Bi-lingualism – practicalities and problems

The Belfast Telegraph claims that the overdue Department of Education strategy to tackle literacy and numeracy issues will be delayed further to ensure an irish language translation of the proposals is available.

  • PeaceandJustice

    {edited by moderator – Play the ball] No translation required.

  • RG Cuan

    I find this very hard to believe.

    I’m not sure how large this document is but it could probably be translated in a weekend.

  • Shameful. This is the type of thing the Irish Language Taliban want to foist on us permanently.

  • Steve

    I believe the Taliban is against personal rights and freedoms….. so you have the taliban sticker on the wrong end of the stick Mr. Chekov

  • George

    Wow, billions of pounds in subsidies every year and a public service way bigger than it should be and still Northern Ireland can’t translate a small document on time.

    But of course it’s the language’s fault for existing.

  • overhere

    Trust the “tele” to get this after all there is nothing that sells more papers than sticking the boot into “themuns”

  • Rory

    This surely looms towards a scandal. It is a scandal that the DoE, knowing full well its responsibilities in the matter of bi-lingualism, failed to have the necessary personnel at hand to translate these documents in a timely fashion.

    Questions must be asked…. Harumph! harumph!

  • RG Cuan

    Get real Chekov. This is the policy of a government department who aims to promote bilingualism and serve both English and Irish speakers. It happens all over the world.

    As i have already pointed out, this provision does not have to lead to any delays in the publication of the document. A team of translators – and there are many – could, and should, have it done in no time.

    Your taliban labels are as outdated as acid-washed jeans. The Irish language community has moved on and is living in 2008 – nós*, TG4 etc – you should too.

  • You have to take your hats off to the lads and girls in the Department of Education – they’ve found another excuse to delay tackling literacy and numeracy issues. It’s clear they didn’t attend Irish medium schools or their literacy problem wouldn’t be as significant as it seems to be.

    Like I said before, it’s more important to provide resources for Irish medium education than translations of press releases and little read reports about work they are going to do. That’s the way to support the Irish language – typical civil servants and SF get it back to front as usual.

  • joeCanuck

    Isn’t it time that this Minister received an education? Grammar school perhaps?

  • Turgon

    R G Cuan,
    That is ridiculous, faded jeans are still fashionable. I have a number of pairs. they started life as unfaded and are now faded. Are you agreeing with my wife that they should be thrown out?

    On the subject of the blog, how big is this doucment? Surely Ruane could translate it herself relatively quickly if she feels it is so important. Then again that might keep her from all the other proposals she has recently produced such as her comprehensive proposals on post primary education. You know those ones that no one else has ever seen.

    Still not a bad strategy to confuse Irish with Ruane’s general incompetence and so try to shift attention from her woeful tenure of education.

  • “Get real Chekov. This is the policy of a government department who aims to promote bilingualism and serve both English and Irish speakers. It happens all over the world.”

    It happens all over the world where there is a genuine need for it to happen. It’s very simple – there are not Irish speakers who cannot understand such a document in English. The only purpose of such a document is to be understood. Ergo paying for a translation is a waste of money.

    Oh and well done on having an unwatched television station and a magazine with articles about sex toys. Enjoy.

  • nmc

    Is there some legal (or otherwise) reason why the English document could not be released when completed and the Irish one put out later, post translation?

  • It seems the only Talibanist around here is Chekov with his disdain for the likes of TG4 and Nós. It seems that he, like the Taliban and their zeal for imposing Sharia law on the faithful, is trying to enforce those of us who love and speak Irish to adapt to English just because we can.

    What Chekov should realise is that he and his Taliban-like attitude to culture and diversity are yesterday’s news – the status quo, north or south, will not be maintained. Change/Athrú is in the air – whatever form that takes is yet to be determined but I would be disappointed if it took the shape of mere translations of unread documents in English. That of course is the limit of Civil Service imagination at work, rather than some feverishly imagined Irish language taliban.

  • RG Cuan

    NMC
    You’re right. The translation of documents isn’t the most important issue to your average Irish speaker and i suppose they could wait a day or two if they had to.

    TURGON
    I think i agree with your wife – Elenwe? – on this one.

    CHEKOV
    It happens all over the world where there is a genuine need for it to happen.

    It actually happens where there is a demand and where different language communities live within the same jurisdiction. Catalans, Basques and Galicians all speak Spanish yet they recieve services in their language of choice.

    And thousands of us do enjoy watching Gaelic tv and reading about sex toys. You should try i sometime, might broaden your horizons 😉

  • interested

    The Tele article isn’t quite as funny of course as the cartoon in today’s Irish News.

    It just about sums up perfectly our erstwhile Minister for Education.

  • “It seems the only Talibanist around here is Chekov with his disdain for the likes of TG4 and Nós.”

    It would be more accurate to say I disdain those who wish to present the existence of these things as a triumph of relevance.

    “It actually happens where there is a demand and where different language communities live within the same jurisdiction. Catalans, Basques and Galicians all speak Spanish yet they recieve services in their language of choice.”

