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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (October-December) » Archive through October 13, 2004 » State policy of promoting Irish language « Previous Next »

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 08:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi

A colleague pointed me to your discussion board where my Wall Street Journal article on the state's policy on the Irish language was discussed and, reading some of the comments, I thought I should clarify a few things.

Firstly I think that the best hope for Irish is through the kind of voluntary type of work that you do - assuming you don't get state money - in which case you have a conflict of interest problem. Voluntary work has to be distinguished from the coercive nature of the state's policy on Irish.

Secondly, my belief is that we should re-define what we mean by Irish culture. My view of it is that it is de facto and not de jure. It is, literally, the culture on this island and that includes everything we have taken in from the rest of the world - mainly Britain and the USA and, directly and via Britain, from Continental Europe. It is also, as I said in my article, what we exported - e.g. renaissance Irish music like that of O'Carolan was recognised by Elizabethan England as of the first order - many in Elizabethan England including the Queen herself, valued Irish harp music.

Ironically the fashion for all things Celtic is, itself, an import from England. Go to Highgate Cemetery in London - full of celtic crosses put their by the Victorian cultural elite. Many Irish people's approach to their 'native' culture is straight out of the English romantic tradition and its own romantic view of Gaelic Ireland.

You have to distinguish between voluntarism and force. I would remove ALL funding from the Irish language or ANY language and let the people decide.

However people should not be insulted. I have never believed that the best culture produced on this island is inferior to anything - it is not, hnowever, any more 'ours' than that culture that's been absorbed. Ultimately the celts and their culture were imports.

Those are some initial thoughts.

regards


Paul MacDonnell
director
ORI

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 28
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 09:52 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Mr. Mac Donnell, A Chara:

Would you also support the removal of state fuding for the furtherance of the fine arts? What about state funding of a liberal arts education?

I find your targeted prohibition against the language specifically to be just as absured as a prohibition against the above mentioned, more traditional avenues of cultural education and preservation. Bear in mind, this is a comment coming from a decidedly right wing, conservative American. I am one who has no great love for the liberal arts nor our own National Endowment for the Arts. But, I would rather see us in America spend twice the amount through the NEA to preserve our Native American languages and cultural treasures than to spend it on models of our Blessed Virgin rendered in cow dung. However, this is a topic that is in danger of taking me from my point of contention.

There is no cultural movement, linguistic or artistic, that is capable of surviving in any form beyond a few community based centers and local "interest" groups without the wider exposure and influence of governmental recognition and suport. It is up to the leaders of government to determine which of these cultural preservation entities best represents the culture of the state and then to support it, in deed as well as in dollars (or euros). Without this tacit support from governmental leaders and institutions, the survival of these often fragmented movements is destined to failure.

From the European continent we see that the survival of Catalan is due not only to the frequent and daily usage of the language by the people, but also to the support of that regional government. The rescue of the Welsh language began as a "grass roots" movement among the people but the survival and rescue of that "other" Celtic language was almost fully a governmental venture. Did, or do, the people drive these efforts, at least in the initial stages? Certainly they did and do. But, these efforts would, and will, most assuredly die a very slow and painful death without the support and total "buy-in" of the local and state governmental bodies. To remove all similiar state funding that is currently supporting the gaeltachtai and the Irish Language efforts that extend beyond these culturally rich areas would sever a cultural and historical tie that would likely never be restored. These areas and the amazing people that inhabit and support them maintain a living link to one of the most important and perhaps most overlooked periods of European history. To relegate them to the marginal cultural preservation status of a Saturday night candle making club is absolute folly on the grandest of scales.

In my lifetime of 42 years, I have seen two languages pass into extinction. One was most recently when the last speaker of a Native American Eskimo language passed away. In her final, and probably only, television interview she was asked what she missed most. Her answer was, "I have no one to tell the old stories to...not in the way they were meant to be told." For the Irish people who have a language and a culture so rich in the art and renowned in the talent of story-telling, I find this lady's comments hauntingly prophetic. Wouldn't it be a tragedy to hear these comments coming 100 years from now in an interview from Inis Mor? "My greatest sadness is that I don't have anyone to tell the stories to...not in the way they were meant to be told".

Le meas,

James P. McGinnis, II

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Jonas
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Username: Jonas

Post Number: 447
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 09:56 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi Paul, very interesting to hear from you. I did not - and do not - agree with some of your views but I'm a firm believer in the exchanging opinions and ideas.

You have to distinguish between voluntarism and force. I would remove ALL funding from the Irish language or ANY language and let the people decide.

I have some questions regarding this statement. It would be most interesting to hear your answers. Before asking I could state that - not unlike James - I'm right-wing (European kind) and a firm believer in free market. It does not in any way stop me from arguing for cultural and linguistic diversity.

1. What do you mean be removing ALL funding for ANY language. Obviously you would skip the Gaeltacht grants but would you also skip the funding for all-Irish schools, the Gaelscoileanna? In that case, what about the funding for schools that teach in English? If you would remove the funding for Irish-medium theatres, would you do the same thing for all theatres. What about the funding of academic institutions at universities, would they all go to? In short: what would this removing of ALL funding mean?

2. No-one would argue against the principle of letting the people decide, but people mean very different things when saying it. If the people of Ireland were to decide - in a very hypothetical referendum, of course - that Irish should be the only language in Ireland, would you then be satisfied since it was the people who had decided?

Ironically the fashion for all things Celtic is, itself, an import from England. Go to Highgate Cemetery in London - full of celtic crosses put their by the Victorian cultural elite. Many Irish people's approach to their 'native' culture is straight out of the English romantic tradition and its own romantic view of Gaelic Ireland.

I agree in part with your point, though I would like to mention the German influence as well - all the things you mention came in fashion with the national romanticism. It is true that the romantic tradition was foreign, but the things it focused on were/are not. In my own country, Finland, our most famous composer (Sibelius), painter (Gallen-Kallela) and, above all, our national epic Kalevala came about due to the influence of the very same romantic tradition. I don't think it make them any less Finnish. Neither do I think that the fashion for Celtic things is less Irish.

However people should not be insulted.

Since I'm not Irish I'm not insulted at all. Only interested in the argument

Finally, two more questions that I would be particularly interested in hearing you answer:

3. Do your desire to see English as the only official language extend beyond Ireland? Do you think there is any other country that should drop its language as well?

4. Would you be in favour of a single official language in the EU. If so, would you accept that that language should be:
a. French (The traditional language of European diplomacy)
b. German (The largest language in the EU and widely spoken in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia
c. Latin (The common cultural language of most of Europe and not a exclusively connected to a single member state)

(Message edited by jonas on September 24, 2004)

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Diarmo
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Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 31
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 10:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James,
People like Paul don't give a damn about native speakers and their stories- they only care about hurting people who really care about preserving their culture in face of the media machine emanating from Hollywood/Sky TV!

He will probably regret his statements in 30 years when most people are completed assimilated to that TV/dumbdowned media culture!

le meas
D

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Diarmo
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Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 32
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 10:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I would like to hear Mr McDonnell's critique of faux British cultural symbols since he seems to dislike anything that is faux Irish-possibly some classical British cultural symbols are of French origin (Shock horror!!)
I think your mission is only to criticise different aspects of Irish culture as you have some kind of inferiority complex in relation to British culture!

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Richard White (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 12.215.220.251
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 10:40 am:   Edit Post Print Post

One could argue that most educational imperatives are 'coercive' in nature; it is a monumental waste of time to teach geography to our third year students, as the country names and borders that we teach will probably disappear by the time the students graduate (certainly the world no longer looks the way that it did when I was in third grade). In America, in the '60's, a course in Communism was required in high school to teach us about our 'enemies' - with the fall of the Soviet Union the impetus for that coercion disappeared. All educational systems are shaped by the government funding that support them, and most students (and the public at large) would survive wthout exposure to the more esoteric courses - but wouldn't the world be a duller place if English becomes the only language we ever hear ? And even if that is Paul's goal, what's next ? Extinguish the diferences in English between Birmingham, England and Birmingham, Alabama. After all, they're nearly mutually uninteligible.

Richard

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Tomás Tom Hedderman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 198.22.236.230
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 11:37 am:   Edit Post Print Post

How very libertarian of you, Mr. MacDonnell. And, if you withdraw funding from ANY language, just how do you propose the government communicate with its citizens? Through all the languages presently spoken on the globe? Hieroglyphics? And, as my history professor used to say, "just who are 'the people'?" These "people" you want to decide. Does not Ireland have a representative democracy? Tyranny of the majority is a very real threat to any minority in both politics and culture. Observers of democracy from de Tocqueville to Milton Friedman have acknowledged the necessity of government to protect minority rights. It appears that the democratically-elected representatives of the people of Ireland have decided that providing government services to Ireland's minority language community is something that they would like to do. How is this coercive? Simply because the government is spending money to fund a program that would secure the rights of a minority? Don't they already do the same for the English-only majority? How has the funding of government services that (heretofore) were overwhelmingly only provided in English not been coercive to the Irish-speaking minority? (And, yes, there were many -- and are still a few -- people in Ireland who were much more comfortable with their Irish than their English.) Are they REQUIRING citizens to use the Irish language services?
I share your sincere concern that people have an expansive and inclusive view of culture, that they make informed decisions, that they understand that culture is always evolving and that many myths and misconceptions usually grow up around any culture. As a result of your own very selective or naive view of history --seizing on some facts, ignoring others, you seem to have bought the myth that the evolution of culture somehow occurs in a perfect, organic marketplace of ideas and cultural values. History and certainly the history of the Irish language demolish that myth. Either you are arguing that, or you believe that the fact that the present state of affairs results largely from past coercion is irrelevant. (A truly libertarian concept.) Unfortunately, history is messy and people are psychological beings as well as being rational ones. Present justice often demands dealing with the messy tentacles of history.
Undoubtedly, the future of the Irish language will be shaped voluntarily by the Irish people. Either they will continue to speak it or they won't (what a pity!). Either they will use the services provided through Irish or they won't (again, what a pity!). The government setting up a booth in the marketplace of culture to sell services in Irish that they have been selling all along in English is hardly coercive. It's a wonderful enterprise. It will either succeed or fail. And the really wonderful thing about democracy is that decisions can always be re-visited.
A few final thoughts: I don't mean this unkindly, but your arguments in favor of your point of view have been so poorly thought through that they are only worthy of demolition. Secondly, yes the Celts were imports to Ireland, as likely were the people who preceded them. Whoever, exactly, in the wake of the retreating ice sheet, were the original settlers of Ireland is lost in the mists of history. We OUGHT to preserve our cultural legacies, particularly the ones that still survive. And, as I have argued above, government actions that ignore minority rights are by their nature coercive, even if unitintentionally so. So government does have a role in offering minority cultures and languages an opportunity to thrive. Around the world today we witness the extinction of languages, cultures and customs that have persisted for thousands of years. We ought to encourage and preserve our human diversity. How boring the world would be if in the face of the present, awesome economic and communication ascendancy of the western English-speaking world, all of us were to end up speaking English, wearing the same clothes, shopping and dining in the same international chain stores and restaurants!

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:03 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'll take a number of the points raised so far and respond to them.

Response Part 1

[Would you also support the removal of state fuding for the furtherance of the fine arts? What about state funding of a liberal arts education?]

[What do you mean be removing ALL funding for ANY language. Obviously you would skip the Gaeltacht grants but would you also skip the funding for all-Irish schools, the Gaelscoileanna? In that case, what about the funding for schools that teach in English? If you would remove the funding for Irish-medium theatres, would you do the same thing for all theatres. What about the funding of academic institutions at universities, would they all go to? In short: what would this removing of ALL funding mean?]

[What do you mean be removing ALL funding for ANY language. Obviously you would skip the Gaeltacht grants but would you also skip the funding for all-Irish schools, the Gaelscoileanna? In that case, what about the funding for schools that teach in English? If you would remove the funding for Irish-medium theatres, would you do the same thing for all theatres. What about the funding of academic institutions at universities, would they all go to? In short: what would this removing of ALL funding mean?]

I'm a big BBC Radio 3 Fan and quite fond of Romantic music, Sibelius, R. Strauss, Mahler and, of course!, Elgar. Actually I hate TV, especially commercial TV and try to pursue cultural interests in my spare time. Only in the last few years I discovered Joseph Brodsky who, above all else, proves that English is not a language that belongs to any one nation or race my Russian colleaugue Constantin Gurdgiev swears that Brodsy is a greater writer in English than Shakespeare. I suppose when you say things like 'I wouldn't fund the arts' it conjures up an appalling vista of cultural desertification because you are saying that the existing policy of state funding for arts (in its widest sense to include the likes of the BBC) has prevented an alternative. But where is my alternative. It's like I'm asking you to jump off a cliff, right? I don't know how much if anything America's NPR gets from the government - I bet its very little. But to the main point. I believe in private funding of arts and I think that taxes should be low enough for this to happen. The US is the greatest example in the world of this. It the most active art scene in the world because....it has the most money. For example the New York Met and other US concert halls are entirely privately funded. Better the transparent ego of American Billionaires than that private politically-driven ego of state appointed arts councils. No one seriously believes anymore that the US is behind Europe in the arts. Remember the Renaissance happened because bankers and business people pushed the church aside in Florence and took over - though I suppose the Medici's were really a government in their own right...but, essentially, it was commercial power and the competitive instincts of status hungry bankers and nobles that fuelled the Renaissance.

So I'm not picking on Irish. I wouldn't have the tax-payer fund those arts that even I enjoy. I think what I would actually do if it were up to me would be to phase out one and hope that the other phased itself in. My WSJ attack, though, called into question the artistic merit of a lot of what purports to be Irish culture. The argument that is being used by a number of you (which I expected) is the 'Irish-culture-has-a-high art element-and-you're-taking-a-philistine-position' approach. Hence my initial argument that actually a lot of what purports to be great Irish culture is really schlock. Yes the state should ultimately get out of funding English speaking schools also. So I'm not targetting any 'prohibition'.

[How very libertarian of you, Mr. MacDonnell. And, if you withdraw funding from ANY language, just how do you propose the government communicate with its citizens? Through all the languages presently spoken on the globe? Hieroglyphics?...]

Well people learn their language from their families - hence the phrase 'mother tongue' - and not governments. You aren't one of these people who believe that if the government isn't funding it then it can't possibly exist, are you? I can assure you that language as a medium of information exchange did not come into existence at the behest of any government.


[It is up to the leaders of government to determine which of these cultural preservation entities best represents the culture of the state and then to support it, in deed as well as in dollars (or euros). Without this tacit support from governmental leaders and institutions, the survival of these often fragmented movements is destined to failure.]

Goodness me, just listen to yourself. 'It is up to...government...to determine.....which...entities... best represents...the culture of..the state....' Where do you live? North Korea? This is about as succinct a statement of the coercive doctrine that I've heard. My problem with state funding / regulation of education / arts, broadcasting etc...etc.. is that it takes power over who shall say what to whom, where and when, away from the participants and gives it to the state. No. the state is NOT us. The state is the state and, as the classical liberals understood, is potentially a threat to our rights, State attempts to control media has been going on since before Henry VIII. Its funding of the arts and its regulation of broadcasting is just the same thing again with all this public good stuff - sentimental nonesense about Eskimos and the Welsh sprayed on it - to fool you're inexperienced noses into thinking that censorship is now a 'public service' ideal. I accept that there are practical issues to face about removing the state from these things seeing as whole bureaucrat-eco systems have ground up around them and I accept that my suggestion about removing funding is no policy in itself but that an alternative vision and approach needs to be spelled out.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

[I think your mission is only to criticise different aspects of Irish culture as you have some kind of inferiority complex in relation to British culture!]

Why would I feel inferior to the British knowing, as I do, that without the blood, sweat, and brains of Irish men, Britain would have been nothing in history? Consider the evidence. Twice as many Victoria Crosses - as a proportion of soldiers in the military - went to Irish soldiers as to British. George Bernard Shaw who dissected and re-fracted high-society as no Englishman could. Edmund Burke who would, if Britain had ever had a constitution, have written it. He is truly one of the greatest thinkers of all time. Apart from its occasional abuses (in Ireland as well as elsewhere) the British Empire was an overwhelming force for the good. You see I would have wanted to chuck the Brits out just like the nationalists. But I would have wanted to do it because, like Jefferson, I'd have been of the opinion that we could do a better job. I wouldn't have wanted to chuck them out because I wanted us to live in thatched cotages and take up clog dancing.


[One could argue that most educational imperatives are 'coercive' in nature; it is a monumental waste of time to teach geography to our third year students, as the country names and borders that we teach will probably disappear by the time the students graduate (certainly the world no longer looks the way that it did when I was in third grade). In America, in the '60's, a course in Communism was required in high school to teach us about our 'enemies' - with the fall of the Soviet Union the impetus for that coercion disappeared. All educational systems are shaped by the government funding that support them, and most students (and the public at large) would survive wthout exposure to the more esoteric courses - but wouldn't the world be a duller place if English becomes the only language we ever hear ? And even if that is Paul's goal, what's next ? Extinguish the diferences in English between Birmingham, England and Birmingham, Alabama. After all, they're nearly mutually uninteligible]

Look. You're an American (I think) and I love Americans but I could just as easily accuse you of being unpatriotic. The Commies WERE your enemies and ours too. Don't ask Zell Miller. Ask the Czechs or the Poles - but that's beside the point. You are right about educational imperitives being coercive. For example I don't think I'd be as quick to call for Maths not to be compulsory. My objection to the Irish thing is that it's a social engineering project. You have to live here to see it working. It's insidiousness and the distorted thinking and hypocracy it generates is corrosive and wasteful.


[And, as my history professor used to say, "just who are 'the people'?" These "people" you want to decide. Does not Ireland have a representative democracy? Tyranny of the majority is a very real threat to any minority in both politics and culture....It appears that the democratically-elected representatives of the people of Ireland have decided that providing government services to Ireland's minority language community is something that they would like to do. How is this coercive? ]

Because it's not the same as electing a government. It's enacting a policy to design the culture and identity of individuals away from the language and culture they have chosen to a culture and language that, increasingly looks like Frankenstein's monster. You need the consent of the governed. You should re-read deTocqueville. Do you know that Dublin City Council has translated Fishambles Street in Dublin with Irish term for an Ambling Fish? Give me a break.

Imposing culture is thought control.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Replies part 3


[Simply because the government is spending money to fund a program that would secure the rights of a minority? ]

Minorities don't have rights. Only individuals have rights.

[Don't they already do the same for the English-only majority? How has the funding of government services that (heretofore) were overwhelmingly only provided in English not been coercive to the Irish-speaking minority?]

No one in Ireland doesn't speak English. You say 'Irish speaking minority' as if these people were being forced to learn a language they can't speak.

[Undoubtedly, the future of the Irish language will be shaped voluntarily by the Irish people.]

God willing.

[Either they will continue to speak it or they won't (what a pity!)].

I'm sorry but the jury's back. They haven't since 1921 and they won't in future.

Yes history is messy and sure there has been coercion in the past on lots of sides. But two wrongs don't make a right. The problem with reverse discrimination (affirmative action) is that it's - well discrimination - based on things other than talent and character.

[The government setting up a booth in the marketplace of culture to sell services in Irish that they have been selling all along in English is hardly coercive. It's a wonderful enterprise. It will either succeed or fail. And the really wonderful thing about democracy is that decisions can always be re-visited.]



[A few final thoughts: I don't mean this unkindly, but your arguments in favor of your point of view have been so poorly thought through that they are only worthy of demolition. Secondly, yes the Celts were imports to Ireland, as likely were the people who preceded them. Whoever, exactly, in the wake of the retreating ice sheet, were the original settlers of Ireland is lost in the mists of history. We OUGHT to preserve our cultural legacies, particularly the ones that still survive. And, as I have argued above, government actions that ignore minority rights are by their nature coercive, even if unitintentionally so. So government does have a role in offering minority cultures and languages an opportunity to thrive. Around the world today we witness the extinction of languages, cultures and customs that have persisted for thousands of years. We ought to encourage and preserve our human diversity. How boring the world would be if in the face of the present, awesome economic and communication ascendancy of the western English-speaking world, all of us were to end up speaking English, wearing the same clothes, shopping and dining in the same international chain stores and restaurants!]

Something tells me that you aren't an Irish tax-payer. You're looking at this from a distance - passing through like a tourist. Two things: 1. Saying that the refusal of governments to take my money and spend it on someone else involves coercing THAT person is absurd. If that's the logical world you are living in then anything can mean anything right. How about funding me? I'm a bit of diversity, yes?

Also you have very little faith in mankind. Cultural diversity will happen regardless. I assume your study of this goes beyond the easy bromimdes of Naoimi klein and Noam Chomsky.

Now I don't mean to be unkind either. But I can tell you that we have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on this - and have been doing so for years ....even whilst the Irish speaking areas were emptying of people desperate to get to Anglo-phone capitalistic countries....like - yours! You should take the compliment. You Americans are Athenians. Some of you like to look wistfully at Sparta thinking that it has some wisdom that you don't. Believe me. It doesn't. I'm not willing to have my country turned into a down-market cultural curiosity shop for liberal Gringos.

regards


Paul MacDonnell

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Response part 4

[...we see that the survival of Catalan is due not only to the frequent and daily usage of the language by the people, but also to the support of that regional government. The rescue of the Welsh language began as a "grass roots" movement among the people but the survival and rescue of that "other" Celtic language was almost fully a governmental venture. Did, or do, the people drive these efforts, at least in the initial stages? Certainly they did and do. But, these efforts would, and will, most assuredly die a very slow and painful death without the support and total "buy-in" of the local and state governmental bodies. To remove all similiar state funding that is currently supporting the gaeltachtai and the Irish Language efforts that extend beyond these culturally rich areas would sever a cultural and historical tie that would likely never be restored. These areas and the amazing people that inhabit and support them maintain a living link to one of the most important and perhaps most overlooked periods of European history. To relegate them to the marginal cultural preservation status of a Saturday night candle making club is absolute folly on the grandest of scales.]

Where do I begin with this? Why do you assume it's a good thing for languages to survive? History only happens because things change and die. Should the English try to restore Anglo-Saxon, the Italians Latin? The case of Welsh is a disgrace. There, in fact, it was British government pandering to a culture of endemic low self-esteem and hyper-aggressive anti-Englishness. Wales as a 'cultural' entity exists because English money flows through it. Its people believe they have a right to this. This 'cultural diversity' argument is, frankly, patronising. It's all very well for you. I'm sure you live in some commercially successful part of the world. The people in the Gaeltacht are not 'amazing'. They are, if you care to look, on welfare. They are living in a cultural zoo established for your voyeuristic entertainment. This is not culture. It's an argument for going on safari to gawp at people who wish to turn themselves into a tourist attraction - like American Indians joining the circus in the 1900s. But don't take my word for it. Nobody, apart from alternative types with spare cash, every wants to move to these places. I'm sure James P McGinnis the I, if he was Irish, wouldn't have (didn't?) spent five minutes more in the place than he had to...You've got to be kidding.

