Language hurdles

The EU is facing a number of practical problems in implementing the official language status for Irish and is pointing the finger at the Irish government. The official grammar is out of date, a lack of properly qualified translators, no conference translation training available and the Irish government hasn’t translated existing EU law into Gaelic.

  • DC

    Yeah what’s all the fuss about with this language?

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    a “new edition of the official grammar has not been published for years and the current edition is out of print”.

    An Irish-Irish dictionary has not been published yet either.

  • RG Cuan

    The Dublin Government does need a bit of an injection on this.

    There are hundreds of translators out there but most do not yet have the appropriate EU accreditation needed to work in the Parliament etc. New courses have been set up in Belfast, Dublin, Galway so soon even more translators and interpreters will be available.

    As for the grammar, the Caighdeán Oifigiúil (Official Standard) isn’t really out of date it’s just the official version is, at the moment, not available in one single text. The standard forms however are readily available in general grammar books.

    Irish language organisations have been requesting the Government get their act together on this issue, now that the direction is coming from Brussels, let’s hope they will.

  • Séamaí

    FROM IRISH TIMES: Demand for Irish translation at the commission is also running 80 per cent above estimates provided by the Government before the language attained official status.

    I think this illustrates why they are having translation/interpretation issues. The Irish Government just need to get on top of it.

    Socraigh anois é Bertie!

  • love the irish, hate their language, sports, music

    Drats, foiled again.

  • RG Cuan

    LOVE THE IRISH, HATE THEIR ETC…

    Are you saying that Fair Deal thought there was some negative story for the Irish language in there somewhere?

  • Sir Herbert Mercer

    I had rather nurtured hopes that one day all EU business could be practised in Irish.

    I hope this brings it one step closer

  • love the irish, hate their language, sports, music

    RG etc,

    Hope you’re not playing the man there, FD said nothing of the sort. It’s just wonderful that he does so much to promote the mother tongue.

  • Greenflag

    We need to stop kidding ourselves re Irish . Yes it is part of our cultural heritage and the vast majority of surnames in Ireland are anglicisations of the original Irish Gaelic form .

    Practically speaking there is zero chance of Irish ever being restored as the ‘spoken’ everyday language of the majority of people in Ireland . There is more Polish and Chinese spoken on the streets of Dublin and other Irish towns than Irish .

    It is sad that Irish seems destined to disappear as a spoken language . But then it’s not alone . Thousands of other minority languages are disappearing around the world . What makes Irish unique is that despite huge sums of taxpayers monies being spent to foster and promote the language the majority of people and their representatives have remained indifferent and unmoved . A propos of language never mind what they say (apart from the obligatory cupla focail)just watch what they do

    When a Filipino kid in Dublin gets top marks in the Inter Cert in Irish after three years exposure to the language and does better than all his classmates who have had 10 years ‘exposure’ then it’s clear to me at least that some of the more outrageous and far fetched claims of the minority of ‘language’ nazis are based on and most probably in licensed premises. Several generations of forced language feeding and preferential treatment of Gaeilgoiri’s in the Civil Service etc etc have not ‘restored’ the language

    Genuine ‘lovers’ of the language can at best hope that Irish can become the preferred spoken second language of a minority of cultural enthusiasts . The fact is that if we can’t get enough translators to wade through tomes of Euro babble then where are the translators to come from to translate the research findings and discoveries of scientists around the world who’s papers are published mostly in English , Chinese , German , Spanish Japanese and French ?

    On the other hand would the world have heard of James Joyce or Sammy Beckett or Sean O’Casey or Seamus Heaney or Frank O’Connor had they written in Norwegian ?

    ‘Irish language organisations have been requesting the Government get their act together on this issue, now that the direction is coming from Brussels, let’s hope they will. ‘

    What you appear to be saying here is that if the Irish Government can’t bother it’s collective a**e to act- then hopefully a boot in the b****x from a shower of Belgians in Brussels will concentrate their linguistic efforts along the appropriate path ? Pardon my French sorry Walloon/Flemish 🙁

    Is there any end to this kind of self abasing codology re our ancient language ?

  • IJP

    RG

    There are rocky waters ahead for the Irish economy, with too much money on credit and in a slowing construction industry, and not enough invested in wealth creation and productivity.

