Total immersion is the way to go…

Shane Coleman has a scathing piece in yesterday’s Sunday Independent on the development of a new education policy for the Gaeltacht areas, which insists that schools must provide “a minimum of 2.5 hours per week for English as Language 2, as set out in the Primary School Curriculum, cannot be delayed beyond the start of the second term in Junior Infants.” This in the face of evidence from NUI Maynooth that children who are educated in their early years in Irish, perform better in English than children educated bilingually from an early age. The Minister’s biggest crime, he argues, is in listening to officials and ignoring:

Hanafin admits that it was her senior officials and members of the inspectorate who advised her on this matter. She also failed to produce any research to back up this policy change. Neither was there any mention of it in Fianna Fail’s manifesto or in the Programme for Government. In short, a minority of unelected, unaccountable officials have hijacked a democracy.

It has to be said she would not be the first Minister in these islands who set aside evidence for her own official’s preferences.

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  • JJS

    Tá sé chomh símplí le sin. Tá mo pháistí i bhfad Éirinn níos fearr ag léamh is ag labhairt béarla ná páistí mo dheirfúir, agus is de dheasca an ghaelscoil an fáth.

  • An Lochlannach

    Even those uninterested in the Irish language should take notice of Mary Hanafin’s obstinacy on this. She has been presented with specialist opinion and has decided that she knows best. I have not heard her produce any justification of her current policy. She clearly feels that she doesn’t need to.

    There’s a worrying arrogance about this government, a sense that they can do whatever they want. Agus, i ndiaidh duit súil a chaitheamh ar pháirtithe mí-éifeachtacha an fhreasúra, cé a déarfadh nach mbeidh an lá leo sa chéad toghchán eile fosta? Ar a laghad beidh deis ag muintir na Breataine bata agus bóthar a thabhairt do Brown agus a chomhghleacaithe.

  • Gaelgannaire

    Is léir go bhfuil baicle ann sa Roinn Éadochais atá ag éirí buartha fá fhás na nGaelscoileanna ó dheas.

    It is clear that a handful in the Department of Education are getting quite worried about the development of Gaelscoileanna.

    I mo bharúil, ba cheart do scoileanna neamhaird a thabhairt don ordú seo.

    In my opinion, this order should be ignored.

  • Dewi

    A stalwart of sport, Micheal O Muircheartaigh -… ” It is far more important to preserve the language than any of the national monuments. There is no comparison between even the greatest of national monuments and a living language,”

    That’s a sentiment that is so obvious to me – but is a concept that many reject when it comes to languages rather than Giant’s Causeways etc.

  • For balance’s sake – Emer O’Kelly has a piece in the same newspaper in which she, inter alia, describes Irish speakers as ‘xenophobic’ and as a right wing nationalist cadre who have turned normal people, like herself we must presume, into Irish haters.

    Here’s a sample of what she said – which should chime with some of the more backward of Slugger commenters who are to informed Irish language debate what the young earthers to scientific discourse.

    The conventional approach among Irish language proponents is to claim that everyone loves the language, regards it as their first and native tongue, and would wish to use it daily if only they had the opportunity. Equally, they claim that everyone has at least a reasonable smattering of the language, and the majority of people have a working knowledge of it. In their minds, those who don’t speak Irish, therefore, are bloody-minded, anti-national, negative bigots.

    And that is exactly why there is such a hatred of Irish. Its politically-minded proponents (as opposed to those who just speak Irish fluently and gracefully without using it as a weapon) refuse to accept the irrelevance of the language in most people’s lives, and by their antagonism towards that majority view, have gone a long way to institutionalising negativity towards the language.

    I admit I’m stirring the pot – but it’s just to point out to those who are on from time to time here decrying moves to promote Irish north of the border that they do have their fellow travellers in the south.

  • Xenophobic Irish ‘lovers’ a turn-off in any language

    Concubhar, you seem to have misunderstood Emer’s article. She points the finger directly at the xenophobes, not at ‘those who just speak Irish fluently and gracefully without using it as a weapon’. Nuance is important.

  • Southernboy

    What else did you expect from a West-Brit.

  • The research to which Marc Coleman refers is that carried out by Dónal Ó Hainiféin, a Gaelscoil teacher and Masters graduate of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, an offshoot of NUI Galway. It states that children undergoing total immersion in Irish medium schools are more likely to have better command of English than those in the English medium national schools.

    My understanding of Emer O Kelly’s article, Nevin, is that in her mind anyone who is active in promoting the Irish language is a xenophobe who doesn’t want English around the place…..that’s so far from the truth that it’s laughable….

  • “What else did you expect from a West-Brit.”

    Good to see you proving her point.

  • Southernboy

    Not to mention you Chekov you stoop english-wannabe

  • I just read poor Chekhov’s article citing in approval Ms O’Kelly’s ill informed rant against the language and its speakers and imploring those in power not to go down the route advocated by ‘the regressive strain of nationalism’ by avoiding introducing an Irish language act.

    How pathetic it is to hate a language, the Irish language or any other language, as Chekov and O’Kelly appear to hate the Irish language….Regressive strains indeed….

  • An Lochlannach

    From the forthcoming ‘Dictionary of Sunday Independent Terminology’

    Irish language fanatic/Talabani/Gaeilgeoir etc. = someone who speaks Irish and who expects some basic services in Irish

    Invariably contrasted with vaguely defined ‘quiet or unassuming Irish speakers'(whose fluency in Irish is always superior to abovementioned fanatic).

  • “she, inter alia, describes Irish speakers as ‘xenophobic’ and as a right wing nationalist cadre”

    But she doesn’t, Concubhar. Note ‘politically-minded proponents’ and the first exception I noted.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “Note ‘politically-minded proponents’ and the first exception I noted.”

    What does “politically-minded” mean? If someone supports government policy that supports the language, that’s clearly a “politically-minded” position, which according to O’Kelly qualifies them as “xenophobic” and part of a “right-wing nationalist cadre”.

    If a xenophobe is someone with an irrational hatred of foreigners, is there a term for someone with an irrational hatred of their own compatriots/culture?