I feel like Van Helsing saying this but if a language is going to die it's going to die. The alternative is a living death or an improbable over funded scenario, like Wales. The only reason the language restoration project in Ireland has failed is because most Irish have enough self-esteem to realise that their dignity doesn't depend on the colour of their tongue but on the content of their character. American's speak English - there's no movement to establish an American tongue. American dignity rests on individual liberty. Sorry but, whatever they say, the Irish are not willing to be part of your mental scrap-book of cultural fauna.

[...It does not in any way stop me from arguing for cultural and linguistic diversity...]

Cultural diversity doesn't require government funding. Hey, Look at me.)

[No-one would argue against the principle of letting the people decide, but people mean very different things when saying it. If the people of Ireland were to decide - in a very hypothetical referendum, of course - that Irish should be the only language in Ireland, would you then be satisfied since it was the people who had decided?]

Let's nail this one. You DON'T tell people what language they must speak. They decide for themselves. If the world decided, without government assistance or funding, to learn Irish and use it as a world tongue then I'd sign up to is immediately - but that would be my decision. Your decision to speak Irish is yours. I don't want your money to speak English...or French or whatever. Don't ask me for mine to speak Irish.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Response part 5

[... though I would like to mention the German influence as well - all the things you mention came in fashion with the national romanticism. It is true that the romantic tradition was foreign, but the things it focused on were/are not. In my own country, Finland, our most famous composer (Sibelius), painter (Gallen-Kallela) and, above all, our national epic Kalevala came about due to the influence of the very same romantic tradition. I don't think it make them any less Finnish. Neither do I think that the fashion for Celtic things is less Irish.]

Yes this is true. Excellent point. The reason why I know the government policy on Irish is wrong is because it's social engineering. Think about this. Language and culture is organic. An undercurrent in much of the response to my article has been a sense of righting historic wrongs. Look guys the English won (kind of) and it's a good thing. It's why we're civillised. Now I realise this takes me deep into the dark forest of the 'you-have-an-inferiority-complex'

Truth is. I'm a an Irish patriot and a Republican (i.e. a believer in the republican ideal). When someone insults my beloved Edmund Burke I wish to defend him. When someone derides Medieval Irish music (yes I have friends like that) I defend it. I'm not the kind of person who thinks about something like racism as being 'morally' wrong. In fact I will defend you're right to be racist. However I am the kind of person who thinks that racism is simply absurd. i.e. it's Not True. But neither is its converse. Irrational belief that others must be coerced into signing up to a particular culture. I don't identify with 'gaelic' culture. It's simply not any more mine than Geoffrey Chaucer. In fact Chaucer is more mine because a. he speaks my language and b. I happen to like reading him. I recognise him as a major contributer to my own culture and the culture of Ireland - by virtue of the English influence.

[Do your desire to see English as the only official language extend beyond Ireland? Do you think there is any other country that should drop its language as well?]

Yes I do...but that's beside the point which I think you misunderstand. The truth is that virtually NO ONE speaks Irish. When, as a foreigner you see the bilingual signs from Dublin Airport in, you assume that we're a bi-lingual society, like...Belgium. We're not. It's a massive lie. Only one of our MEPs will be able to even read texts in Irish. So when you say drop 'their' or 'our' language your not getting the point. Irish is for 99% (please don't quote the fiction of the census figures..) of the population not their language. Period. It's just not true. The emperor has no clothes. This is parrot is deceased....you get my drift...?

4. Would you be in favour of a single official language in the EU. If so, would you accept that that language should be:

Forget what I think. My opinion is that it will be English. Axa, France's and Europe's largest insurer has started producing its board meeting minutes in English only. The new member states from the East and Turkey, if it gets in, will all be communicating through English. I go to EU trade association meetings every month. English will be the dominant language. I'm afraid they're all gonna go Dutch. Does that answer you're question?

[People like Paul don't give a damn about native speakers and their stories- they only care about hurting people who really care about preserving their culture in face of the media machine emanating from Hollywood/Sky TV!]

You forget to mention Fox News. I won't regret my statements. I have held these views since about 1971. I am appalled that the policy of promoting gaelic culture didn't die out when it should have. The trouble is that the Irish completely overrate their grasp of culture because too many of us think that 'being cultural' is getting drunk after a hurling match or watching people (from our car windows) who have rationalised their poverty and lack of education by rebranding themselves as being part of cultural diversity. If your child came to you and said 'I want to be a heart surgeon' you would probably be proud. What if he said 'Daddy I want to live in Connemara and work three days a week for a state-subsided factory making matches, but I believe the welfare payments are good because it's an Irish speaking area'. Wouldn't you have some detailed follow up questions, like - 'Are you out of your ****ing mind?'

May be you would wish this for your children. I heard onece that in some Asian countries people have hacked off their child's limbs so that they can beg.

[..when most people are completed assimilated to that TV/dumbdowned media culture!]

It'll never happen. When people bemoan the loss of 'cultural diversity' they really bemoaning the reduction of poverty that countries like India and China are seeing. This is, frankly, middle-class Euro belly-aching.


[I would like to hear Mr McDonnell's critique of faux British cultural symbols since he seems to dislike anything that is faux Irish-possibly some classical British cultural symbols are of French origin (Shock horror!!)]

Yes that's it you've seen through me. The fact that France is a key influence on British cultural history blows my argument away doesn't it? Well, er, no it doesn't. As I said above, I love Geoffrey Chaucer. A number of his poems are translations of French originals. But, of course, Chaucer wasn't looking over his shoulder at a14Century self-(or state)appointed culture police. But that' my point. Chaucer has the self confidence to take what is excellent in European culture and make it English and make English culture also European. Now Irish culture no longer has the critical mass to do this - not, I suspect, since several centuries ago - Carolan comes to mind again.

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Jonas
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Username: Jonas

Post Number: 448
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 03:39 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It's been more than enlightning to read your responses. In your main arguments I disagree with you. Still, it's interesting to see how similar our views are on some topics. I like the cultural characters you mention - though I figure you don't like some of the additional ones I like. We have the same views about the need for individual freedom rather than state policies. I guess our economic views (my profession) are reasonably similar.

On other topics I disagree strongly. I do see a value in language diversity. Just as I think that a monopoly market is disastrous, I think the same about a monopoly langage. I certainly don't see the revival of languages like Welsh or Catalan as a disgrace, quite the opposite. I do understand your view that languages should not be enforced from above, but most language revivals have included a genuine will amonst the people to see the languages revived.

[Yes I do...but that's beside the point which I think you misunderstand. The truth is that virtually NO ONE speaks Irish. When, as a foreigner you see the bilingual signs from Dublin Airport in, you assume that we're a bi-lingual society, like...Belgium. We're not. ]

I am indeed a foreigner. A foreigner who has lived in Ireland - including the Gaeltacht - and speak fluent Irish. I would never even dream of trusting the number of Irish speakers reported in the census, no matter how much I'd wish it to be true.

[When people bemoan the loss of 'cultural diversity' they really bemoaning the reduction of poverty that countries like India and China are seeing.]

This is an absurd claim. I assume you would be much more likely to find that some people who bemoan the reduction of poverty in the India and China would want to see these countries turn English speaking. The overwhelming majority of both groups - I dare to hope - welcome the reduction of poverty.

[My opinion is that it will be English. Axa, France's and Europe's largest insurer has started producing its board meeting minutes in English only. The new member states from the East and Turkey, if it gets in, will all be communicating through English. I go to EU trade association meetings every month. English will be the dominant language. I'm afraid they're all gonna go Dutch. Does that answer you're question?]

Yes it does, it's the answer I expected. Of course, English would be the most likely official language of the EU but in many cases of Europe you're far more likely to be able to communicate in German. (I'm speaking from my own experience, I've travelled in most EU countries and speak both English and German). A more serious problem for English is that most EU countries would accept almost any language except English precisely because of the strong position the language occupies. As you know, the main reason Bruxelles was made 'capital' of the EU is because of what it is not - not London, not Paris and not Berlin. However, this discussion is of course beside the point although I find it quite interesting.

To conclude, languages die over time. So will Irish and so will English. I rather like both languages and would deplore seeing them go. If Irish dies out we know why.
English might be replaced by another language (Chinese, Hindi or Cornish - predicting the future is hard) and die out. If it isn't replaced, it will evolve into something else, just as Latin did. Portuguese, French and Romanian are all unintelligible to each others' speakers while Latin is dead. The same faith awaits any language.

If you're argument is against having to pay taxes funding Irish I can easily understand your point although I don't agree with it. Anyone trying to secure the dominance of English (or any other language, for that matter) is fighting wind-mills.

I wish you all a pleasant weekend.

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 29
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Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 04:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I am at work right now and cannot devote the time nor the energy necessary to address each point.

I will say, however, that I believe Paul and I are approaching the state funding from fundamentally different viewpoints. I do not, in any instance, support the government mandating a language other than its own. Mar sampla, if you live in America, you better learn to speak english. If you speak Spanish, so much the better but you better speak english. I would suspect that Irish would benefit from a similar approach. By all practical standpoints, you better know how to speak english. From a cultural perspective, it would be great if you spoke Irish and the government will support the furtherance of that endeavor.

I do not agree with all Paul has to say but I do see and respect his points. Especially those regarding we as Americans seeing this issue through somewhat jaded eyes. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions, but I at least can follow his logic.

I will respond on a better point-by-point basis when time affords me the opportunity.

This is a lively and well thought out discussion. A true representation of differing views approached in a "relatively" mature venue.

Le meas,

James

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Richard White (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 12.215.220.251
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 05:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

In America you should indeed speak English, but it is not mandatory. I live in NW Florida and hear Spanish frequently - as a matter of fact my next door neighbors speak no English, only Spanish, mixed with what seems to my unreliable ear to be an Indian dialect from southern Mexico, yet they work and live here without insurmountable problems. The governor frequently gives speeches in Spanish, as does his brother the President while campaigning for re-election. Florida's Hispanic poulation has surpassed 15% of the total. The most telling sign of this diversity is perhaps the bilingual sale signs in Wal-Mart in towns like Quincy, Florida, a NW Florida rural outpost far removed from Miami or Tampa.

I also have enjoyed the exchanges - intellectual diversity is the greatest diversity of all.

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S. Kunsler (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 68.232.94.214
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 06:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I have three questions to which I would appreciate a response, please.
1)Some weeks back, someone posted about hearing Mass in Irish and specifically mentioned hearing "Síochán leat" (which I believe is "peace with you"). But the online site for the Irish Mass says "Síocháin". Is "síochán" a declined form of "síocháin"? Or can either be used as the nominative? Also, are there fadas on both the "i" and the "a" (I have seen it different ways)?
2) Is there a construction in Irish of "be" as an imperative, e.g., "be happy"? If so, can it be used alone with any Irish adjective?
3) I have found both "saoirse" and "saoráid" given as translations of "freedom"; does each mean exactly the same or do they have different connotations?
Thank you very much.

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 30
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 06:59 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Mr. Kulsler, A Chara:

T'was I who posted that piece about Mass in Irish. The spelling that I rendered is most likely incorrect. I don't think the pronunciation varies to the degree that the average listener would recognize the difference, however.

I would suggest, as a matter of clarity, that you post it as a "new discussion" under its own heading. By posting under this heading in the middle of a discussion of this intensity, you run the risk of getting lost in the scuffle!

Aonghus and Jonas would be two of the more reliable to respond.

I look forward to seeing that post AND finding the answer!!

Le meas,

James

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 31
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 11:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

The patients have stopped coming for the moment, so I'd like to take just a bit to respond to some of Mr. MacDonnell's comments.

[I don't know how much if anything America's NPR gets from the government - I bet its very little. But to the main point.]

Actually, NPR receives a significant amount of funding through the federal government. But, in all fairness they are still heavily dependent upon the ever present and every annoying fund-raising telethons to make ends meet.

[Goodness me, just listen to yourself. 'It is up to...government...to determine.....which...entities... best represents...the culture of..the state....' Where do you live? North Korea? This is about as succinct a statement of the coercive doctrine that I've heard. My problem with state funding / regulation of education / arts, broadcasting etc...etc.. is that it takes power over who shall say what to whom, where and when, away from the participants and gives it to the state. No. the state is NOT us.]

Simply because a government and the leaders within that government demonstrate a sense of leadership and attempt to provide a direction for the respective nation does not imply a de facto dictatorial relationship. In a Republican form of government the state is most certainly "us." We elect our governmental representative because we feel they best reflect OUR interests and OUR values. We then count on these representative to promote, support and further these ideals as our elected leaders within that government. (For all my American compatriots forget the U.S. Republican/Democrat debate I'm talking about the governmental model known as a Republic). Stating that it is up to the leaders to decide does not mean that the decision is wholly theirs. They represent the constituency or they don't get re-elected. If you stop and think about it, this is not too far from what you have proposed. If it is important to the people then the politicians, in the interest of career preservation, will find the time to make it important to the governmental body. We probably aren't as far apart on this as it might seem at first glance.

[I'm sure you live in some commercially successful part of the world. The people in the Gaeltacht are not 'amazing'. They are, if you care to look, on welfare. They are living in a cultural zoo established for your voyeuristic entertainment. This is not culture. It's an argument for going on safari to gawp at people who wish to turn themselves into a tourist attraction - like American Indians joining the circus in the 1900s. But don't take my word for it. Nobody, apart from alternative types with spare cash, every wants to move to these places. I'm sure James P McGinnis the I, if he was Irish, wouldn't have (didn't?) spent five minutes more in the place than he had to...You've got to be kidding.]

OK, now where do I start on this one. First, "I live in some commercially successful part of the world?" Well, in as much as I am an American who lives in America...well, you got me. But, I happen to work in a county in the rural southeastern portion of my country. In this county we have a 33% illiteracy rate, a 25% (approx) unemployment rate and an alcohol and narcotic addiction problem that would rival any inner city. Economically successful this place is NOT. I take great issue with your characterization of the gaeltacht as a "cultural zoo." I have visited the gaeltacht and actually made it the objective of my one and only trip to Ireland. Did I see poverty? Sure I did. Did I see it on any scale greater than what I see in my own community? Not even close. The area west of Galway and the Dingle area is very similar, economically to the coastal areas of North Carolina. Beautiful cities that are very attractive to the tourists (and the tourist dollar) but they are surrounded by substandard housing, agrarian meagerness and abject poverty induced by self driven habits. As for the comment that " Nobody, apart from alternative types with spare cash, every wants to move to these places"...that, my friend is a bit of a predjudicial statement. There are many of us who have worked very hard to rise above the economic standard of our rural upbringing and are dedicated to returning to those areas in an effort to raise the standard and provide what little we can to serve the people of these areas. Simply because a person is on welfare does not make them a "tourist attraction to be gawped at." A revival and attention to Irish culture and the Irish language represents but one potential component of an economic infusion for these areas. I can tell you that I would rather shop where Irish is spoken, eat where Irish is spoken and stay in a hotel or B&B where Irish is spoken. If I wanted bad food, boring music and english with a funny accent I'd go to England! There is nothing voyeuristic about this. It is a desire and a willingness to experience the culture of the gaeltacht.

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 32
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 11:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

[What if he said 'Daddy I want to live in Connemara and work three days a week for a state-subsided factory making matches, but I believe the welfare payments are good because it's an Irish speaking area'. Wouldn't you have some detailed follow up questions, like - 'Are you out of your ****ing mind?']

Well, working in the factory...yes, are you out of your ****ing mind!!! But, Daddy I want to live in the gaeltacht and teach Irish...or Daddy I want to go to medical school and work in the gaeltacht where I can speak Irish and reach those underserved and neglected communities....well, now we've got another story. Remember, these are comments coming from a decidedly conservative, Republican (OK guys, now we're back to Bush vs Kerry) member of the American system. These are not the comments of some tree hugging, hemp wearing, world-peace achieving idealist. My income level exceeds what the liberals in my government and the IRS consider a "wealthy American", I own several guns and shoot them regularly and I drive a truck that would make the largest SUV look like a Yugo....but, I still believe that these areas, in the U.S. or any other country, deserve more than a glance, a wink and a nod and idle chit chat. We MUST encourage and develop a system that recognizes these areas for what they are, values what they have to offer and finds a way to nurture and sustain these areas and peoples in such a way that they eventually begin to nurture and sustain themselves. I don't mean this to sound patronizing but I've lived and worked in some of the most underserved areas of the world and the most common thread that ties these areas together is one of abject disenfranchisement and a sense of perpetual inopportunity. Value these people for who they are and what they offer culturally and use that as a springboard for educational and economic development.

One final comment...don't fool yourself into thinking there is no movement in America to develop a "language of America." There is a fairly vocal segment of society that wants to do just that. Currently, the front runners are english and spanish. While the comment was made earlier that one can live in areas of Florida without having to speak english (and this it 100% accurate) that does not equate to living in America...it equates to living in Florida (or California, Texas or parts of New York). To live work and succeed in America one MUST speak english.

Now, the other side of that coin is that we have significant governmental pressures that are directly counter to that requirement and the argument is that these efforts are eroding our national identity. There are federal laws that require certain documents and services to be made available in both spanish and english. If a child in public school does not speak english, the school is required to find course materials and tutors that speak that child's native language. If you are taken into the court system and you do not speak english, you the court is required to provide services and representation in your native language....does any of this sound familiar? Isn't this oddly similar to the Irish Language law???

I realize I've rambled a bit...it's late, I'm tired and this is a handful (and mindful) of a subject.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 195.218.109.23
Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 06:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

This is a reply to all of the above.

Hi

I think the key issue is to distinguish those elements of a Western liberal (in the arts sense) education system that are seen as essential - like maths and literacy and I know we could debate these but being fluent in a language is not the same as being able to count. Given a choice between being fluent in Irish and being able to count I'm sure every one of you would choose basic math.

The state implements and expects conformity with basic rules like the rules of the road and not driving on the wrong side - or obeying the basic common laws of the country - don't steal etc..

Then there are those public good elements that aren't easily amenable to market forces - such as provision of road and sewage systems.

The argument that 'groups' are somehow coerced into speaking English is to mis-describe what's taking place in Ireland or the US - with respect to Hispanic immigrants.

English is the primary language of the US. If you don't speak it it's hard to get on. I'm sure that you aren't going to get job as police commissioner in Beverley Hills if you don't speak it. So in that sense it's correct to say that people 'have no choice' but to learn and speak English. But to, therefore, characterise such people as 'being coerced' and to compare this with the Irish situation where the law of the land - in defiance of what reality - asks you to have knowledge of a language - a language which may be no part of your own tradition if you are a protestant - a language which few speak and virtually no one uses (except when a few enthusiasts and employees of state bodies that exist to promote it talk to each other!) - to make this argument is to glide easily from the driver seat of the argument over to the passenger seat where, grabbing your child's plastic steering wheel stuck to the glove compartment, you jabber on about people 'being forced' to live in poverty.

We can all bemoan the loss of a culture. Some of you love the Gaeltacht because, I suspect, you see it as an outpost of difference in an Anglo-phone world. But the truth is that you are regarding the group (Irish speakers, cultural mintorities and whatnot) through an anthropomorphic lens. I live here. My taxes pay for it. A growing and, as yet, silent minority, do not wish to fund it any more.

We are all sorry to see a culture fade away but the truth is that Irish speakers over the last century and a half have voluntarily jettisoned their language because, as F A Hayek pointed out, sometimes cultures fail. Celtic culture failed. It was chased to the fringes of Europe by the Romans and finally finished off by market economics. I think we should hava a healthy interest in it. But identifying 'communities' that use it and lavishing government on them to the point where the only real culture they have is a dependency culture is corrupting and damaging both of them and of us. Think about the world's finest artistic and cultural achievements - Shakespeare, Milton, the Sistine Chapel, the city of Florence, New York's museums, American academic success (the US has the lion's share of nobel prizes in everything...)..think about these things and then think about how these great things were achieved. Then think about state bodies in Ireland that fund the arts. And then ask yourself how could the latter ever be a a progenitor much less an encourager, by-stander or even witness to the former.

Most people who are professionally engaged in promoting the Irish language and most people who receive state bribes for speaking it wouldn't know culture from a hole in the ground.

And NO. Even a demmocratic state is not us. Ask any liberal who opposes George Bush's foreign policy. You need to read your Montesquieu. and consider the separation of powers that your and my countries are based on. The basic principle of liberty - as understood by those who drafted the Magna Carta (an achievement that no Irish Child has ever had explained in school to them - in either Gaelic or English) is that the state is different from the individual and must respect the individual - hence your right to a fair trial.

For example if the state expresses the 'will of the people' - well Hitler was elected. See the problem? You must distinguish between democracy and liberty. There are some liberties and freedoms - including the freedom of conscience and expression - that NOTHING - not eveen the will of the majority has any claim on.

Positing the 'Will of the people' as somehow sacred - especially with respect to a project to engineer a CHANGE in the everyday spoken language of a Western European democracy (for that is the policy we're talking about) is a breath-taking utterance of illiterate, half-digested nonsense. You may have a PhD in languages but I'm not seeing any ways past 1st grade in political rights.

I wouldn't mind but - what are we talking about here. We're talking about paying people simply to speak a language so that we can all feel better. Is this really the star-forming material that will give rise to a renaissance galaxy? Stand in Florence Cathedral, listen to Beethoven and Mahler or even the great romantics - Ireland has a stake in these traditions but the Indian reservation approach of the gaeltacht has nothing to do with it.

Look at Karl Popper on the question of trying to right wrongs. There's no point. You just commit another wrong.

I was in Irish college in the early 1970s and people who they caught speaking English - even once - they put on trains (12 year old children travelling on their own) home to Dublin. I find most of the oficial authorities employed to promote and 'protect' the language as being smug, self-serving, parasitic, malign and about as far from real culture as it's possible to be. The recipients of their aid are, merely hapless, useless, semi-employable or, in a few cases, upper-middle class enthusiasts like some of you guys.

Ireland has a sky-high expensive government - Our sales taxes are 21 per cent, govenment monopolies in education, telecommunications and just about everything else have done untold damage to our well-being, wealth and our culture. The fact is that your average Irish graduate has never read ANY of most of Europe's, Britain's or America's major thinkers and philosophers. When the Irish leave university they simply stop educating themselves. Those Americans amongst you are the best kind of people (i.e. normal Americans). You are volunteers and Irish is your hobby. I think it's a great hobby.

Let me leave you with one thought. There's more Chinese being spoken right now - i.e. this minute - in Ireland than Irish. Do they need government help. No. Because it's able to stand on it's own. It's a real culture. They've got to learn English but then they want to do that. They want their children to have a future.

regards

Paul MacDonnell

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James
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Username: James

Post Number: 33
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 12:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul,

It seems your position is one of "We've got better things to spend our money on...screw the Irish language...nobody wants it and it serves no value added purpose....therefore, scrap it and use the money more wisely."

OK. Fair position. I disagree but, as you point out...I don't live there, I don't see it from the viewpoint of an Irishman. That's a fair and unchallengeable point.