    I’d prefer to see the Irish Government dealing with that, than spending time and money on pointless translations of pointless documents.

    In practice, I’ve little doubt 95%+ of the State’s population would agree with me.

    I reluctantly supported Stadas, but it was a 51/49 decision. I’m still far from sure I was right. You govern with the head, not the heart.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    You see, the problem is not with the language or the Irish government, it’s with the Irish people. They try to hard to make themselves different from everyone else on the British Isles that they politicize anything remotely Irish, so much so, that the pure and innocent side of the language, the GAA, St.Patrick’s day, etc, has no appeal whatsoever to the normal law-abiding person in the same way it has to the Irish rebel or the great-great-great grandson of some poor inflicted Irishman in the past.

  • RG Cuan

    GREENFLAG

    It is sad that Irish seems destined to disappear as a spoken language.

    This isn’t going to happen. On the whole, the Irish language community is increasing, not decreasing.

    IJP

    I totally agree on the pointless translation of pointless documents. EU paperwork isn’t what Irish speakers want from Brussels, or the NI Assembly, they just want basic services and information in their language. Not that big a deal really.

    When i said i hope that EU pressure helps the Dublin Government get their act together, i meant with publishing the Caighdeán Oifigiúil etc. Which will cost pennies, or cents, in the scheme of things.

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    The official Irish language movement (outside of the gaelscoileanna) have a lot of questions to answer.

    Why aren’t they marketing the language, as opposed to promoting it in a hanful of ways?

  • Dan

    Irish is not going to disappear as a spoken language.

    The survival of the Gaeltacht, however, is not guaranteed.

  • gaelgannaire

    Greenflag,

    You have your cause, we have ours.

    Darren,

    Ar smaoinigh tú riamh gur chóir duit rud éigin a dhéanamh ar son na Gaeilge seachas a bheith ag spreagadh daoine frithGhaeilge i rith an ama?

  • Greenflag

    ‘This isn’t going to happen. On the whole, the Irish language community is increasing, not decreasing.’

    Your use of the word ‘community’ is an exercise in wishful blather . The number of truly ‘native’ speakers is decreasing in the Gaeltacht areas and it is sad but inevitable . Eventually Irish may become like Latin i.e part of our cultural and linguistic heritage . Culture including language is always in flux changing and adapting to new ideas /technologies etc etc .

    The difference between the successful restoration of Hebrew in Israel as opposed to the Irish experience is that in the former the political will was supported by the population at large . In addition many of the jewish refugees/settlers who founded the State of Israel came from different countries and spoke a variety of languages e.g Russian , Polish , Yiddish , German , Arabic etc etc .So Hebrew became a lingua franca standard .

    In Ireland English became the main language of commerce and trade and contact with the outside world from the mid 17th century and was spoken as the ‘mother’ language by a small majority of the islands population in the mid 19th century . Had it not been for the Great Famine it’s conceivable that Irish today could be the mother language of most of the South, West and North West of the island but it would still be under linguistic pressure from English.

  • Greenflag

    Greenflag,

    You have your cause, we have ours.

    ????

    I do ? No idea what you mean here . What cause ?

  • George

    IJP,
    In practice, I’ve little doubt 95%+ of the State’s population would agree with me.

    As a citizen of said State, I have little doubt that you are completely wrong.

    The Irish language is constitutionally protected and, in practice, there isn’t a hope of hell of getting a majority to overturn this provision.

    According to the last survey on the issue in 2006, 92% of the people surveyed felt that promoting the Irish language was important to the country, to themselves personally or to both.

    As a result, the government announced that it would be spending more money on the Irish language.

    The Irish language needs the constitutional, legal and practical protection afforded to it by the Irish State and having it spoken in the corridors of power in Europe is all part of the plan.

    Or as the Department of An Taoiseach said:

    “This is a major step forward for the language, both at home and abroad. For the first time, Irish will be spoken and understood in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The Government will continue to work closely with the Institutions to help build Irish language capacity as this new and greatly enhanced status for Irish takes effect.”

    There may be support for spending the money on something other than “pointless translations”.

    But there certainly isn’t any meaningful support for the idea of cutting the financial support afforded to the Irish language and diverting it to other areas as you seem to suggest.

