Why did Irish fare so poorly compared with other European languages?

Drogheda445

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Around the start of the 19th century, the use of Irish around the country began to decline precipitously; while the famine and emigration certainly played a role, the stigma associated with Irish convinced many that it would prove a burden to teach it to their children, and so most chose to raise their children in English to the extent that it is now the native language of the vast majority of people in contemporary Ireland.

This contrasts starkly with the fate of other languages across Europe around the same time; although other languages became subjected to persecution and stigmatisation by more dominant cultures, most managed to withstand considerable pressure and have survived to this day. Finnish for instance remained the dominant mother tongue of Finns throughout both Swedish and Russian rule despite being seen in a negative light, and use of other languages by the elite (or in the case of Swedish, by a large ethnic minority). On the Iberian Peninsula, centuries of Castilian rule have not dented the use of Basque, Catalan or other minority languages, despite admittedly much harsher persecution under Franco's fascist government (in fact most of these languages were far more closely related to Spanish, making a language shift seemingly easier). Even in Wales, the decline in Welsh can be partly attributed to the arrival of large numbers of English workers into the industrial heartlands of South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, whilst the native language remained (and remains) fairly robust in many other parts of the country despite a similar culture of stigmatisation.

Not so with Irish. Was the hegemony of English in the modern world too great for a language like Irish to survive? Why has Irish been so unlucky in relation to languages in similar situations across Europe (despite many opportunities to reverse the decline, especially since independence)?
 


parentheses

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It's possible up to 20% of the population died in the famine, and they would have been Irish-speakers to a disproportionate extent.



.
 

ellie08

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Around the start of the 19th century, the use of Irish around the country began to decline precipitously; while the famine and emigration certainly played a role, the stigma associated with Irish convinced many that it would prove a burden to teach it to their children, and so most chose to raise their children in English to the extent that it is now the native language of the vast majority of people in contemporary Ireland.

This contrasts starkly with the fate of other languages across Europe around the same time; although other languages became subjected to persecution and stigmatisation by more dominant cultures, most managed to withstand considerable pressure and have survived to this day. Finnish for instance remained the dominant mother tongue of Finns throughout both Swedish and Russian rule despite being seen in a negative light, and use of other languages by the elite (or in the case of Swedish, by a large ethnic minority). On the Iberian Peninsula, centuries of Castilian rule have not dented the use of Basque, Catalan or other minority languages, despite admittedly much harsher persecution under Franco's fascist government (in fact most of these languages were far more closely related to Spanish, making a language shift seemingly easier). Even in Wales, the decline in Welsh can be partly attributed to the arrival of large numbers of English workers into the industrial heartlands of South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, whilst the native language remained (and remains) fairly robust in many other parts of the country despite a similar culture of stigmatisation.

Not so with Irish. Was the hegemony of English in the modern world too great for a language like Irish to survive? Why has Irish been so unlucky in relation to languages in similar situations across Europe (despite many opportunities to reverse the decline, especially since independence)?

Lots of languages and local dialects died. French got rid of all regional languages and created the French language that we know today. It being a good or bad thing is up to the individual to decide.
 

Dimples 77

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Around the start of the 19th century, the use of Irish around the country began to decline precipitously; while the famine and emigration certainly played a role, the stigma associated with Irish convinced many that it would prove a burden to teach it to their children, and so most chose to raise their children in English to the extent that it is now the native language of the vast majority of people in contemporary Ireland.

This contrasts starkly with the fate of other languages across Europe around the same time; although other languages became subjected to persecution and stigmatisation by more dominant cultures, most managed to withstand considerable pressure and have survived to this day. Finnish for instance remained the dominant mother tongue of Finns throughout both Swedish and Russian rule despite being seen in a negative light, and use of other languages by the elite (or in the case of Swedish, by a large ethnic minority). On the Iberian Peninsula, centuries of Castilian rule have not dented the use of Basque, Catalan or other minority languages, despite admittedly much harsher persecution under Franco's fascist government (in fact most of these languages were far more closely related to Spanish, making a language shift seemingly easier). Even in Wales, the decline in Welsh can be partly attributed to the arrival of large numbers of English workers into the industrial heartlands of South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, whilst the native language remained (and remains) fairly robust in many other parts of the country despite a similar culture of stigmatisation.

Not so with Irish. Was the hegemony of English in the modern world too great for a language like Irish to survive? Why has Irish been so unlucky in relation to languages in similar situations across Europe (despite many opportunities to reverse the decline, especially since independence)?
It's not about luck.

It's about effort. Most Irish people are not prepared to put the effort in.
 

Sweet Darling

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Around the start of the 19th century, the use of Irish around the country began to decline precipitously; while the famine and emigration certainly played a role, the stigma associated with Irish convinced many that it would prove a burden to teach it to their children, and so most chose to raise their children in English to the extent that it is now the native language of the vast majority of people in contemporary Ireland.

