered with snow and ice. The winds swept through the woods; searching every bush and tree for birds to chill, and chasing evil spirits over high hills, through tangled swamps, and valleys deep. The old man went about, and peered vainly in the deep snow for pieces of wood to sustain the fire in his lodge. Sitting down by the last dying embers, he cried to Kigi Manito Waw-kwi (the God of Heaven) that he might not perish. The winds howled, and blew aside the door of his lodge, when in came a most beautiful maiden. Her cheeks were like red roses; her eyes were large, and glowed like the fawn’s in the moonlight; her hair was long and black as the raven’s plumes, and touched the ground as she walked; her hands were covered with willow-buds; on her head were wreaths of wild flowers; her clothing was sweet grass and ferns; her moccasons were fair white lilies; and, when she breathed, the air of the lodge became warm and fragrant.”

    Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)

  • Baluba

    DB,

    Do you not want to read my post of June 29 at 4:39? Or as I suspect (from your non-sensical criteria for judging literature) that you just refuse point blank to accept that there may just be some literature in the world about which you are not well-versed? You are obviously an eminent scholar (even though unlike many, many, many people who came through ROI schooling) you were ‘seriously disadvantaged’ in English.

    You can get the translation elsewhere. Try your belove Google which you seem to think is the greatest source for literary students, ye genius.

  • Denny Boy

    How curious: my post repeated four times, or is it five? :0)

    Today I got a 500 Error and wondered what was going on. I made a little post to another thread, “All Ireland soccer team a non starter”, as a sort of test (though my sentiments were sincere).

  • Biffo

    Denny Boy

    “On the other hand I’m grateful to you. In the unlikely event of my sons’ asking me whether learning Irish is worthwhile, I can point to this thread and say “No, clearly not”.

    I doubt very much whether you believe a word of your own rubbish.

  • J McConnell

    Aonghus

    Thanks for the refs.

    I’ve been doing some digging of my own through primary sources and academic studies, my favorite hunting ground for settling argument points.

    While rummaging around I found explanations for some of my personal observations about the usage of the Irish language.

    Why did I never hear spoken Irish while visiting official Gaeltacht areas? Well it seem that less than 10% of the current Gaeltacht areas would qualify as a Gaeltacht area using the original 1926 criteria for inclusion, an area where more than 70% of the inhabitants speak Irish. And its seems that I have never spent much time in that particular 10% of the Gaeltacht areas were they actually speak Irish.

    Well that explains that observation.

    Then there is the missing 100,000 daily Irish speakers in Dublin. I found a Dutch organization which has a very detailed website on the various minority languages in Europe.. http://www.mercator-education.org/sjablonen/3/default.asp?objectID=967.

    What I missed when reading the census report, and the Dutch guys caught, was that most of the daily Irish speakers seemed to be in the 5-24 age cohort.

    “Of the 25% of regular users of Irish, among those with competence in the State, up to 80% are also currently in the education system or have recently left it, in the age cohorts 5-24. If these are removed, the real figure for regular users throughout the State is 71,000, or 3% of the population.”

    http://www1.fa.knaw.nl/mercator/regionale_dossiers/regional_dossier_irish_in_ireland.htm

    Which tallies pretty closely with my own personal experience. I have personally heard very little Irish spoken outside of the school environment.

    Well that solves that little mystery.

    Regarding state language policy in its current form. I checked out the official documents, and some of the academic analysis of the official documents, and it looks to me that the discussion has not moved very far in the last 25 years. Still very much business as usual. The last serious attempt to question the fundamental purpose and implementation of language policy that I am aware of was the the big push to challenge compulsory Irish in the mid-60’s by the Language Freedom Movement and we know how that ended.

  • J McConnell

    Aonghus

    Thanks for the refs.

    I’ve been doing some digging of my own through primary sources and academic studies, my favorite hunting ground for settling argument points.

    While rummaging around I found explanations for some of my personal observations about the usage of the Irish language.

    Why did I never hear spoken Irish while visiting official Gaeltacht areas? Well it seem that less than 10% of the current Gaeltacht areas would qualify as a Gaeltacht area using the original 1926 criteria for inclusion, an area where more than 70% of the inhabitants speak Irish. And its seems that I have never spent much time in that particular 10% of the Gaeltacht areas were they actually speak Irish.

    Well that explains that observation.

    Then there is the missing 100,000 daily Irish speakers in Dublin. I found a Dutch organization which has a very detailed website on the various minority languages in Europe.. http://www.mercator-education.org/sjablonen/3/default.asp?objectID=967.

    What I missed when reading the census report, and the Dutch guys caught, was that most of the daily Irish speakers seemed to be in the 5-24 age cohort.

    “Of the 25% of regular users of Irish, among those with competence in the State, up to 80% are also currently in the education system or have recently left it, in the age cohorts 5-24. If these are removed, the real figure for regular users throughout the State is 71,000, or 3% of the population.”

    http://www1.fa.knaw.nl/mercator/regionale_dossiers/regional_dossier_irish_in_ireland.htm

    Which tallies pretty closely with my own personal experience. I have personally heard very little Irish spoken outside of the school environment.

    Well that solves that little mystery.

    Regarding state language policy in its current form. I checked out the official documents, and some of the academic analysis of the official documents, and it looks to me that the discussion has not moved very far in the last 25 years. Still very much business as usual. The last serious attempt to question the fundamental purpose and implementation of language policy that I am aware of was the the big push to challenge compulsory Irish in the mid-60’s by the Language Freedom Movement and we know how that ended.