    All places where the languages have been used continuously on a day to day basis. That said, if I was a Spanish tax payer I would still feel that money was being wasted.

  • gaelgannaire

    I think I should point out that the most significant story of the day involving the Irish Langage is the decision of Weatherup J. to allow a Judical Review into the 1737 Administration of Justice Act, which has been described as the ‘last penal law’.

    He stated yesterday in the High? Court that the British government had a ‘question to answer’ in relation to this Act and the Human Rights Act 1998.

    The game is afoot.

  • Dec

    That said, if I was a Spanish tax payer…

    Posted by Chekov

    Finally, a vision that can unite all our peoples.

  • Seimi

    Chekov,
    What about the French-occupied part of the Basque country? Where, as stated in the French Constitution (in French of course) – The language of France is French. Basque people there speak and use Basque every day, yet their language demands and needs are ignored completely, and where their neighbours treat their native language as a joke and try to constantly politicise it…hang on…this sounds familiar…

  • What about it? Are there any problems understanding government publications?

  • willis

    Does anyone seriously think that a new Strategy will make a blind bit of difference?

  • Seimi

    No, they are all in French, because the native language (Basque) is completely ignored. I thought your point was, if the language is used daily by its speakers then it was alright to produce government documents in that language? You wouldn’t be moving goalposts now would you?

  • On reading the Tele article again, it seems to suggest that the translation of the document will follow quickly from its completion and that there is no hint of a real delay, over and above than that which would be generated by civil service inertia and waiting for an opportune gap in the news cycle to launch the document anyhow. The ‘delay’, it seems to me, is a figment of the Telegraph’s prejudiced imagination.

    Does anyone realistically believe that as soon as this document is finished, ie before it’s translated, that it would be immediately published? I think someone from the Telegraph has been fed a line by the Department in order to distract them from the story by giving the newspaper what it wants, something to fill white with furious indignation with.

    I don’t know how long the document is but I don’t think it’s beyond the bounds of possibilities that it would be finished and translated and published/launched in the same amount of time as it would be if there were no translation involved? I presume most people are aware of Yes Minister and how the Civil Service works…..

    As I said here before and elsewhere previously, genuine support for the Irish language would be displayed by the Department of Education, rather than this shallow tokenism, if they spent money on properly resourcing Irish medium education to ensure that the growing number of such schools had text books and other resources on a par with those in the English medium sector.

  • An Lochlannach

    The standard objection to translating official documents into Irish is that no one reads them. Whatever about other documents that argument can’t be used in this case. There are hundreds of teachers, parents and administrators in Irish-medium education who will prefer to have an Irish text that they use in their discussion and debate on its contents. Gone are the days, hopefully, when the staff of Lá had to translate important documents (the Frameworks document, for example) so as to be able to comment on them in their own articles.

  • “if the language is used daily by its speakers then it was alright to produce government documents in that language? You wouldn’t be moving goalposts now would you?”

    I believe I said the languages mentioned were used daily in Spain. I also said:

    “if I was a Spanish tax payer I would still feel that money was being wasted.”

  • observer

    Seimi,

    I have no axe to grind with the Irish language and if people want to study it and read it and watch TV programmes that use it that is fine with me. However you paint a picture of the Basque speaking people under the French flag having their needs and demands ignored and their language treated as a bit of a joke. You then suggest, out of the corner of your mouth, that this is a familiar situation to here in Northern Ireland. Get real my friend! The Basque people communicate their every word in their language. Their commerce and their shops all use it to the exclusion of any other language. Now take me to any part of Northern Ireland where the entire business of a community is conducted completely in Irish.( An Irish language school doesn’t count for this challenge!) Don’t be in such a hurry to accuse others of politicising a language when you are just as accountable for doing exactly the same thing yourself. It is to the shame of those in the Unionist community who politicise the Irish language but it is no more acceptable to see and hear it being politicised by the Nationalist community.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    should this not be translated into Ulster-Scots and Polish too?

  • DINC

    While I’m don’t speak the language and wish I did, I think its shocking that the Irish language affect the law in this way.

    I am all for supporting the language, I fully support the mandatory teaching of it in schools, and support in the form of broadcasting TG4 by Freeview or whatever.. it seems unduly burdensome on lawmakers right now, perhaps when people can speak it enough across nIreland that translating becomes a minor detail.

  • An Lochlannach

    Observer – you’re quite correct to say that Irish is very limited in the domains in which it is used. For the most part those domains are personal and family life, the arts, the media, education, academia and religious worship (if you’re into such things). It isn’t as vigourous a bilingualism as that of the Basques or the Catalans, but every form of bilingualism is unique. The domains in which Irish is used happen to be the most personally important, and so when Irish speakers say that they live their lives through the medium of that language it’s not necessarily a politicization or an exaggeration. It’s true in my case and I live in a part of Dublin that hasn’t been Irish-speaking for centuries.

  • sotospake

    ‘should this not be translated into Ulster-Scots and Polish too’

    Polish is a real language…….

  • A chara.

    So what’s Gaelic for “Caitriona should go”?

  • Rory

    There can only be one of two reasons for this failure to produce an Irish language version of the document contemporaneously with the English version.