  • Quiz Master

    The independent is just a few sheets of bitchy drivel. If it was any more dumbed down it’d be a tabloid. Not that its much better than a tabloid. Its full of third rate journalists who don’t have a clue about whats going on around them never mind actually reporting wider worldly goings on. It’s probably just Tony Reilly’s anti-Irish agenda again

  • Dewi

    A stalwart of sport, Micheal O Muircheartaigh -… “ It is far more important to preserve the language than any of the national monuments. There is no comparison between even the greatest of national monuments and a living language,”

    That’s a sentiment that is so obvious to me – but is a concept that many reject when it comes to languages rather than Giant’s Causeways etc.

    Nevin – I would appreciate a considered reply to that.

  • ersehole

    O muircheartaigh is wrong. There is a comparison. I’m in favour of sensitively preserving both. and the red squirrel, the natterjack toad, and dialects of ulster scots.Yep, welsh too.

  • of course teaching the english language as one of many subjects during the week doesn’t break the total immersion rule.

  • “I just read poor Chekhov’s article”

    Perhaps you’ve also read the comment on the thread by Kloot who provides a first hand account of alienation from the language due to what he terms the IL Taliban.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    Total immersion means forgoing the teaching of all other languages except the target language.

    This is clearly established international best practice and a Mick has pointed out this has been established locally also.

  • Dewi, there has been much OTT comment and reaction; the headline and sub-headline writers have also contributed more heat than light.

    My ‘expertise’ doesn’t extend to language teaching or preservation; my ‘revelations’ about the North Coast are linked mainly to an exposure of political sleaze and apparent planning corruption.

    Coleman highlights a root of the problem that hasn’t yet been noted on this thread:

    “But neither she nor her advisers are responsible for the root of the problems facing Irish. The first is what can only be described as a second plantation of the Gaeltacht whereby native Irish speakers are becoming strangers in our own environment.” [A second mentioned is hostility. I take it this hostility appears mainly in areas where little or no Irish is spoken and where some folks have been victims of discrimination ie where Irish is a requirement in a job application but not in the job itself]

    I can see some parallels for local people on the Causeway Coast due to the influx of second home buyers. Portballintrae, for example, has become something of a ghost village in winter; all the small shops have gone and many of the locals have migrated inland in search of cheaper homes.

    Total immersion may well be the best method but perhaps it requires more extensive research. For example, parents who select Irish language medium schools may have a greater interest in the education of their children than those who drop them off at the school gate and/or delegate total responsibility to the teachers.

    Coleman also mentions the preservation and growth of Hebrew. Some of that can be put down to the threat to Israel as a state and to its ‘colonisation’ policies. Is it likely that Irish could or would follow a similar path, with or without the help of ‘Irish-America’?

    My interest in Irish is restricted mainly to an understanding of placenames. I prefer the approach where all linguistic and other influences are considered and it’s sad to see the topic become a ‘battle’ between politically motivated and perhaps partially literate proponents.

  • I couldn’t be arsed reading anything that compares those who love the Irish language with a band of ignorant and fascist Islamists who want to force people to adhere to a religion. To me that kind of comment you describe from Kloot immediately loses the argument – it’s like breaching Godwin’s Law.

    My entire involvement with the Irish language has been about the issue of giving people the opportunity to benefit from the language. I do,however, believe that it should remain a necessary subject at the Leaving Certificate.

  • Concubhar, I see that three languages at Leaving Certificate level are required to enter the NUI. If folks don’t wish to have this linguistic range or lack the ability are there other centres of third level education that will accept them?

  • George

    Nevin,
    In Dublin, you can always grace DCU or Trinity who aren’t pushed about Irish. However Trinity requires Maths.

    Those born abroad and our northern brethren are naturally exempt from needing the stringent D in pass Irish to enter NUI institutions.

  • “I couldn’t be arsed reading anything that compares those who love the Irish language with a band of ignorant and fascist Islamists who want to force people to adhere to a religion”

    I don’t believe Kloot was talking about people who loved the Irish language for its own sake. I believe he was refering to those who “want to force people to adhere to a language”.

  • gaelgannaire

    “want to force people to adhere to a language”

    The only people who want to do that in Ireland are monoglot English speakers who wish to deny services etc to Irish speakers.

  • jonny

    its quite sad to see the delight the some unionist poster take in any abuse of the Gaelic language, though that says a lot about them really. I think O’Kelly is wrong factually about a number of things in her article. I’m not sure that (excluding herself and probably a minority of others) there’s any greater hatred of ‘irish’ than of, say, mathematics. Indeed, I don’t suppose that people actually love the English language either, or at least in much greater numbers than gaelgores. Most people don’t even think about such things at all. As far as i’m aware the number of gaelscoileanna (which i believe a secular unlike most other schools in the republic) is growing all the time, and a mainstream TV channel. Someone must like the language Emer.

  • I don’t know who’s doing the forcing Chekov – but it ain’t Irish speakers. We don’t force people to learn Irish – but we do demand services in Irish which are available to English speakers. We’re not unreasonable about the services that we require – we don’t want everyone, for instance in the car registration office to be able do deal with us as Gaeilge, just one or two. That’s not unreasonable, do you think? We want to be entertained in Irish – I for instance would like that all big sporting occasions would be broadcast live on TG4 with Irish langauge commentary. Currently I’m obliged to watch the All Irelands with the television muted and Raidio na Gaeltachta on, which is not appropriate. I dislike being forced to listen or watch something in English on radio or telly when it would be quite simple, given today’s digital technology, to provide same as Gaeilge.

  • Except the article is not abusing the language. It is abusing those who misuse the language for political purposes. It criticises the ethno-nationalist purposes to which the language is put. If unionists sympathise with the argument in the article that’s because they have witnessed first hand the politicising of the language by extreme ethno-nationalists in the north.

    It is actually that political misuse that is currently damaging the language. In my own article I acknowledge that the language is worth preserving and promoting and that it should be funded.

  • gaelgannaire

    “It is abusing those who misuse the language for political purposes.”

    Who are these people?

  • In Northern Ireland Sinn Féin would answer that description very neatly.