I am fully empathetic with your position vis a vis the taxation issue. Again, fair points.

But, I cannot agree that the Irish Language be abandoned by the government. I find it somehow concilliatory and upatriotic. Sorry, I just see it as an integral part of Irish culture that should be maintained and supported by the leaders of Ireland. Romantic view? Maybe.

I also think that one of the greatest blows to the Irish language (apart from the english occupation) was and probably still is, the way in which Irish is taught. It is my experience that outside of the gaeltacht most Irishmen and Irishwomen hate the language. I don't mean they don't like it....I mean they hate it! And, it seems it all boils down to the fact that it was, quite literally, beaten into them at some point in their education. I even hear it in the tone that you have taken. My guess is that your experience in Irish Language education was less than a pleasant one.

If anything is going to happen in Ireland to save/preserve Gaeilge the first step is going to have to be a fundamental change in the way the educational system goes about instructing it.

You make sound points, Paul. I appreciate your ability to clearly and concisely articulate your position with minimal emotional rhetoric. I simply disagree with your assessment on the level of importance the Irish Language holds for Ireland. But, you know what, I'm not an Irishman and it's not up to me to decide what's right for Ireland. I just love the language and can't believe a country, ANY country, should roll over and let a fundamental element of its national identity die a natural death. I'd say the same about Afar, Latvian, Catalan, or Navaho. To do so makes a sad and pathetic statement about the will and spirit of a people. It carries with it the putrid stench of cutural defeatism. It's a tone of a quitter and I abhor quitters.

Le meas,

James

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Diarmo
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Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 34
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 12:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi James
I shall reply more in detail on Monday when I get a chance to read all Mr Mac Donnell's and your messages! Suffice as to say that Mr Mac Donnell doesn't convince me by his arguments! He is just part of a school called revionisism which seeks to denigrate parts of Irish culture!He has a big chip on his shoulder against Gaeilge which a maturer person would have got rid off! I would hate to have the same ideas that I had in '71!

Slan
Diarmuid

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Fear_na_mbróg
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Username: Fear_na_mbróg

Post Number: 158
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 01:34 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well...

hmm...

Speaking as an Irish person (I was born to two Irish parents and still live in Dublin, Ireland):

People here in Ireland don't think of the Irish language as Irish. As you're growing up as a child you hear that they speak Spanish in Spain, that they speak Chinese in China, that they speak German in Germany. And then when we get to school at the age of 4 they spring it on us, "Oh yeah, by the way, we're going to teach yous Irish". I mean really how is a child to react to that?! I myself didn't associate the "Irish language" with Ireland at all, or with anything Irish. The "Irish language" seemed like nothing more than a title, like the way nobody associates "Virgin Records" with some-one who's never had sex. From the start we're thinking of Irish as a dead language, like Latin I suppose. They tell us that Irish still is spoken in parts of Ireland and that it's very much alive... but out of sight out of mind. I live in Ireland and I don't hear the language, that's my perspective. I can definitely understand why people are so ambivalent towards the language. The Americans of you that post here, imagine this: you go to school at the age of 4. The teacher says to you, "Okay, take out your American book". They go on to tell you how this is your language and that it's still spoken, along the West Coast and parts in the South. Meanwhile you're sitting there yapping away to your friends in English, having never heard of this language so strangely entitled "American". It's very apparent and clear to me that Irish people just don't see their association with the language, it's like some-one's just said to them "Here's a language, take ownership of it, learn it."

So how do I feel about it? I like Irish. And there's only one reason why... I know it! Back when I was 7 I had a book in school called "Bun go Barr". I'd read a page of this strange language and just think, "What the hell is this?". Then you'd ask the teacher what a certain word meant and they'd grab a dictionary. But then there came a turning point, when I went to Secondary School. I was put into the Honours Irish Class in 1st year. Finally for once I had an organised, professional, knowledgable, great, fluent teacher. He taught us the language as a language should be taught: he started at the very bottom, teaching us the past tense. "How do you put a verb in the past tense?" he'd say, to which he'd select a student to reply, "Put a H on it". It was only when I started getting good at Irish and was able to write good stuff and read stuff well that I began to take a shine to it. Then I just kept getting better and better. There was still a while to go before I'd even fathom associating the "Irish language" with anything Ireland or Irish. When I got to a stage where I could engage proficiently in general conversation, I just realized to myself... "I could go down to Connemara right now and speak Irish to the Irish people down there".

The Irish people have long since lost any notion of any relationship or association with the Irish language. The only way I myself can see of reviving the language is not by aiming to inspire the people's patriotic association with the language, but by encouraging a plain old love of the language for simply what it is, a great language. Once you've got them thinking like that, they'll soon start thinking to themselves "Hmm... we can go to the Gaeltacht and speak the Irish language to people there, that's what they speak there!".

The term "Gaeltacht" appears very artifical to the Irish people. The first time we hear this term is probably when we're around 7 or 8, when a teacher or adult maybe suggests that we "go to the Gaeltacht". Note the definite article there. There's many Gaeltachtaí around the country but somehow this phrase has arisen, "go to the Gaeltacht". We then learn that the Gaeltacht is a place where a group of kids go, have some Irish classes in the morning and speak Irish all day to each other, go to Céilís and the like. We don't think of it as a genuine community at all!

So what do I think would be the best thing to do... ? Well, maybe take the kids on school tours "to the Gaeltacht" so they can see for themselves people speaking Irish in the pub, at the checkout, at the laundrette, in housing estates, everywhere. Then get some competent teachers to teach it properly to them, and then just let the rest flow naturally - Gaeilge is a great language, they'll realize that and want to speak it and associate it with being Irish.

Then once the people are proficient in the language the Goverment can start to assimilate it. For instance at the moment if the Government sent a document as Gaeilge to your residence, they may aswell write it in French, because only a small proportion of the population will understand it.

But if it does get to a stage where maybe 40% of the population can understand a letter written in Irish, then the government can start to assimilate it fully. From there that 40% will steadily rise, maybe to 95%. Then we can turn around the whole idea of "Gaelscoileanna". Instead of going to a school where we can speak Irish, we have a school where we can speak English. That way we can keep both languages, sort of like the Dutch, but even better because we're all already fluent in English.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.85.47
Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 02:39 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

James

My position is exactly NOT one of 'saying stop spending money on it, spend it on something else'. My position is that for a modern Western European democracy to seek to change its every day spoken language from English to Irish - when only a very tiny number of people speak Irish and an even smaller number of people are prepared to go along with the policy in any practical way - is simply untenable. And being untenable it gives rise to the opposite of what it intends.

The state promotion of 'culture' has come, largely to mean the state promomtion of Irish culture. Those of you who are Americans live in a society that values voluntarism. The Irish, like most Europeans, don't. Therefore the Irish have delegated virtually ALL culture to the level of government activity. That's possibly tolerable if you live in Vienna - where there is a serious culture with a serious history.


The starting point of your argument as with the guy above - I don't know your name but your account resonates with my eperience - is that it's A Good Thing if Ireland starts using Irish the way France uses French. Apropos the comments above I think what's going on is that people are making a Rylean category mistake. Let me explain.

This is to believe that certain things are equialent to others because our use of language seems to suggest that this is the case. For example If I say to you 'Hope is rising that hostages will be released in Iraq' and you say to me 'Yes, the tide is also rising in San Francisco bay - I think that this is a world wide trend' then you have made a category mistake. You have mistaken one category of meaning - a tide rising - with another category - hope rising.

This mistake is also made - though it's less obvious - in the case of the Irish language. This is implied in the comments above. Many people in Ireland have heard the fatuous and smug argument. 'When I go abroad I feel ashamed because the French man speaks French and when he says 'You are Irish why don't you speak Irish' I'm so ashamed...etc...' Now this is a cateogry mistake. The language pre-dates the existene of the Irish state. It's Gaelic and, presumably, was once an international language amongst Celts all over Europe.

It's become tied into the project for an Irish Nation State - 32 counties and all that. It's become the software of the Revival Of The Nation.

This is now a mill-stone around our necks. Patriotism is now defined as supporting the language.

YOu talk about the 'English Occupation'. This is nonesense. There were more Irish fighting on the side of the English at the Battle of Kinsale than on the 'Irish' side. I think the latter were mostly Italian or Spanish.

I'm not sure what's meant by the comment that I am revisionist. I am quite proud of my country. My Great Great grandfather was a leading organiser of the Land League in Co. Mayo and my ancestors were prominent Parnellites in that county.

To take you analogy with American schooling further. It's not just a question of 'Imagine you are given this language American and told to learn it at 4' It' a question of being given this language and you are told that you will get nowhere in Public life / admimistration / broadcasting / anywere in terms of your career unless you toe the line. Because that's what it is gentlemen. It's a form of silent bullying, quiet snobbery and noisy hypocracy.

I don't hate the language. That would be absurd. How can you hate a language? Language is organic. If my government were doing the same with any other language I'd have the same problem.

I suppose I must confess that I don't see that much in Gaelic culture that I rate. There's some music. There may be some writing but even Irish scholars have advised me that not much of any serious interest has been produced for at least 200 years. I mean I can see why I'd want to learn Medieval Italian to read Petrarch or Latin to read Cicero. But....like...sell it to me. What is there that's really worth reading?

But I suppose that's beside the point. Gaelic is NOT my language. It's NOT my culture. Imagine if you passed a law in the US requiring all Native Americans to be able to pass an exam in their own tribal language otherrise they could never get a job with the state. Now my American friends. Run that through your mental processes and please tell me how it would play politically? Give me the nuances of the issue. Justify it to your fellow countrymen and only when you have done so will I take your argument seriously.

regards


Paul MacDonnell

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.86.231
Posted on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi

Rereading my comments above has clarified things. I'd like an answer please.

My latter point is not a footnote or an aside. It's central.

If the US Federal Government passed a law that no Native American could work for the government (at Federal or State level) until he / she had passed an exam in the native tongue of their ancestors what would be your reaction? And why wouldn't any one of your arguments - comfortably projected with the power of self-satisfaction to a distance beyond sight of the impact in Ireland - apply here too? Do you have the guts to argue for this policy in the US? Tell me why I shouldn't argue for the 'restoration' of native American languages via a policy of compulsion and employment law.

If not then your whole case for coercion is dead in the water and you should have the decency to accept that. Don't take it as an insult to the language. The language is fine. In fact its your arguments that are killing it. The edifice that supports it is not a platform for its life. It's a mausoleum for its death.

Let me put it to you like this. There are Irish people who can be employed by any EU government - under freedom of movement of labour EU rules- but cannot be legally employed by the Irish government for ANY purpose because they did not pass the Irish exam in their final secondary school examination. Now if they were black and my government were white racists who wouldn't hire niggers - well what would be the difference? I mean to them? Their families?

My objection to the policy is not even SLIGHTLY about money. My objection is entirely moral.

regards


Paul MacDonnell

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April (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 152.163.100.195
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 02:20 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I think it would be quite fair to require that people, Indian or not, be proficcient in the native language being spoken/revived if their position was one where a service may be requested by people desiring to use their mothertongue in their own country,particularly in their own local area. Minority or not.
The US government is already beginning to support the revival/continuation of these languages and with citizens tax money.
Its fine with me. And I'm a Libertarian. If we spend citizens tax money to keep Chaucer in print, why not support Native American cultures & languages?
Throughout your posts , I have seen a definite bitterness towards the language & culture. Thank you for so eloquently making it clear why thats so. Your posts have been so much more enlightening than your original article alone. I assure you, if anyone is slaughtering their own argument, its you. {Gruesomely at that}

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.85.14
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 04:54 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi

[I think it would be quite fair to require that people, Indian or not, be proficcient in the native language being spoken/revived if their position was one where a service may be requested by people desiring to use their mothertongue in their own country,particularly in their own local area. Minority or not.]

Look - Irish is not a 'mother tongue' OK? I mean how many times must it be repeated. 1. 100% of the population speak Engish. Fewer than 1% actually use Irish (I reckon even 1 in a hundred is probably overstating it).

Now there have to be limits. If 10,000 Italians decided they wanted to deal with their government through Latin would that be OK? I mean simply becaue you use the phrase 'mother tongue' it seems you think you are invoking some kind of magic formula. A mother tongue is a tongue that is spoken by people naturally. Chinese is a bigger mother tongue than Irish IN IRELAND.

Therefore subtracting one from the other all you left with is atavistic nonesense.

You're a libertarian????? Goodness me. It would be 'fair'...In Ireland the situation is simply this - and pay attention - You are required to pass exams in Irish regardless of whether you, or anyone you ever deal with professionally, is ever going to use it. Is that clear? The question I want answered is what if the equivalent was done in the USA. THAT IS - a native American wants a job as a policeman in New York City and has to learn his / her native language incase some ellow tribes person demands to be arrested in Navaho or whatever. THAT'S the comparison. So answer it.


[The US government is already beginning to support the revival/continuation of these languages and with citizens tax money.
Its fine with me. And I'm a Libertarian. If we spend citizens tax money to keep Chaucer in print, why not support Native American cultures & languages?]

We don't have to spend citizens tax money to keep Chaucer in print and if it's fine with you that we should then you're no libertarian.

[Throughout your posts , I have seen a definite bitterness towards the language & culture. Thank you for so eloquently making it clear why thats so. Your posts have been so much more enlightening than your original article alone. I assure you, if anyone is slaughtering their own argument, its you. {Gruesomely at that}]

No. I've no problem with the language and culture. It's just that large parts of the country's budget and administration has been colonised by a misguided attempt to promote it and I have a problem with that.


regards

Paul

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Alevans
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Username: Alevans

Post Number: 130
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 08:05 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul,

I don't have a horse in this race. I live in Texas. I don't even understand *Texas* politics very well, let alone Irish politics:-) Your argument, which is very interesting and obviously well thought out, brings up a couple of questions.

I am wondering -- an bhfuil Gaeilge liofa agat fein? If so, then we can be reasonably sure the issues aren't personal.

Just for clarification, are you saying that *nobody* can get a job of *any* kind with the Irish government unless he's passed a secondary-level test in Gaeilge? If so, that is self-evidently absurd.

Here in Texas, there are many jobs, both in government and in private industry, where Spanish is required. Nobody seems to consider this inappropriate -- we have many Spanish-speakers.

Similarly, I think it would be appropriate to require a Native American to know his "mother tongue" (even if it *wasn't* his mother tongue) if he were applying for a job working on a reservation where the mother tongue was normally spoken (even if at the behest of the government:-)

And I'm not sure that I would object to the government requiring fluency in *some* second language for employment. Lord knows we need more people here who have knowledge of something besides Amurkin.

I find the assertion that nothing worthwhile has come of the Irish-Gaelic culture in the past 200 years to be a strong one. I'm certainly no expert, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two books I've read in Gaeilge -- Rotha Mór an tSaoil le Micí Mac Gabhann and A Thig Ná Tit Orm le Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé. I don't think either would have been as good in English.

Then there are the obvious results of the tension between the English and Irish cultures, for example as shown in the works of Joyce. I hope you'll agree that his works are worthwhile, and that they were hugely influenced by this tension.

Finally, since the Gaeltachtaí are largely tourist areas anyway, why not allow the "natives" to open casinos, as the US has done on Indian reservations? That would transfer some of the economic burden from the government to the tourists, anyway.... :-)

--Al Evans

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Canuck
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Username: Canuck

Post Number: 1
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 11:15 am:   Edit Post Print Post

For reference sake, here is a link to the original Daltai discussion on Paul's article:
http://www.daltai.com/discus/messages/20/12900.html?1094182395

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.85.235
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 01:01 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Al,

[I don't have a horse in this race. I live in Texas. I don't even understand *Texas* politics very well, let alone Irish politics:-) Your argument, which is very interesting and obviously well thought out, brings up a couple of questions.

I am wondering -- an bhfuil Gaeilge liofa agat fein? If so, then we can be reasonably sure the issues aren't personal.]

No I dont' and No they aren't and if you're gonna suggest that the only thing that qualifies you to discuss this is having Irish then, hey, you aren't a member of Al Queda, are you?...so that makes them right, yes??? I've noticed a tendency to these circular arguments in the response to my postings.

[Just for clarification, are you saying that *nobody* can get a job of *any* kind with the Irish government unless he's passed a secondary-level test in Gaeilge? If so, that is self-evidently absurd.]

That's what I'm saying my man. Arguing about this with a Texan makes me weep. I mean you KNOW BETTER.

[Here in Texas, there are many jobs, both in government and in private industry, where Spanish is required. Nobody seems to consider this inappropriate -- we have many Spanish-speakers.]

Yes but see my comments ad nauseum (that's Latin by the way) above. There are NO people who DON'T speak English here. The whole Spanish thing in the US is for the large number of Spanish-speaking-only immigrants you've been generous and intelligent enough to alow in to your country.

[Similarly, I think it would be appropriate to require a Native American to know his "mother tongue" (even if it *wasn't* his mother tongue) if he were applying for a job working on a reservation where the mother tongue was normally spoken (even if at the behest of the government:-)] yes.....but see my question. The question is about someone who has to deal with non-spanish-navahoe....whatever speaking people. see the New York cop example above....please I'm getting RSI repeating this question.

[And I'm not sure that I would object to the government requiring fluency in *some* second language for employment. Lord knows we need more people here who have knowledge of something besides Amurkin.]

OK...but let it be a language that's actually used in the real world like Spanish or Chinese...

[I find the assertion that nothing worthwhile has come of the Irish-Gaelic culture in the past 200 years to be a strong one. I'm certainly no expert, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two books I've read in Gaeilge -- Rotha Mór an tSaoil le Micí Mac Gabhann and A Thig Ná Tit Orm le Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé. I don't think either would have been as good in English.]

Well I'll take you're word for it. I was only asking.

[Then there are the obvious results of the tension between the English and Irish cultures, for example as shown in the works of Joyce. I hope you'll agree that his works are worthwhile, and that they were hugely influenced by this tension.]

He lived two doors down from where I'm typing this (on SHelbourne Road, Dublin 4) when he wrote Ulysses. A good guy. All this 'tension between the English and Irish cultures' is nonesense. Really. Believe me.

Think of it like this. We escaped British rule. We had a choice to do it like George Washington. But we chose to do it like Slobodan Milosovic. Which do you prefer?

[Finally, since the Gaeltachtaí are largely tourist areas anyway, why not allow the "natives" to open casinos, as the US has done on Indian reservations? That would transfer some of the economic burden from the government to the tourists, anyway.... :-)]

Yes. This is a good and creative suggestion. Mind you. I'd allow anyone to do this, subject to reasonable planning laws. But you are clearly my kind of American.

regards


Paul MacDonnell

--Al Evans

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Alevans
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Username: Alevans

Post Number: 131
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 02:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul,

Thanks for your response. Apparently, I didn't make myself clear on a couple of points.

I asked if you spoke Irish simply because, if you did, we could be reasonably certain you had no personal animosity toward the language. People often dislike languages they don't understand. This is true even for Spanish in Texas. I believe it's true in Northern Ireland, and I've sensed animosity toward the language from English, and even Irish, friends who don't know it. As far as I know, this has nothing to do with Al Qaeda.

[[Just for clarification, are you saying that *nobody* can get a job of *any* kind with the Irish government unless he's passed a secondary-level test in Gaeilge? If so, that is self-evidently absurd.]

That's what I'm saying my man. Arguing about this with a Texan makes me weep. I mean you KNOW BETTER.]

Uh, I'm not arguing with you. I'm agreeing with you.

And I am not your man, and I read Latin pretty well. I don't do ad hominem attacks, and I'd appreciate it if you would desist. You're assuming an antagonism that, as far as I know, doesn't exist.

[All this 'tension between the English and Irish cultures' is nonesense. Really. Believe me.]

That seems to be another strong assertion, and is not what my study of history would lead me to believe.

--Al Evans

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.89.154
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 04:19 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Al

We're talking about my taxes here and not yours so forgive me if I'm a little assertive.

[Thanks for your response. Apparently, I didn't make myself clear on a couple of points.]

[I asked if you spoke Irish simply because, if you did, we could be reasonably certain you had no personal animosity toward the language.]

Yes you did make yourself clear. Who's 'we' anyway? No I don't speak it and NO I don't have any 'animosity' towards the language. I don't speak German or Spanish and have no animosoty towards them either. See my remarks above which make this point really quite a large number of times above.

[People often dislike languages they don't understand. This is true even for Spanish in Texas. I believe it's true in Northern Ireland, and I've sensed animosity toward the language from English, and even Irish, friends who don't know it. As far as I know, this has nothing to do with Al Qaeda.]

The animosoty is not towards the language but towards the mendacious policy that pretends is our national language. Read my comments above on this.

Nor has any of this got anything to do with Northern Ireland other than the fact that jailed IRA terrorists were the single biggest letter writers to Ireland's only Irish language TV station (I have this on good authority). I was making a point about the logic and validity of your argument. In other words suggesting that my argument is somehow influenced by the fact that I don't speak it opens up the frightening prospect that your attitude towards Irish public policy to promote it could be governed by the fact that you DO speak it. This would put you in a position of conflict of interest and make you a seriously unreliable witness in this debate.

[Uh, I'm not arguing with you. I'm agreeing with you.]

[And I am not your man, and I read Latin pretty well. I don't do ad hominem attacks, and I'd appreciate it if you would desist. You're assuming an antagonism that, as far as I know, doesn't exist.]

I meant no offence. But I've had precious little engagement with the substance of my attack on the public policy to promote the language (nothing to do with the language itself). Seeing as you'd read my comments above I was thinking that it was a bit obtuse to say - after how many thousand words from me which (though I say it myself) clearly transcend the bullshit 'you don't like your culture' argument that's all - that somehhow this has tomething to do with whether speak it or not.


[All this 'tension between the English and Irish cultures' is nonesense. Really. Believe me.]

[That seems to be another strong assertion, and is not what my study of history would lead me to believe.]

Well, er, yes I suppose we've had our differences with the English but see my remarks about our Milosovic above. Truth is our relationship with the English is like yours.

By virtue of your connection with the English you Americans are the children of the Enlightenment. We Irish (and Europeans) are the grand children of the Enlightenment. Unfortunately we are the children of the unfit parents of nationalism and socialism.

What you have in Ireland's state policy to coerce the population into learning Irish and making it mandatory for state jobs is a kind of national socialist state planning project that has no counterpart in the US. Various people above, including you, have tried to suggest that this is some neutral, practical issue about facilitating speakers of a language.

Someone who can speak perfect English has no claim on my taxes to facilitate the state dealing with them in Irish.

You clearly have spent no time here other than as a tourist.

regards





--Al Evans

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Alevans
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Username: Alevans

Post Number: 132
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 06:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul,

[Who's 'we' anyway? ]

"We" are, in this instance, the members of an international forum which you are addressing. Since it is a forum that concerns the Irish language, it seemed appropriate to find out whether you speak it or not.

Incidentally, this forum is hosted by a New York organization. The article "we" are discussing was in the Wall Street Journal, was it not? So we're not just "talking about your taxes here" -- it is you who contributed the international dimension.

