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Do we still have a 'post-colonial' inferiority complex?


Riadach

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Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
12,847
Firstly, I would like to state that this is not a hyper-nationalistic rant, but rather merely an observation that could indeed indicate why we are in such the mess we are in.

I was recently unfortunate enough to be observing the final of the All Ireland Talent show contest (for future reference, another cheap knock off of an import), in which a group of Irish speaking boys (8-14 probably) were competing against a five year old from Waterford for the title. The young boys had one the eldest playing traditional music on a box, while the middle lad performed step-dancing and the younger lad managed rather a delightful and creative bit of sean-nós in which he was very much accomplished. Against that, the younger child from Waterford performed rather a feat in regards to break-dancing, although it was clear he wasn't a yet a master of the art or as accomplished in it as the sean-nós lad was in his, for his age he was quite impressive. As the votes were called in, I was thus unsurprised to see that the lads doing the traditional routine won, while the child doing the break-dancing came in second.

However, the reaction from the internet seemed almost typical. The recognisably Irish act, by which I mean the forms employed being almost completely indigenous to Ireland, were dismissed as inbred, backwater, mountain boys, engaged in paddy-whackery, undeserved of a win because what they did is a national embarrassment. Admittedly, sean nós dancing is an acquired taste, and the skill involved is not immediately obvious, but the dismissive hate-filled terms in which it was described was rather disturbing. Pulling odd movements while pretending to dance was deemed to be ridiculous and embarrassing, clearly ignorant of the fact that that is exactly what is involved in break-dancing, with the exception that that was is a more globally established cultural meme. Fair enough, if one honestly thought it was a better product than the sean nós, I'd disagree but I'd understand, but the criticisms were couched in rather uncomfortable terms. 'Shameful', 'National embarrassment', 'Paddy-whackery' clearly emphasised that it was the supposed Oirishness of the performance that caused difficulty to many observers, almost as if it was a 'stage Irish routine', ironic given it's one of the more authentic forms of Irish dance. I couldn't imagine someone in Spain dismissing flamenco in such a childish fashion, they may not like the routine, but I certainly would doubt they spit at it with such venom.

Of course, this is not an isolated case, the automatic dismissal of 'indigenous' Irish cultural pursuits is endemic. Not trad, but diddley idley, not Gaelic football, but 'bogball', not Irish but 'Peasants’ language'. I am in no way implying that this is a universal attitude, indeed not since the individuals above won the competition, but it does seem to be rather a pervasive one. The Irish home-grown product is automatically considered inferior, whereas the imported globalised variety is given substance and worth almost automatically.

Consider the Irish language for a second. Reports from the early 1800s show that 80% of the population were functionally bilingual in Irish and English. This gives lie to the presumption that it was out of economic necessity that Irish people turned to English in the 1850s. As diy01 once commented, most of them had enough commercial English to be viable as it was already. The switch from Irish to English was something deeper, it was a psychological identification of Irish as being inferior, associated with poverty and backwardness (i.e. the lives they wished to abandon), whereas English was the language of wealth and social advancement. In a society that still operating very much on medieval group identities, it was a case of casting off the badge and economic poverty of one group, so one could earn the social advancement and wealth through the acceptance of another. One is reminded of An Druma Mór by Seosamh Mac Grianna, in which the cultural lives of an early 20th century Donegal Gaeltacht is related. The dichotomy in attitudes between the two cultures is artfully exposed. Cultural affectations in English are cherished (to the detriment of the community), no matter how base. The long-winded, turgid, politically and semantically, meaningless, malapropist speeches of Proinsias Bagaide in English, are favoured about the recitations of the seanchai who can recite Ossianic poetry. The crowd cheer whenever Proinsias Bagaide uses words they don't understand, 'monuments[sic] of the jury', yet the seanchai only has children to listen to his stories. Those who march with the drum are lauded, whereas Bagaide's singing talent is dismissed as ridiculous. The perceived inferiority of Irish cultural memes is relentless.

It is clear, that to some extent that a post-colonial inferiority complex has developed through certain sections of Irish society. It is almost identical to that described by Albert Memmi in the The Colonizer and the Colonized. It begins with the observation by the colonized that the colonizer is in a superior position to his own. Therefore, in an attempt to acquire a similar position, the Colonized, with actions and results reminiscent of a Cargo Cult, begins to ape the manners, practices and culture of the Colonizer at the expense of his own. The colonized culture is then dismissed as something inferior, whereas that of the Colonizer's is deemed essential to success. In Ireland, the negative perception of the native home-grown culture seems to have outlived the colonisation process by certain elements of the country. Not just displayed a dislike in indigenous Irish cultural memes, but an immediate irrational distaste for them.