  • “We don’t force people to learn Irish – but we do demand services in Irish which are available to English speakers”

    You’d need to ask Kloot to explain, but my understanding is that he was forced to learn Irish in school and did not appreciate the methods used. My understanding is also that there has been a certain degree of discrimination against those who do not speak Irish up to an acceptable standard, in terms of university entrance, previously for civil service jobs etc.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Chekov

    SF are a very convenient excuse for an awful lot of bigotry.

    I see SF minister Conor Murphy is funding the building of a dual carriageway between Dungannon and Ballygawley. Presumably unionists will boycott this road, as Murphy is clearly politicising the process of road-building?

    Or is that just completely idiotic?

    Be honest: your pro-union, pro-British forbears went to a lot of time and trouble carrying out an ethnocide in Ireland, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to sit idly by while people of this generation try to undo that hard work.

  • “I see SF minister Conor Murphy is funding the building of a dual carriageway”

    Billy, I presume this is public funding, not from the proceeds of the PRM’s organised crime wing.

  • “carrying out an ethnocide in Ireland”

    Who do you blame for the current ethnocide in Gaeltacht areas, Billy?

  • jonny

    Nevin
    irish medium schools would not have been allowed at all when the british government controlled southern ireland. And its unioinists that delight in any and all obstructions to the use of irish by those who would prefer to use it. you only have to read the letters page of the newsletter to realise the glee that greets any anti-gaelic activity that the unionist parties get up to. indeed, its looked on as a victory.

  • You’d need to ask Kloot to explain, but my understanding is that he was forced to learn Irish in school and did not appreciate the methods used. My understanding is also that there has been a certain degree of discrimination against those who do not speak Irish up to an acceptable standard, in terms of university entrance, previously for civil service jobs etc.

    Ancient history – which is why Emer O Kelly’s article is utterly irrelevant. Pro Irish discrimination, which is a dubious thing at best, has long since disappeared to the extent that the Department of Education has only 3% of its staff which believes it can do business in Irish.

    As for Nevin’s political intervention, re the building of the Dungannon dual carriageway, that gives the game away.

    Those unionists who are giving out about the Irish will find they have one less thing to gurn about now that Conradh na Gaeilge – the Gaelic League – have dedicated themselves solely to restoring the Irish language as an everyday language of Ireland. No longer is the organisation concerned with freeing Ireland from the yoke of British bondage…..

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “Who do you blame for the current ethnocide in Gaeltacht areas, Billy?”

    And what ethnocide would that be Nevin?

    “Ethnocide” means the intentional and systematic destruction of an ethnic culture. It’s what the British Empire did in Ireland and many other places around the world.

    Middle class Dubs buying holiday homes in Ceathru Rua are the insensitive agents of a cultural decline, perhaps, but that’s absolutely nothing like ethnocide.

    You’re being dishonest too Nevin. Your pro-union, pro-British forbears carried out an ethnocide in Ireland and you’re attempting to suggest that it was nothing more than the rather insensitive but organic emergence of one culture over another. The benefits of speaking English were real and Irish people were largely willing to learn English, but the destruction of Irish was just that – a destruction, not a decline.

    To suggest otherwise (as your smokescreen seems to) is nothing less than a lie.

  • “SF are a very convenient excuse for an awful lot of bigotry.”

    The Irish language is a convenient excuse for an awful lot of hysteria and an awful lot of throwing around of the word ‘bigotry’. The only possible reason anyone might argue against the IL lobby doing exactly what they want is apparently ‘bigotry’. You would do well to listen to O’Kelly, because the point she is making is that it is precisely this attitude which makes people antagonistic toward the language zealots. And if SF’s misuse of the language as an ethno-nationalist political weapon gives some people a pretext to hate the language yet more, that simply reinforces the point I am making.

    “I see SF minister Conor Murphy is funding the building of a dual carriageway between Dungannon and Ballygawley. Presumably unionists will boycott this road, as Murphy is clearly politicising the process of road-building?
    Or is that just completely idiotic?”

    What is your point? I don’t remember the ‘every inch of tarmac laid is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for independence’ plank of Sinn Féin’s strategy.

    “Be honest: your pro-union, pro-British forbears went to a lot of time and trouble carrying out an ethnocide in Ireland, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to sit idly by while people of this generation try to undo that hard work”

    Rubbish. Fucking MOPE.

  • gaelgannaire

    Chekhov,

    Surely ‘bigotry’ is a useful enough term to describe people who argue againist equality and who advocate the supremacy of one culture over another.

    I personally use the term ‘supremacists’ to describe people like Ms O’Kelly who believe that Irish speakers should simply be forced to speak English.

    It clearly is the demand for equality that has antogonised her and her colleagues, as an Irish speaker I think that is unfortuate but her hatreds and predujices are surely a matter for herself, I just want equality for me and my descendents.

  • The article does not express hatred or prejudice. Read it again. You obviously haven’t read it closely enough.

  • gaelgannaire

    Chekhov,

    I have read the article twice. It is inaccurate, full of ignorance and frankly prejudice.

    I of course have read other articles by the same author and I think I am on safe ground in stating that she holds a hatred for Gaelic speakers founded on stereotypes and prejudice.

    I also found the suggestion that it is ‘frightening’ that a linguistic minority seeks equality with the majority under the constition to be inciteful.

  • Dewi

    “Be honest: your pro-union, pro-British forbears went to a lot of time and trouble carrying out an ethnocide in Ireland, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to sit idly by while people of this generation try to undo that hard work

    “Rubbish. Fucking MOPE.”

    Absolutely objectively why’s that rubbish? Add in a plantation that seems to have worked precisely as perfidious Albion planned and it seems historically accurate enough to me.

  • english is just one subject, lets call it subject x.

    and you have an irish schools and teach maths and scince and x all through irish and that’s plenty of immersion.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    International academic research disagrees with you.

    Remember, English is taught in Gaelscoileanna but not in the initial years of school. That is what total immersion education means.

  • RG Cuan

    Of course Emer O’Kelly’s article expresses prejudice.

