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Irish language-zones - an idea

Barroso

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....

Welsh didn’t collapse as a community language in the wider Holyhead area because of a strong resolve not to speak it. It simply became more convenient to use English than it was to use Welsh.
I wonder if you could explain the bit in bold?
How would it be more convenient to change languages - in one town only, while all the neighbouring areas continued to speak Welsh?
Has anyone carried out research into this particular language shift?
 


Barroso

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Let me acknowledge your direct experience - I don't mean to argue against it at all.
Yet you have absolutely no problem dismissing the direct experience of those of us who live through Irish and have a good on-the-ground knowledge of the situation of Irish from the inside.
You are indeed a paradoxical person, to say the least.

...
For the first fifty or more years of independence the pressure for them to do so was as great as the State authorities were able to exercise. That included, to give one example, the denial of a certificate for passing the Leaving examination if the pupil failed in Irish, meaning that entry to the national University Colleges was not possible. All state employment required an Irish test both for entry and for promotion.
I'm not sure what you mean by this; but the fact is that it only applied to the civil service. Very few other public service jobs required any knowledge of Irish.
And we know from your writings, that being a poor Irish scholar at school you were not able to go to university. Seems to me that you have borne a large chip on your shoulder all these years, when it is your own fault and no-one else's. Assuming that you passed Latin in your LC, as that was another requirement for matriculation at the time. Do you have an irrational hatred of Latin too?
And, like to-day, all pupils had to study Irish for all the years of their schooling. None of this affected the language choice of the population.
There are a great many people who differ from this view of yours - while the population as a whole did not change language, knowledge of Irish is more widely held today than at any time since the late 19th century. This is a direct result of people learning Irish at school.
Moreover, with each year that passes, more and more people are sending their children to Gaelscoileanna so that they will finish primary school with a good knowledge of Irish. But you think that they do not leave primary school bilingual.

Maybe the people's resistance to these measures can be classed as 'passive'. But it is certainly sustained and determined. And conscious! There is nothing casual about the way that the typical pupil leaving school vows that he or she will never speak a word of Irish again.
You appear - or pretend - to know little or nothing about the number of contact hours needed to reach proficiency in a language; and unless you attend a Gaelscoil or else have extensive contact with Irish outside of school, you will not reach proficiency in Irish during your schooldays.
So in many, perhaps in most, cases it has nothing to do with resistance - it is simply a truncated apprenticeship, whether wanted or otherwise.
BTW the typical pupil leaving school makes the same comment about most subjects, usually in the hearing of their schoolmates, to prove their rebelliousness.
I wouldn't put too much faith in what they say at that juncture. I'm sure you have heard this rhyme:
No more German, no more French, / No more sitting on the hard ol’ bench / Kick up tables, kick up chairs, / Kick oul’ XYZ down the stairs …’
 

McTell

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No
In my youth I studied in paris for a year, and with no "gift", had conversational french in 4 weeks.

What the locals call "francais de la bicyclette", wobbly french. I dont see why primary school kids can't even get to wobbly irish after 7 years.

Why not a primary irish studies course, with history, geography and some irish, and they can take it further in secondary if they want to?
 

Cai

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I wonder if you could explain the bit in bold?
How would it be more convenient to change languages - in one town only, while all the neighbouring areas continued to speak Welsh?
Has anyone carried out research into this particular language shift?
It is curious.

Another interesting one is Bangor & Caernarfon. They’re two towns on the Menai Straights situated 9 miles of each other. In 1931 both were about 85% Welsh speaking. By 2011 the percentage in Bangor had dropped to under half. Caernarfon was still 85%.

The Caernarfon / Bangor situation is complicated. Perhaps the Holyhead one is simpler. It’s technically on a different island to Ynys Mon, It has close connections to (English speaking) Ireland, it’s a port town so you have a lot of coming & going from other parts pf the UK & it’s overwhelmingly working class. The chapels used to be key components of the support structures that supported the Welsh language in many urban working class areas. Observance has dipped remarkably in Wales since the 60s.

But - in my opinion - the main factors is identity. In the North West, Welsh identity & the ability to speak Welsh are inextricably linked. In my opinion Welsh identity is far stronger on Ynys Mon than on Ynys Cybi. You deny children their national identity if you don’t transfer the language to them. So you make sure you transfer it.
 

Fun with Irish

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...........................

You appear - or pretend - to know little or nothing about the number of contact hours needed to reach proficiency in a language; and unless you attend a Gaelscoil or else have extensive contact with Irish outside of school, you will not reach proficiency in Irish during your schooldays.

So in many, perhaps in most, cases it has nothing to do with resistance - it is simply a truncated apprenticeship, whether wanted or otherwise.

...............
So that's it then ..........

Ninety years of Compulsory Irish could never have worked anyway!
 
Last edited:

Fun with Irish

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"I'm not sure what you mean by this; but the fact is that it only applied to the civil service. Very few other public service jobs required any knowledge of Irish."
The Irish language test was applied to many government jobs in the glory days of the Revival.

Those included the Civil Service, as you say, and also all Local Government posts, the Revenue & Customs, Commissioners jobs, Army officers, teaching, etc. The test was both for entry and for stages of promotion.

It was also the aim to use Irish to block the professions by making it compulsory for entry into the National University Colleges.

It's worth remembering how fanatical the Gaeilgeoiri were in those days. Luckily it is different now.
 