You seem to labor under the misapprehension that I possess an "attitude toward Irish public policy". I do not. Since this question has come up in a public educational forum I frequent, I am trying to learn about it.

According to my understanding, there were many years when Irish people could advance, socially and professionally, only by learning to speak English. Unless my sources are mistaken, there was a time when schooling in Irish was legally prohibited. All of that doesn't vanish by a wave of the hand. From my high tower, I wonder, it this bit of present Irish culture that irritates you so much just the price the English-speaking Irish have to pay to balance history?

But no matter, you call it "a kind of national socialist state planning project". According to Godwin's Law, this is the end of any intelligent discussion:-)

[You clearly have spent no time here other than as a tourist.]

I have spent no time there at all. I am talking to you over the internet. You brought the discussion here. It's a new linguistic reality, deal with it:-)

--Al Evans

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.85.188
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 04:49 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Al

Great. All major points accepted.

[According to my understanding, there were many years when Irish people could advance, socially and professionally, only by learning to speak English. Unless my sources are mistaken, there was a time when schooling in Irish was legally prohibited. All of that doesn't vanish by a wave of the hand. From my high tower, I wonder, it this bit of present Irish culture that irritates you so much just the price the English-speaking Irish have to pay to balance history?]

Well you're running a lot of history into a short paragraph there. The real root-reason Irish declined was economic. Ireland was a pre-industrial society with a large population. British Corn Laws didn't help.

I believe it's unlikely that Gaelic would have survived anyway. You say that Irish people wouldn't have advanced if they hadn't learnt English - but neither would your ancestors (from Wales?). If by 'present Irish culture' you mean the vast soviet-style bureaucracy that has grown up to support it then yes I'm opposed to that. In essence you're conflating culture - in the sense of literature and music,,etc...- with a coercive policy, a bureaucracy designed to implement it - think TVA in the US - that has come into being to implement the imposition of that culture on us. See my remarks re category mistake above.

You need to distinguish between the two. Hitler killing the jews and being fond of Wagner might, by him, have been considered as a form of living and supporting German culture. But of course, as you know, it's possible to love German culture and , yet feel no part of his misguided policies.

This idea of 'righting ancient wrongs' is all based on the notion that somehow Gaelic culture is more mine than, say, English culture. It's not de facto and therefore it's not.

Even the Jews in Israel decided on Hebrew as an official language - not because they wished to right some ancient wrong - but because they had people from all over the place they happened on one language as a common medium of exchange.

If every Jew in Israel in 1946 had spoken English then they would never have promoted Hebrew as a common language.

Continental Europeans - people who bemoan the Anglophone influence - are, nonetheles, incredulous when you explain the Irish policy to them. 'You mean, most of you can't understand the language your Constitution is written in?' they ask.

Talking about the need to re-balance history or whatever you're implying there sounds fine - if you're playing Sim City with a country this seems logical. But you have to consider the enormous impracticalities involved.

The Irish experiment - for that is what it is - is unique in the world so far as I know. There is no practical basis for the policy whatsoever. It's a pure piece of early 20th century social engineering that someone forgot to scrap - along with state ownership of industry, eugenics and the rest of it.

I'm not impugning your or anyone else's motives here. But the fact is that this conversation is not about culture or language. This conversation is about the desirability of mobilising the state to establish, within a mono-lingual society, a second language which almost no one can speak.

Now you asked about my personal experience. Well yes it's true I have been discriminated against because of this policy. For example I would not have been admitted to the National University of Ireland to study English literature because of it - I went to Trinity College Dublin. I am not employable as a servant of the state in any capacity. This would be reasonable if there was a practical need. For example I can understand that in Texas and Florida and some other parts of the US, Spanish is required as a second language but this is entirely bevause there is a practical need for it to deliver services. There is no parallel to this in Irland. In Ireland it's because the official policy is that this is our 'native' language and we must all speak it.

I suggest we ask more people who live here what they think about it. You'll find, I believe, a very sizeable minority or, maybe, even a majority who agree with me.

Coercion has destroyed it. Its interest is primarily cultural and its best advocates are volunteers.

It's not Sim City. There's a darker side to all of this which no one has seen. The deployment of the compulsory Irish rule is a kind of barrier that keeps state jobs for the middle classes. With a few exceptions Ireland's working classes have no knowledge or interest in the language whatsoever. As I said in my article it's a sort of court language for the higher civil service. Hard to explain this one.

In essence it comes down to the difference between a practical need for more than one language: Belgium, Canada, some parts of the USA on one hand and a policy to impose an 'identity' on a citizenry based on ideas of national and cultural purity but where there isnt' even a practical element. It gives rise to many forms of hypocracy, crooked thinking and so fort.

I suggest you read Kevin Myers in the Irish times for a view of this. I'll post one of his articles shortly.

You would of course be more than welcome here but if you came to live and have children then you'd see the policy for what it is. I have a good number of American friends here Democrats and Republicans - none of them thinks the policy is other than insane.

regards

Paul MacDonnell

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 185
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 04:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

For some perspective:
http://www.budget.gov.ie/2004/table4.asp#table4a

The total budget of the department of Rural, Community and Gaeltacht affairs, only a fraction of which is spent on the Gaeltacht, is 0.5 % of the total budget.

Most of the Gaeltacht Monies are spent on Industrial Development, which would have to happen anyway, regardless of the language.

The total Arts Sport and Tourism budget is about .25 %.

As far as I know, Gaelscoileanna get the same government funding as any other school.

The reason that the Government spends money on Irish is that there are votes to be gained from doing so. The people, or enough of them to matter, want it.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 04:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Al and others...


Here ya go. This is from the Irish Times. I think Myers gets to the point better than I do. The key is the children. The promotors and enthusiasts for the language are interested in culture. That is the ground where I and people like Myers am happy to take them on.

Paul

An Irishman's Diary
By KEVIN MYERS

It is that time of year again and the swallows are preparing to leave or have already left. It is a melancholy prospect; so I do not say the swallows are about to depart for Africa because I want to; I merely observe that it is so.

In that same spirit I have remarked many times before on the futile attempts by various governments to revive the Irish language. Such observations have been normally met by the Gaeilgeoir lobby with accusations of West Brittery, of anti-nationalism, and even, from one ranting idiot, of racism. The actual reality of what is happening to the language is ignored. Instead, as well as abusing the messenger, pro-language activists speak of the plethora of Irish-language schools which are opening up everywhere.

Good. We had an Irish language group here in The Irish Times last year, run by enthusiastic fluent speakers. Initially, it got a warm response from staff members (though I confess I did not attend: any language which even contemplates making the plural of the word "bean" the wholly unrelated "mna" is not lightly going to succumb to my palsied attempts to master it). But as time went on, the pupils dropped away, and now the Irish course is well and truly no more.

All right, so all these language schools which are opening up everywhere are for children. I wish them well, truly; yet am quite confident that even in the medium term their efforts will come to little or nothing. The Irish language not merely will not be revived, but its decline will not be halted. Judge not by enthusiasts; judge not by the promises of professional Irish language promoters; judge not by the wise words of the political establishment which clings to ideal of a language reborn as did knights to the prospect of the Grail. Judge by children.

How many children in playgrounds in Gaeltacht schools find themselves speaking English? How many Gaeltacht areas are in reality Irish-speaking, the pretence being maintained even though children ceased to speak the language as a normal means of communication a generation ago? And what is happening today in primary schools which has caused such a catastrophic decline in interest and enthusiasm for the language?

The numbers achieving Grade C or higher in the Junior Cert at ordinary level has fallen by 10 percentage points in two years. Over the same period students attaining C or higher at foundation level dropped ever more, from over 62 per cent to under 50 per cent. The response of the Minister for Education, Micheal Martin, was to declare that it was essential "in the interests of maintaining the language as a living language that we ascertain the root causes of this decline".

Ah; so Irish is still a living language, is it? Is this why the Minister hardly ever addresses the Dail in Irish, though he is a fluent speaker - that the language is so alive that virtually no-one in the Dail can understand it? And even if he successfully ascertains the root causes in the decline of the language, does that mean he can arrest and reverse that decline? Equally, does it mean because I can work out what makes the swallows leave for Africa at this time of year, I can prevent them going?

In the history of the state, there has been no project to compare with the attempts to revive the language; the results have been a tragi-comedy. Even now, we refuse to recognise reality. Not merely do we not see that the emperor has no clothes, but we also insist he is speaking Irish. He is not. He cannot. He simply will not.

That is the sad and ineluctable truth about the language. The Irish people will not speak it; but our politicians have not yet the courage to admit that it is, to all extents and purposes, dead.

A language is not a living language because a few enthusiastic people gather in covens to mouth it to one another. A living language is what children shout, unbidden and unforced to one another in play. It is the natural form of communication which people prefer: and no amount of coercion can succeed in changing that reality.

We can dress that reality up as much as we like. We can bully and beat children to speak Irish, and they won't. We can throw money at the problem, as has happened with Teilifis de Lorean, which was named Teilifis na Gaeilge and is now named TG4, but it doesn't mean people will either speak Irish or watch the station. Then we can put Spanish football, the Dail Public Accounts Committee, American basketball and Aussie rules on the television channel, and declare it to be a triumph for Irish language broadcasting. It isn't. And we know it.

At this stage in our history, with tens of billions of pounds having been spent on promoting Irish, we might actually ask whether it is morally justifiable to force-feed Irish to workingclass children, when a terrifying proportion of them, perhaps 25 per cent, emerge from school functionally illiterate in English. As for Irish, they simply loathe it as simply a daily and unnecessary torture. Is it not time to end this mad experiment in compulsory linguistic engineering? In our hearts, we know it will only work on the day that the swallows stay because I command them to.

END

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Jonas
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Post Number: 454
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 06:18 am:   Edit Post Print Post

any language which even contemplates making the plural of the word "bean" the wholly unrelated "mna" is not lightly going to succumb to my palsied attempts to master it

The same could of course be said of a language making the imperfect of the word "go" the wholly unrelated "went", could it not?

How many children in playgrounds in Gaeltacht schools find themselves speaking English? How many Gaeltacht areas are in reality Irish-speaking, the pretence being maintained even though children ceased to speak the language as a normal means of communication a generation ago? And what is happening today in primary schools which has caused such a catastrophic decline in interest and enthusiasm for the language?

This is very true, the border of the present Gaeltacht can only be seen as some sort of Monty Pythonesque sense of humour in the Irish government.

(Message edited by jonas on September 27, 2004)

(Message edited by jonas on September 27, 2004)

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Diarmo
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 06:27 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Myers is a nasty facetious eejit who hates the Irish language! That you would take him seriously shows that you are not really interested in genuine debate!

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 06:47 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul MacDonnell
Director
E-mail: pmacdonnell@openrepublic.org
Tel: +353 1 644 7792
Mob: +353 (0) 86 380 8400

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 06:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Diarmo

Your contributions so far:

[...I think your mission is only to criticise different aspects of Irish culture as you have some kind of inferiority complex in relation to British culture!]

[...Suffice as to say that Mr Mac Donnell doesn't convince me by his arguments! He is just part of a school called revionisism which seeks to denigrate parts of Irish culture!]

[...Myers is a nasty facetious eejit who hates the Irish language! That you would take him seriously shows that you are not really interested in genuine debate!]

I've got about 3000 words up there - a lot of it asking direct questions and making direct points that you have yet to show any curiousity about - let alone answer.

So how about it? Myers is, indeed, colourful. But are you going to continue to take pot shots at the messangers (flawed though we are) or are YOU going to take part in ANY debate - let alone a genuine one:-).

regards


Paul MacDonnell

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Diarmo
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:09 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I am working not living in an ivory tower like you!

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 186
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

My children, and the children at their Gaelscoil in Bray (not in the Gaeltacht), do, unforced and unattended speak Irish to each other. We have held childrens parties at home where the language has been Irish.

I have been to Gaeltacht areas, as Mr Myers obviously has not (since he is apparently unaware that the roadsigns have been in Irish there for 30 years), where all generations have spoken Irish happily to each other and to me and my children.

Certainly, Gaeltacht schools in some areas are under great pressure because of people moving into the area who are unwilling to have their children instructed in Irish.

And the sad fact is that it is regarded as impolite in Ireland to continue a natural conversation in Irish as soon as one person who is not fluent joins the company; so that it is quite possible that an English speaker could get the impression that no one in the Gaeltacht speak Irish.

I am not merely an enthusiast. I was brought up bilingually in Dublin. I believe that we would do Irish children a great disservice if we stopped there access to a language which is spoken a few hundred miles from Dublin, and for which there are print and broadcast media available easily.

Personally, I believe the fact that I am bilingual has contributed to my success at my profession (I am a computer programmer). It certainly enabled me to become a fluent German speaker before the age of 12 - so fluent that I have had arguments with Germans who refused to believe I was a foreigner.

Also, there is no requirement to speak Irish to join the civil service. See:
http://www.publicjobs.gov.ie/FAQ/English/faq.htm#faq5

This requirement ceased in the seventies. There is still a requirement for primary teachers to speak Irish to a certain standard - but that is because they are required to teach it.

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 187
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:18 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Also, the results for Irish are in line with those for other subjects in the Leaving and Junior Cert:

https://www.examinations.ie/about/27012004LCN619.pdf

The concern at the moment is that the failure rates in Maths and Science are up.

In addition, the Irish medium secondary schools are more prominent in the top 50 schools for leaving cert results. And they are by no means all "middle class" - these are local schools in Gaeltacht areas.

(Message edited by aonghus on September 27, 2004)

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Is mór an spórt an sampla seo, Paul Mac Donnell.

Most people who are professionally engaged in promoting the English language and most people who receive state bribes for speaking it wouldn't know culture from a hole in the ground.
- Is fíor an méid sin agus níor athraíos ach aon fhocal amháin.


Lúbaire teanga a sheachnaíonn an fhírinne i ngan fhios dó féin:
No. I've no problem with the language and culture.
- Mar dhea! Is léir go bhfuil fadhb aige maidir le Gaeilge. Ní fadhb go dtí é is cosúil - the man do protest an iomarca!


It's just that large parts of the country's budget and administration has been colonised by a misguided attempt to promote it and I have a problem with that.
- Is le barr troda a brúdh ar an rialtas theas R. na Gaeltachta a bhunadh dhá scór bliain i ndiaidh 2RN/R. Éireann.
Is le barr troda a brúdh ar an rialtas theas Teilifís a bhunadh breis is scór go leith blianta i ndiaidh RTÉ.
Bainfear stádas oifigiúil amach don Ghaeilg ar neamhchead do leithéid Mac Donnell mar go bhfuil labhairt na Gaeilge ag daoine go leor lena dhéanamh agus ÍOCAIMID CÁIN I BHFAD NÍOS MÓ NÁ NA SEIRBHÍSÍ A FHAIGHIMID AR AIS ÓN STÁT!


Níl a fhios agam cén aois mo dhuine ach tá mé ag leagan amach go bhfuil na fiacla curtha go maith aige. Níl a chuid tuairimí le clos i measc aos óg na linne seo. A mhalairt ghlan. Ag santú labhairt na Gaeilge atáid.
Ag lagan is ag laghdú feasta a bheas slua na Mac Donnells(Myers). Tugaim 20 bliana eile dóibh. Breathnaigh anois ar mo dhuine seo mar ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann! Is mór an spórt ó thús deireadh é is é ag maíomh as renaissance Irish music like that of O'Carolan ..recognised by Elizabethan England as of the first order - many in Elizabethan England including the Queen herself, valued Irish harp music.
- An duine bocht, é féin agus a renaisssance. B'fhearr dó, d'ainneoin a chol teilifíse, filleadh ar a dhúchas i measc na scillingsmaointe ar Cornation St.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:59 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghas

I don't have the stats but I do believe that the numbers taking honours Irish have shown a very significant decline and that it is still going down.

I accept there is a lot of open, honest belief that the language is very important and that it's part of an Irish identity. Clearly in the course of the argument I've adopted shock tactics here and there - no offence meant.

In a way the whole subject is very politicised - lot of grievance. For example the more abrasive or even autistic (see above?) responses have tended to be from fellow Irish persons. The Americans - from a more open society in the spirit of the Englightenment - are more curious, want to argue it out, paying more attention to what's actually being said.

I have no difficulty with people speaking the language if they wish. I don't think tax payers should support. Now the second part of that statement doesn't contradict the first.

It's all down to whether you buy into the Irish language in Ireland as a 'project' or not. I don't.

regards


Paul MacDonnell

regards

Paul MacDonnell

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Jonas
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Post Number: 455
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 08:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I have no difficulty with people speaking the language if they wish. I don't think tax payers should support. Now the second part of that statement doesn't contradict the first. It's all down to whether you buy into the Irish language in Ireland as a 'project' or not. I don't

A fully respectable view, in my opinion. I don't share it - quite the opposite - but I've never taken up the ugly habit of insisting on other people sharing all my views. I have enjoyed the exchange of opinions here. It is absolutely clear that we don't agree but I'm glad I've got to hear you elaborate on your views.

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 188
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 08:54 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul wrote:
I don't have the stats but I do believe that the numbers taking honours Irish have shown a very significant decline and that it is still going down.

That is the problem I have with the argument you are making. It is short on facts.

You stated that one cannot obtain a post with the civil service without Irish. I note that you have not responded to my posting a civil service source that that is not the case.

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 193
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 09:36 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A google came up with this dissertation from the Netherlands:
http://www.ub.rug.nl/eldoc/dis/arts/l.murtagh/

According to the statistics in the Appendix, the percentage of students taking honours Irish of the total taking Irish is stable at about 30%, and the total taking Irish is at a similar ratio to those taking English.

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Diarmo
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Post Number: 39
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde i nGaeilge!
I guess they have more resources these days than a few years ago which would be a help!
When I did the Leaving back in '96 we had no Internet,nor TG4! Now the kids can look at Ros na Run and some good really documentaries and off course use Daltai.com!
le meas

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:22 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghus

You've sent me scurrying to check the facts. You are right on this question of Civil Service jobs and I'm wrong.

The rule about the civil service applied when I was leaving school but has since been dropped.

HOWEVER read on:..

a) you need to qualify in Irish to be a police officer
b) you need to qualify in Irish to be a barrister (lawyer who can argue in court)
c) you need to qualify in Irish to be a primary school teacher
d) Some (not all) civil service posts.
e) most jobs (so far as I can see) in the national state-owned broadcaster
f) entry into the National University of Ireland (university College Dublin, Cork and Galway..etc) - WHICH LATTER EFFECTIVELY MEANS that you need it for all sorts of jobs that require graduates of any kind.

Here's some more facts:

1) Survey I - From the Irish Times: June 3rd, 2003

Poll: Overhaul of Leaving likely as poll shows discontent Seán Flynn Education Editor

The Minister for Education, Mr Dempsey, is set to press ahead with a radical overhaul of the Leaving Cert, as a major survey indicates widespread unease with the exam....Only 22 per cent of respondents believe it uses a good range of assessment methods and only 32 per cent believe it helps to promote work-related skills in students....the poll shows that while 88 per cent believe English should be taken by all Leaving Cert students, this figure DROPS TO 38 PER CENT FOR IRISH and 23 per cent for history. Almost 60 per cent think PE should be taken by all students and there is also strong support registered for courses in social, health and political education - and for media studies.

2) The Irish Leaving Cert

I'm not sure where you're coming from on this. See below from Irish Times, August 18th, 2004

The core number of school-leavers taking the [leaving cert] exam is about 53,000, compared to about 60,000 a decade ago.....
...another striking feature of the results is the fact that about 4,000 students failed to sit the Irish exam. Some of those, such as non-nationals or with special needs, are exempted. But education sources say many of these students opted out of Irish in school. One said: "There are a significant number of students who have signed off on Irish." I'm not sure if your figures were a snapshot of one year or are showing trends over a few years. I'll be amazed if it's getting better.


3) From The Irish Language in a Changing Society: Shaping The Future
Author: Advisory Planning Committee of Bord na Gaeilge. Published by Criterion in 1986 (admittedly this is old stufff)

By 1980 the proportion of Leaving Certificate candidates taking the higher level paper in Irish fell from one half to one quarter. The proportion who failed Irish altogether, or who didn't bother to sit the exam rose from 5.5% to 20.3%.

- are you saying that this has completely turned around...?

4) Survey II

According to data compiled the Irish Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, only one quarter of households in Gaeltacht areas possess a fluency in Gaelic. The author of a detailed analysis of the survey, Donncha Ó hÉallaithe, described the Irish language policy followed by Irish governments a 'complete and absolute disaster.' The Irish Times (January 6, 2002), referring to his analysis, which was initially published in the Irish language newspaper Foinse, quoted him as follows: 'It is an absolute indictment of successive Irish Governments that at the foundation of the Irish State there were 250,000 fluent Irish speakers living in Irish-speaking or semi Irish-speaking areas, but the number now is between 20,000 and 30,000.'

According to the language survey, levels of fluency among families is 'very low', from 1% in Galway suburbs to a maximum of 8% parts of west Donegal. With such sharp decline, particularly among the young, the real danger exists that Irish will largely become extinct within two generations, possibly even one. While the language will continue to exist among English speakers who have learned fluency and are bilingual (though mainly English-speaking in their everyday lives) Gaeltachtaí embody more than just a language, but the cultural context in which it is spoken, through song, stories, social traditions folklore and dance. The death of the Gaeltachtaí would make a break forever between Ireland's cultural past and identity, and its future.

I hope these extra facts compensate for my faux pas. With regard to the Civil service I was clearly out of date - remembering my childhood I suppose.

Many thanks for putting me straight.

Paul

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:32 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you Aonghus! I tried finding some statistics to support some of the points I wanted to make, but the irish gov sites didn't want to load! I know that irish language programming is a very small part of the budget in ireland. Or at least it was 5/6 years ago. The majority of funding is for English language programs. I imagine it still is.
I hope that more and people in Ireland will learn irish, and people in ireland will continue to speak it. It is worth fighting for.
I live in a town that has barely any irish community to speak of historically, and a man who remembers hearing Irish spoken on hot summer nights on the porch.
It was & is not a dead language, and I hope it never will be.I found the comparison to latin just ignorant. It is the most beautiful language, and I can't imagine that anyone would not speak it with pride. Anyone who suggests it has no worth, either does not speak a word of it, or its their mothertongue and they haven't a clue as to what they'd be missing if they weren't fluent.

Btw, Paul, a chara, you must be living in some other universe, if you live in a universe where Chaucer's work is commercailly viable. Both directly and indirectly, it lives on government funding.
And yes I am a Libertarian, but I understand that not everyone has the capacity or the will to live the ideals I do. And I don't expect them to.
Judging by the content of your posts, you should be glad.
I assume that the Irish language will share in the tax revenue as long as others, who I'll bet also pay those taxes, wish it to. As long as it is spoken and politically viable, it will remain. If it sees the day where it is no longer politically viable & noone speaks it, it will die.
Looks like its still around to me.
I also find it nescessary, with what little I have left here, to point out that your charge of cultural racism is ridiculous, coming from a man who obviously practices it himself. Where is your article ranting against the funding of English language programs, english speakers and immigrants on the dole, and other anglo cultural continuum burdens on your tax money, etc?Its where the majority of the money is going. I know, there isn't one.
You can't speak Irish, you are by your own admission unable to learn it, and you obviously resent it. It shows through in parts of your posts, right next to where you deny it.
I love free speech. You are welcome to continue to scream, cry, tantrum & whine. But I would think that as long as you share a country with people who also pay taxes and wish to see the continued use of the Irish language and continuance of gaelic culture within that country, support for it should continue.