    She advocates that Irish speakers should speak English (imagine telling Dutch-speaking Belgians that they must use French to avail of public services) and she claims that anybody who promotes the language is ‘xenophobic’. Other articles she has writen have slurred Gaelic lexicon and have stated that Irish is moribund.

    Overall these arguments are really a drag as they are completely out of date and out of touch with today’s Irish-speaking community.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Chekov

    “The Irish language is a convenient excuse for an awful lot of hysteria and an awful lot of throwing around of the word ‘bigotry’.”

    Right enough. Your response has completely disproven the notion that you are motivated by anything other than, I dunno, fiscal prudence?

    “The only possible reason anyone might argue against the IL lobby doing exactly what they want is apparently ‘bigotry’.”

    Fine Gael have proposed that Irish be dropped as a compulsory Leaving Cert subject. I don’t think FG are motivated by anti-Irish bigotry. (The fact that EK made his proposal as Gaeilge helped.)

    But from within northern unionism? Sorry, I’ve yet to see anything other than bigotry when it comes to opposition to Irish. How can it be other? By and large the unionist community knows nothing about the Irish language, doesn’t want to know about the Irish language and wears ignorance of the Irish language like a badge of honour.

    So if you know nothing about, and indeed guard and treasure your total ignorance of a particular subject, yet have strongly pronounced views on that very subject, how could those views possibly be based on anything other than bigotry and prejudice? It’s illogical to suggest that they could be based on anything else.

    “You would do well to listen to O’Kelly, because the point she is making is that it is precisely this attitude which makes people antagonistic toward the language zealots.”

    No it’s not. It’s their efforts to undo the ethnocide carried out by your forbears that you object to. At least be honest.

    “And if SF’s misuse of the language as an ethno-nationalist political weapon gives some people a pretext to hate the language yet more, that simply reinforces the point I am making.”

    In your own words, SF only give you reason to hate the language “yet more”. By your own admission, if SF had never existed, you would still “hate” the Irish language.

    “What is your point? I don’t remember the ‘every inch of tarmac laid is like another bullet being fired in the struggle for independence’ plank of Sinn Féin’s strategy.”

    So that’s it? One Shinner made one idiotic comment once about the Irish language (do you even know who said that?), and that’s all you need to know about it? Is that your idea of a rational and reasonable conclusion based on available evidence?

    Because to me, it sure looks like you are happy to grasp at the slightest excuse to confirm your pre-existing prejudice. And that’s textbook bigotry.

    “Rubbish. Fucking MOPE.”

    Well I suppose that’s me put in my box….

  • but why not teach x, i think this international research thinks x is a special subject apart from the others.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    Because if ‘x’ is taught in the intial years of immersion education it harms the acquistion of the target language.

    In addition it has been proven that early immersion help literacy in both languages in the medium term.

    This finding is practically universal in educational research into the subject.

  • gaelgannaire

    Billy, Checkhov

    Yous may be interested in this artilce by PÓl Muirí dealing with the treatment of Irish and its speakers in the media.

    http://www.gaelport.com/index.php?page=news&news_id=25

  • “But from within northern unionism? Sorry, I’ve yet to see anything other than bigotry when it comes to opposition to Irish. How can it be other? By and large the unionist community knows nothing about the Irish language, doesn’t want to know about the Irish language and wears ignorance of the Irish language like a badge of honour.”

    By and large the unionist community knows nothing about the Buryat language and does not want to know anything about the Buryat language. No doubt if an expensive bill were introduced to impose Buryat’s use in public bodies etc. unionists would not support it. I wouldn’t deduce from that a prejudice against the Buryat language or culture. That is not to say that some unionists are not prejudiced against Irish (or for all I know Buryat), but then the political misuse of the language hasn’t helped in this respect. Many unionists are not terribly exercised by the Irish language except when it threatens to encroach in public services etc. where language should be a matter of efficiency and understanding, rather than tokenism or political posturing.

    “So if you know nothing about, and indeed guard and treasure your total ignorance of a particular subject, yet have strongly pronounced views on that very subject, how could those views possibly be based on anything other than bigotry and prejudice? It’s illogical to suggest that they could be based on anything else.”

    It is not ignorant to aver that practically all Irish speakers speak English well and most speak English as their first language. These are the facts that fuel argument over whether public services need to be provided in Irish. If people are arguing that Irish should not be taught in schools at all, if they wish all funding for the language to be stopped, if they are angered when they hear the language used, then that is bigotry and prejudice. If unionists express these opinions I condemn them unreservedly. I am not opposed to more Irish on television or the radio. I am not opposed to more Irish in our theatres or in our libraries.

    “No it’s not. It’s their efforts to undo the ethnocide carried out by your forbears that you object to. At least be honest. “

    Utter nonsense. I have no such agenda.

    “In your own words, SF only give you reason to hate the language “yet more”. By your own admission, if SF had never existed, you would still “hate” the Irish language.”

    I did not say that SF give me reason to hate the language yet more. I do not hate the language. If some people do then SF give them a perfect pretext for this hatred. It was the counterproductive championing of the language by SF which I was highlighting.

    “So that’s it? One Shinner made one idiotic comment once about the Irish language (do you even know who said that?), and that’s all you need to know about it? Is that your idea of a rational and reasonable conclusion based on available evidence?”

    I was responding to your ludicrous analogy as you well know. I believe that Danny Morrison made that statement, and if it was inconvenient for him to be so truthful about Sinn Fein’s misuse of the Irish language, then that is not the fault of unionists.

  • does teaching maths harm the litereacy of irish?

  • Jonny, I’ve no intention of defending the boorish attitude of some/many Unionists to the Irish language. The cultural fascism of the PRM and associated hangers-on does the language no favours either. As I’ve said many times, I’d like to see a greater separation between culture and politics; IMO it would be for the benefit of both.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Thanks Gaelgannaire. Excellent article. It’s well worth pointing out the anti-Gaeilge bigotry that is endemic in the Irish media.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    No.

  • Concubhar, Billy introduced Murphy and the road, not me …

  • “she claims that anybody who promotes the language is ‘xenophobic’.”

