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Seachtain na Gaeilge (4-17 March): Does it unintentionally marginalise the Irish language?


diy01

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The annual Irish language festival Seachtain na Gaeilge began yesterday and runs to the 17th.
http://snag.ie/

Does it unintentionally marginalise the Irish language by treating it as something to be used for a couple of weeks each year? Something to be trotted out for ceremonial purposes, like a sentence i nGaeilge at the beginning of a speech, or the switch to Irish-language forms of names in certain contexts?

I would argue that the normalisation of language politics in Ireland is in the best interests of Irish, and will ultimately lead to a moderate increase in the number of habitual speakers. Seachtain na Gaeilge reinforces the peripheral position of Irish in Ireland, and further links the language in the popular imagination with tokenism.
 

The Preacher

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Who's behind it? If it's a Government sponsored exercise you can almost certainly write it off as part of the official token effort to pretend that it's a living language.

On a related subject, I enjoyed the first episode of "Scúp", a new drama series on TG4 about an Irish language newspaper in Belfast. Probably the first time I can ever say I enjoyed watching an Irish language programme.
 

diy01

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It's linked with Bliain na Gaeilge as well as 'The Gathering' this year, but Seachtain na Gaeilge has been an annual event since 1902.

Who's behind it? If it's a Government sponsored exercise you can almost certainly write it off as part of the official token effort to pretend that it's a living language.
It was founded by Conradh na Gaeilge ('The Gaelic League') over a century ago, and is now sponsored by the all-island language body Foras na Gaeilge, however SnaG is a non-profit organisation.

I'm not suggesting that the event isn't important to many Irish speakers, but I believe the impression it gives to the essentially monoglot English majority in Ireland is counterproductive in terms of increasing the number of individuals who speak the language daily in a meaningful, organic way.
 

diy01

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as part of the official token effort to pretend that it's a living language.
But Irish is a living language! It's just a minority living language. If Irish wasn't living, I doubt you'd be able to watch any TV programmes in the language.
 

DT123

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But Irish is a living language! It's just a minority living language. If Irish wasn't living, I doubt you'd be able to watch any TV programmes in the language.
Only due to the life support of subsidy.When you have a commercial Irish language channel,then you might have a point.
 

Riadach

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Only due to the life support of subsidy.When you have a commercial Irish language channel,then you might have a point.
That's hardly an important distinction. Diy is basing his claim on the fact that having a native speaking Irish community allows one to have television programmes. Commercial viability of language programmes has nothing to do with it.

It would be nice if people could stick to the topic of the thread though.

Although I see how one could consider this an exercise in circumscribing use of the language, I'm still glad to see the effort that many go to, especially those whose language capacity is limited.
 
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Irish National member

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i think the idea behind it is good as its more than likely seen as a promotional tool, but i think a bit more effort and thought is needed to promote the language long term
 

diy01

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Only due to the life support of subsidy.When you have a commercial Irish language channel,then you might have a point.
That doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Native Irish speakers have been bilingual for generations. If it was strictly about money, they'd have dropped Irish altogether years ago. The last generation of monoglots died in the 1960s, and even a century ago well over 90% were already bilingual, yet many have retained the language down through the years. And it's not because of subsidies. For example, when Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge was in existence (it was discontinued in 2011), it amounted to only 300 euros per year. Hardly a fortune!

People generally have an attachment to their mother tongue.
 

bye bye mubarak

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I think it would be a goor idea to give a tax reduction to those who are Irish speakers, encouraging people to learn it.
 
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Cato

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People generally have an attachment to their mother tongue.
The history of Ireland would seem to contradict that.

I have wondered about the utility of SnaG but it does at least seem to reinforce the general good will towards the language (even if that good will does not translate into people actually speaking it). I would safely say, that apart from watching rugby on TG4 and my children's homework (and its normally Mrs Cato that looks after the Irish bit of that) I haven't heard one bit of spoken Irish in the last year, which is startling. I hear Polish nearly five days a week.
 

DT123

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That doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Native Irish speakers have been bilingual for generations. If it was strictly about money, they'd have dropped Irish altogether years ago. The last generation of monoglots died in the 1960s, and even a century ago well over 90% were already bilingual, yet many have retained the language down through the years. And it's not because of subsidies. For example, when Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge was in existence (it was discontinued in 2011), it amounted to only 300 euros per year. Hardly a fortune!

People generally have an attachment to their mother tongue.
The point is simply,that without subsidy ,there would be no Irish language TV stations or prograqmmes.Surely a "viable " language should be able to sustain a commercial station?
 

Riadach

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The point is simply,that without subsidy ,there would be no Irish language TV stations or prograqmmes.Surely a "viable " language should be able to sustain a commercial station?
Show me a linguist that determines whether a language is living or not on the basis of its ability to produce a commercial station?
 

diy01

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The history of Ireland would seem to contradict that.
Official efforts to reduce the number of Irish speakers began in the late 13th century Cato. It took over five hundred years before the language declined drastically. As the Irish language poet Alan Titley put it, one can only endure so many kicks in the neck before the language falls out of the mouth (I'm paraphrasing).

I would safely say, that apart from watching rugby on TG4 and my children's homework (and its normally Mrs Cato that looks after the Irish bit of that) I haven't heard one bit of spoken Irish in the last year, which is startling. I hear Polish nearly five days a week.
Not a surprise. Polish speakers have a poorer grasp of English, compared to native Irish speakers, and less hangups about using their language. Irish speakers accommodate the monolingual majority every day. If you spoke Irish you can be sure you'd hear more of it, Cato.
 

diy01

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The point is simply,that without subsidy ,there would be no Irish language TV stations or prograqmmes.Surely a "viable " language should be able to sustain a commercial station?
I'd suggest that you have a poor grasp of the workings of minority language media globally.

Minority languages are still living languages.
 

DT123

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I'd suggest that you have a poor grasp of the workings of minority language media globally.

Minority languages are still living languages.
I am not disputing that it is a "living" language.I am simply disputing your original assertion ,that "If Irish wasn't living, I doubt you'd be able to watch any TV programmes in the language."

You cannot deny that without State subvention,there would be no Irish language programming.
 

Cato

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Not a surprise. Polish speakers have a poorer grasp of English, compared to native Irish speakers, and less hangups about using their language. Irish speakers accommodate the monolingual majority every day. If you spoke Irish you can be sure you'd hear more of it, Cato.
I'm aware of all that. I just meant that its startling, and not a little tragic, that one hears other languages (English aside) spoken more often in Ireland than one hears of the Irish language. It's a pity that it is not heard more often.
 

Cato

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Show me a linguist that determines whether a language is living or not on the basis of its ability to produce a commercial station?
That would appear to be an incredibly odd assertion for, if true, it would mean that there were no living languages prior to the advent of broadcast media.
 

DT123

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RTÉ is largely funded by the State ie Taxpayers. Very very very little actually goes to TG4 (same problem with that rubbish station, TV3) Okay they get some grants from BAI (is that the correct name? the film board) TG4 actually does alot of things way better than RTE on the small budget that it has (would not be hard though)
There is also Raidio na Life and Raidio na Gaelige . There is clearly a demand by people for such adventures

You have a problem with a Country funding and promoting it's culture ie the arts, language, opera? A few avenues where any country (particularly a small one) can try and be distinctive from other countries as oppose to bland ? Dare I ask, who do you think the State is by the way? Can't imagine a Denis O'Brien type of person (ie loaded) will throw money where profit might not be got
Again ,you are totally missing the point.That being,were it not for the State,there would be no (mainstream)Irish language broadcasting.Wether or not the State should spend money on it,is a different arguement.
 
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