Is this important to where we are today? Perhaps, I cannot think how this is both reflective and detrimental to our cultural/national self-confidence. If we seem to dismiss automatically, things we produce ourselves, then how can we ever establish an innovative economy which isn't completely dependent on external factors? It is a given, that many FDI companies would have had international networks and contacts unavailable to ordinary Irish businessmen, but they have proven that we do have both the administrative and manufacturing skills available to produce high-quality products on an international level. Yet where were these companies? Why did it require companies from abroad to seize on the potential that was clearly available within the Irish job market? Why does it still require low levels of corporation tax to keep Irish industry alive, why couldn't we have brought ourselves into such markets on our own steam rather than suckling on the tit of a self-absorbed foster mother?

Likewise, it limits our independent thinking. In 1922, as all leaving Cert history books will tell you, Cumann na nGaedhel didn't begin a campaign to revolutionise the mode of governance that had been in operation under the British. They didn't seem to wish to use the innovation of the Sinn Féin organisation which set up courts and cumainn throughout the country. They didn't seem to wish to draw on Irish circumstances, Irish Law, Irish cultural history in order to formulate and implement a new mode of governance. Rather, like our colonised friend above, they aped bit by bit the 'coloniser', because, once again in rather a cargo cult fashion, they wished to ape his success. The British administration in Ireland, was given a green coat of paint, and carried on very much regardless. This is not merely a relic of the twenties, it survives to this day. Much of the massive legislative changes to the country, have not been homegrown. It seems in order to implement innovative policies of any brand what so ever, they need to have been implemented successfully elsewhere. I agree it's ok to be cautious, but if such caution was global, there would be no progression whatsoever. And not merely on government level either, one merely needs to look at the RTE schedule to see how much we rely on external ideas? Have we no creativity or innovation of our own? Unlikely. It is clearly there and available, there is just an unreasonable unwillingness to employ it.

As a country/state/nation whatever, it is essential we remove ourselves from this cult of inferiority. This presumption that anything we do or achieve by ourselves is always going to be inferior to a foreign counterpart be it in a cultural, economic, or political sphere. We will become culturally stagnant, bland, and uniform. In a global economy as we now have become, we are already overly relied on essential external factors, there is no need for this dependence to be allowed into the marrow of governance. It was after all, a blind adherence to an international trend of banking deregulation that landed us in this mess in the first place. Yet, it seems for many to be an adequate excuse, when the government say deregulation was fine at the time, because everyone else was doing it. Surely a bit of independent thinking would have been a great thing at the time. Surely a bit of risky innovation, lateral thinking, consideration of any Irish circumstances which are peculiar to use alone would have been essential then, and right now, rather than sitting on one's hands waiting for the result to come from elsewhere. Could we chance it, would we be even capable of overcoming our own perceived inferiority and presumed automatic failure, and actually do something, try something, that has never been tried before, and not depend on external sources for the solution?
 
Last edited:

Demotruk

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Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
412
I agree to an extent. I'm not a fan of Irish culture, I'm not a fan of any culture, but I've certainly observed two common tendencies, many people support Irish culture merely because it's Irish and "it's important to retain your heritage" and others are almost embarrassed to be Irish who look down on both Irish culture and predominant Irish ideas as backwards, sometimes without even giving thought to the ideas.
 

Factorem

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 15, 2008
Messages
568
Firstly, I would like to state that this is not a hyper-nationalistic rant, but rather merely an observation that could indeed indicate why we are in such the mess we are in.

I was recently unfortunate enough to be observing the final of the All Ireland Talent show contest (for future reference, another cheap knock off of an import), in which a group of Irish speaking boys (8-14 probably) were competing against a five year old from Waterford for the title. The young boys had one the eldest playing traditional music on a box, while the middle lad performed step-dancing and the younger lad managed rather a delightful and creative bit of sean-nós in which he was very much accomplished. Against that, the younger child from Waterford performed rather a feat in regards to break-dancing, although it was clear he wasn't a yet a master of the art or as accomplished in it as the sean-nós lad was in his, for his age he was quite impressive. As the votes were called in, I was thus unsurprised to see that the lads doing the traditional routine won, while the child doing the break-dancing came in second.

