Irish is a Dead Language

b.a. baracus

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Who has not heard the oft repeated mantra that "Irish is a dead language"? The following article, which appears to be one of a series on "coping with anti-irish language opinions", disputes this assertion:

Irish is a dead language - InsideIreland.ie

Irish is obviously not a dead language but it is in trouble.

Very interesting point in the article is that the median number of speakers per language in the world is 7,560. Irish is certainly not alone in being under severe pressure and while endangered is certainly not on the "critically endangered" list, yet.
 


Culann

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Irish is spoken so it is obviously not dead. Dead means not spoken.
 

Sync

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It's a good article, with a realistic view of the problems facing the language. He's kind of creating a strawman though with the word "Dead". No report has said it is. Unesco only list it as "definitely endangered" which is the second lowest rating out of 5. UNESCO Culture Sector - Intangible Heritage - 2003 Convention :
 

charley

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irish is the first language of about 80% of the population of Gweedore its not dead up here.
 

A Voice

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I got spam this morning in Irish from two different sources - one Danish and one Dutch. Both the usual phishing expedition, wanting my email password etc.

The Irish was poor, probably an online translator. But the telling point is that there is an awareness out there that Irish is being used, and that it is deemed necessary or useful for internet hackers to communicate in it for their purposes.

A perfect illustration to me that Irish is not dead yet (as if any illustration were necessary).
 

Heyoka

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Still hope

I wouldn't say that the Irish language is dead. It's always going to be hard to bring it into mass everyday use as the natural line has been so broken up. Plus I think that a certain proportion of the Irish population don't really consider their native language or culture as being that attractive , they're more interested in when the next boom is coming so they can go back to hitting B & Q and upgrade the A5.

I detested learning Irish by book in school and didn't like the way in which it was taught by teachers. I've taken a keen interest in the last 3-4 yrs in the language especially in old traditional songs , I find I need to be interested in the subject as an incentive to learn. It might sound a bit abstract but I think there's a frustration and conflict in Irish people in that while being proud of being Irish they have an aversion to learning Irish academically and wish they could have learned it in their own kitchen in which case they'd have an emotional attachment and a sense of real ownership. So I think there's a kind of a 'Sulk' there

I'll admit in the past I've been frustrated at hearing Spanish and Italian people speaking Irish in cafés , when I should be flattered that they are interested. I think that unless Irish is used organically in peoples homes in a non contrived way it's hard to see it being widely used. I sometimes see upper crust mummies speaking as Gaeilge in loud tones in shopping centres using the language as an aggressive statement trying to cover the fact that they're overcompensating that they don't really have any real Irish character. While poor little Oisin stands there looking bewildered.

Then there's the area of the old Irish language as opposed to the Norse\Latin\Gaelic fusion we have now. Can the old language be resurrected? Now that's something I'd like to see. Turning around to the ************************* pontificating in Irish for everyone to hear at the country market and mocking him in a language that seems vaguely familiar yet alien to him. I'm not bitter!!:lol:
 

Evil Eco-Fascist

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Irish is spoken so it is obviously not dead. Dead means not spoken.
Well actually the linguistic definition of a dead language is one that has no native speakers left (i.e. those raised with the language from birth). Latin is a true dead language as it has speakers, but no native ones. But that just illustrates again that Irish is not a dead language, even if the definition that a lot of people have for a dead language is "I don't like it or speak it and neither do my mates".
 

locke

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Irish is alive in the same was as tigers subspecies survive in Zoo's
It has died on Achill
I find it varies significantly from Gaeltacht to Gaeltacht.

Here in Cork, you'd be doind well to hear Irish spoken in Ballyvourney or Ballingeary. You'd have some chance in Coolea and the surrounding countryside, but they account for a small fraction of the population of the official Gaeltacht.

Yet when up in Connemara recently, I was struck by the fact that once you went west of Rossaveal, it really was the living language that was spoken by people doing their day to day business.
 

Urmentor

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New Irish speaking toy about to hit market. Set to best seller by christmas. Irish is a dying language but we should never ever give up on it
 

westkerryblue

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The poor quality of basic Irish in roadsign etc is a joke. On the luas there's a stop called San Seamus??? And there's yahoos who think the Irish for Dingle is an Daingean. It's a joke
 

dónal na geallaí

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Heyoka,interesting post.I used to feel the teachers were 'putting it on' as well,when they loudly chatted as Gaeilge during breaks.But maybe they just wanted a good old gossip in privacy?