    The first reason would be that the civil servants responsible were incapable of the task for whatever reason. This would constitute an embarrassment for the department’s political masters.

    The second reason would be that the responsible civil servants were unwilling to complete the task. This would constitute a more serious political problem.

    But both reasons rest in the political sphere. All aspects of the human society after all fall into the political sphere and the brutality that was invested in the suppression of the Irish language must needs be matched by a positive energy to ensure that it lives and thrives.

    Those who would oppose a policy to advance its use and knowledge take on to themselves the mantle of brutes.

  • From the Belfast Telegraph article:

    A spokesman for the Department of Education said: “The department is in the process of finalising the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. When this is done it will be translated into Irish and then issued for consultation, probably in June. The consultation period will run until October, which will ensure all interested parties or individuals will have an opportunity to comment on the content.”

    it’s quite clear that the word ‘delay’ has been imported into this story by the BT, and not by DENI. There is no suggestion of any significant delay by DENI at all. So one wonders whether this is just the invention of the newspaper given fair wind by the reliably indignant DUP plus a few other ‘factoids’ to fill white.

    I also have a healthy suspicion about Sammy Wilson’s claim that each word costs 24p to translate into Irish…if that were the case, each and every government document would cost tens of thousands to translate. The overall budget for translating in 2006 was £100,000. Either the figures being used by Sammy Wilson are a gross exaggeration or there’s been massive inflation in the Irish medium sector over the past two years.

  • The Raven

    Concubhar, I think it might depend on who you use. This is merely an observation, I don’t want to get into this one.

    Many of the Councils use external private companies – for example, many of them have welcome packs in several languages for migrant communities.

    I know for a fact these ARE very expensive, and if I get a chance I will find a “per word” cost.

    On the other hand, perhaps the Civil Service should just employ a few Irish speakers to do the job. Would be way cheaper. Depending on the salary scale, of course.

  • Seimi

    observer,
    If you look at the Basque country, you will see that it is divided into 4 regions – 3 in Spain, one in France. In the 3 autonomous regions in Spain, one is pre-dominantly Spanish speaking, one is more 50/50, the third is more Basque speaking. NOWHERE is it ‘exclusively’ Basque speaking, Spanish is an everyday part of life. In the French part, Basque is treated with absolute disdain by local and national government. I drew the comparison between this and the situation here (and not from the side of my mouth) because that is the truth. In the 70s, when the first Irish medium school was being set up, the parents were threatened with court and possibly jail if they opened it. This is no longer the case here, thankfully, however that doesn’t mean that the language isn’t discriminated about still.

    Also, I agree that the word ‘delay’ has been used by the BT, rather than DENI. In actual fact, DENI have long been more amenable to the language than many other dpartments.

    My father does a lot of translations for government departments, and I believe he charges in the region of 8p a word, not the highly exaggerated amount Sammy Wislon suggests. I think the average is about 12p.

  • Seimi

    Chekov – All places where the languages have been used continuously on a day to day basis.

    Fair enough, and I also understand you were referring to Spain when you said it.
    Now, can you point out to me the records showing when Gaelic wasn’t being spoken here? By anyone?

  • gaelgannaire

    On reading the article again, I can only draw the conclusion that it just isnt ready in any language, never mind the 2-3 days it would take to get it translated.

    I mean seiuosly, the BT are suggesting a delay of two months for a translation – who translating it, Edwin Poots?

    This is a non-story, but it doesnt matter, the damage is done, and that is what propaganda is for.

  • Perhaps the thread should be re-named – Monolingualism – practicalities and problems!

  • IJP

    I have to say this is ludicrous reporting from the Unionist Telegraph.

    Of course it would take only a weekend.

    It’s frankly shameful a newspaper should buy such ridiculous propaganda.

    That a newspaper has joined in the childish campaign against the Minister only in fact hinders those of us who want to see her judged on merit – and may well actually slow down her departure.

    The low standard of reporting in NI is really troubling, and in the context of devolution it’s a genuinely severe problem. A free press is part of democracy – but it needs some quality.

  • Gregory

    “Shameful. This is the type of thing the Irish Language Taliban want to foist on us permanently.”

    Nah, they’re doing subsidized sex tourism jaunts to Nepal or Enniscorthy, somewhere aways.

    Ms Ruane is in the EU according to her e-mail, I reckon that is a surrender of sovereignty or something.

    I just want the Orange Junta back for a bit of commonsense mixed in with the prejudice,

    I need a United Ireland like I need six pints of winter warmer, the wanting is the ok bit, the needing and post-gargle trauma is the prob.

    “Can someone send her back to Colombia?”

    http://www.everythingulster.com/blog/index.php/2007/11/27/ruane_invites_education_free_for_all

    That’s playing the ball and the person, that’s just terrible, there is no telling what the narco-terrorists could do to a white women.

    G.

  • RG Cuan

    It would be more accurate to say I disdain those who wish to present the existence of these things as a triumph of relevance.

    It would probably be more accurate to say that you dismiss the existence of real Irish language life and cannot see past your outdated and biased views.