Fun with Irish

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In my youth I studied in paris for a year, and with no "gift", had conversational french in 4 weeks.

What the locals call "francais de la bicyclette", wobbly french. I dont see why primary school kids can't even get to wobbly irish after 7 years.

Why not a primary irish studies course, with history, geography and some irish, and they can take it further in secondary if they want to?
You decided that you needed French and you learned it.
The Irish people decided that the don't need Gaelic and don't learn it.
That is why it has to be Compulsory in school.
 

Cai

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Irish parents do this all the time.
Being Welsh & being Welsh speaking are very closely linked in some parts of the country. The correlation isn’t as strong now as it was half a century ago.

In other parts - the South Wales Valleys for example - there is a model of Welshness that doesn’t require the language.

I’m guessed that the same is true for Irish national identity.
 

Fun with Irish

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Being Welsh & being Welsh speaking are very closely linked in some parts of the country. The correlation isn’t as strong now as it was half a century ago.

In other parts - the South Wales Valleys for example - there is a model of Welshness that doesn’t require the language.

I’m guessed that the same is true for Irish national identity.
Certainly the Irish don't feel any need to link their national identity with the Irish language. In one way, you might say the opposite. They changed their language to English in the course of preserving their identity as a nation with the ambition to be independent, determined to cope with the big wide world.

The notion that the Irish have a submerged identity residing in Gaelic and different from the actual identity displayed in the daily lives of millions of people is simply a fantasy. Kid stuff.

This fantasy was given legs by the early leaders of independent Ireland as a symbol to mark the new state's separateness from the United Kingdom. And Irish as a political symbol is fine - but the people never had the slightest intention of actually making it their spoken language.
 

Cai

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Certainly the Irish don't feel any need to link their national identity with the Irish language. In one way, you might say the opposite. They changed their language to English in the course of preserving their identity as a nation with the ambition to be independent, determined to cope with the big wide world.

The notion that the Irish have a submerged identity residing in Gaelic and different from the actual identity displayed in the daily lives of millions of people is simply a fantasy. Kid stuff.

This fantasy was given legs by the early leaders of independent Ireland as a symbol to mark the new state's separateness from the United Kingdom. And Irish as a political symbol is fine - but the people never had the slightest intention of actually making it their spoken language.
As an outsider who regularly visits Ireland & England it’s pretty obvious that the nature of national identity in both countries are very different - & the two countries are by their very nature different in other ways - but use the same language.

As I’ve already said, I live in an area where far more use is made of Welsh than English & where many of us are far more aware of Welsh language popular culture than English popular culture - although we obviously have access to both. In that sense at least parts of Wales can feel less British than Ireland does.

As someone who has full access to two cultures I feel that people who have access to just the one have a rather poorer experience of life than those of us fortunate enough to have access to both.

I suppose that’s why I find your glee at the monolingualism of much of your country somewhat distasteful I suppose.
 

Fun with Irish

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As an outsider who regularly visits Ireland & England it’s pretty obvious that the nature of national identity in both countries are very different - & the two countries are by their very nature different in other ways - but use the same language.

As I’ve already said, I live in an area where far more use is made of Welsh than English & where many of us are far more aware of Welsh language popular culture than English popular culture - although we obviously have access to both. In that sense at least parts of Wales can feel less British than Ireland does.

As someone who has full access to two cultures I feel that people who have access to just the one have a rather poorer experience of life than those of us fortunate enough to have access to both.

I suppose that’s why I find your glee at the monolingualism of much of your country somewhat distasteful I suppose.
Obviously knowing a second languages provides the opportunity for cultural enrichment. But as you have read here, very few Irish children emerge from their school years with Irish as a second language in any living sense.

In the Irish context, what I am mocking is the contortions of political ideology and contrived ethnic politics masquerading as national identity and cultural enrichment. And all the nonsense that goes with that.

Even to-day, the authorities could shift the emphasis in the school experience from politics to education. But this would mean giving students some choice in studying Irish, and that the chiefs won't allow.
 

Fun with Irish

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I suppose that’s why I find your glee at the monolingualism of much of your country somewhat distasteful I suppose.
No: It's not glee.

When a language is employed as a political artifact it becomes degraded as a language. This is because any level of garbled pidgin will then suffice for it to serve its symbolic value.

The result does not evoke glee.
 

Cai

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No: It's not glee.

When a language is employed as a political artifact it becomes degraded as a language. This is because any level of garbled pidgin will then suffice for it to serve its symbolic value.

The result does not evoke glee.
The way I read your posts is thus:

‘The language is pushed on an unwilling population by a political elite for political / ideological reasons. The said population largely ignores these attempts & refuse to acquire Irish. This - together with - the pretence by said elite that it’s policy was working is amusing’.

Now I don’t know how aligned to the truth this perception is - I’m too removed from your situation. But I would make a couple of points:

Firstly languages are independent of their political context. They provide an access to a culture & cultural tradition that can’t be accessed in their absence - & it’s unfortunate to say the least if people are cut off from much of their cultural inheritance. Your contributions don’t really differentiate between the language & the cultural tradition associated with it & the political impulses to promote it that you criticise. You conflate two different but linked things - & that’s unfortunate.

Secondly where you have large numbers of people who don’t speak a language fluently it’s inevitable that we find simplification & languages mixing. English is a very good example of this - it’s a simple functional language with a large vocabulary - largely acquired from other European languages.
 


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