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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2000 (January-June) » Why has the Irish language been able to survive? « Previous Next »

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Dave Kassling (bg-tc-ppp138.monmouth.com - 209.191.60.139)
Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2000 - 09:17 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hello,

I am a high school student writing a history report on Irish Culture and how Irish Nationalism has kept The Irish language and culture intact for hundreds of years. I was wondering if someone from your group could prepare a brief explanation for me as to why you feel so strong about Irish language and culture and why you feel Irish culture has been able to survive throughout the years. If you could I'd really appriciate it...Thanks very much!

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Antaine
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2000 - 10:37 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The Irish language has been kept alive through the dedication of its speakers and the work of the Irish Government and people in organizations like this one. I have heard many varying reports from 90,000 speakers and dying within two generations, to things like Ethnologue's (www.sil.org/ethnologue) report "260,000 fluent or native speakers (1983 census), 13% of the population (1983 census); 31.6% of the population over 3 claim to be Irish speakers (1981 census). Western isles northwest and southwest coasts; Galway, part of Mayo, Kerry,
Donegal. Also Northern Ireland, Boston, USA." keeping in mind that the language data is likely an underestimate for the number of speakers today for three reasons.
1 the research only looked for people who called themselves "fluent" or "native" speakers...likely that there are many more "passable" speakers...no problems in everyday life, but cannot talk to a plumber or mechanic.
2 the research is based on the 1983 census and so is almost 20 years old. The governments efforts have likely scored a few more speakers since then.
3 speakers of gaelic tongues have a knack for denying knowledge of the language even though they may be near fluent. A recent UK survey reported Welsh in dire straits in northern Wales. On closer inspection, thousands of fluent speakers didn't consider themselves "Welsh speakers" because they didn't speak the standard dialect.
The language has been undergoing a kind of renaissance of late in which more than half of the books published in Ireland are published in Gaeilge and the all-Gaeilge TV station (there are radio stations, too) gets higher ratings in Ireland than MTV, which is a notable step.
It took a long time to figure out the best way to teach the language, and as such, early attempts were disastrous, souring our parents' generation to the language. Recently, however, the system has gotten much better and it is the younger generations who are providing the fuel for the language's rebirth.
Through famine and war, through penal laws and forced emigration, the British government has tried to kill the language. To allow the language to die now, would be to offer the British victory in the end. Language is an important part of culture. When the language and its speakers were sent "to Hell or Connacht" much damage was done, but a resurgence of all the celtic languages provide hope for Irish. Even previously extinct languages such as Manx and Cornish are being resurrected as modern Manx or "Cornic" and no lover of Irish culture either in Ireland or in the US wants to see Gaeilge get to that point. Gaeilge go deo!

Go n-éirí an t-adh leat!
Antaine
..........

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william Fuller ( - 199.80.100.21)
Posted on Saturday, April 29, 2000 - 09:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Beannacht De ag an obair!

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