  • J McConnell

    Aonghus

    Thanks for the refs.

    I’ve been doing some digging of my own through primary sources and academic studies, my favorite hunting ground for settling argument points.

    While rummaging around I found explanations for some of my personal observations about the usage of the Irish language.

    Why did I never hear spoken Irish while visiting official Gaeltacht areas? Well it seem that less than 10% of the current Gaeltacht areas would qualify as a Gaeltacht area using the original 1926 criteria for inclusion, an area where more than 70% of the inhabitants speak Irish. And its seems that I have never spent much time in that particular 10% of the Gaeltacht areas were they actually speak Irish.

    Well that explains that observation.

    Then there is the missing 100,000 daily Irish speakers in Dublin. I found a Dutch organization which has a very detailed website on the various minority languages in Europe.. http://www.mercator-education.org/sjablonen/3/default.asp?objectID=967.

    What I missed when reading the census report, and the Dutch guys caught, was that most of the daily Irish speakers seemed to be in the 5-24 age cohort.

    “Of the 25% of regular users of Irish, among those with competence in the State, up to 80% are also currently in the education system or have recently left it, in the age cohorts 5-24. If these are removed, the real figure for regular users throughout the State is 71,000, or 3% of the population.”

    http://www1.fa.knaw.nl/mercator/regionale_dossiers/regional_dossier_irish_in_ireland.htm

    Which tallies pretty closely with my own personal experience. I have personally heard very little Irish spoken outside of the school environment.

    Well that solves that little mystery.

    Regarding state language policy in its current form. I checked out the official documents, and some of the academic analysis of the official documents, and it looks to me that the discussion has not moved very far in the last 25 years. Still very much business as usual. The last serious attempt to question the fundamental purpose and implementation of language policy that I am aware of was the the big push to challenge compulsory Irish in the mid-60’s by the Language Freedom Movement and we know how that ended.

  • J McConnell

    Aonghus

    Thanks for the refs.

    I’ve been doing some digging of my own through primary sources and academic studies, my favorite hunting ground for settling argument points.

    While rummaging around I found explanations for some of my personal observations about the usage of the Irish language.

    Why did I never hear spoken Irish while visiting official Gaeltacht areas? Well it seem that less than 10% of the current Gaeltacht areas would qualify as a Gaeltacht area using the original 1926 criteria for inclusion, an area where more than 70% of the inhabitants speak Irish. And its seems that I have never spent much time in that particular 10% of the Gaeltacht areas were they actually speak Irish.

    Well that explains that observation.

    Then there is the missing 100,000 daily Irish speakers in Dublin. I found a Dutch organization which has a very detailed website on the various minority languages in Europe.. http://www.mercator-education.org/sjablonen/3/default.asp?objectID=967.

    What I missed when reading the census report, and the Dutch guys caught, was that most of the daily Irish speakers seemed to be in the 5-24 age cohort.

    “Of the 25% of regular users of Irish, among those with competence in the State, up to 80% are also currently in the education system or have recently left it, in the age cohorts 5-24. If these are removed, the real figure for regular users throughout the State is 71,000, or 3% of the population.”

    http://www1.fa.knaw.nl/mercator/regionale_dossiers/regional_dossier_irish_in_ireland.htm

    Which tallies pretty closely with my own personal experience. I have personally heard very little Irish spoken outside of the school environment.

    Well that solves that little mystery.

    Regarding state language policy in its current form. I checked out the official documents, and some of the academic analysis of the official documents, and it looks to me that the discussion has not moved very far in the last 25 years. Still very much business as usual. The last serious attempt to question the fundamental purpose and implementation of language policy that I am aware of was the the big push to challenge compulsory Irish in the mid-60’s by the Language Freedom Movement and we know how that ended.

  • J McConnell

    Please excuse the multiple posts.

    Looks like a php script burp.

  • barnshee

    “Now, isn’t that more fun than boring old Myles na gCopaleen? :0)”

    No- No- No Myles had wit (and a perhaps overdeveloped sense of the bizarre) An over fondness for “the drink” may have restricted his output but Brian O’Nolan is up there with the best of Irish writers.

  • barnshee

    ““Of the 25% of regular users of Irish, among those with competence in the State, up to 80% are also currently in the education system or have recently left it, in the age cohorts 5-24. If these are removed, the real figure for regular users throughout the State is 71,000, or 3% of the population”

    I say that rather shits on the nest of the Irish Language movement-better surpress that but look –its a “Dutch organization” – an orange plot ??

  • aonghus

    If JMcC and friends were aware of the discussion among Irish speakers, they would be aware that we are painfully aware of the points he brought up. In fact, if he read my posts, I certainly mentioned as much with regard to the gaeltacht area he was in, and explained why the language declined there.

    Denny Boy, I’ve been away for two weeks in a Gaeltacht (a real one – west of an Daingean, as I mentioned). But I’ve decided I couldn’t be bothered getting you your potted quotes. The literature argument and the cultural nationalism arguments are no part of my reasons for speaking and liking Irish, so I see no particular reason why I should prove them, any more than I should prove that the educational system has not failed miserably in teaching Irish, since I consider it has.

    By any rational measure, 71000 daily speakers (and many more with a knowledge of the language) is not a dead language , although the language is still on the endangered list.

    One thing I would like to see, but haven’t yet, is an analysis of how many of the under 24 years daily speakers live in households with an over 24 years old daily speakers – i.e. how many families speak Irish as one of the languages of the household.