    RG, your grasp of English must be letting you down. Perhaps Emer’s OTT comments have caused a cloud of red mist to engulf you 😉

  • gaelgannaire

    “Concubhar, Billy introduced Murphy and the road, not me …”

    Great name for a tune that Nevin.

  • “Your pro-union, pro-British forbears”

    Would that include those who had leadership roles in the United Irishmen, Billy? I don’t know who all my forbears were let alone their political inclinations and I suspect neither do you.

  • I have no objection to hearing from any of these talented people. Perhaps some of them might have opinions on why Irish has an image problem. Perhaps some might be angry at the damage inflicted on the language by those who purport to promote it. If they are so exceptional they might actually recognise that hysterical shrieking about “bigotry” whenever the language is discussed in ambivalent terms is counterproductive.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Chekov

    “By and large the unionist community knows nothing about the Buryat language….etc”

    When you’re retreating to pathetic analogies, it’s time to quit. The Buryat language is of no relevance in Ireland. The Irish language is relevant in Ireland. The people who live here make it relevant.

    “Many unionists are not terribly exercised by the Irish language except when it threatens to encroach in public services etc. where language should be a matter of efficiency and understanding, rather than tokenism or political posturing.”

    There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that bilingual policy had any adverse effect on understanding. You think that the inclusion of an Irish-language translation causes English-speakers to forget how to read English?

    It’s certainly true that support for Gaeilge is based on the belief that the language is of great cultural value, not that it is “efficient”. So?

    It’s certainly not about “tokenism” or “posturing”. It’s about saving Gaeilge as a living language, and therefore protecting a cultural heritage that once lost can never be recovered. It’s about preserving one of the things that makes us distinct in an ever more homogenised western culture. It’s about undoing ethnocide.

    Far from being “tokenistic”, it could scarcely be more existential. Whatever else you may accuse the Irish language movement of, “posturing” is a spectacularly ill-judged allegation.

    But you’re really just basing everything on SF, aren’t you?

    “It is not ignorant to aver that practically all Irish speakers speak English well and most speak English as their first language.”

    So? This isn’t about mere understanding. Languages aren’t about mere understanding – if they were, the British Empire would never have had a policy of ethnocide. Of course they knew it was about much more than that.

    “I am not opposed to more Irish on television or the radio. I am not opposed to more Irish in our theatres or in our libraries.”

    Fair play to you.

    “I did not say that SF give me reason to hate the language yet more.”

    Your post is there for all to see.

    “It was the counterproductive championing of the language by SF which I was highlighting.”

    And I pointed out that this was a very convenient excuse for people whose minds were already made up.

    “I was responding to your ludicrous analogy as you well know.”

    It was, of course, a ludicrous analogy. (“Idiotic”, I described it as.)

    “if it was inconvenient for him to be so truthful about Sinn Fein’s misuse of the Irish language, then that is not the fault of unionists.”

    I’m sorry, but the bigotry of unionists towards the Irish language is the fault of unionists. SF are nothing more than a convenient excuse to give full expression to a hatred that is rooted, not in something Danny Morrison once said, but in the fact that your forbears carried out a very effective ethnocide against the language, yet somehow it still clings to life.

  • gaelgannaire

    Chekov

    I think the point is that …

    1. you will probably never will hear from them. and …

    2. they would in all probablity believe that Irish is entitled to equality with English, therefore the ‘source of the problem’ when it comes to some of these anti-Irish language writers etc.

    Ó Muirí is making the point that young professional people with pro-Irish language views are simply censored.

    BTW, have you ever wondered why the language has no image problem among its speakers? just its opponents, strange that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “Would that include those who had leadership roles in the United Irishmen, Billy? I don’t know who all my forbears were let alone their political inclinations and I suspect neither do you.”

    Nope. It means your pro-British and pro-Union forbears – as in, the people of past generations who were pro-British and pro-Union, as you are. Of course I don’t literally mean your family tree – how could I possibly know your family history?

    I’m talking about a political or cultural lineage that connects those in the past who carried out ethnocide to those in the present who seek to secure or extend the achievements of that ethnocide – ie an Ireland culturally indistinct from an English shire, in which the Irish language is of no more relevance than Cornish is in England.

    And I would suggest that by your mendacity in drawing equivalence between a holiday-maker buying a chalet and an imperial state carrying out ethnocide, you reveal yourself to be part of that lineage.

    Of course I have no idea of your actual family bloodline.

  • In the style of Murphy and the bricks, gaelgannaire?

    I prefer the Hoffnung version but can’t find an audio version online..

  • RG Cuan

    Totally agree with Gael Gan Náire about the ‘image’ issue.

    The image i have of Irish is fun, sexy, modern and dynamic. Just look at TG4 or log onto http://www.nosmag.com if you want some examples.

  • “you reveal yourself to be part of that lineage”

    I do, Billy? Perhaps you missed my tentative endorsement of the total immersion approach.

    “pro-British and pro-Union, as you are”

    You may have missed my shared sovereignty proposal …

  • “fun, sexy, modern and dynamic”

    Not four words I would associate with Adams and the PRM ilk that abuse the language for political purposes.

    If only all forms of culture were presented with such allure, RG. The words remind me of the great crack we had in our inter-schools programmes in the 70s and 80s whilst the ‘hard men’ wrought destruction.

  • RG Cuan

    NEVIN

    Adams and the PRM are not the Irish language.

    The links i gave, and the people who speak it, are.

  • but teaching maths takes away time from teaching irish

  • “When you’re retreating to pathetic analogies, it’s time to quit. The Buryat language is of no relevance in Ireland. The Irish language is relevant in Ireland. The people who live here make it relevant”

    The analogy is pertinent, not because Buryat is relevant in Ireland, but because disinterest is not the same as bigotry.

    “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that bilingual policy had any adverse effect on understanding. You think that the inclusion of an Irish-language translation causes English-speakers to forget how to read English?”

    The point which you are choosing not to understand is of course that the need for effective communication is currently achieved by the English language. Gaelic will not offer any enhancement in terms of effectiveness.