    No political party has suggested a move because it has no support.

  • Dan

    Greenflag,

    What are you on about? Do you really think Irish is heading the way of Latin!?

    Even if the gaeltacht died out, both native speakers and those who became fluent later in life would remain. They’d be even more scattered, however.

    It will certainly be quite an “accomplishment” if Irish dies out. I’m trying to think of another country which abandoned its native language entirely. Any ideas?

    Maybe Ireland is just a little England after all. ;D

  • Darren Mac an Phríora

    “Ar smaoinigh tú riamh gur chóir duit rud éigin a dhéanamh ar son na Gaeilge seachas a bheith ag spreagadh daoine frithGhaeilge i rith an ama?”

    Tá go leor obair déanta agam i mo comhphobal i leith chur chun cinn na Gaeilge.

  • Dewi

    It will certainly be quite an “accomplishment” if Irish dies out. I’m trying to think of another country which abandoned its native language entirely. Any ideas?

    Dalmatia comes to mind….although conquered. What happened to Latin as a living language ?

  • RG Cuan

    The real story on this Irish language/EU issue is in today’s Lá Nua – http://www.nuacht.com – it seems that Brussels is being a bit pedantic and could actually have employed many more translators than they did.

    GREENFLAG

    My comments on the Irish language population are far from ‘wishful’.

    As you may not be aware, the future of Gaelic is not depending on the Gaeltacht regions. Tens of thousands of people throughout the island have learned Irish and use it daily at work, socially etc. More importantly they are speaking the language with their children. This secures Irish’s future.

    DARREN

    Aontaím le Gael Gan Náire. Muna bhfuil tú ag cur leis an díospóireacht, bí i do thost, mar tugann ráitis mar sin thuas argóintí do lucht na frithGhaeilge.

  • DavidD

    Dewi, No need to go as far as Dalmatia, I think that you will find Cornish died out around 200 years ago. Certainly the revivalists now number a few hundred, but it did die out.

  • Dewi

    DavidD:

    I think, on reflection, he meant sovereign states who have lost their oen language. Can’t think of any off top of my head. Irish in big trouble at time of liberation however. Famine and poverty huge factors in decline. Looking better today though…as is Cornish but about time they got one version !!

  • Dan

    Yes, exactly. Sovereign states.

    “As you may not be aware, the future of Gaelic is not depending on the Gaeltacht regions. Tens of thousands of people throughout the island have learned Irish and use it daily at work, socially etc.”

    I agree, but if the Gaeltacht regions die out, it will be a terrible blow to the language. It would also be quite pathetic if Irish speaking communities *in* Ireland cease to exist. But I don’t think we’re at that point yet and I hope we never are.

  • IJP

    George

    Now I’ve a lot of time for what you write, but it is intensely annoying when people accuse you of making a point you never made – particularly when it’s there in black-and-white.

    I said: I’d prefer to see the Irish Government dealing with that, than spending time and money on pointless translations of pointless documents.

    You then tried to deny this. But then you went on to constitutional protection blah blah blah.

    I am also, of course, a citizen of said state by virtue of residence in Northern Ireland. And I simply cannot believe anyone intelligent would attempt to dispute the actual point I made.

    There is something consistently warped about Nationalist thinking on the Irish language that you have to either be in favour of one mode of promotion/protection, or against the language altogether.

    I am in favour of protecting and promoting the Irish language. I am against wasting millions on pointless translations. These two points are not contradictory (indeed they are complementary, in my view). It’s a sad reflection on the lack of progress on this issue that so many people think they are.

    Dan

    What are you on about? Do you really think Irish is heading the way of Latin!?

    What, destined to break out into different branches and become the most widely understood language family on the planet?

    Sounds good to me!

    RG

    As you may not be aware, the future of Gaelic is not depending on the Gaeltacht regions.

    Sorry to disagree yet again, because I like your points!

    But actually I think it is dependent on the Gaeltacht, to a large extent.

    Already we are finding Irish learned in places like Belfast which is in fact a form of the language based on literal translation from English. For example, colours are now learned directly in line with English equivalents.

    But this isn’t Irish. For Irish to be living, it does require thriving speaking communities somewhere on the island, otherwise it’ll just become translated English, and the world view expressed by the language will be largely lost.