I have heard that the language has support in name only anyway, and that people have had difficulty in the past procuring services in Irish where they were wanted. It would wonderful to see real support in Ireland for it,. As well as people fighting a little harder against the pressure that keeps people from speaking it often.
That would really give this man a reason to whine & scream, wouldn't it?

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:33 am:   Edit Post Print Post

(An athuair ar mhaithe le spraoi. Is léir gur á seachaint atá. B'fhéidir go bhfoghlaimeodh sé corrfhocal fánach as an iarracht.)



Is mór an spórt an sampla seo, Paul Mac Donnell.

Most people who are professionally engaged in promoting the English language and most people who receive state bribes for speaking it wouldn't know culture from a hole in the ground.
- Is fíor an méid sin agus níor athraíos ach aon fhocal amháin.


Lúbaire teanga a sheachnaíonn an fhírinne i ngan fhios dó féin:
No. I've no problem with the language and culture.
- Mar dhea! Is léir go bhfuil fadhb aige maidir le Gaeilge. Ní fadhb go dtí é is cosúil - the man do protest an iomarca!


It's just that large parts of the country's budget and administration has been colonised by a misguided attempt to promote it and I have a problem with that.
- Is le barr troda a brúdh ar an rialtas theas R. na Gaeltachta a bhunadh dhá scór bliain i ndiaidh 2RN/R. Éireann.
Is le barr troda a brúdh ar an rialtas theas Teilifís a bhunadh breis is scór go leith blianta i ndiaidh RTÉ.
Bainfear stádas oifigiúil amach don Ghaeilg ar neamhchead do leithéid Mac Donnell mar go bhfuil labhairt na Gaeilge ag daoine go leor lena dhéanamh agus ÍOCAIMID CÁIN I BHFAD NÍOS MÓ NÁ NA SEIRBHÍSÍ A FHAIGHIMID AR AIS ÓN STÁT!


Níl a fhios agam cén aois mo dhuine ach tá mé ag leagan amach go bhfuil na fiacla curtha go maith aige. Níl a chuid tuairimí le clos i measc aos óg na linne seo. A mhalairt ghlan. Ag santú labhairt na Gaeilge atáid.
Ag lagan is ag laghdú feasta a bheas slua na Mac Donnells(Myers). Tugaim 20 bliana eile dóibh. Breathnaigh anois ar mo dhuine seo mar ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann! Is mór an spórt ó thús deireadh é is é ag maíomh as renaissance Irish music like that of O'Carolan ..recognised by Elizabethan England as of the first order - many in Elizabethan England including the Queen herself, valued Irish harp music.
- An duine bocht, é féin agus a renaisssance. B'fhearr dó, d'ainneoin a chol teilifíse, filleadh ar a dhúchas i measc na scillingsmaointe ar Cornation St.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Way to go Seamus

It's worth repeating.

Paul

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Alevans
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Username: Alevans

Post Number: 133
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Seosamh: "ÍOCAIMID CÁIN I BHFAD NÍOS MÓ NÁ NA SEIRBHÍSÍ A FHAIGHIMID AR AIS ÓN STÁT!"

Ah, and who doesn't? :-)

Paul, I'm amazed that you (and Kevin Myers) don't just go on and LEARN the bloody language. If you're bright enough to write for the WSJ, and he for the Irish Times, surely acquiring another language isn't beyond your capacities? I know perfectly ordinary people who speak several of them.

As it is, you necessarily have a one-sided view of the situation, because you can't understand the other side.

I can't figure out what to make of your argument that no one actually speaks Irish. It contradicts the testimony of people I've no reason to doubt, and seems unlikely, but how would I know?

I found Kevin's put-down (bean and mrá, indeed!) particularly odious, and unworthy of being written, let alone published. Go, went. Oeil, yeux. Which language doesn't have irregularities? Deal with it.

Apparently, Paul, your argument that one cannot obtain a government job in Ireland without passing secondary-level Irish is simply not true. What's up with that?

As to your statement that "it's about my taxes" (despite your earlier statement that it was a moral issue) -- are the numbers quoted by Aonghus wrong, then? According to those figures, the total amount that is being "immorally diverted" to this social engineering is .75%. Let's say you're paying 30,000 euros/year in taxes -- I'd imagine you'd be in reasonably comfortable circumstances, if you were paying that. In this case, you would be spending the princely sum of 225 euros/year on this dreadful social engineering. So, maybe a couple of pints a week.

Sorry, but this is just not enough money to get your knickers in a knot about. I spend a good deal more than that in property taxes diverted to other "poorer" school districts in the state of Texas under a "Robin Hood" law. Many of these districts are substantially further from Austin than anything in Ireland is from anything else:-)

As to whether this kind of social engineering is a "national socialist" sort of plot, I guess that's subject to discussion. But I don't know of any civilized government that doesn't engage in it. My daughter was bussed across town during most of her school career, even though there are schools within walking distance, for reasons of "racial balance". We didn't like it, but the experience doesn't seem to have damaged her. I've already mentioned the "Robin Hood" school financing law. And all of this is in Texas, which is fairly "conservative".

As presented so far, the facts don't seem to support your argument. If the links given by Aonghus don't present the "true facts", please offer your corrections.

--Al Evans

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:05 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dear (Unregistered Guest) Posted From: 152.163.100.195 (April?)

[Where is your article ranting against the funding of English language programs, english speakers and immigrants on the dole, and other anglo cultural continuum burdens on your tax money, etc?Its where the majority of the money is going. I know, there isn't one. ]

Er...er....er....should I be edging towards the door at this point...? You don't own any guns do you?

In all seriousness. What do you mean? 'the majority of the money'? The 'majority' of what money? Whose money?

Do you think that English-speaking Nigerians and Romanians are sucking the blood of our society and that I should be writing articles against them?

Are you, thus, accusing me of lack of balance??

When you said you were a Libertarian - did you, in fact, mean, Extremist Nationalist?

BTW the IRA attempted to collaberate with Hitler so that he would invade Ireland and thus kill a large number of birds with one stone.

Where do you stand on WWII. With the British or the Germans?

Paul

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Diarmo
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Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 40
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:14 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Guys I wish to apologise for bringing this guy into the forum! I just wanted to show how negative some media people are here in Ireland by showing you his article! I wish the pro Irish language people had prominent polemicists in the Irish Times! Is mor an trua go bhfuil daoine cosuil leis in Eirinn!

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 194
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

With regards to the poll on the leaving Cert. That poll was an internet poll by the national curriculum advisory board, with a very small sample - less than 1000 respondents.

I don't really have the time or the energy to continue this discussion and go off chasing facts to counter your facts.

I reassert that the reason that money gets spent on Irish is that votes depend on it.

The reason no Irish is heard to be spoken in Dáil Éireann is that anything said in Irish in Dáil Éireann is studiously ignored by the English Language media. Trevor Sargent gave up a policy of only asking questions in Irish in the Dáil for this reason. And this is the reason the english media failed to report on the Language Act, which was been a work in progress for six years up to last year when it was passed; they started (mis)reporting on it in the silly season this year.

However, you will hear Michéal Martin speaking Irish on Radio na Gaeltachta any time a health issue is in the news. Over the last six months I have heard most government Ministers who can speak Irish on RnaG - Seamus Brennan, Noel Dempsey, Michéal Martin, Brian Cowen, Mary Hanafin, Pat the Cope, Mary Coughlan and of course Éamon Ó Cuiv. (This list does not aim for completeness - it's off the top of my head). Also most oppostion leaders/front benchers - Enda Kenny, Pat Rabitte, Trevor Sargent, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin, Joe Higgins... I could go on, and on.

If you want to talk about coercion then here is a cause for you: Why is there no Irish speaking speech therapist available to native speakers in the Gaeltacht? Why do elderly patients whose memory of english is going, since Irish is their first language, have to be dealt with by English speaking therapists?

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 195
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:20 am:   Edit Post Print Post

By the way, the requirements for Irish for the police seem to me to be very modest:
http://www.garda.ie/angarda/faq.html#R2
C grade in Foundation Level Irish shouldn't be too much of a challenge.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde liom, is léir go bhfuil sé chomh dall le bonn do choise i dtaca le tuiscint dá laghad ar an nGaeilg. Molaim daoibh go léir a dhalladh le Gaeilg. Is gealt é chomh maith agus bímis ag spraoi leis ar mhaithe le féacháil. Ní bheadh a fhios agat céard a déarfadh sé go fóill.


A Laup (ainm 'Shéamuis' ar 'Paul'), a dhuine, tá easnamh éigin ort agus barraíocht d'am an lae le meilt agat ach is mór an spórt thú ina dhiaidh sin. Coinnigh ort ag scríobhadh ar an méarchlár, maith an fear, tá tú ag caitheamh an lae go breá dúinn go léir.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Al

[Paul, I'm amazed that you (and Kevin Myers) don't just go on and LEARN the bloody language. If you're bright enough to write for the WSJ, and he for the Irish Times,..]

I'm 'bright enough' to realise that not speaking the languge doesn't mean that the proponents of the coercive doctrine - who happen also to speak it - are right that they have a claim on the national treasure. Do you play Japanese Go? I do. If I also believe that the government should fund it does the fact that you don't agree count for less because you don't play it?

[I can't figure out what to make of your argument that no one actually speaks Irish..]

Well OK then, old man(term of affection used by anglo-phone types - not meant to be offensive in anyway-:). Some people do. But like I said more Chinese is spoken in Ireland right now. VERY FEW speak it. See the data I provided above.

[I found Kevin's put-down (bean and mrá, indeed!) particularly odious..]

'Deal with it'?? Al. Listen carefully. This is called HUMOUR. Relax. Even one as blind as I can see that having irregular verbs doesn't weaken the case for spending government money on Irish. Don't worry.

[Apparently, Paul, your argument that one cannot obtain a government job in Ireland without passing secondary-level Irish is simply not true. What's up with that?]

You're right. Like I said above. This is no longer the case but it was for most of the history of the state. Consider the effect. Also see my list of things that do require it above and note that the National University of Ireland - which is the vast majority of colleges providing graduates for Irish business and professional life does require it - which if you use your undoubtedly fertile imagination means that it's an effective trip wire for most people who want to work in this country at anyhthing above street-sweeper level. I should know. My father-in-law, Donal McCartney, was Dean of Arts and professor of Modern Irish History in UCD from about the Mid 1970s until the early 1990s. He admitted to me in 1979 that the NUI policy on Irish was a 'trip wire' to cut the numbers down. Period. Now Al and Aonghus - how's that for original research. And Al. What's up with that trip wire policy - I have known a number senior policy-makers on this issue. None of them was ever prepared to seriously defend it? They always cited 'what people will think' if we tell them the truth.

[As to your statement that "it's about my taxes" (despite your earlier statement that it was a moral issue) -- are the numbers quoted by Aonghus wrong, then? According to those figures, the total amount that is being "immorally diverted" ..]

Yes but Al you aren't listening. It's a waste of ***ing time at any price. The fact that it's about my taxes gets me interested... But the policy is also immoral and, ultimately, in bad taste - costly kitch.

I don't know how Aonghus got this figure. But consider all the time devoted to teaching it in schools, all the road signs, all the documents translated (no one will ever read them), every single word uttered in the Irish in the Dail (always in English) is translated into Irish for the record, free money for people to subsist in the West, grants.........As Zell said 'I could go on and on and on'. I believe it's probably more than this..but I'm not sure.. It's very good question though.

[Sorry, but this is just not enough money to get your knickers in a knot about. I spend a good deal more than that in property taxes diverted to other "poorer" school districts ...]

But that's the point. Your taxes help the poor. This is about engineering and imposing a culture from above. Your First Amendment would never stand for it (some here have never heard of the First Amendment). I don't know of any recent gaelic art of any serious merit. You said you've read some. What's it about? Where is it at? Are we talking Proust? Eliot (George or Thomas Stearns)? Or is it some high-school story about some IRA scumbag and his mother that won a Canadian celtic festival prize - at which Arafat was guest prize-giver? You see if this whole discussion were about French and we were discussing French literature you'd be likely to have more content on this. Instead I get a lot of whining-by-proxy. Like this is supposed to be about culture and all I'm seeing is patronising, liberal, sociology garbage. Believe me (though I'm sure you won't) if anyone tried to do in Texas what our government has done with regard to Irish as a 'culture' then there'd be war.

Michelle Smith, our Irish Olympic gold swimmer was, it seems, on drugs to enhance her performance. She was also an Irish language enthusiast. This is cheating, right? Well her 'culture' was on more steroids than she was?

Oscar Wilde said: sentimentality is the bank holiday of cynicism.

Have you ever thought about what that means? The local nationalists here are quite cynical. For example, they are screwing money out of the British government, which they hate, to fund an Irish culture bureaucracy in Northern Ireland. For years (I think it no longer applies) doing your exams in Irish got you more points...and thus more easily into college. You and some of the other guys here are the sentimental side of the coin. You've got a hobby and you project your sentiment about Ireland back here. I appear to be attacking Irish because a few serious loser locals still belong to the Hamas wing of the Irish language movement (you know who you are.) and you being nice Americans are prepared to go along with them because you buy their whole pathetic victim-Mick bullshit. I'm attacking the policy because it promotes a culture of victimhood and failure and I know it does. Now you Irish people present. I know that when you go camping in France and you meet some French guy who tells you that he admires 'tout les Celtique' and bemoans the terrible 'things Britain has done to your beautiful country' you think that this is a real conversation between equals. Well listen up. you're being patronised by someone who's doing the equivalent of going to an alternative health-food shop in down town Austiin. They probably also go to the Amazon and seek out peope with bones in their noses with which to discuss global warming.

May be it would be simpler to ask you Al. Do you agree with Affirmative Action for minorities in the US? If you do then we know where we stand. If you don't then we're on the same page and can progress towards agreement or political co-existence.

[As to whether this kind of social engineering is a "national socialist" sort of plot, I guess that's subject to discussion. But I don't know of any civilized government...]

Maybe you have a point. It's a question of scale. It's not as onerous as it was. But mind you the idea of a government like that of Texas (or was this a Federal directive) talking about 'racial balance' is very depressing. I'd probably have been joining the Militia at that point. But the point is taken. What ultimately motivated me to attack the policy was a view that the policy was crowding out people's natural and voluntary grasp of culture. A lot of people have missed my point. I identify with certain elements of Irish culture but I also identify with some elements of British, French, Italian and, especially, Austrian culture. We've only just had decades of violence on this Island - most of it promoted by Ireland's answer to Al Queda - the deeply Marxist and superbly murderous IRA who also hold this view of 'Irish' culture.

When you realise that I don't accept that 'Irish' means 'celtic' then you'll see that I'm not attacking 'Celtic' culture. It's just that my definition of culture in Ireland is different.

Diarmo your apology is accepted. I don't know what the hell I'm doing here either.


regards

Paul MacDonnell

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 152.163.100.195
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul, I think I'd be slinking to the door if i were you, but not on my account.You contradict yourself continuously, your facts {and I use that word loosely} were torn limb from limb, and you are left with nothing to present but the lowest common form of debate ...the last refuge of those without a leg to stand on. {And a big cyberhug for Aonghus for it, if his wife doesn't mind..{{{hug}}}.}

April

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Canuck
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Username: Canuck

Post Number: 2
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I might add, Paul, that you've also pissed off one of the few Canadians on this site.
"Or is it some high-school story about some IRA scumbag and his mother that won a Canadian celtic festival prize - at which Arafat was guest prize-giver?"
Truth of you be known, in your quest to impose conditions upon a minority group that will lead to its ultimate destruction, are nothing more than a genocidal national socialist. You will fail.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:04 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

April

I've written about 5000 + words in this debate and made one factual error - which I am more than happy to acknowledge - with some grace I hope.

You have contributed a few vapid platitudes, evaded the only direct question put to you - and you haven't made a single mistake doing it. Well done.

The bottom line is that public money is being used for this. I don't think it's of value. Therefore I'd rather that my money not be used for it. Therefore you're got defending to do. (Have you or haven't you got a problem with wasting money on white trash English speakers - or what was all that about anyway?).

So 'Jaysus it only costs a few hundred per year for each man women and child - sure isn't that grand' Well no it isn't actually.

Even forgetting the actual costs - look at the staggering opportunity costs. The time and money spent that could have been used (by citizens) for more useful things.

I've asked at least a half a dozen or more direct questions in this debate, including one or two for you, and got a lot of evasion and silence.

The Irish language promotion policy has given rise to a corrupt and corupting industry. It's a cultural Enron.

I'm not sure where you fit in to this discussino but then Enron had that problem with its personnel too -:)

regards

Paul MacDonnell

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:08 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Canada - pissed off? Do you think they might invade?

[impose conditions upon a minority group that will lead to its ultimate destruction, are nothing more than a genocidal national socialist. You will fail.]

Do you know that Sir Anthony O'Reilly is imposing similar conditions on me. He hasn't given me a cent. He's a fascist bastard. Where are the Canadians when you need them?

Paul

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Searlas
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Username: Searlas

Post Number: 3
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Mr. MacDonnell, it seems to me that you won't sway anyone here to your line of thinking, nor will you be swayed from yours.

I'm assuming that you've said all you came here to say in the first place. Maybe you should just leave it at that. The belligerence displayed in your most recent posts do your original arguments no service.

But, of course, the choice is yours.

Is mise le meas,

Searlas

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.1.100.104
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:28 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul, you haven't answer Seosamh, or was it Seamus, where he said he admires 'the immense intellectual input you have made on the this board'. It's all there in Irish. Believe me, I never tell a lie. Somebody shall help you to read it. In fact he, Seamus, or was it Seosamh, posted it twice, he was in such admiration of your eh, input, that he wants to know what it is your on. Do you know yourself and can you tell me?

His wife.

D'iarr mo bhean orm an méid sin a bhreacadh duit a Phóil. Did you know that that's your name in Irish Paul?
Go raibh maith agat as an eolas sin faoi 'celtic' agus 'Irish'. Sílim go raibh sé sin an-tábhachtach. An-tábhachtach. Ní raibh teacht an fhata go hÉirinn chomh tábhachtach leis. Ní raibh teacht .....
Ar chuma ar bith, go raibh maith agat as na blúirín eolais go léir.

Is mór an spórt thú ar lá meirbh druidte.

Seosamh

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

5000 + words in this debate and made one factual error

Iontach. Dhe mean, iontach.

Dochreidte.
You know it's so wonderful, I think you ought to do it again. Don't give up. Is féidir leat a dhéanamh. Cuideoimid go léir leat deireadh a chur leis an nGaeilg. Maith an fear. Is mór an spórt thú.

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Cathal Mac Daibhéid (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 01:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hmm, I wrote this in the morning, and things have moved on a bit since then I see, but I’ll lash it in anyway, also as clarifying of one residency/tax status seems to be a pre-requisite here, I am an Irish 26 year old citizen, born in west Limerick, currently working in Dublin.

Kevin Myers does make some interesting points, but i'm afraid he is wrong in my experience with regards the gaeltacht. I have often seen and heard the children in the playground in the gaeltacht, and the language they scream while attempting to murder each other is (by and large) irish. A very good friend of mine is from the Donegal Gaeltacht, Gaoth Dobhair, and the mother tongue in their community is Irish. Her younger brothers, her sisters's clann whom we have collected from the playground on occasion speak irish amongst themselves. Her parents are more comfortable speaking irish - and there still remain those whose english (although very few now i would think) is very limited, i have met with them. I am not stating this as some idle wish fulfillment or blinkered perception, if is just what i have experienced.

Kevin Myers is right in that the teaching of irish in galltacht schools is done badly in many case (or at least was when i was there), but to imply that irish as a language of communication within the Gaeltacht is dead is incredibly untrue. Too often observers make this remark when they go for a week, buy something in a shop and are given the change with an english "thank you". The fact that many previously Anglicised areas were included in the Gaeltacht originally to avail of grants (high at the time, very low now, relativity speaking) mean the linguistic situation there has never been one of complete uniformity. In any case have either of you ever actually listened to Raidió na Gaeltachta, with notices of Cars and tractors for sale, complaints of dogs barking and discussions of the prices of heifers? ,are these the topics of 'covens' ? How about Dara O Cinneide's speaking his native Irish on winning the Sam Maguire yesterday?. Or the tragic deaths of the 4 fishermen off Conamara last week, all native speakers.

Irish isn't quiet dead yet and indeed i strongly suspect its decline , at least in the Gaeltacht has stabilised, we can maybe address the issue of Irish elsewhere. I freely admit i wouldn't be as learned as some of those partaking above, but i will introduce mo bharúil.

The founders of this state saw the re-introduction of the Irish language as a spoken vernacular as a central part of the identity of the Irish nation and thus it was the function of the state to achieve this ideal. They had behind them the will of the great majority of the citizenry to support this aim. I think i have gone against An tUasal Mac Donnell ideas here of a purpose of a state but then I still believe that the Irish language is central to our people. However a hostile attitude to Irish language policies is still very much evident in those who had to have Irish in earlier times. Thankfully this will fade away in time, now that supporting facilites for irish (such as the Official Languages Act) are put in place rather than the old civil service laws. I, and the majority of the population (www.ucc.ie/ucc/depts/ace/ Irish%20Language%20Attitudes.pdf), still believe that irish is relevant in these times. Some may be happy speaking English only in Ireland, but most of us do not. It is up to us and the government, together, in helping the language, as the government is meant to execute the will of the people.

Also I disagree with this assumption that cultures fail. Cultures do not succeed or fail, they exist or they do not. The Celtic peoples were defeated by the Romans due to the inability of the myriad of tribal units within Gaul and Britannia to successfully ally, and due to better military tactics and weaponry employed by the Empire. If was not due to a lacking of one sides culture. Was Celtic culture superior to Roman when Brennus sacked Rome and tossed his sword onto the scales in the senate? This idea that a people are conquered and destroyed due to their inferior way of life is one that i though was well past its sell-by date. One could say that one's culture was more advanced in certain categories (technologically, militarily, economically etc.) at any one time, but this does not mean that another culture, which is not as advanced, is on the road to failure.

Let us say, as an example, during the Indo-European expansion, the Germanic and the Celtic people had been swapped and the empire had first encountered and ruled the Germans in Iberia and Languedoc, before being forced to stop geographically at the great North-European forest, would we be discussing the failures of the Germanic culture which lead to its peoples defeat? History in the form of population movements, wars and social changes influence a language and what is produced by those who speak it, not the type of language they speak.