    “It’s certainly not about “tokenism” or “posturing”. It’s about saving Gaeilge as a living language, and therefore protecting a cultural heritage that once lost can never be recovered. It’s about preserving one of the things that makes us distinct in an ever more homogenised western culture. It’s about undoing ethnocide.”

    Firstly you have already implicitly acknowledged in your comments to Nevin that something more complex than “ethnocide” went on given the attractions (which continue) of the English language. Secondly public services are not the platform by which to promote a language, particularly if the language is not shared. Public services should be delivered only with efficiency and utility in mind. Tokenism and posturing is precisely what we are accustomed to, for example in the Assembly, so it is natural to suspect the same motives in terms of car tax for example.

    “But you’re really just basing everything on SF, aren’t you?”

    No. But in Northern Ireland a disproportionate amount of the contact unionists have with the Irish language is through SF. That is not necessarily the fault of Irish speakers, but not to acknowledge that this affects the way the language is viewed is not to accept reality.

    “So? This isn’t about mere understanding. Languages aren’t about mere understanding – if they were, the British Empire would never have had a policy of ethnocide. Of course they knew it was about much more than that.”

    Once again the note of hysteria is unmistakeable.

    “Your post is there for all to see.”

    Perhaps you should read it again in that case “if SF’s misuse of the language as an ethno-nationalist political weapon gives some people a pretext to hate the language yet more”. Some people!

    “And I pointed out that this was a very convenient excuse for people whose minds were already made up.”

    So you do not think that SF’s hijacking of the language issue effects unionists’ attitudes to it one way or another? You don’t think that the long history of links between the language and political nationalism has played any role in unionists’ perception of the language?

    “I’m sorry, but the bigotry of unionists towards the Irish language is the fault of unionists. SF are nothing more than a convenient excuse to give full expression to a hatred that is rooted, not in something Danny Morrison once said, but in the fact that your forbears carried out a very effective ethnocide against the language, yet somehow it still clings to life. “

    Unionists who are bigoted against the Irish language are indeed culpable for their own bigotry. That SF may have contributed in part to these attitudes, does not excuse them, but it does partially explain them. Arguing that public services can be provided more economically and just as efficiently without Irish language provision does not in any case constitute bigotry, except in hysterical minds. I do not know who these forebears are whom you keep attributing to me, but I can assure you that I do not feel any hatred toward the Irish language and I am quite sure that a great many unionists feel likewise.

  • “BTW, have you ever wondered why the language has no image problem among its speakers? just its opponents, strange that.”

    Have you wondered why line-dancing has no image problem amongst its speakers? Just it opponents, strange that.

  • ‘Its practitioners’

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    I dont think you understand Irish medium Education.

    Irish is taught in the same manner as English is taught in an English medium school.

    Maths will be taught through the medium of Irish, as is English in after the third year of primary school.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    This is for you. Knock yourself out.

    http://www.belfastmedia.com/z/pdfs/bilbeog.pdf

  • RG, Adams and his ilk IMO, as proponents, do the language a massive disservice.

    Here’s a little something from Gemma Hayes to soothe you:

  • Prince Eoghan

    Outstanding contribution from Billy Pilgrim. It is difficult to be patient when dealing with at the very least negativity, purposely dressed as obscurity.

    Telling it like it is helps cut through the chaff. If only others could be so straightforward.

  • gaelgannaire

    Just one point on Billy’s contribution.

    When I was at Queens I was involved in a number of informal discussions around language issues. None of which where in anyway productive.

    But it was made consistantly clear to me by a number of unionists that they did see the stamping out of the Gaelic culture as part of an historic mission, a civilising mission.

    “Ulster is British, people must accept that”, there can be no Gaelic in Ulster.

    Now I must state that I did not find any attitudes even remotely similar to this outside political unionism in the university, but that certainely was the dominant view.

  • Cuairteoir

    That magazine nós* is amazing, is it new?

    Go raibh maith agat as an nasc RG.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    Perhaps if I’ve misjudged you, you’ll explain your remarks about the “ethnocide” happening across Gaeltacht areas today?

    Chekov

    To say “disinterest is not the same as bigotry” is a meaningless rhetorical redoubt, and furthermore, describing the general unionist attitude to the Irish language as “disinterest” is wrong on two different levels. For one, unionists are extremely interested in ensuring those looking to promote Irish do not succeed. Look at the way the DUP are crowing about having prevented an Irish Language Act – they know their audience. A “disinterested” person yawns – unionists snarl. On another level, it’s not “disinterest” – it’s active and visceral anti-interest.

    The argument about “effective communication” is a straw man. “Effective communication” has nothing to do with it. You think I’m suggesting that there are lots of monolingual Irish speakers out there who need people to talk to, or need English translated for them? Support for the Irish language is a cultural endeavour. It’s about protecting a rich cultural heritage – and that’s why unionists are against it.

    You say that public services should be delivered “only with efficiency and utility in mind” but I know you’re not serious about this. You know, of course, that every state provides funding and services for countless artistic and cultural projects that are neither “efficient” nor “utilitarian”. The British royal family, for example, is neither.

    You also make great play out of how the only evidence unionists have to go on is SF. (“Tokenism and posturing is precisely what we are accustomed to, for example in the Assembly.”) But this is simply an admission that you don’t know anything about this language. Your ignorance is something only you can do something about – either try to alleviate it (classes run all across NI. Or tell the DUP/UUP to push for Irish language teaching in state schools. I’m sure Catriona Ruane would be amenable) or admit you cherish it.

    Of course I acknowledge the damage SF have done, but I blame them only insofar as they have given unionists such an easy alibi for unreconstructed bigotry.

    I also want to ask: could you explain to me how SF have “hijacked” the language? I’ve heard that particular cliché a thousand times, but I’m no closer to knowing what it means. I studied Irish at school for five years. I went to the Gaeltacht every summer. I have been brushing up on my Irish at night classes lately. My other half went to school in a Gaeltacht area. A number of my best friends (including one mentioned in O Muiri’s article) work in the Irish language sector. I watch TG4. I’d like to have much better Irish than I do, and God willing, one day I will.
    SF have never entered into my relationship with the language for a single, solitary second in my whole lifetime. If they’ve “hijacked” the language, it hasn’t been a very effective hijacking.