However, the reaction from the internet seemed almost typical. The recognisably Irish act, by which I mean the forms employed being almost completely indigenous to Ireland, were dismissed as inbred, backwater, mountain boys, engaged in paddy-whackery, undeserved of a win because what they did is a national embarrassment. Admittedly, sean nós dancing is an acquired taste, and the skill involved is not immediately obvious, but the dismissive hate-filled terms in which it was described was rather disturbing. Pulling odd movements while pretending to dance was deemed to be ridiculous and embarrassing, clearly ignorant of the fact that that is exactly what is involved in break-dancing, with the exception that that was is a more globally established cultural meme. Fair enough, if one honestly thought it was a better product than the sean nós, I'd disagree but I'd understand, but the criticisms were couched in rather uncomfortable terms. 'Shameful', 'National embarrassment', 'Paddy-whackery' clearly emphasised that it was the supposed Oirishness of the performance that caused difficulty to many observers, almost as if it was a 'stage Irish routine', ironic given it's one of the more authentic forms of Irish dance. I couldn't imagine someone in Spain dismissing flamenco in such a childish fashion, they may not like the routine, but I certainly would doubt they spit at it with such venom.

Of course, this is not an isolated case, the automatic dismissal of 'indigenous' Irish cultural pursuits is endemic. Not trad, but diddley idley, not Gaelic football, but 'bogball', not Irish but 'Peasants’ language'. I am in no way implying that this is a universal attitude, indeed not since the individuals above won the competition, but it does seem to be rather a pervasive one. The Irish home-grown product is automatically considered inferior, whereas the imported globalised variety is given substance and worth almost automatically.

Consider the Irish language for a second. Reports from the early 1800s show that 80% of the population were functionally bilingual in Irish and English. This gives lie to the presumption that it was out of economic necessity that Irish people turned to English in the 1850s. As diy01 once commented, most of them had enough commercial English to be viable as it was already. The switch from Irish to English was something deeper, it was a psychological identification of Irish as being inferior, associated with poverty and backwardness (i.e. the lives they wished to abandon), whereas English was the language of wealth and social advancement. In a society that still operating very much on medieval group identities, it was a case of casting off the badge and economic poverty of one group, so one could earn the social advancement and wealth through the acceptance of another. One is reminded of An Druma Mór by Seosamh Mac Grianna, in which the cultural lives of an early 20th century Donegal Gaeltacht is related. The dichotomy in attitudes between the two cultures is artfully exposed. Cultural affectations in English are cherished (to the detriment of the community), no matter how base. The long-winded, turgid, politically and semantically, meaningless, malapropist speeches of Proinsias Bagaide in English, are favoured about the recitations of the seanchai who can recite Ossianic poetry. The crowd cheer whenever Proinsias Bagaide uses words they don't understand, 'monuments[sic] of the jury', yet the seanchai only has children to listen to his stories. Those who march with the drum are lauded, whereas Bagaide's singing talent is dismissed as ridiculous. The perceived inferiority of Irish cultural memes is relentless.

It is clear, that to some extent that a post-colonial inferiority complex has developed through certain sections of Irish society. It is almost identical to that described by Albert Memmi in the The Colonizer and the Colonized. It begins with the observation by the colonized that the colonizer is in a superior position to his own. Therefore, in an attempt to acquire a similar position, the Colonized, with actions and results reminiscent of a Cargo Cult, begins to ape the manners, practices and culture of the Colonizer at the expense of his own. The colonized culture is then dismissed as something inferior, whereas that of the Colonizer's is deemed essential to success. In Ireland, the negative perception of the native home-grown culture seems to have outlived the colonisation process by certain elements of the country. Not just displayed a dislike in indigenous Irish cultural memes, but an immediate irrational distaste for them.

Is this important to where we are today? Perhaps, I cannot think how this is both reflective and detrimental to our cultural/national self-confidence. If we seem to dismiss automatically, things we produce ourselves, then how can we ever establish an innovative economy which isn't completely dependent on external factors? It is a given, that many FDI companies would have had international networks and contacts unavailable to ordinary Irish businessmen, but they have proven that we do have both the administrative and manufacturing skills available to produce high-quality products on an international level. Yet where were these companies? Why did it require companies from abroad to seize on the potential that was clearly available within the Irish job market? Why does it still require low levels of corporation tax to keep Irish industry alive, why couldn't we have brought ourselves into such markets on our own steam rather than suckling on the tit of a self-absorbed foster mother?