On the point of etymology;I know just what you mean.You can look up a headword in the OED and get all the info you could possibly need.With even the best Irish dictionary,say Dineen or O Donaill,you just get the meaning in English.So it's often an inspired guess that lets you know a word is from Latin,Norse or Old French originally.The English loanwords tend to jump out,like 'pub'. I read somewhere there is a proper etymological dictionary in the pipeline.

Dont let the yummy mummies intimidate you.I bey they are big teddy bears really.Throw them a compliment as Gaeilge on their lovely 'blas' and you'll be elected!
 

dónal na geallaí

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I find it varies significantly from Gaeltacht to Gaeltacht.

Here in Cork, you'd be doind well to hear Irish spoken in Ballyvourney or Ballingeary. You'd have some chance in Coolea and the surrounding countryside, but they account for a small fraction of the population of the official Gaeltacht.

Yet when up in Connemara recently, I was struck by the fact that once you went west of Rossaveal, it really was the living language that was spoken by people doing their day to day business.
Never ever heard it in Ballyvourney or Ballingeary.I used to like listening to people talk as Gaeilge in An Siopa Beag on Oiléan Cléire.Last time out ,however,the place was being managed by a couple who had no Irish - through no fault of their own.

What places are west of Ros a ' mhíl ,Locke? Never been to Connemara and I must do it before I croak!
 

Sancho

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The key for me is de-coupling the language from nationalist identity. If you think of Irish as a cultural treasure, and a cultural treasure that we have and no-one else does, you feel better about it. I don't feel more or less Irish on the rare occasions when I speak it. I try never to get into debates about identity, having it shoved down our throats, etc. They never achieve anything. It will probably die out, but I will try and enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Future generations: who knows ?? A minority might keep it going.

I read some profiles of the current Welsh rugby team. Many of them are native speakers, and blather away to each other in Welsh naturally. It does make you envious.
 

Sancho

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Never ever heard it in Ballyvourney or Ballingeary.I used to like listening to people talk as Gaeilge in An Siopa Beag on Oiléan Cléire.Last time out ,however,the place was being managed by a couple who had no Irish - through no fault of their own.

What places are west of Ros a ' mhíl ,Locke? Never been to Connemara and I must do it before I croak!
I lived in Ballingeary for a while. It's a leas-Ghaeltacht, everyone has Irish but you have to start the conversation.
 

Scipio

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I once came across a barman in Connemara (around 65 plus) who couldn't speak English, only Irish.

Didn't think such people still existed. Good to see that they do.
 

Tommythecommy

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Time to remove irish from roadsigns

Time to remove irish from roadsigns

What is Gunther, Gaston, Migel, Lars, Ivan, Hamed, etc to make of signs such as

GÉILL SLÍ

Ach Amhain Tramanna

Tracht ar Malairt Slí

Na Sciotar

 

dónal na geallaí

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Who has not heard the oft repeated mantra that "Irish is a dead language"? The following article, which appears to be one of a series on "coping with anti-irish language opinions", disputes this assertion:

Irish is a dead language - InsideIreland.ie

Irish is obviously not a dead language but it is in trouble.

Very interesting point in the article is that the median number of speakers per language in the world is 7,560. Irish is certainly not alone in being under severe pressure and while endangered is certainly not on the "critically endangered" list, yet.
Thanks for the link b.a.,a very helpful article btw.It chimes with what a teacher from the Kerry Gaeltacht once told me.The decline of Irish in the Gaeltacht is driven by demographics in the schools;not what's on tv.The Welsh schools just keep right on teaching and talking in Welsh.Our blow in mummies get onto Minister Hanafin and the whole thing collapses.

Incidentally,I see the people in Ring are content for the Irish to be An Rinn.They are not having a tantrum claiming it must be Ring/Rinn O gCuanach.
 

controller

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I'm not from the Gaeltacht, but our eldest and only school going child goes to a gael scoil in Dublin. Why did we send him there??? I never heard bad stories about Gael Scoil. I went to collect him two weeks ago, and he was standing at the front door of the school having a conversation in Gaelic, with the headmaster. He is only 5. I was amazed. As Heyoka said earlier, it is not the language it is the way it was taught. He is immersed in Irish, does not know anything about verbs or Peig, because it is all about the spoken language. The language is far from dead, it just needs to be taught completely differently
 


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