As another example could, we use the reduction of Estonian and Latvian speakers in Estonia and Latvia as a deficient in their respective cultures? Make no mistake, without the fall of the Soviet Union another 50-100 years of Russification would have taken place and they would be in the same place as us, seeking to restore a shattered language, would they be wrong/wasting money/fooling themselves to try? Hebrew in Israel was not restored as it was the most understood language, surveys and reports at the times would show that Yiddish was, Hebrew was restored as it was seen as the ancestral tongue of the Jewish people, and of the state of Israel. It would have been far easier to have used Yiddish – a living language as the main vehicle of linguistic unity than attempting to use a language that had been dead for millennia

Finally, I’m currently reading An Aisling Ghéar, an incredible book about the Aisling (vision) poems of Jacobite Ireland (1600-1750) as well as the history and culture of the time, it is a book worth reading believe me. After that Cré na Cille, is a great book as well, very complex in parts though, good as anything I’ve read as Bearla, or how about even that Seandaoine himself, An Táin? Irish culture is there, if one can accept it.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.89.225
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'll taka a few of these observations


[Mr. MacDonnell..I'm assuming that you've said all you came here to say in the first place. Maybe you should just leave it at that. The belligerence displayed in your most recent posts do your original arguments no service. But, of course, the choice is yours.]

Sorry Searlas...I'm fighting off (...er...) an (ugh...take that)...implausible number (aaaaaaaaghhhhhhhggh) of (ow!) language *(..Ker....Powwwww) henchmen here. I'll have to get back to you on this.

[Paul, you haven't answer Seosamh, or was it Seamus, where he said he admires 'the immense intellectual input you have made on the this board'. It's all there in Irish. Believe me, I never tell a lie. Somebody shall help you to read it. In fact he, Seamus, or was it Seosamh, posted it twice, ]

Sorry Sean I have this rule about people who stare at me in the street. I never make eye contact. I have no spare change. You and I will not be speaking again unless it's in English.


[Maith an fear?. Is mór an spórt thú?]

Let me see. 'Good man' and 'You are a great sport', yes?

Golly.


Enough trivia. Now for the serious work.

Cathal. The Hebrew / Yiddish point is I'm sure correct. Though they had to choose a single language.

[Also I disagree with this assumption that cultures fail. Cultures do not succeed or fail, they exist or they do not. ]

Truth is that people jettison their culture. The Gaelic speakers who went to America - jettisoned it immediately. How does this compare with the the other peoples who went to the US? The Russian example is OK but emotive. Rusia was a conquering power. By 1921 the English were, for the period, relatively OK. Irish wasn't 'taken' from us. We, as a nation - if you like to add significance with such sententiousness - decided to get rid of it. Now then we had movement to 'revive' it but, outside the public sector - where the laws of gravity - much less the laws of economics - hardly apply it's different. It is well known that the Irish will lose no opportunity to say that they 'value' the languge. This hyprocrosy is well known and was well known and pointed out hilariously by Flann O'Brien in both English and, I understand, Irish many years ago.

[The Celtic peoples were defeated by the Romans due to the inability of the myriad of tribal units within Gaul and Britannia to successfully ally, and due to better military tactics and weaponry employed by the Empire. If was not due to a lacking of one sides culture. Was Celtic culture superior to Roman when Brennus sacked Rome and tossed his sword onto the scales in the senate? ]

I think you must accept that Celtic culture never reached that mass urban stage that Rome reached. I didn't mean that the Romans defeated it and, therefore, it was inferior.

[In any case have either of you ever actually listened to Raidió na Gaeltachta, with notices of Cars and tractors for sale, complaints of dogs barking and discussions of the prices of heifers? ,are these the topics of 'covens' ? How about Dara O Cinneide's speaking his native Irish on winning the Sam Maguire yesterday?. Or the tragic deaths of the 4 fishermen off Conamara last week, all native speakers]

....you're not making a very compelling case here...I'm more of a Mozart and Machaut man myself. Dogs barking and tractors just don't do it for me. But to take your point seriously. This is not, as I said above, the star-forming material of a cultural Renaissance.

[Finally, I’m currently reading An Aisling Ghéar, an incredible book about the Aisling (vision) poems of Jacobite Ireland (1600-1750) as well as the history and culture of the time, it is a book worth reading believe me. After that Cré na Cille, is a great book as well, very complex in parts though, good as anything I’ve read as Bearla, or how about even that Seandaoine himself, An Táin? Irish culture is there, if one can accept it.]

Yes but how much has happened over the past couple of hundred years - or has it? Let me know.


You see there's no other language pastime in the world - because that is what we're describing - that excites such passion and rage. There are clearly people here who are utterly unwiling to have a rational conversation. For example I have been the main protagonist against the public policy of promoting the language and there are respondents who are unwilling to address the debate in the English language. What's that all about?!!

Most of your key points about the 'will of the people' etc, etc..have already been discussed above. I'm sure you have a good level of scholarship in the literature but you glide over such concepts as 'will of the people' ...without considering the grammar of political economy and individual liberty that must also be respected.

[Some may be happy speaking English only in Ireland, but most of us do not. It is up to us and the government, together, in helping the language, as the government is meant to execute the will of the people. ]

'Execute the will of the people' sounds very 1930s - which is the period where Hegel and the German Romantic philosophers were more fashionable and intellectuals thught that there existed things like 'national will' and 'spirit of the nation'. The new media-savvy message about Irish is that it's cool and hip but when you challenge the policy you start hearing things like 'will of the people' - language that nobody - outside of Cuba - actually uses anymore.

In fact, in a strange way, Irish language revivalism is really an attempt to hold up a mirror to Britain to show them that we, too, can have a 'national' culture just like them. The irony that such a 'national' culture was incubated by the intellectual classes who shared these islands around the turn of the 19th and 20 centuries should not be lost on you.

[Most people are not happy because they don't speak Irish in Ireland....]?

Most people don't think about it. They certainly won't pay for it and I see no evidence that, outside of a current boutique fashion for things Celtic, there's any future in it.

Truth is my brother works in the advertising industry and he informs me that main sponsorship or Gaelic teams has been done at the behest of English marketing managers in Irish branches of UK businesses seeking a way of ingatiating thier businesses into Ireland. Gaelic has become quasi commercial. Tesco with its signs in Irish as well as English. Don't know how it looks in Limerick. In Sandymount, Dublin 4 it looks positively odd.

Kind regards


Paul MacDonnell

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James
Member
Username: James

Post Number: 34
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 04:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

As has been stated before by another, more eloquent man than I, "I have no dog in this fight" or was it "horse in this race?"

Either way, I'm an American, don't pay Irish taxes, don't have kids trying to get into Irish Universities, don't have to navigate with Irish road signs etc.

I'll just state a few facts as I see them that will bounce all around some of Paul's assertions/assumptions/queries and musings.

1) I am currently reading "Séanna". It's a bit elementary, but the story line is compelling, the moral elements sound...in short. It's a good book, cleverly written and thouroughly enjoyable. Is it "War and Peace"? No. But it's not "See Jack Run" either!

2) It seems many of Pauls assertions regarding the oppressiveness of the Irish Language Act have been debunked. Go raibh mile maith agat, a Aonghuis! Once again, your enthusiasm and simple "ground truth" is a shining inspiration!

3) "No one will read the road signs"...Hmmm, when I went to Ireland last, I made it a point to read the road signs, I made it a point to read the Irish placards on the historical sites...If I, an American, go to those lengths, why wouldn't an Irishman?

4) Irish is not the language school children shout on the playground? Well, someone go smack those kids who were playing down the road from my B&B in An Spideal! The joy and the laughter pouring through my window as gaeilge was just about the most wonderful part of that evening...the bastards...how dare they go contrary to Paul and Mr. Myer's view of the "real Ireland!"

5) If you're going to go to a state supported school and the requirement is that you learn Irish well, then by golly...learn Irish! If you don't want to learn Irish then don't plan on going to a state supported school!!! In
America, if you want to get into medical school, you're going to have to have Inorganic Chemistry with a Lab, Physics with a Lab, Organic Chemistry with a Lab AND one or more foreign languages somewhere in your background. Now, what does any of this have to do with the actual practice of medicine...not much, I can assure you. But, it's the price you pay if you want to go to medical school! I see no difference here at all. If you are from a low income family and you know you'll need a state supported education, then go learn Irish. If you're from a well to do family and you want to go to a state supported school...then guess what...you damn well better learn Irish!!! No differences here...state school = Irish. Non state school = no Irish needed. Sounds pretty fundamentally simple to me!

6) One point was made, again by one of my most steadfast mentors Aonghus, that the "polite thing" to do in Ireland is to cease in Irish as soon as ONE non-Irish enters the conversation. I can say that I find this to be quite true. Time and again I've had to say, "As gaeilge, Le do thoil!!" I've been met with laughs, (no doubt at my dreadful pronunciation), stares and other looks I've yet to figure out, but more often than not, the conversation has continued!

Finally) It seems to me that Paul and Mr Myers could benefit from a trip outside of Dublin. Get out into the countryside and see what's really going on out there. Get out from behind the desk, strip of the Gucci loafers and put on some muckers, turn of the Vivaldi and crank up some Trad, put down the brie and caviar and LIVE, dear man... LIVE!!! There's a whole new world "beyond the pale" and it's just waiting for you to find it and regale in all it has to offer!!!

Seriously, though, I find you're approach toward the Irish language and those who DO speak it on a daily basis to be profoundly arrogant. You and your kind seem to want to reinstate the "bogtrotter" status to the Language when in fact, it IS the vernacular of a certain segment of your population. A segment that is far broader and deserves far more credit than you and your kind seem willing to recognize. How pathetically arrogant.

Le meas,

James

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Natalie
Member
Username: Natalie

Post Number: 12
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 05:18 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

[Canada - pissed off? Do you think they might invade?]

I really wasn't going to say anything because I really didn't have the time and energy to read every single one of your 5000+ words Mr. MacDonnell but I did find the time to pick out the words that actually interested me, i.e. Canada! This has nothing to do with my country, this is about yours. I do not believe in forcing a language onto people that do not wish to give it a go but if your sole debate tactics lie in foolishly insulting people who really, haven't argued enough with you to deserve such remarks, then I guess I'll have to throw in my 10 cents (my 2 cents is free).

The fact of the matter is that I have no facts because to tell you the truth this has nothing to do with me. I don't pay "Irish taxes" nor do I pay any taxes if we're going to be specific. Unfortunately I do agree that this is an issue of money. The world is run by money and so it makes perfect sense that your attitude should be this way. Now by saying that, I want you to understand that I truly believe that you have no hate towards the language or the culture. Why should you? If you did then I don't think this would be a simple Daltaí discussion (if simple is really the word I should be using for this lengthy debate).

Actually, I'm not even arguing with you all that much. I didn't take Debate in school for a reason. And all the same I can't even say I disagree because saying so would mean that I understand what the actual question is we're asking here.

Unfortunately I believe that in some way your point of view is both right and obviously wrong. In every type of argument whether it be a discussion or war, everyone thinks they're right. Hitler thought he was right. Bush thinks he is right (my use of politics ends here for lack of knowledge and care). But who is to make the decision to force the other's point of view on the opposing side. That's not right, even you can agree with that. In the same flow of words, you cannot sway the people on this site to your point of view. Their obvious dislike of all ideas you have presented has proved just such and do not believe that you have by any chance brought me to your side with words that I didn't even know existed.

I am though very impressed by this thread's responses. You see Paul, people need something to fight for and something to believe in. You don't have to agree with what it is or bother to defend your opinion when it was never called upon to begin with. People don't care. If I may be so blunt.

Now what I know about Ireland is sadly little. What I remember from your article (perhaps, of course I could've made it up out of my head. I imagine things people said all the time) is that you said that Ireland's culture is a fake one. Well the culture I know about Ireland is a stereotype as is probably the same to all those out there thinkin' o' Canada, eh? Well if the world is made up of stereotypical fakes then doesn't that make the culture we've come to realize as different, something we can accept?

I'm not a big fan of change but things are changing all the time as you may or may not have realized you pointed out. This is true but that doesn't mean we should forget our past or our history. It doesn't mean that the majority is always right, it means in this case that the majority is unhappy. You talk about them taking your money for taxes. Is it really your belief that if they did not give the money to the revival of Irish that they would just decide to take nothing. No, they will still take your money. They don't care where it goes so why shouldn't it be for something that at least could benefit a few people if only in the small way of challenging them to use their brains more than once a week. A language is a perfect way to do that. So is math, language arts and history but I'm right in assuming you would not like to see them ignored.

One thing I must say before I shut up is that I do feel at least that you seem to be becoming if only slightly less angry than you started this rant with us. I'm hoping that maybe once everyone runs out of anger, this can finally end. It really is interesting though.

Natalie

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Ó_diocháin
Member
Username: Ó_diocháin

Post Number: 4
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 05:45 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,
I confess to being somewhat perturbed by both the vitriol inherent in some of Paul MacDonnell's posts and even more so by the lack of intellectual rigour in much of what he argues.
To me, his pseudo-academic clap-trap reads like "intellectual Thatcherism". I mean by this that it smacks of the "Iron Lady's" erstwhile catch-phrase "this is the position we shall continue to hold"... to which the retort "Come hell, high water... or better information?".
There may be something inherently laudable about those who will hold to their beliefs come hell or high water, but personally, I've always been a sucker for better information. I suppose that is, at least in part, why I am an academic!
And it is also, at least in part, why I keep coming back to this forum - because I have so much to learn, and I continue to learn so much from many of the regular posters.
Many of these have offered in this strand "better information" than Paul has provided in support of his case, but rather than showing any indication that he has learned from this, he has resorted to inappropriate sniping.
Another trait that I would suggest he shares with Mrs T.
That said, let me put in my own tuppence worth. I deplore the waste of tax-payers money that the failed Irish language policies of various Dublin administrations since partition have given rise to. Irish tax-payers have a right to challenge these policies and have the right to expect better value for their (in the main) hard earned money.
I would suggest that Catalan provides a useful analogy for the Irish situation. In 1978, when the current Spanish constitution came into being, the vast majority of Catalans were fluent in Spanish - one of the major languages of the world. Nevertheless, the Generalitat de Catalunya, the elected regional government under the revised constitutional arrangements, chose to follow a policy that would promote the use of the Catalan language. The approach that they took was one of "linguistic normalistion" - and that is the approach that I would like to see in Ireland. The Generalitat did not establish linguistic "reservations" where the rural Catalan of areas around Lleida and Girona would fossilise, they very publicly mainstreamed the language in all areas of civic life. This has (inadvertently I would argue - but that is quite a different argument) given rise to a situation in which positive bilingualism is the norm in Catalonia today.
I believe that all Irish citizens have the right to bilingualism. I believe that at or about current levels of investment in the language that could certainly be achieved.
Here I would refer back to Aonghus's earlier post about his own personal experience. His story illustrates precisely what a review of the academic literature on bilingualism will tell you: bilinguals enjoy considerable advantages over monolinguals in a number of ways.
At this point, I would suggest turning to the discourse of economics. (And in doing so with respect to language policy I am following the example of Prof Joe LoBianco, chief executive of Language Australia - a Google on him will provide ample references to his published works on the subject).
If we look at contemporary Social Capital or Human Capital theories, which are of fundamental importance to the dominant ideology of "fast capitalism" in the post-industrial west, the consensus view is that the people are among the key economic assets of a country. Pursuing a policy of bilingualism, which is relatively inexpensive, provides an extremely cost-effective way of ensuring a more flexible and more highly skilled workforce.
I would suggest that Ireland's tax-payers (of which I myself have been one) are entitled to expect the sort of return on their investment in the state that this sort of policy would be likely to provide.
Paul MacDonnell's attempt to use American Indian languages as an analogy in his argument was of course entirely unsuccessful. He may wish to note that the American Indian Community Colleges (links to the 34 colleges in this consortium can be accessed through http://www.collegefund.org) are, on the whole, pursuing policies of positive bilingualism in addressing the huge socio-economic challenges posed by the reservation system.
I would like to close by suggesting at least two further errors of fact in Paul MacDonnell's posts, which I hope he will be happy to add to his admitted error about the civil service position.
Firstly, in relation to the untenable assertion that Irish Protestants have no affinity with the Irish language, can I refer him to the excellent work by such scholars as Dr Gordon McCoy of the Ultacht Trust and Prof Rosalind Pritchard of the University of Ulster which clearly demonstrate that this is not the case.
Secondly, unless he is able to substantiate his assertion that there are more Chinese speakers than Irish speakers with more recent or reliable sources, can I refer him to the research carried out at UCD (2000) on multilingualism in Ireland - as part of a European funded research project for the implementation of the European Languages Passport, and by the Ultacht Trust (2002) on the use of Irish as a community language in the Six Counties. The figures given in these would suggest that there are more children in Belfast alone who have Irish as their first language (cradle tongue), than there are children in the whole island who have Cantonese (the most widely spoken of the Chinese languages in Ireland) as their first language. My own experience would bear out the validity of these research findings.
Le gach dea-ghuí!
Chris

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(Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 194.46.86.100
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 05:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Natalie

Canada is a fine country that I admire very much - I was making a joke.

However only when we have dealt with Connemara will we consider a non-aggression pact with Canada. Otherwise we'll probably be invading via Quebec.

Paul

James


[1) I am currently reading "Séanna". It's a bit elementary, but the story line is compelling, the moral elements sound...in short. It's a good book, cleverly written and thouroughly enjoyable. Is it "War and Peace"? No. But it's not "See Jack Run" either! ]

Fine.

[2) It seems many of Pauls assertions regarding the oppressiveness of the Irish Language Act have been debunked. Go raibh mile maith agat, a Aonghuis! Once again, your enthusiasm and simple "ground truth" is a shining inspiration! ]

Debunked? Which ones? OK so you don't need it for civil service jobs anymore and that gets you out of jail does it? You've got to be kidding. I didn't comment directly on the Language Act in this blog so far as I know but I also notice that you have not actually addressed a large number of precise points I have made - e.g. the NUI rule - which alone deals a fatal blow to the policy or the example of a hypothetical US equivalent to this policy. Deafening silence has followed by subtantive arguments.

[3) "No one will read the road signs"...Hmmm, when I went to Ireland last, I made it a point to read the road signs, I made it a point to read the Irish placards on the historical sites...If I, an American, go to those lengths, why wouldn't an Irishman? ]

This proves that it's your hobby. It doesn't prove that it's our language.

[4) Irish is not the language school children shout on the playground? Well, someone go smack those kids who were playing down the road from my B&B in An Spideal! The joy and the laughter pouring through my window as gaeilge was just about the most wonderful part of that evening...the bastards...how dare they go contrary to Paul and Mr. Myer's view of the "real Ireland!" ]

Traditionally the smaking was if they WEREN'T speaking Irish but what would you care? Joy and laughter, state check through the door and a happy American tourist. What could be better?

[5) If you're going to go to a state supported school and the requirement is that you learn Irish well, then by golly...learn Irish! If you don't want to learn Irish then don't plan on going to a state supported school!!! ]

At last the cloven hoof is revealed. My, my.


[In America, if you want to get into medical school, you're going to have to have Inorganic Chemistry with a Lab, Physics with a Lab, Organic Chemistry with a Lab AND one or more foreign languages somewhere in your background.]

Yes. How many 'native' languages do you have to use?

[state school = Irish. Non state school = no Irish needed.]

Funny how your private American enthusiasm is ready to be pressed into the service of such lousy public policy. But we live in a democracy so I shouldn't complain.


[6) One point was made, again by one of my most steadfast mentors Aonghus, that the "polite thing" to do in Ireland is to cease in Irish as soon as ONE non-Irish enters the conversation. I can say that I find this to be quite true. Time and again I've had to say, "As gaeilge, Le do thoil!!" I've been met with laughs, (no doubt at my dreadful pronunciation), stares and other looks I've yet to figure out, but more often than not, the conversation has continued! ]

Continued with what? 'Will someone call the police?' or 'Do you have trouble getting a date?' I'm only kidding.

[Finally) It seems to me that Paul and Mr Myers could benefit from a trip outside of Dublin. Get out into the countryside and see what's really going on out there. Get out from behind the desk, strip of the Gucci loafers and put on some muckers, turn of the Vivaldi and crank up some Trad, put down the brie and caviar and LIVE, dear man... LIVE!!! There's a whole new world "beyond the pale" and it's just waiting for you to find it and regale in all it has to offer!!! ]

Have you seen Deliverance?

Actually I have several Irish speaking relatives - including a native speaker from North Donegal. I quite like some of the music. I believe the fishing's good down West. I'm familiar with North Connemara. Have been to Roundstone a number of times. Lovely place. I'm open minded. But please no banjo music, OK?

[Seriously, though, I find you're approach toward the Irish language and those who DO speak it on a daily basis to be profoundly arrogant. You and your kind seem to want to reinstate the "bogtrotter" status to the Language when in fact, it IS the vernacular of a certain segment of your population. A segment that is far broader and deserves far more credit than you and your kind seem willing to recognize. How pathetically arrogant.]

I'm beginning to feel like a Bond villain. 'What do I expect you to do Mr. (Michael D) Higgins? Why I expect you to die'.

I'm gonna stop here because a lot of my questions weren't addressed and so if they are I may respond.

I've noticed a pathology here. No matter how clearly I spell out problems with the policy of supporting and promoting rather than the culture itself - I'm deemed to be causing offence to my fellow countrymen and attacking the language. This means that the culture has become identified with the policy of supporting and promoting it and that you advocates of state action are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

This is worrying for any culture.

I'll ask one of my colleagues who is not Irish to contribute to this discussion. He has views on Irish culture that make me look like Michael D. I'm signing off until any of the specific questions I asked people to answer / discuss are addressed.

In the mean time James and in the spirit of your response: I find you incredibly offensive towards the English speaking majority of this country who wish to have no part in this dreary business!!!! -:)

Kind regards


Paul

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Paul (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 68.164.200.41
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 07:42 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I’m not sure what place your postings have on
a site “dedicated to promoting and teaching the Irish language,”
but rant on, Paul.

I’ve repeatedly heard similar (though shorter)
screeds about the Irish government wasting
taxpayers’ money on TG4, the Irish language
station. My research on this topic comes from the Irish Film and Television
Network’s website: http://www.iftn.ie/handbook/index2.htm?fuseaction=article&file=16

"TG4 is a Government initiative for public service broadcasting and is funded by the Exchequer.
In 2002 the annual amount of current funding it received from the Exchequer was €21.8m."

Working out to a cost per Irish taxpayer of approximately 10 euros.

As for “pathology,” I find your use of terms such as “Hamas”
and intimations re “national socialism” to be very revealing
as to the well of vitriol you’re drawing from.

Yours,
Paul

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James
Member
Username: James

Post Number: 35
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 08:11 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul (An Cantalach)

The precise reason that I have not taken you on point for point is that many of those points you make are lost on me as a non-Irish outside observer. What is NOT lost on me is the vitriol with which you defend your position.