Likewise, it limits our independent thinking. In 1922, as all leaving Cert history books will tell you, Cumann na nGaedhel didn't begin a campaign to revolutionise the mode of governance that had been in operation under the British. They didn't seem to which to use the innovation of the Sinn Féin organisation which set up courts and cumainn throughout the country. They didn't seem to wish to draw on Irish circumstances, Irish Law, Irish cultural history in order to formulate and implement a new mode of governance. Rather, like our colonised friend above, they aped bit by bit the 'coloniser', because, once again in rather a cargo cult fashion, they wished to ape his success. The British administration in Ireland, was given a green coat of paint, and carried on very much regardless. This is not merely a relic of the twenties, it survives to this day. Much of the massive legislative changes to the country, have not been homegrown. It seems in order to implement innovative policies of any brand what so ever, they need to have been implemented successfully elsewhere. I agree it's ok to be cautious, but if such caution was global, there would be no progression whatsoever.

As a country/state/nation whatever, it is essential we remove ourselves from this cult of inferiority. This presumption that anything we do or achieve by ourselves is always going to be inferior to a foreign counterpart be it in a cultural, economic, or political sphere. In a global economy as we now have become, we are already overly relied on essential external factors, there is no need for this dependence to be allowed into the marrow of governance. It was after all, a blind adherence to an international trend of banking deregulation that landed us in this mess in the first place. Yet, it seems for many to be an adequate excuse, when the government say deregulation was fine at the time, because everyone else was doing it. Surely a bit of independent thinking would have been a great thing at the time. Surely a bit of risky innovation, lateral thinking, consideration of any Irish circumstances which are peculiar to use alone would have been essential then, and right now, rather than sitting on one's hands waiting for the result to come from elsewhere. Could we chance it, would we be even capable of overcoming our own perceived inferiority and presumed automatic failure, and actually do something, try something, that has never been tried before, and not depend on external sources for the solution?
That's all very fine, but don't underestimate how thick the average person on the street is. Just look at yesterday for example: 17,000 people turn up to wave a green flag and worship a team as if they were gods, yet when it comes to someone deducting numbers off the bottom of their pay cheques, they just bend over and take it.
 

louis bernard

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Apr 6, 2008
Messages
2,709
As far as music goes, as long as nobody even attempts to describe that abomination that is “Irish country and western” as practised by Big Tom et al. as Irish music. The word cringe was invented just to describe it.
 

Riadach

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Feb 9, 2007
Messages
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As far as music goes, as long as nobody even attempts to describe that abomination that is “Irish country and western” as practised by Big Tom et al. as Irish music. The word cringe was invented just to describe it.
That is of course, one of the symptoms of the problem. Country Irish music has replaced our own brand in pub nights around the country, and I can't for the life of me think of a reason why. I have seen it in Gaeltacht areas, and nearly cry when I realise what it might be replacing.



[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfngXJMyoS4"]YouTube - Gaelic song - Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí[/ame]
 

Caothaoir

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Jan 30, 2009
Messages
421
An excellent post.


This wretched and destructive inferiority complex is right at the heart of our national psyche.
We've allowed the worst time in our history - the 18th and 19th centuries - when we were most defeated, degraded, oppressed and impoverished to entirely shape our self image.
That period seems to define most people's idea of "Irishness" - an impoverished life in a tiny cabin, barely eking out a living from the land or sea.
Our long, and often illustrious history before that time is ignored.

Perhaps language is a part of it.
Perhaps the reason we seem to associate with our ancestors from that period is simply because that's when the majority of them became English speakers and, also, it's the poetry and ballads etc. they produced in that language that we can connect with today.

Monoglot English speakers have virtually no exposure to the enormous Irish-language tradition of poetry, song and folklore, not to mention genealogies, histories, annals etc. etc. and so feel little connection to the people who created them and read/heard them.

But this is our true heritage and knowledge of it would bring real pride and self-respect to the Irish people.
It all depends on the Irish language.


"Tar éis an tsaoil, ba í eochair a seomra séad í, ba í a bhronn anáil na beatha ar a stair, ar a n-aislingí, ar a gcreideamh,; agus ba í a chothaigh iontu an meas orthu féin a ba dhual dóibh; ba í an teanga a chruthaigh ina dtimpeall saol nach raibh i gcumas an eachtrannaigh é a réabadh uathu fad a mhair sí."
 