    “Arguing that public services can be provided more economically and just as efficiently without Irish language provision does not in any case constitute bigotry, except in hysterical minds.”

    Not necessarily, but nor is it necessarily not the case. The judgement must be made based on the credibility of the person making the argument. Hence Enda Kenny had the credibility to propose an anti-Gaeilge policy without anyone thinking he was anti-Gaeilge generally.

    But unionists? Let’s look at the track record…

    “something more complex than “ethnocide” went on given the attractions (which continue) of the English language.”

    Was the ethnocide of the British Empire the single, solitary reason why Irish people learned English? Of course it wasn’t. Did the British Empire carry out ethnocide in Ireland? Of course they did.

    “You don’t think that the long history of links between the language and political nationalism has played any role in unionists’ perception of the language?”

    I think the historic role of your forebears in ethnocide has required a cultivated ignorance of the language – which allows you to make statements such as those above, seemingly unaware of the use of Irish by your actual ancestors, and by institutions like the Orange Order. Unionists’ perception of the language is rooted in that ignorance. SF and indeed nationalism are no more than fig leaves.

    It’s the ethnocide, stupid.

  • i do understand that irish school teaching, but if you didn’t teach maths and spent the time at irish they would be better at irish wouldn’t they be, and that’s all that seems to count in this ‘international research’. why not teach english even if they get confused between the two, sure that’s life,that’s the challenge of teaching.

  • gaelgannaire

    Steve,

    The fact is that maths isnt a language.

    The majority of these kids speak English, therefore Irish is what we call the target language.

    It is consistantly found throughout the world that if the language of the classroom is restricted to the target language in the intial years of immersion education it greatly benefits the acquistion of that language AND improves literacy in the first language, after the point when it is taken up, in the third year.

    It is difficult to see why anyone would advocate a proven inferior system in immersion education.

  • “To say “disinterest is not the same as bigotry” is a meaningless rhetorical redoubt”

    No it is not. It is an important distinction.

    “and furthermore, describing the general unionist attitude to the Irish language as “disinterest” is wrong on two different levels. For one, unionists are extremely interested in ensuring those looking to promote Irish do not succeed. Look at the way the DUP are crowing about having prevented an Irish Language Act – they know their audience. A “disinterested” person yawns – unionists snarl. On another level, it’s not “disinterest” – it’s active and visceral anti-interest.”

    I do not speak for the DUP, I am sure bigotry is endemic in that party on every level. I am also sure however, that if Irish leaves most unionists alone, most unionists will leave Irish alone. I.e. if it is not imposed through legislation which seeks to establish a burden on public services. If a party perceives halting of legislation which would impose the provision of Irish through public services where it is not appropriate as a political success, that in itself does not imply active hostility.

    “The argument about “effective communication” is a straw man. “Effective communication” has nothing to do with it. You think I’m suggesting that there are lots of monolingual Irish speakers out there who need people to talk to, or need English translated for them? Support for the Irish language is a cultural endeavour. It’s about protecting a rich cultural heritage – and that’s why unionists are against it.”

    No the argument is not a straw man. The argument holds that public services are not the platform to be indulging in “cultural endeavours”. Public services are a matter merely of utility and efficiency. I do not deny the need to support the Irish language within the cultural sphere. I have stressed that repeatedly.

    “You say that public services should be delivered “only with efficiency and utility in mind” but I know you’re not serious about this. You know, of course, that every state provides funding and services for countless artistic and cultural projects that are neither “efficient” nor “utilitarian”. The British royal family, for example, is neither.”

    I am not arguing that no public money should be forthcoming for artistic or cultural projects, merely that these artistic and cultural projects should be distinct from purely practical public services. I count amongst these the courts, social security, the NHS, the Roads’ Service. Manifestly these are not appropriate platforms through which to promote the Irish language. It is down to utility again. Part of DCAL’s remit is to promote culture. It should therefore fund Irish language projects as part of this remit. That is an appropriate provision of Irish through public services. Issuing a car tax form in Irish, in contrast, is a waste of public money. Translating government documents into Irish is a waste of public money.

    “You also make great play out of how the only evidence unionists have to go on is SF. (“Tokenism and posturing is precisely what we are accustomed to, for example in the Assembly.”) But this is simply an admission that you don’t know anything about this language. Your ignorance is something only you can do something about – either try to alleviate it (classes run all across NI. Or tell the DUP/UUP to push for Irish language teaching in state schools. I’m sure Catriona Ruane would be amenable) or admit you cherish it.”

    That is an obvious non sequiter. I am not required to learn Irish to hold an opinion on it. I do not think that tokenism and posturing are the default purposes of the Irish language. However in Northern Ireland’s politics it is tokenism and posturing to which we have become accustomed thanks to SF.

    “Of course I acknowledge the damage SF have done, but I blame them only insofar as they have given unionists such an easy alibi for unreconstructed bigotry.”

    That says more about you than it does about unionists or their bigotry.

    “I also want to ask: could you explain to me how SF have “hijacked” the language?”

    They have hijacked the language by presenting themselves as the public face of Irish language campaigning in Northern Ireland. Simple really.

    “But unionists? Let’s look at the track record… “

    By your own admission you would dismiss an argument just because it is articulated by unionists.

    “Was the ethnocide of the British Empire the single, solitary reason why Irish people learned English? Of course it wasn’t. Did the British Empire carry out ethnocide in Ireland? Of course they did.”

    I believe that more nuanced historians of Ireland would either reject or qualify that assertion. It is sad to hear someone so entrenched in the mythos of their own tribe.

  • contd.

    “I think the historic role of your forebears in ethnocide has required a cultivated ignorance of the language – which allows you to make statements such as those above, seemingly unaware of the use of Irish by your actual ancestors, and by institutions like the Orange Order. Unionists’ perception of the language is rooted in that ignorance. SF and indeed nationalism are no more than fig leaves.”