I have chosen to address the issues you raise in which I have a direct or at least more than marginal knowledge.

Now, since you do bring up "Deliverance" and mention the "banjo" I could assume you are taking a rather juvenile and pathetic swipe at my southern heritage. Then, on the other hand I could take the time to draw your attention to the Irish culture you say was abandoned by the Irish immigrants. I would challenge you to place good Irish trad side by side with traditional bluegrass. Put Irish step dancing side by side with Appalachain clogging. Do any of this and THEN tell me the Irish abandoned their culture once they hit American shores. Take a stroll through the vernacular of the American south and hear terms like galore, Brogans, and clabber bandied about and THEN tell me the language was abandoned as soon as these immigrants reached America. No my irrascible friend, as we say in the south, "That dog won't hunt!"

I also find an interesting insight into a possible source of your anger toward all things gaeilge in your response to my blatant sarcasm vis a vis "beating the children." This, I feel, is the precise source of the ambivalence at best and hatred at its worse that many Irishmen and Irishwomen feel toward their language. (oops, I did use the 3rd person plural possessive there now didn't I?) It is in the WAY in which the language was taught. Scroll up a few (or not so few) blocks and you'll see Phil (aka Fear na mBrog) address this issue head on. He didn't really start to enjoy the language until he came in contact with a teacher who was capable of teaching!!

I'm sorry your childhood experience with Irish was unpleasant but I'm not certain that leading the abolitionist movement is what you need to restore your self esteem. I might suggest some therapy, preferably from an Irish speaking therapist!

James

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April (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 152.163.100.195
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 11:27 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Ní fiú dúinn a bheith ag argóint leis. Tá mé réasúnta cinnte nach féidir le duine ar bith a intinn a athrú, agus is cinnte nach bhfuil sé ag athrú m'íntinne.
Níl meas agam air agus níl mórán am agam, agus mar sin, níl rún dhá laghad agam é a chur amú leis an duine seo.
Níl sé ag éisteacht.
Dhá ndearfadh leis nach dteastaíonn aon airgead uaidh, ach ba mhian le 50% de na daoine in Éirinn Gaeilge amháin a labhairt, ní bheadh sé sásta leis. Dhá mbeadh jab maith ag gach Bearlóir agus iad in ann á dteanga féin a labhairt, gan Gaeilge, ní bheadh sé sásta leis ansin ach oiread.

An gceapann sibh go n-aontaíonn mórán daoine leis in Éirinn?

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.1.100.104
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 04:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Sílim gur fiú a choinneáil ag imeacht ' April a chara, mar dá fhaide a choinneoimid i mbun caidirne é, is áiféisí a rachaidh sé. Tá muintir an chláir seo ag foghlaim go leor uaidh i ngan fhios. Splancfaidh sé na daoine eile seo atá á fhadú le Béarla ar fad. Mholfainn daoibh go léir dalladh Gaeilge a chartadh chuige, i measc bhur gcuid Béarla más gá.



....Tá mé réasúnta cinnte nach féidir le duine ar bith a intinn a athrú, agus is cinnte nach bhfuil sé ag athrú m'íntinne. Níl meas agam air agus níl mórán am agam, agus mar sin, níl rún dhá laghad agam é a chur amú leis an duine seo.
- Tuigim duit.



...Níl sé ag éisteacht.
-Tá, ar éigin, agus cuimhnigh nach mbíonn tréan buan. Dá gcaillfí a chógas air aon lá amháin, ní chloisfí a dhath riabhach uaidh!


.....Dhá ndearfadh leis nach dteastaíonn aon airgead uaidh, ach ba mhian le 50% de na daoine in Éirinn Gaeilge amháin a labhairt, ní bheadh sé sásta leis. Dhá mbeadh jab maith ag gach Bearlóir agus iad in ann á dteanga féin a labhairt, gan Gaeilge, ní bheadh sé sásta leis ansin ach oiread.
- Is léir nach duine ar iomlán céille é.



An gceapann sibh go n-aontaíonn mórán daoine leis in Éirinn?
- A mhalairt. Cuid de fháth na binibe é sin. B'fhearr len a leath de mhuintir na hÉireann an Ghaeilg a mholadh i mBéarla ná í a fhoghlaim i gceart agus a tharraingt chucu féin mar chéad teanga acu.
Bhíodh an céatadán níos airde ná sin. Is i bhfeabhas atá an scéal a ghabháil.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
Unregistered guest
Posted From: 193.1.100.104
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 04:22 am:   Edit Post Print Post

5,000 focal eile uait inniu a Luap?
Cá bhfuil an 5,000 focal an lae inniu?
Get working a phleidhce! Tá tú fós i dtír na hóige agus leath an tsaoil ar a gcois!

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Aonghus
Member
Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 198
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 05:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I am tired of chasing moving goalposts.

However, I note from the website of the organisation of which Mr MacDonnell is a director that "Corporate subscriptions to the Open Republic are treated by the Revenue as tax deductible donations to charity."

This means that his work is partly funded by taxpayers money.

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Diarmo
Member
Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 41
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 07:09 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tabhair an pairti daonlathach cabhair orainn chun na cáin a seachaint dearfa! ;)

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Diarmo
Member
Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 42
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 07:24 am:   Edit Post Print Post

from another Irish langauge Forum-I think this guy sums up some interesting points towards Irish people's language and an Ghaeilge!
It is from Gaeilge B list available at https://listserv.heanet.ie/ by registering!

Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 12:58:32 +0200
Reply-To: Ljubodrag Gráthas Grujic <ljubagru@panet.co.yu>
Sender: Lucht Foghlamtha na Gaeilge <gaeilge-b@listserv.heanet.ie>
From: Ljubodrag Gráthas Grujic <ljubagru@panet.co.yu>
Subject: Re: "Erin go bragh - but in English please"
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"

First of all, let me tell you - I love my own language the most. It is the
vessel of my thoughts. It is the clothes of my soul. I love English language
a lot. I love Irish for its sound, grammar and expressions. Although I'm not
proficient in neither of them (yes, not even in Serbian), I consider them to
be MINE. But when you love something or someone, you sometimes have to be
direct in criticising, for the sake of improvement. Therefore, I shall say
the following and not apologize for it as this does not apply to a small
portion of society with strong devotion to Irish:

The sad truth is that out of all modern European nations, the Irish are the
only one that have almost completely switched to another language (Scots are
another story, their linguistic "Celticness" was never complete, there
always was a non-Celtic speaking part of that nation, and the Welsh are on
the road of secure recovery and Lithuanians are doing well again). Irish
incessant wining about the reason for that being oppressed by the English is
almost unbearably pathetic. My nation has been under the Turkish slavery for
500 years (and English rule had been a picnic on a sunny afternoon compared
to the Turkish one) and yet we persevered speaking Serbian to this day. Then
there's another excuse: it was a prerequisite for economic advancement.
After years of learning Irish as a hobby (as it is one of the most beautiful
languages I have ever heard, albeit with revolting pronunciations of English
"r" here and there even by native speakers) my stomach turns to this
sentence - I would rather die of hunger than forget my own language or not
pass it to my children! How could those people see their children, nay, even
encourage their children to be raised as foreigners, speaking a foreign
tongue? Why didn't they emigrate and still keep the language? Fight, fight
for it! Even when there is no hope, fight! The famous sentence "We love the
language, but we love our children better" for me is equal to suicide and
all the mortal sins connected to it (The same resentment I foster toward my
nation for accepting communism and becoming Yugoslavs, which lead to
catastrophe in the past decade). I'm not saying that Irishmen did not fight
for it, but I will have to say, and it pains me to the core of cores, that
there's something illusive, mellow and politically centripetal in the Celtic
race that impedes it from reaching one strong political idea and sticking
with it, which makes them perfect for assimilation. After centuries of being
submissive (in spite of numerous uprisings which were all so small and
insignificant in scale that is they didn't include the whole country),
there's a feeling that Irishmen, on the whole, still suffer from a certain
colonial complex, basically acting as snobs, violently opposing voices of
those that remained loyal to themselves, being Irish in an Irish tongue.

That violent attack happened to me too. At one St. Patrick's Day reception
in Belgrade I was happily chatting in my limited Irish with one former Irish
prime minister (Fitzgerald I think, but don't hold my word on that) when one
other Irish guy comes to us and says "What is it that you're talking, I
can't understand". "It's in Irish", says I. "You speak IRISH? You're a
freak!" (those were the very words he used) And I replied "Well, at least
I'm not an ignorant snob". He retreated on the spot and I continued my
conversation about Togha agus rogha on RnG in very broken Irish.

So, we shouldn't feel desperate and keep it bottled up inside, which will
turn into hate and resentment (which isn't good for your belly, you know),
instead we should always have in mind the true state of the majority of
average population and slowly accustom their passive minds to the fact that
the Irish is here to stay by speaking, writing, thinking and fighting in it,
for it. In a generation or two they will succumb, as their forefathers have
to English. Make them see that resistance is futile :-) If they start
rambling about their rights to be passive consumers (and therefore not learn
Irish), just nod and agree and continue making them passively consume the
growing Irish presence! One day they will sign their children to
Gaelscoileanna to secure their better position in the society, as it would
seem that they like their children better than condemning them to only
having English. Lazy s*ds.

Next time you get a derogatory question from an Irishmen "You speak IRISH?
Why in heavens sake?" just laugh straight to his/her face and make him/her
understand how UNCIVILIZED you think he/she is. Struck that colonial cord,
let them squeal in shame! It's time we showed some teeth, that's what I say.

I will leave you with the boosting saying which will prove to you that not
only can we not loose, but that success is imminent

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people
can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

All the best

Lj

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April (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 152.163.100.136
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 11:18 am:   Edit Post Print Post

- A mhalairt. Cuid de fháth na binibe é sin. B'fhearr len a leath de mhuintir
na hÉireann an Ghaeilg a mholadh i mBéarla ná í a fhoghlaim i gceart agus a
tharraingt chucu féin mar chéad teanga acu.
Bhíodh an céatadán níos airde ná sin. Is i bhfeabhas atá an scéal a ghabháil.>>>

Bhí mé ag deanamh íontas mar má bhíonn duine ann agus tuairim aige ar rud, bhionn daoine eile ann atá ar aon intinn leis de ghnath.....ach iad ina dtost.

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Marilyn (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 12:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you Diarmo for posting that last article. It does provide a balance to many of the comments I have read here today. I do not access this forum on a regular basis but I can always be assured at least one rousing discussion when I do choose to "lurk" in the background.

I'd like now to speak a little to the Canadian experience. As a long-time resident of the only officially bi-lingual (French and English) province in Canada, (No - not Quebec - New Brunswick) may I assure you Paul that we in Canada, and particularly in New Brunswick, have been experiencing, for years, precisley what you speak about - the use of tax-payer dollars to not only support, but to promote and even discrimate IN FAVOUR of what most in the country would define as our "second language". It has cost a lot of money, sometimes resulted in non-qualified people being hired just because their mother tongue was french, and caused real friction between the english and french factions of the country (and again, more specifically, my province). What do I, as an english-born resident, think of this? I embrace it wholeheartedly. When my children were in school I chose to send them into complete english/french immersion from the beginning. Did their marks suffer because of it? Yes, in the beginning, however by the time they finsihed high school and university they, and the immersion students in general, were scholastically superior to their fellow graduates AND they had another language to boot! How can this be wrong?

The french in this country have fought very tough battles to retain their language as the primary signpost of the rest of their culture. For many years they were voices crying in the wilderness and indeed the language and culture were rapidly declining in this province until one visionary premier, much to the complaints and dismay of the majority of the province's anglophones, legislated the use of both french and english in our school systems, and our government. However, a few decades later, not only are the prospects of the bi-lingual population brighter, no matter where they go in the country or world, but so too are the fortunes of the province as more industry is encouraged by the capacity that bi-lingulaism presents.

I know you will now say that the difference is that French is spoken is many other countires therefore the benefit is much more obvious but, I am talking about a principle here. Language is a very large part of culture and I liken those who do not want to pay taxes to promote it because they are not interested in learning it somewhat akin to the couple I spoke with who were angry that they had to pay extra taxes for one of the new schools being built because they had no children so would never have need of the school.

Yes, languages and cultures may die after a long period of disuse however, Irish is not yet a "dead" language, and, the growing interest in reviving it speaks volumes to me. Here in Canada the province of Nova Scotia has just re-introduced Scottish Gaelic into the school system as a mandatory subject. Why? Because not all, as you put it, "jettisoned their culture." " The Gaelic speakers who went to America - jettisoned it immediately." Au contraire, mon ami!! (By the way - Canada is part of the "Americas" although we can be rather snobbish and try to forget that sometimes.:-)) In the province of Newfoundland there are still small pockets (particularly in the coastal villages and around the Tors Cove and Bay Bulls area outside of St. John's) that still use Irish in their everyday lives. They have never "jettisoned it" even after centuries of not even living in the country their ancestors came from. The same is true of Nova Scotia and their Scottish Gaelic.

Perhaps it is a function of remoteness or distance from what they still feel of as "home" that has kept these Gaelic cultures so alive in these areas. It was the straw to which they could hang on to. It saddens me greatly to think that people who have left Ireland have instilled this much faithfulness to their ancestral roots and those that remained have not.


After reading all of these posts I am greatly encouraged by the overwhelming opinions on the "pro" side of government support of such initiatives. I am entirley with you.

- Marilyn (born English, now speak French and a spattering of Munster Irish)

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 203
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:34 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Some additional Information pertinent to this discussion
from the Church of Ireland (Anglican, known as Episcopalian in the US).

A small portion of the debate on the Official Languages Act, underlining tge fact that Irish is spoken by TDs from all parties (and none) in Dail Éireann
http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0567/D.0567.200305220022.html

The FAQ on the above act (In English - Click on Gaeilge in the Naviagtion bar above the FAQ to go to the Irish Version)
http://www.pobail.ie/en/IrishLanguage/OfficialLanguagesAct2003/OfficialLanguages Act2003FAQs/

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 204
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The Full Information on the debate on the Official Languages Act, which gives the lie to the claim that it was "rushed through"

http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/bills/2002/2402/defau lt.htm

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Ó_diocháin
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Username: Ó_diocháin

Post Number: 6
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:55 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghuis, a chara,
Go raibh maith agat as do theachtaireacht.
The Church of Ireland website is slightly out of date and there is currently an even greater level of Irish language activity than the information on their site would suggest. Most significant perhaps is the fact that a new edition of the Revised Book of Common Prayer in Irish was published this month (September 2004).
For any who might be interested in the related issues for Scots Gaelic, the Scottish Executive recently established a non-departmental public body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig (http://www.bord-na-gaidhlig.org.uk/) which will be responsible for the overall direction and management of the National Plan for Gaelic in Scotland, and yesterday (27 September) introduced a Gaelic Language Bill in the Scottish Parliament (http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/bills/pdfs/b25s2.pdf).
Is mise le meas,
Chris

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 206
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 06:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I was aware that the information was old. I was actually looking for information on the new book of Common Prayer: but I don't have a lot of time to do this. After all, I'm not being supported by corporate donations to float my pet theories...

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi

I think that there's been some light but too much heat in this debate. I accept my part in that. I suppose you'll find people who would support language rights can be intolerant as can people who, as I do, oppose them. Is the French government requiring shop signs to be in French in parts of Quebec the equivalent to that Churl being rude to Diarmo? I would tend to think so and would oppose both forms of action for the same reason.

I would like to re-state my case - in different form. A lot of you have speculated on what's driven me to make such an argument. Thank you for your suggestions of therapy and - perhaps worse. I think the key issue for me is my view of culture - which I tend to think of in terms of an open market, global world. Such a view probably does spell death for a lot of diversity in spoken language - I don't know. And I can understand why people would not like this. I speak poor French and am spending time trying to improve it. I love France and I love the fact that it's linguistically different. This is, if you will, a philosophy I hold. Then there's my own evidence and experience of language 'protection' in Ireland itself. Hence I have drafted the following as an open letter to those whom I would describe as 'cultural nationalists'. Part of the problem of this kind of discussion is that we can't look each other in the eye so don't assume too much about motives and intent from what you read. This does mention the Serbs, however, don't take offence!

AN OPEN LETTER TO IRELAND'S CULTURAL NATIONALISTS - MOST OF WHOM DON'T SPEAK IRISH

I address this not to Irish speakers the vast majority of whom are, like most others, good people with an open mind. I address this to Ireland's Cultural Nationalists some of whom speak Irish but most of whom, like me, don't.

You regard anglo-phone / British / American culture as somehow inappropriate in modern day Ireland, you regard much British and American culture as being 'down-market' and you believe that wealth transfers should be made from poor English-only speaking taxpayers to better-off Gaelic speaking non-taxpayers as a matter of public policy. If I offend the non-Cultural Nationalists by what follows then forgive me - that's not my intention.

Truth is your ideas are founded on sloppy thinking - a New Age fantasy sustained by a wilful misunderstanding of Ireland's history and real culture.

Do you know that the scale and extent of man-made beauty in our parks, great houses and public buildings is really not bad. All of it predates the period of the 20th Century Celtic revival - something which has produced little or nothing in this area, and also, little by way of literature or painting. This is not to condemn it. This is to place it in its proper context.

Victoria / Killiney Hill in South County Dublin, the great historical figures born on this island but spurned by the Celtic revival and its aftermath - Wellington, Shackleton, Burke, Shaw, Berkeley, Boyle, I could go on and on.You even misunderstand Cromwell - forgetting his key role in the development of freedom as a Western achievement - preferrring 17th Century Catholic propagana about his killing all of Drogheda to a proper historical analysis. The actual physical content of 95% of our culture and history has nothing to do with what you proclaim as being 'Irish'.

When it comes down to it. What have you got? You've got people - 'native' Irish speakers you want me to believe are simultaneously:

a. victims
b. beautiful
c. kind
d. decent
e. clever
f. artistic

And what do we see all around in South Connemara and parts of West Clare? An ordinary, low-income rural area where a folk culture attracts tourists. The tragedy of this is not that believers in the 'central significanc for Ireland' of this culture fool the gullible. The tragedy is that they fool themselves and various intellectuals who should know better. And all of this is supported by a 'culture' and 'rural development' programme that we someone forgot to kill off because - frankly - the stakes are too low in Dublin whilst in the Gaeltacht they are just too high.

Offended? But I live in Dublin. Now tell me that Dublin has problems - that I am deluded, whatever. I won't be offended in the slightest. In fact I'll maintain an open mind. I have as much cause to feel offended by some of what I've read here as others have to feel about what I've written. So let's call that quits and discuss the facts. That's because my self-esteem depends on me, what I know and what I think. You want me to patronise you about your pride in your county, your country, your 'language'? I respect your freedom to take pride in such things. But ultimately, successful cultures are built on respect for ourselves - for each other. Culture thrives because people have collective talent and pride that prompts them to give freely. This website is a good example of that spirit.

I do believe that Cultural Nationalism asks us - tries to force us - to participate in a boutique pseudo-aboriginal fantasy about 'culture'. The only way you can have it like this - have it both ways - is to pretend that you are or represent a majority that needs to be treated like an ethnic minority in your own country. This is the culture of the Masada. Once you need to protect a culture it is already dead. Once you stop trying to protect it it will live again - though never as a mainstream national culture of public intercourse - I'm happy to agree to differ on this.

...see below for part II of this reply.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Part II

The major problem is, I suspect, with the English-language version of what results. This will be the dominant version of the cultural nationalist world. This is the version I know is hopelessly inadequate. Like we're supposed to believe that New Grange has some Celtic significance? I think New Grange is pre-celtic but maybe someone will correct me on this.

It seems that Ireland is very keen not to be a part of mainstream Western civillisation. Products of post-modernist university departments throughout the Western have landed here over the decades and told us that we are a bastion against the 'dominant' 'hierarchies' of the West. And many of us have believed them. We are the only country in the world that aspires to a cultural level that is BELOW what we have achieved. Are we the cultural Amsterdam of Europe? All the hippies go to the 'Dam to smoke pot (not to see the art). When they want to do culture they can take the bus past the Riksmuseum to the airport and fly to Knock to check out the breeze-block architecture, drink Guinness and hang out with the locals. Don't get me wrong. You could have a good time doing this. I'm no snob. Really. But culture? No.

The trouble with you Cultural Irish nationalists is that you are Bosnian Serbs - but without the balls, conviction or even coherence (this doesn't apply North of the border. You guys are truly scary). You are used to decades of deference from suburban fools who call their houses Tara and their children Fiachra and Saoirse and who look at the core practitioners - famous fiddlers, poets and dancers - the same way Medieval Europeans regarded wandering holy men. The problem with this view of Gaelic culture isn't the culture but the disconnect that even its admirers feel when they look at it.

The language in Northern Ireland? Ironically it's voluntary so far as I know. Anyway the Sinn Fein Irish speakers don't need to be poked into action here. This is, I am sorry to say, a true fascist movement with a long-term plan to ethnically cleanse the Province of its Protestant and British heritage. This will make Gaelic a slum language that will grow only as a parasitic fungus on the body of the British state and its well-funded branches in Northern Ireland. Speaking Irish, getting the capitalistic / imperialistic British to pay for it, getting rid of the class-enemy Protestants and taking a step towards a 32-county Gaelic republic all in one stroke. Lenin couldn't do better. And you call this a 'language revival'? Why not be honest and simply call it 'war'.

The questions are:

1. Is there any direct paralllel anywhere else in the DEMOCRATIC world to our cultural engineering project?
2. How would an attempt to do the equivalent go down in the USA - compulsory for certain state jobs and 70%? - 80% percent of available College places - and Americans be prepared to argue for it there?
3. Does the requirement for Irish in the leaving cert as applied ONLY to Irish nationals and no one else when applying for ALL NUI colleges constitute a justifiable intervention on the question of culture 're-education' - based on 'nationality'?
4. The real cost? Let me see - several hours a week for every school-aged person in the state for decades with next to nothing to show for it; state quangos, bureaucacies, misdirected, misspent and stolen millions in 'aid', signs, translation, massive opportunity costs, all the staff AND their pensions, etc. A few pints a week? I don't think so. It's got to be hundreds of millions - probably billions.

Consider this. The total number of people emigrating from Ireland every year during the 1980s may exceed the numbers using Irish for most of the day in the world today. There it is in perspective. But here's where it gets more serious. Even during the 1980s the gombeen crooks who oversaw our economy and culture were as smug and complacent as ever - even as the country was hallucinating moving statues - even as their own children were emigrating to - where? - the USA and the UK - these untouchables whined, without irony, about the evils of Reagan and Thatcher. I saw them then and, I think I still see them now, as having lived in a solipsistic, autistic, dreary world of inter-county rivalry and mystic Irish poetry (translated into English) where the unchallenging certainties of Gaelic fortune-cookie wisdom told them they were the greatest people on earth. Sure there is, I'm sure real Gaelic wisdom but, be honest, the British and Hollywood are not the only people in the simplification and dumbing-down business.