Ecoguy

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Mar 12, 2009
Messages
393
Sadly I don't think the majority of the population are bothered about holding on to the last vestiges of Irish culture the British did not manage to destroy after hundreds of years of occupation. Most people are content with the Anglo/American Shopping Mall culture we have now:(
 

FutureTaoiseach

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greatdearleader.blogspot.com
The post-colonial inferiority complex exists primarily among the political and intellectual-class of this country. It is manifested in their support for the Lisbon Treaty and the Eurofederalist project, which is largely based on the premise that the Irish are not intellectually-capable of running our own affairs - a nonsense that is reinforced by elements of the elite that are cap in hand to the Brussels bureaucrats and their front-agencies like the EMI. Another element subscribed to the inferiority-complex can be found among partitionists in the South - largely in Blueshirt circles - who insist on the indefinite unviability of a United Ireland even assuming it became economically-feasible. However, I do not believe these sentiments are pervasive in the majority of the Irish population generally.
 

shutuplaura

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Nov 1, 2008
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I'm not so sure if its post colonial or just as a result of years of being an economic basket case but yeah, there is something to what you say.

At least we don't have it as bad as the poor old scots. An ancient civilization and largely responsible for the more modern enlightenment and they reduce their culture to this

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaJSGky4F4U]YouTube - The Scottish Haka[/ame]
 

diy01

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One of the better posts that I've seen on P.ie in recent times, Riadach. Go hiontach.

I must agree with Caothaoir. Language is definitely a part of it. A shift back to Irish by the majority of the population is no longer possible...or even desirable, at this point. An increased awareness of and respect for Irish, along with the ever increasing numbers of secondary bilingual speakers would be of great benefit to the country, I think. What else can be done?

The shift from the indigenous language (Irish) to the language of the conquerors (English) weakened the attachtment of the Irish to their own country. Indeed it can be argued that the loss of the Irish language is the decisive event in Irish history, since it altered radically the self-understanding of the Irish and destroyed the continuity between their present and their past.

- Nicholas Williams, UCD, 2002
Gan gáire fá ghníomhradh leinbh,
cosc ar cheol, glas ar Ghaoidheilg

There is no laughter at children's doings,
Music is prohibited, the Irish language is in chains


- Aindrias Mac Marcais, 'Talamh Bánaithe' (the Deserted Land), c. 1610 AD
(translation by Tomás Ó Fiaich)
Tá mo chroí-se réabtha ina míle céad cuid
's gan balsam féin ann a d'fhóirfeadh dom phian,
nuair a chluinim an Ghaeilge uilig á tréigbheáil,
is caismirt Bhéarla i mbeol gach aoin

My heart is torn in a hundred thousand pieces,
And no remedy will soothe my pain,
When I hear Irish being abandoned
And the din of English in everyone's mouth


- Art Mac Cubhthaigh, An Creagán, Contae Ard Mhacha, 1715-1773
(translation by Tomás Ó Fiaich)
 

Dasayev

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One of the better posts that I've seen on P.ie in recent times, Riadach. Go hiontach.

I must agree with Caothaoir. Language is definitely a part of it. A shift back to Irish by the majority of the population is no longer possible...or even desirable, at this point. An increased awareness of and respect for Irish, along with the ever increasing numbers of secondary bilingual speakers would be of great benefit to the country, I think. What else can be done?
I was watching QI on the BBC awhile ago, and an interesting statistic came up. Apparently in 1880, 80% of French people did not speak French - instead they spoke the other regional languages of France. Today when we think of France, we think of a country that is very protective of French, and its incredible to think that, only a century ago, the vast majority of that country could not speak it.

So I think that radical changes could take place over a period of time in relation to the Irish language. Beyond tokenism, the current ruling class has no interest in Irish, but in the future that attitude might change.
 

Caothaoir

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421
A shift back to Irish by the majority of the population is no longer possible...or even desirable, at this point.
It may not be probable but it's certainly not impossible. If enough of the Irish people came to want it little could stop it.
Why wouldn't it be desirable for the Irish people to speak their national language? It need not mean the majority becoming monoglot Irish speakers. Learning Irish doesn't push the English out of your brain (as some astonishingly stupid people in this country seem to believe:)).
We can have all the advantages of both languages.
In a world where multilinguism is the norm and not the exception we have no excuse not to.
 

marmurr1916

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It may not be probable but it's certainly not impossible. If enough of the Irish people came to want it little could stop it.
Indeed. Israel, Hebrew.
 