This contrasts starkly with the fate of other languages across Europe around the same time; although other languages became subjected to persecution and stigmatisation by more dominant cultures, most managed to withstand considerable pressure and have survived to this day. Finnish for instance remained the dominant mother tongue of Finns throughout both Swedish and Russian rule despite being seen in a negative light, and use of other languages by the elite (or in the case of Swedish, by a large ethnic minority). On the Iberian Peninsula, centuries of Castilian rule have not dented the use of Basque, Catalan or other minority languages, despite admittedly much harsher persecution under Franco's fascist government (in fact most of these languages were far more closely related to Spanish, making a language shift seemingly easier). Even in Wales, the decline in Welsh can be partly attributed to the arrival of large numbers of English workers into the industrial heartlands of South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, whilst the native language remained (and remains) fairly robust in many other parts of the country despite a similar culture of stigmatisation.

Not so with Irish. Was the hegemony of English in the modern world too great for a language like Irish to survive? Why has Irish been so unlucky in relation to languages in similar situations across Europe (despite many opportunities to reverse the decline, especially since independence)?
English at the time in Ireland was the language of commerce. so it was beneficial to your wallet to be able to speak it
 

Erudite Caveman

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Language is a communication tool. If a more useful tool is available it will be used.

I don't get why people feel the need to beat themselves over the head because we don't say things in a certain way anymore.
 

ger12

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The stigma was directly related to the extensive and brutal colonisation of Ireland by the English.

You have also greatly underestimated the impact of the famine in your OP.

As for it's survival, it's not a dead language as suggested by the OP.
 

razorblade

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Laziness has more to do with it.

And the ROI hasn't been "occupied" for close to 100 years.
The Irish language predates the Irish republic by centuries, it was already long in decline by that stage, especially during famine times where most native Irish speakers would either have died from starvation or had emigrated to the USA.
 

ger12

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The Irish language predates the Irish republic by centuries, it was already long in decline by that stage.
Not it wasn't. The famine was the turning point.
 

Erudite Caveman

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The stigma was directly related to the extensive and brutal colonisation of Ireland by the English.

You have greatly underestimated the impact of the famine in your OP.

As for it's survival, it's not a dead language as suggested by the OP.
There has been no 'stigma' for almost a century. And no English to blame. So why despite all the effort that has gone into it is it now the case that there isn't anyone left who solely relies on Irish to communicate?

Face facts. It has died to the point of being a lifestyle choice for a few simply because we don't need it anymore.
 

ger12

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English at the time in Ireland was the language of commerce. so it was beneficial to your wallet to be able to speak it
It became a matter of life or death when millions died through famine and disease.
 

ellie08

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There has been no 'stigma' for almost a century. And no English to blame. So why despite all the effort that has gone into it is it now the case that there isn't anyone left who solely relies on Irish to communicate?
And sadly some proponents of the language claim the best thing about it is that you can talk in Irish so that other around you cannot understand you when abroad. I mean Jesus!
 

ellie08

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It became a matter of life or death when millions died through famine and disease.

Ger is that opinion or have you something to back up that claim. In fairness those emigrating to America Australia and Canada. and wherever else would have been very disadvantaged speaking Irish. Perhaps you could quote a study about how the famine affected use of the language here in Ireland.
 

Congalltee

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BS bingo:
Dead language
Peig
Rammed down throats
We should learn mandarin/German/coding instead
Census replies are lies
€2bn a year (or some other made up number)
 

ger12

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There has been no 'stigma' for almost a century. And no English. So why despite all the effort that has gone into it is it now the case that there isn't anyone left who solely relies on Irish to communicate?
Despite attempts to destroy it, it remains alive, we have native speakers going to primary schools in 2017 and it has gained significant popularity with the rise and success of schools through the medium of Irish. The recognition of Irish as an EU language has been a positive move.
 

razorblade

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Not it wasn't. The famine was the turning point.
I actually edited my post to reflect that, it was a combination of both it was already declining but the famine accelerated it by the fact the people affected most by the famine were the native Irish speakers, most either died in the great hunger that followed or they emigrated to Britain or the USA.
 

ger12

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Glaucon

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Around the start of the 19th century, the use of Irish around the country began to decline precipitously; while the famine and emigration certainly played a role, the stigma associated with Irish convinced many that it would prove a burden to teach it to their children, and so most chose to raise their children in English to the extent that it is now the native language of the vast majority of people in contemporary Ireland.

This contrasts starkly with the fate of other languages across Europe around the same time; although other languages became subjected to persecution and stigmatisation by more dominant cultures, most managed to withstand considerable pressure and have survived to this day. Finnish for instance remained the dominant mother tongue of Finns throughout both Swedish and Russian rule despite being seen in a negative light, and use of other languages by the elite (or in the case of Swedish, by a large ethnic minority). On the Iberian Peninsula, centuries of Castilian rule have not dented the use of Basque, Catalan or other minority languages, despite admittedly much harsher persecution under Franco's fascist government (in fact most of these languages were far more closely related to Spanish, making a language shift seemingly easier). Even in Wales, the decline in Welsh can be partly attributed to the arrival of large numbers of English workers into the industrial heartlands of South Wales during the Industrial Revolution, whilst the native language remained (and remains) fairly robust in many other parts of the country despite a similar culture of stigmatisation.

Not so with Irish. Was the hegemony of English in the modern world too great for a language like Irish to survive? Why has Irish been so unlucky in relation to languages in similar situations across Europe (despite many opportunities to reverse the decline, especially since independence)?
Look at what happened to Occitan, Alsatian or, to take another Celtic language, Breton. Compare language policies. Your answer will lie there (Welsh remaining the language of Church services had a lot to do with it surviving relatively well).
 


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