    The use of Irish by unionists or indeed my ancestors (once again you seem to know much about them) does not make any difference to my arguments. Indeed if unionists have become estranged from the Irish language due to its appropriation by nationalism actually that chimes resonantly with the points I am making. In any case I am as strongly opposed to foisting Ulster Scots on public services, more opposed in fact. Am I guilty of wanting to perpetuate ethnocide on Ulster Scots’ culture?

  • gaelgannaire

    Chekhov,

    If I may I would like to point out a fundamental weakness in your analysis from an Irish speaker’s point of view, which of course is irrelevant to your view which is admittedly of some utility for unionists, it is certainely a jump from the simple ‘Irish is offensive’ view which has charachterised political unionism’s attitudes to Irish.

    You seem to classify two kinds of Irish speaker, Cultural and Political. I would have to point out that only a minority of Irish speakers would classify themselves as either.

    Can such thing as a political speaker exist? Well if an individual using the Irish language only to antagonise unionists and utters no word of Irish outwith this context then the answer is yes.

    It is my understanding from conversations with more politically primative unionists than yourself, but by no means non-mainstream, that they do believe that Irish is rarely uttered aside from in their presence.

    Now, this view is simply wrong, in that it is not based in fact, therefore a prejudice based on ignorance, there is a word for that.

    If an individual wishes to continue in that vein of thought then they simply embrace ignorance for its political utility in my view.

    Do ‘political Irish speakers’ exist, in my view no as I know of not one fluent Irish speaker who engages in such a practice. That said I do know of one individual who in my view does engage in the practice of speaking Irish in the presence of unionist who does not endeavor to speak Irish outwith that context.

    The other classification is ‘Cultural Irish speakers’. These people, for whom Irish is a cutural, academic or recreational pursuit do undoubtedly exist. You seem, like Jeffrey Donaldson seem to think that this is acceptable. My point is that these people are a minority amongst ‘Irish speakers’. That is not to take anything away from them.

    My point is however, that for approx 24,000 people in Northern Ireland, Irish is not a cultural language, it is a venacular, an everyday language which is to be compared to English language and not to a cultural pursuit. Perhaps you include these people in the ‘political bracket’.

    I do not consider Irish to be ‘a beautiful language’ (Ruane, 2008), a great cultural pursuit, its just talking. I don’t know if political unionism today could ever accept that, but who knows what the future may bring.

    As a non-politically active unionist in Queens once said, ‘unionist hate Irish because they are afeared of it, they’re afeared ‘cause they don’t understand it’.

  • gaelgannaire

    “If I may I would like to point out a fundamental weakness in your analysis from an Irish speaker’s point of view, which of course is irrelevant to your view “

    An Irish speaker’s view is in no way irrelevant to me. I might not accept your view in its entirety, but I am certainly not in the habit of dismissing an opinion or argument on anything other than the merit of its contents. As we have heard BP is not quite so scrupulous.

    “It is my understanding from conversations with more politically primitive unionists than yourself, but by no means non-mainstream, that they do believe that Irish is rarely uttered aside from in their presence. “

    I am sad to learn that some people are of that opinion.

    “If an individual wishes to continue in that vein of thought then they simply embrace ignorance for its political utility in my view. “

    I would not disagree with that conclusion.

    “Do ‘political Irish speakers’ exist, in my view no as I know of not one fluent Irish speaker who engages in such a practice. That said I do know of one individual who in my view does engage in the practice of speaking Irish in the presence of unionist who does not endeavor to speak Irish outwith that context.”

    You seem to be contradicting point 1 with point 2. What about people who do speak the language in other contexts, but use the language also in a political fashion? I believe that is still a political misuse of the language. My problem is not with Irish, or Irish speakers, but with the political misuse of the language from wherever it springs.

    “My point is however, that for approx 24,000 people in Northern Ireland, Irish is not a cultural language, it is a vernacular, an everyday language which is to be compared to English language and not to a cultural pursuit. Perhaps you include these people in the ‘political bracket’.”

    I do not categorise these people in such a bracket. Political misuse of Irish is not defined by the extent of someone’s proficiency in Irish, or how they use it in other contexts.

    “I do not consider Irish to be ‘a beautiful language’ (Ruane, 2008), a great cultural pursuit, its just talking. I don’t know if political unionism today could ever accept that, but who knows what the future may bring.”

    I do not have a problem with that. I would imagine that only a very small number of unionists would have a problem with that. As long as Irish isn’t “just filling in your car tax form” or similar I am quite unperturbed.

  • Billy, it was Marc Coleman who drew my attention to the extinction threat to the Gaeltacht from this ‘second plantation’. Death by intent or otherwise is still death and the definition of ethnocide that I’ve looked at accommodates both.

    Irish was probibited by the British government and discouraged at one time or another by the Catholic Church and even by Irish speaking parents.

    I discovered references to my Nevin namesakes in the 1641/2 depositions that were recorded on the North Coast in 1652 and can be found in Folio 3.9 in Trinity College Dublin. Jennet Neaven alias Wallace lost her father, mother and brother John in the ‘firestorm’ that swept through the parishes of Derrykeighan and Billy. In Derrykeighan the word was put out that any who didn’t speak Irish should be killed [deposition sources]. It was a very rough time here and a lot of lives were lost on both sides.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “Death by intent or otherwise is still death and the definition of ethnocide that I’ve looked at accommodates both.”

    Yes, but there’s a difference between natural causes and murder.

    And I don’t know what definition of “ethnocide” you’re referring to, but according to the definition that the rest of the world goes by, intent is crucial.

    Forgive me if I vomit at your “both sides” gambit.

  • “for approx 24,000 people in Northern Ireland”

    Assuming an average of four folks per household, gaelgannaire, how many homes here would have Irish as the vernacular seven days a week?

  • Billy, you know little about my forbears – and the history of 1641/2 in north Antrim it seems. And you vomit when a little background comes your way. Oh ye of the weak stomach …

    “Furthermore, by contrast with a genocide, an ethnocide is not necessarily intentional. However, unlike genocide, which has entered into international law, ethnocide remains primarily the province of ethnologists, who have not yet settled on a single cohesive meaning for the term.” Answers.com