18 Brumaire

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I was watching QI on the BBC awhile ago, and an interesting statistic came up. Apparently in 1880, 80% of French people did not speak French - instead they spoke the other regional languages of France. Today when we think of France, we think of a country that is very protective of French, and its incredible to think that, only a century ago, the vast majority of that country could not speak it.
The parallels don't end there;
"La vergonha (Occitan for shame, pronounced [beɾˈɣuɲɔ]) is what some Occitans call the effects of various policies of the Government of France on its citizens whose mother tongue was a so-called patois, specifically langue d'oc. Vergonha is being made to reject and feel ashamed of one's (or one's parents') non-French language through official exclusion, humiliation at school and rejection from the media as organized and sanctioned by French political leaders, from Henri Grégoire to Nicolas Sarkozy. Vergonha, which is still a taboo topic in France where some (especially Parisians) still refuse to admit such discrimination ever existed, can be seen as the result of an attempted linguicide" Wikipedia
 

shutuplaura

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Indeed. Israel, Hebrew.
That isn't a like with like comparison. The New residents of Israel spoke several languages such as Russian, english, german etc. It was easier for them all to revive and promote hebrew because there was no common language in the country. Ireland is obviously different. Everyone here can speak one common language already so there isn't a need to learn a new one.

When I try speak Irish its hard for me to express myself as well as I can in English. Its a lot of effort. In a social situation its difficult to take the time and effort to communicate in irish when there is another medium everyone is more comfortable with. I've a strong regard for Irish but for that reason I really doubt it will ever be fully revived. It could be thought beter of course and promoted more sincerely by the government.

I think that its a moot point anyway. Speaking english alone isn't a sign that we are suffering from a post-colonial inferiority complex. Some of the greatest writers in the english language were (and are) Irish. Launguage is an important but not vital part of any national identity.
 

marmurr1916

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386
That isn't a like with like comparison. The New residents of Israel spoke several languages such as Russian, english, german etc. It was easier for them all to revive and promote hebrew because there was no common language in the country. Ireland is obviously different. Everyone here can speak one common language already so there isn't a need to learn a new one.
Most of them had Yiddish as a lingua franca. And, of course, they could have chosen English or any other language as their national language.

The point I'm making is that the Israelis chose to revive Hebrew. We could choose to revive Irish but must of us can't be bothered.
 

Horace Horse

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One of the better posts that I've seen on P.ie in recent times, Riadach. Go hiontach.

I must agree with Caothaoir. Language is definitely a part of it. A shift back to Irish by the majority of the population is no longer possible...or even desirable, at this point.

That's ridiculous. Why would it not be desirable? Why do you hate the language?
 

diy01

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It may not be probable but it's certainly not impossible.
Okay, it's not 'impossible'. Just extremely unlikely.

If enough of the Irish people came to want it little could stop it.
Of course. And I'd be happy if that happened! But Irish people have shown little interest in it. Native Irish speakers, as a percentage of the overall population, have been pretty much continuously declining for the past four centuries. They now account for only about 0.5-0.8% of the population, according to most estimates. On the other hand, the number of secondary bilinguals seems to be finally increasing again.

Why wouldn't it be desirable for the Irish people to speak their national language?
It would. But I think Ireland in 2009 is better served as a predominantly English speaking nation, rather than a predominantly Irish speaking one. It would be very desirable if most Irish people were fluent in both languages.

It need not mean the majority becoming monoglot Irish speakers. Learning Irish doesn't push the English out of your brain (as some astonishingly stupid people in this country seem to believe:)).
We can have all the advantages of both languages.
In a world where multilinguism is the norm and not the exception we have no excuse not to.
But that's not usually the case in countries where the majority of the population are native English speakers. Which includes Ireland. Be it the USA, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada outside of Québec and a few other small patches. There's little history of bilingualism there unless you are referring to immigrants.

Simply put, it takes a lot of dedication to become fluent in Irish. Especially if English is your native language and you're surrounded by fellow English speakers. It takes an extraordinary amount of motivation since few people actually need Irish to communicate with others. Just to reiterate, I'd be overjoyed if Irish underwent a massive revival! I just think it's extremely unlikely.

