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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2001 (January-June) » Number of native irish speakers « Previous Next »

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Dave (161.53.48.236)
Posted on Tuesday, March 06, 2001 - 03:53 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I would like to know how many people actually speak Irish as their first language.

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Aonghus (vpn.parthus.com - 62.221.5.1)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 03:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The census figures since 1861 are here
http://www.cso.ie/principalstats/cenir.html

I doubt if a clear answer as to "first" language is possible, since all Irish speakers are bilingual from a very early age.

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Dave (cacher6.iskon.hr - 209.239.68.215)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 06:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

To Aonghus: Thank you very much for information about number of Irish speakers. There's one more question from me: What is the real difference between ansin and ansiúd? That has always been a problem for me. Yes, and difference between sin and siúd and úd. Thanks.
Dave.

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Aonghus (vpn.parthus.com - 62.221.5.1)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 09:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It's a subtle difference.
I suppose ansin could be translated as "there" and ansiúd as "over there" i.e. a bit more remote.

úd generally suggests greater distance than sin or siúd, and siúd is more remote than sin.

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Dennis (c792392-a.sttln1.wa.home.com - 24.19.205.18)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 01:23 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

My sense is that "siúd" and "úd" refer to the same degree of remoteness, but that they fill separate grammatical slots: that "siúd" is a sort of pronoun while "úd" is a sort of adjective:

An bhfaca tú siúd? = An bhfaca tú é siúd? = Did you see that-over-yonder?

An bhfaca tú an teach úd? = Did you see yonder house?

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Jonas (cache-external.it.helsinki.fi - 128.214.173.89)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 02:01 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

HOLD, HOLD, HOLD

The numbers presented in http://www.cso.ie/principalstats/cenir.html
aren't even close to the question that Dave asked.

The question was "How many people actually speak Irish as their FIRST LANGUAGE?" As most of us know,the census does only give the number of people who claim to have some knowledge of Irish, it says nothing about having Irish as one's first language.

According to the same census, the number of people speaking Irish on a daily basis is about 50.000 It is estimated that about 25.000 still have Irish as their first language, which is 2% of the number given in the census.

Asking whether a person is able speak a language is a very poor way of getting to know whether he also USES the language. According to the latest polls, 85% of all Finns under 50 claim to speak English, the numbers in Sweden and Norway are much the same. It would, however, be ludicrus to suggest that these countries are English-speaking; just as ludicrus as it would be to suggest that about 1.500.000 people in Ireland have Irish as their first language.
(Even though I indeed wished that would be the case..)

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Seosamh (2cust92.tnt14.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.140.220)
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2001 - 03:03 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Which is much of the problem. Many people in Ireland (and some in Irish America) value the language and cheerfully learn some, even use the cupla focal. Unfortunately, good will doesn't make a living language. (Not that the good will isn't a positive and even important thing.)

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Aonghus (vpn.parthus.com - 62.221.5.1)
Posted on Thursday, March 08, 2001 - 07:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

True, Jonas
But there will be no accurate answer to Dave's question, as I pointed out above.

Possibly the closest he will get will be to take the 96 census figures and assume the respondents who speak Irish every day have it as their first language. I didn't delve deeply into the numbers, but I believe they can be found somewhere on the CIS website.

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Dave (lab04.ffpu.hr - 161.53.48.214)
Posted on Friday, March 09, 2001 - 05:37 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aontaím le Jonas.
I actually wanted to know if an Ghaeilge is likely to be spoken as an everyday language at least for the following century, which I hope is going to happen.
In my opinion, it's enough to teach your children a language and it'll for sure remain alive, the only problem is that both parents have to speak the language and that the children continue to use it, which in a Gaeltacht area should be an easy thing. It's a problem, however, that all Irish speakers are bilingual - they can neglect Irish if they live in the Galltacht. For a native speaker his own language is not an "interesting" one and he is never afraid that he'll forget it (untill it happens). I don't know the situation in Ireland but I doubt that people like living faoin tír permanently (and na Gaeltachtaí are, as far as I know, mostly rural areas), and most of them (people) tends to moving to larger cities, towns whatever.
Besides, I assume that this is a period in this, let's say Western European civilisation (including America, Austr. and so on), when people are trying to return to something that's past or almost past - the proof for this is the music with "modern" elements, performed by means of new technology, mixed with the old traditional music (Irish trad. music is especially popular). Then, buying holiday houses in the country and so on - returning to nature: Ireland is very popular country right because it is an GREEN Emerald island and not covered mostly with GREY concrete. Here comes the enthusiasm for preserving the language, the enthusiasm that even I myself feel (even I myself, because I'm not Irish, and as my own language is likely to hang about for many a year, I suppose, it isn't very interesting for me to think a lot about its fate so I prefer learning Irish which is endangered, so I can contribute at least a little to its "duration"). Let's go back to the point: what is going to happen when people find another interest?! The only chance to preserve Irish is, as I've already said, to bring your children up through it and to keep the Gaeltacht alive (and possibly even spread it). You can't depend on those who learn it as a second language.
Dave.