Jim McCloskey, Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is one of the foremost experts in the world on the modern Irish language, and certainly the most prominent of those taking an interest in theoretical linguistics. His brilliantly worked-out and impeccably detailed theoretical works on Irish have been appearing since the late 1970s, along with philological notes (published not just about but in Irish) and a couple of popular works for an Irish audience. He regularly visits the Irish-speaking areas of Ireland to do fieldwork, and is just back from there.
- Geoffrey K. Pullum, Language Log, 2004
I've just come back from three and a half months in Ireland, much of that time spent in discussing these issues with a range of people (academics, teachers, broadcasters, writers, friends ...).

I think that talk of a ‘rebound’ for the language is misplaced, but I do not equate that position with pessimism. The situation is a complex and fluid one, but largely it seems to me that things are on the same trajectory that they have been on for several decades (with a couple of interesting changes). By which I mean that the traditional Irish-using communities (the Gaeltachtaí) continue to shrink and the language continues to retreat in those communities. Nobody that I know who is involved in those communities is optimistic about their future as Irish-speaking communities (though lots of other good things are happening to them and in them).

The observers I trust most (friends and colleagues engaged in intense fieldwork in Gaeltacht communities) maintain that the process of normal acquisition (for Irish) ceased in most areas in the middle 70's, and it is now increasingly difficult to find people younger than about 30 who control traditional Gaeltacht Irish. If you walk along a road in a Gaeltacht area and try to listen for the language being used by groups of teenagers and children by themselves, it is always (in my recent experience) English. Someone I know who is the principal of a primary school in the Donegal Gaeltacht reported that of the 22 children who entered his school at the beginning of the current year, only two had, in his judgment, sufficient Irish.

So traditional Gaeltacht Irish will almost certainly cease to exist in the next 30 years or so.

But what is unique in the Irish situation, I think, has been the creation of a second language community now many times larger than the traditional Gaeltacht communities (I think that 100,000 is a reasonable estimate for the size of this community). And being a part of that community is a lively and engaging business. A friend of mine who produces a weekly current affairs program in Irish on TV reports that it is always possible to do a report on whatever topic they like in any part of the country and find people who are willing and able to do the business in Irish. And it is true that certain recent developments have boosted this community and its self-confidence---the success of some poets (Celia de Fréine) and musicians (Liam Ó Maonlaí, John Spillane, Larry Mullen), the availability of an Irish TV channel, a vigorous presence on the net, and the opening of two trendy coffee-shops in the center of Dublin.

There is a great range of varieties called `Irish' in use in this community. People like me speak a close approximation of traditional Gaeltacht Irish and there are people who speak new urban calques, heavily influenced by English in every way. For the communities of children growing up around Irish-medium schools in urban centres it may be right to speak of pidginization and creolization (along with a lot of clever inter-language play like the recent ‘cad-ever’). Many teenagers are thoroughly bidialectal, switching easily from the version of Gaeltacht Irish they have from their parents to the new urban varieties in use among their peers.
It will be interesting to see what happens to these varieties when the model of Gaeltacht Irish becomes a memory, but one thing that is clear is that this community is not going to fade away just because the Gaeltacht fades away.

And maybe that is what a half-successful language maintenance effort is going to look like (maybe that is the best that can be hoped for). It seems to be very difficult to work against the historical processes that lead to language-shift. But what the Irish experience teaches us is that it is far from impossible to create a new community of second-language users with all the usual and lively trappings (literature, music, radio, TV, journalism, schools, politics).
Of course, what is ‘maintained’ or ‘revived’ in this process, is very different indeed from the language which was the original focus of revivalist efforts. But in this context, as in most, purism is surely misplaced.

- Jim McCloskey, Language Log, December 2004
Indeed. Israel, Hebrew.
Different situation. A unifying language was needed for the new State that was Israel. If you had groups of Irish people who only spoke Irish, and some who only spoke English, and some who only spoke Scots and some who only spoke Yola, then the comparison would be more valid.
 
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Horace Horse

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Riada's post is rather long-winded, yet he fails to address a salient element. Why is it that so many posters here (together with a number of lazy journalists) have depicted foreign migrant workers to Ireland as more intelligent, more honest, more hard-working, better-looking etc. than Irish people? Riadach himself to my memory has never challenged that inferiority complex racism that is so promiscuously peddled by posters such as Kev aka Alonso etc. He buys into it unquestioningly, whcih makes his effort at analysis above all the more shallow.

However, I'll go easy on him, as I see he is like me a fan of M McCool. How come we see/hear so little of her? Her version of Thios i Lar an Ghleanna is exquisite.
 
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