Tá súil agam nach raibh mé leadránach.

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Jonas (stud167.shh.fi - 128.214.106.167)
Posted on Friday, March 09, 2001 - 08:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

(This may be controversial for some)
Talking about a GREEN or a GREY island:

One of the best actions to take in order to preserve Irish in na Gaeltachtaí would be to build some (really ugly) factories in each and every Gaeltacht... As Dave pointed out, and as I've learned from living three summers in vairous Gaeltachtaí, we have a real problem with non-Irish speakers buying up houses in the Gaeltacht. Most Gaeltachtaí are very beautiful and yet quite close to larger cities (Galway, Cork, Tralee) so they are attracting people.

If you don't know the state of the Gaeltacht of Cois Fharraige (once considered the strongest in the country), I can tell you that it's going quite fast. Bearna, the village closest to Galway, is now-adays a luxury suburb with fancy villas. It is about as Irish speaking as Mongolia. The same applies to the part of the Galway Gaeltacht that is situated east of Loch Corrib; I have some friends there and they withouy knowing any Irish at all. An Spidéal is often seen as THE example of a Gaeltacht village. Ha! It would be a rare occasion to hear Irish spoken on the streets there, even though the smaller villages around it are quite Irish speaking. This change is largely due to rich Galway people moving in, causing house prices to rise, forcing (poorer) natives to leave. West of An Spidéal you enter the international Gaeltacht, where English, Spanish, German, American and French have bought up houses as summer-homes. Do I have to say that their lingua franca is NOT Irish. The situation is quite the same in Corca Dhuibhne, Dun Chaoin in particular, and I would guess that every other Gaeltacht faces the same problem.

Now, why do people buy houses in na Gaeltachtaí. I can think of two reasons:
1. They want to live in a beautiful, quiet, tranquil area.
2. They are truly dedicated to the Irish language.

Ireland is quite rich in beautiful and tranquil surroundings, and na Gaeltachtaí do not have a larger percentage than areas with similar settings. Suppose that some factories were built on, let's say, the Aran Islands. I'm quite sure that those in category one would search for some other island for a holiday home (There are many, Inishbofin, Clare, Rathlin, Dursey, Sherkin). The same applies to every other Gaeltacht: with some factories their attractiveness diminsh hugely.

There are of course another important benefit. The factories would provide native Irish-speakers with employment, which would stop the forced emigration from na Gaeltachtaí.

(And of course, I do enjoy beautiful surroundings myself, very much indeed, put I put rather put people first)

About my other category, there are quite a number of foreigners with a keen interest in Irish who have settled in na Gaeltachtaí; I know some of them personally. Many of them do great stuff for the language which they have learnt to speak fluently, and usually they are the last to turn to English. They are, of course, a huge benefit to the language, and would not consider going anywhere else because of some factories.

In short: I would propose that the Irish government, in co-operation with Údarás, start considering an industrial development scheme for na Gaeltachtaí!

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Dave (lab04.ffpu.hr - 161.53.48.214)
Posted on Friday, March 09, 2001 - 09:24 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Togha fir Jonas!
You've forgotten to say one more thing - the native Irish speaking people from na Gaeltachtaí would (at least the richer ones) probably buy summer houses in a non-Irish-speaking part of Ireland (unpolluted by the industry) and in that way they'd spread an Ghaeltacht. HaaHa.
No, indeed. I agree totally with everything you said above.
Cheannóinn féin teach i nGaeltacht ach, ar ndóigh, an t-airgead a bheith agam. But if I did so, that would be for the language and not for the beautiful landscape. It's beautiful enough here where I am.

Beir bua, a chara!

Dave

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