Ultimately this 'culture' was just a localised New Ageism designed to disarm those who would be angry with them, give nothing away to those who would scrutinise them and run from those who would confront them. They were corrupt and venal beyond belief and you, our atavistic friends, were their idea of integrity. Now what does that tell you? I'll tell you what it tells me. The warm sulpherous currents of state money made you confident. In return your pre-industrial reality (manufactured and disseminated in the sense described by Adorno and the Frankfurt School), drowned out all the questions - the sound track to 'Ireland, my Ireland' - useful if not central to a country that did not believe in transparency of any kind.

The 'Fields of Athenry' is the anthem of this new culture that you alone have created. And you say the Anglo-Americans are dumbed down? You are, no doubt, well meaning and you are right: we will never defeat you.

But so long as you Cultural Nationalists seek to use the power of the State for your ends you will be weaker - not stronger. So I say - as a poor representative of that other culture, that modern Ireland of which I am happy to accept Gaelic as a part - we will never defeat you. But we will transcend you.


regards


Paul MacDonnell

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Aonghus
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Post Number: 208
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:14 am:   Edit Post Print Post

To whom is your diatribe addressed Paul?

I don't recognise the views you are attributing to "cultural nationalists" in anybody here.

The sole reason for the existence of this website, of which this board is only a part, is to support the efforts of a group in the United States of America who wish to facilitate those who actually want to learn Irish.

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Diarmo
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Post Number: 43
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:53 am:   Edit Post Print Post

test

(Message edited by diarmo on September 29, 2004)

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Diarmo
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Username: Diarmo

Post Number: 44
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:55 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul will always associate Gaeilge with cultural nationalists he forgets that even revisionists like Eoghan Harris speak fluent Irish! (any more of them? An bhfuil Gaeilge ag an Cruiser?? his wife is an Irish language poet Maire Mac an tSaoi!)

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Diarmo
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Post Number: 45
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Next he will be accusing us all of voting for Sinn Fein and being IRA supporters! He is confused!

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:05 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Diarmo

Like I said at the top. My comments are addressed only to those who are cultural nationalists (which I'm defining as those who see it as a political project - requiring state intervention)- not those who are Irish speakers or who simply value the language. I believe there is a difference between the two but if you believe that by merely attacking the former I am necessarily attacking the latter then the associative error is yours.

For what it's worth, I know both Harris and O'Brien slightly and I know that both substantially agree with my analysis of state coercion.

Paul

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Diarmo

Where did I accuse you of anything like supporting Sinn Fein? Where did I even address you. The lady doth protest too much. I don't know who you mean by 'us all'. I do believe I'm addressing individuals here.

The powerhouse in Irish Gaelic cultural revival is the North of Ireland. The nationalists there are voting Sinn Fein in increasing numbers - as you know.

We are discussing Irish Government policy and the approach to the language by Government here aren't we?

The situation in NI is relevant to that discussion, isn't it?

Paul

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghus

[I don't recognise the views you are attributing to "cultural nationalists" in anybody here.]

True but see this from Diarmo - above...

[...I'm not saying that Irishmen did not fight
for it, but I will have to say, and it pains me to the core of cores, that there's something illusive, mellow and politically centripetal in the Celtic race that impedes it from reaching one strong political idea and sticking with it, which makes them perfect for assimilation. After centuries of being submissive (in spite of numerous uprisings which were all so small and
insignificant in scale that is they didn't include the whole country), there's a feeling that Irishmen, on the whole, still suffer from a certain colonial complex, basically acting as snobs, violently opposing voices of
those that remained loyal to themselves, being Irish in an Irish tongue. ]

These are ethnic generalisations of the kind that cultural nationalists rely on - Irish vs. English etc..etc..- though i'm not saying that Diarmo is one - though he is a Serb and cultural nationalism seems to be significant in Serbia.

The thread is about State policy on the Irish language and you are writing on it because I started it so you shouldn't be telling me what it's about now should you?

Paul

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Cathal Mac Daibhéid (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.120.124.130
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 09:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Hmm, I see I’m way behind again, this is what happens when I get back to working.


Paul, I’m going to address some of these points on language/culture you brought up. I really don’t care about the policies of the irish state with regards culture/language/Michael D. Higgins. If my comments sounded like 1930’s political wording its probably due to my lacking much political education, or reading Poblacht na hEireann once too often, language and history is what interest me.

[[Also I disagree with this assumption that cultures fail. Cultures do not succeed or fail, they exist or they do not. ]]

[Truth is that people jettison their culture. The Gaelic speakers who went to America - jettisoned it immediately. How does this compare with the the other peoples who went to the US? The Russian example is OK but emotive. Rusia was a conquering power. By 1921 the English were, for the period, relatively OK. Irish wasn't 'taken' from us. We, as a nation - if you like to add significance with such sententiousness - decided to get rid of it. Now then we had movement to 'revive' it but, outside the public sector - where the laws of gravity - much less the laws of economics - hardly apply it's different. It is well known that the Irish will lose no opportunity to say that they 'value' the languge. This hyprocrosy is well known and was well known and pointed out hilariously by Flann O'Brien in both English and, I understand, Irish many years ago.]

Irish speakers who emigrated to the Americas compared quite averagely to the other national/linguistic groups who also emigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. German speakers migrated in far larger numbers but generally by their second generation German was not spoken within the home (Pennsylvania Dutch the single excuption) The same with Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, etc. All language groups who emigrated to America at this time eventually ‘jettisoned’ their language by and large. Was German culture/language at this time a failure?

I don’t think the Russian example was overly emotive, was not England a conquering power of Ireland in the 16th century? , (or yes that Battle of Kinsale comment, about there being more Irish fighting against O’Neill , O’Donnell & del Aguilla than with, please, please read the facts again) , fast forward 100-200 years and you’ve got an ‘OK’ government. The same could be said of Russia. Regions & nations absorbed by the Czars within Russia from the 1300s on have all lost their languages/cultures, due at first to conquest, then influx of non-native speakers to a time that the original language would be seen as a language of poverty and non-advancement. Later national groups, such as the Crimean Tartar, Komi-Permyak, Western Mari are all in the late stages of language loss, a procedure that would have been repeated in Estonia, Latvia etc. in time. The occupying power would be regarded as 'OK', once they all speak same language, share customs etc.

My brother’s wife is from Georgia, but she is a native Russian speaker, as Russian was really the language of advancement in Soviet times, she learnt Georgian later in life, as nationalistic sentiment and independence movements surfaced in Georgia, before emigrating to America, learning English. Now they live here in limerick and she is (voluntarily) learning some irish. That’s a lot of cultures to ‘jettison’. Is there a pecking order on which cultures are superior so she can jettison them correctly? .
Cultures/languages are not ‘jettisoned’ for reasons that they are inferior, but maybe not passed on to later generations due to the changing social environments people find themselves in. Irish speakers abandoned the language in the mid 1800’s when they went to America as they regarded it as ‘useless language’, the same as most other groups who emigrated to the New World. They adapted the language of the US.

As an aside the Estonian government restricts citizenship to those who have a working command of the Estonian language. Therefore restricting citizenship to the %40 of those who remain: mainly Russian speaking (descendents of Russian speaking immigrants). I personally don’t agree with this myself but it’s an example of what some states (a functioning democracy within the EU) will go to restore a language. Ireland’s provisions seem to be a token effort to me much of the times, but like I said I will refrain from any further 'sententious' comments regarding language policy.
http://www.coe.int/T/E/Legal_Affairs/Legal_co-operation/Foreigners_and_citizens/ Nationality/Documents/National_legislation/Estonia-Citizenship.asp


[[The Celtic peoples were defeated by the Romans due to the inability of the myriad of tribal units within Gaul and Britannia to successfully ally, and due to better military tactics and weaponry employed by the Empire. If was not due to a lacking of one sides culture. Was Celtic culture superior to Roman when Brennus sacked Rome and tossed his sword onto the scales in the senate? ]

[I think you must accept that Celtic culture never reached that mass urban stage that Rome reached. I didn't mean that the Romans defeated it and, therefore, it was inferior.]

Yes I accept that, but remember urban development was a distinguishing feature of Greco-Roman society at this time, otherwise it did not exist throughout the European landmass, i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic.

[[In any case have either of you ever actually listened to Raidió na Gaeltachta, with notices of Cars and tractors for sale, complaints of dogs barking and discussions of the prices of heifers? ,are these the topics of 'covens' ? How about Dara O Cinneide's speaking his native Irish on winning the Sam Maguire yesterday?. Or the tragic deaths of the 4 fishermen off Conamara last week, all native speakers]]

[....you're not making a very compelling case here...I'm more of a Mozart and Machaut man myself. Dogs barking and tractors just don't do it for me. But to take your point seriously. This is not, as I said above, the star-forming material of a cultural Renaissance.]

Hmm, you will see in my mail above this point was actually posted to illustrate the existence of Irish as an everyday language of communication, not as a reference to the breath of Gaelic culture. Would I be right in assuming I was listening to the star-forming material of a cultural Renaissance if I heard the same spoken in English? Of course not, but both are living languages. As for the culture,,,

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Cathal Mac Daibhéid (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.120.124.130
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 09:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

[[Finally, I’m currently reading An Aisling Ghéar, an incredible book about the Aisling (vision) poems of Jacobite Ireland (1600-1750) as well as the history and culture of the time, it is a book worth reading believe me. After that Cré na Cille, is a great book as well, very complex in parts though, good as anything I’ve read as Bearla, or how about even that Seandaoine himself, An Táin? Irish culture is there, if one can accept it.]]

[Yes but how much has happened over the past couple of hundred years - or has it? Let me know.]

But Alevans already stated about Rotha Mór an tSaoil le Micí Mac Gabhann and A Thig Ná Tit Orm le Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé, both in the ‘last couple of hundred years’ – written in the 50’s, Cré na Cille was written in the 40’s. Ask your irish speaking friends if you don’t believe these are excellent books. As an aside consider An Oidche Mus Do Sheol Sinn, written last year by Padraig Cambeul in Scots Gaelic. Of course the Irish language cannot compare with the amount of works produced in English, but it still produces great works, as it has for more than a thousand years. As for Flann O'Brien, a true master of the language, he mocked the early gaelic revivalist zeal brilliantly, but did it best as Gaeilge in An Béal Bocht. Buy it and read it , in its original, to see a great piece of irish culture/language

I’m outta here, I have to do real work, there are a number of other points I would love to discuss, but I only go to this forum for help not to see political badgering, etc. (although this occurs on both sides).

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 210
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:07 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul,

one of the point that makes discussing with you very difficult is your apparent inability to read what people write. Where did you get the idea that Diarmo was a Serb? If you look again, I think you will find that he gave a very long quote from an e-mail from another person who is a Serb.

If you were to take the elementary step of checking his user information, you would find that he is Irish, and living in Dublin.

From where I am sitting, this is what appears:
Someone posted a link to your WSJE article here, and disagreed with it.

Then you came here and started a deluge of words interspersed with a few facts, some of which are incorrect, and many of which are misleading.

Certainly, I found some of the responses equally intemperate and ill advised. But the Germans have a proverb "Wie man im Wald hinein brullt, so schallt es wieder hinaus" - the echo one gets from the forest is that of what one shouts in. (An imperfect translation, I agree).

You complain that no one engages with your argument, and then ignore most of the factual points raised, preferring to rant on about "cultural nationalists" who, as you yourself agree, are not here to hear you.

I frankly don't believe your assertion that there is a sinister coercive state policy to force Irish on an unwilling population. But I am not paid to refute your arguments as you are apparently paid to spread them.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:11 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Cathal

[I really don’t care about the policies of the irish state with regards culture/language/Michael D. Higgins.]

OK but that's my central concern.

Many thanks for these comments, however. No doubt I'm guilty of generalisations. Though I think my central questions about the coercive role of the state in promoting culture - any culture - are outstanding.

Kind regards


Paul MacDonnell

Have read O'Brien - though only in English.



regards.

Paul

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Ó_diocháin
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Post Number: 7
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:22 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dear Paul,
Can I begin by saying how deeply I regret your recent change of mind.
Having announced on Monday evening that you were leaving but that you may return if some of the specific questions which your raised were addressed, I had hoped that we had heard the last of you.
I carefully re-read all of your posts at that time, in an attempt to identify what these specific points which you had raised were, but I was unable to do so.
It seemed to me that while very specific points were being raised in objection to your case, that your posts were more general and seemed to rely more on attempts to make clever use of language - some of which were more successful than others - and to disparage those who disagreed with you and their views.
I hope that I do not do you a particular disservice in describing your posts in this way, but I would invite you to re-read them yourself if you feel that my characterisation of them is inaccurate.
If you do feel that you have, in fact, raised specific points which have not been addressed and which you would like addressed, then I would invite you to repost these - preferably in the form of brief bullet points free of vitriolic rhetoric. I am sure that there are many posters here who would be happy to respond to any points which fall within the realm of their own competences.
Before you undertake such as task, however, can I ask you to consider something.
This is a public discussion forum. Please, before posting again, ask yourself two questions: what do I have to offer to this discussion? what do I have to learn from others who are contributing to this discussion?
Unless you are able to find that you have a positive answer to both of these questions then, I personally would invite you not to post again.
My reasons for this are twofold.
Firstly, writing purely as a linguist who makes a living in what can broadly be termed academia, I was profoundly disappointed by your most recent posts. Having explicitly addressed them to "cultural nationalists", a term which has some currency in the Social Sciences, you chose, post-factum to define this term as meaning "those who see it as a political project - requiring state intervention". This is an odd, personalised definition which has very little relation to the term as it is generally used in academic discourse. I find this arrogance in the use of language inappropriate in any forum which is intended to promote discussion.
You compound the felony by concluding your most recent post with, what prima facie reads like an even more arrogant assertion, "The thread is about State policy on the Irish language and you are writing on it because I started it so you shouldn't be telling me what it's about now should you?"
I would imagine that there are few other people here who would arrogate to themselves the right to control what features in any discussion simply because they initiated it.
Offensive as this may appear, I would wish to assure you that I regard it as trivial by comparison to my second point.
There are many people in and from the North who know what it is like to live through an experience of war. Too many lost friends, neighbours and relatives in recent decades for that memory to be anything other than vivid and painful. For you to suggest that the current situation is analogous to that agony reflects very little regard for what these people have suffered.
This profoundly offensive passage in your diatribe is also clearly not informed by the reality of Irish language activism in the North. I presume you have not read Gordon McCoy's PhD thesis (QUB, 1997); I presume you are unaware of the work of Professor Pritchard of the University of Ulster; I presume you do not know that the book launch for the new Church of Ireland Book of Common Prayer took place in Down Patrick; I presume you have not attended any of the services of Presbyterian worship in the medium of Irish which take place in Belfast.
I make all of these assumptions because I find it difficult to imagine that what you have written in that passage is anything other than an ill-informed rant, based on blinkered, stereo-typical assumptions about what you presume to be the case in the North.
If it were anything other than this, please accept my assurances that it would represent nothing short of an astonishing attack on all of those good people, from "both communities", who see promoting an understanding of the linguistic diversity of Ulster in English, Hiberno-English, Ulster Scots and Irish as a fundamental step in trying to achieve a just and lasting peace.
Le gach dea-ghuí!
Chris

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 10:26 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghus

Oops. Sorry. There were no quotation marks in his quote and I thought the link was to the quote - since there are so many other foreigners on this page it's an easy mistake to make.

Bear in mind a) that I'm not getting paid to do this and b) I've been replying on one side of an argument to about half a dozen people on the other - so if the middle of this effort I mistake one of them for a Serb - well...

I'm not ignoring factual points. I'm getting comments about the language and its use from people who know it better than I do but none on the policy and the philosophical issues it gives rise to - which if you care to scroll to the top of the page - is what this thread is about, No?

Re-read my very first submission. I've got people telling me who fought on what side in the Battle of Kinsale but zip on whether you need to distinguish between volunarism and force in the promotion of a language.

Now if you don't accept that the policy here involves any coercion (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) then tell me and have done with it.

regards

Paul

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

[Dear Paul,
Can I begin by saying how deeply I regret your recent change of mind. Having announced on Monday evening that you were leaving but that you may return if some of the specific questions which your raised were addressed, I had hoped that we had heard the last of you.]

Well I suppose you can if you want - you're really into winning hearts and minds here aren't you?

[I carefully re-read all of your posts at that time, in an attempt to identify what these specific points which you had raised were, but I was unable to do so. It seemed to me that while very specific points were being raised in objection to your case, that your posts were more general and seemed to rely more on attempts to make clever use of language - some of which were more successful than others - and to disparage those who disagreed with you and their views. ]

Yes, yes, yes,...OK I’m Sorry - now do you think that a policy of compulsory Irish in school and it's requirement for NUI colleges and the taxes raised to pay for it etc... are a good thing? I mean do you see any potential problems with this either from the point of people having a right to choose what culture they wish to adopt or from the point of view of efficacy in promoting the use of Irish?

OK. So no rhetoric and no cheap shots at the locals.

[I hope that I do not do you a particular disservice in describing your posts in this way, but I would invite you to re-read them yourself if you feel that my characterisation of them is inaccurate. If you do feel that you have, in fact, raised specific points which have not been addressed and which you would like addressed, then I would invite you to repost these - preferably in the form of brief bullet points free of vitriolic rhetoric. I am sure that there are many posters here who would be happy to respond to any points which fall within the realm of their own competences. ]

Re reading the rest of your mail I ask you can you ask yourself one question. What is the purpose of it? Is it cause me to feel / react in a certain way? Are you angry because I've questioned things you hold dear? And what's with the ponderous, lofty tone....the reason I pointed out that it was a thread I started was because - and you should know you've been reading the posts carefully - I was responding to the following point;

'I don't recognise the views you are attributing to "cultural nationalists" in anybody here. The sole reason for the existence of this website, of which this board is only a part, is to support the efforts of a group in the United States of America who wish to facilitate those who actually want to learn Irish.'

[Firstly, writing purely as a linguist who makes a living in what can broadly be termed academia, I was profoundly disappointed by your most recent posts.]

Don't you think that this is just a little pompous?

[Having explicitly addressed them to "cultural nationalists", a term which has some currency in the Social Sciences, you chose, post-factum to define this term as meaning "those who see it as a political project - requiring state intervention". This is an odd, personalised definition which has very little relation to the term as it is generally used in academic discourse. I find this arrogance in the use of language inappropriate in any forum which is intended to promote discussion. ]

I defined it as such in an Irish context. Show me an Irish Cultural nationalist - who opposes compulsory Irish in schools.


[Offensive as this may appear, I would wish to assure you that I regard it as trivial by comparison to my second point.
There are many people in and from the North who know what it is like to live through an experience of war. Too many lost friends, neighbours and relatives in recent decades for that memory to be anything other than vivid and painful. For you to suggest that the current situation is analogous to that agony reflects very little regard for what these people have suffered. ]

I suggested no such analogy you sanctimonious, pompous and foolish fellow. Read my post again. I said 'Why not be honest and simply call it 'war'.' I didn't say it seemed analogous to anything.

[This profoundly offensive passage......etc...].

Do you have a stake in all of this Northern Ireland language industry. Well I don't buy any of it. The Brits and Dublin have sold out to Sinn Fein. Step back from the grammar and look at the big picture.

regards

Paul MacDonnell

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 213
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I don't accept that you have proved your point, or indeed offered any evidence, that the policy on Irish in the State is implemented using coercion.

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Pádraig Pearse Mac Daibhéid (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.194.79.82
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:06 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Good evening all,

My first post on this forum, and I have to say that I have found it extremely interesting, enlightening and very informative. Paul is an interesting character, what with his worldly views from the confines of D4 Dublin. A day picking potatoes in Roscommon would do wonders for his views on the Irish culture. I'll even escort you from the pale myself. You can listen to your favourite Mozart while picking the spuds if you so desire :)

Regards,
Pádraig

Ps Nice to see my brother being as vocal as always on this subject

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:10 am:   Edit Post Print Post

[I don't accept that you have proved your point, or indeed offered any evidence, that the policy on Irish in the State is implemented using coercion.]

So compulsory Irish in school and for NUI etc..is not 'coercive'? Well what is it then? Look I'm not trying to trap you. It's coercive when the state tells you to drive on the left hand side of the road - I'm not arging against that but good God man you aren't telling me that 'Compulsory' has no sense of the word coercion about it are you?

Paul

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Searlas
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Username: Searlas

Post Number: 4
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Mr. MacDonnell, how is compulsory Irish in school any more coercive that compulsory English? Both are official languages of the Republic, correct?

I guess if compulsory English is coercive then so is compulsory Irish. Although I don't believe I heard you complain about compulsory English. Fair is fair.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:29 am:   Edit Post Print Post

[I suggested no such analogy you sanctimonious, pompous and foolish fellow. Read my post again. I said 'Why not be honest and simply call it 'war'.' I didn't say it seemed analogous to anything. ]

To clarify this point further. I think it is war by other means - not equivalent to war - but war by other means. And I think that's what Sinn Fein are up to. Merely because no shots are being fired doesn't mean the war in their minds is over.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

[Mr. MacDonnell, how is compulsory Irish in school any more coercive that compulsory English? Both are official languages of the Republic, correct?]

I guess if compulsory English is coercive then so is compulsory Irish. Although I don't believe I heard you complain about compulsory English. Fair is fair.]

You're right. Compulsory English is coercive. Except that, given the choice, a majority of pupils would drop compulsory Irish whereas far fewer would drop English - so is Irish more compulsory?!! mmm Haven't thought about it like that.

Besides the purpose of English teaching is almost wholly literary whereas the teaching of Irish is to impart some working knoweledge of the language. So it's not simply analogous by virtue of their both being official languages. Your point is well made - not a lot of that going on here at the moment. Also and maybe its begs the question that's been begged so many times above if you look at English the way I do - as simply a natural thing to teach in an English speaking country - it seems more natural to require its use in school etc.

I suppose my starting point is that not being a language of daily use in more than a small part of the country Irish should not be 'official'...and so the rest of my argument follows.

With Irish the idea is to impart coupla focail at the very least because this is deemed to be part of our identity etc.

This is the strongest point made to me so far. Thanks. Ultimately this debate will come down to a philosophical position on either side. We're gonna have to agree to disagree and if ever I get elected with a 100 seat Dail majority then officially the language will be Toast. But I reckon unofficially it'll take off at that point. Might even take it up meself.

Slan

Pol

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 11:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Just one more thing (as Lt. Colombo said)

Does any of you have any information on the story that when the State arrived in the Gaelteach in the 1920s / 30s? to say 'We're from Dublin. We're here to help you. The reaction was that no help was wanted or needed'. This story was told to me some years ago by an old economist.

Paul

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.1.100.102
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Aon rud amháin eile mar a dúirt Colm Cille le Pól lá, tá tú ag lagan a Phoill! Níor chomhairigh mé ach thimpeall is 4,500 focal uait inniu go fóill. Céard tá ort ar chor ar bith nach bhfuil tuilleadh bréag agus áiféise ag rith leat inniu? Easpa cógais le fáil ón dochtúir inniu?

Tá a fhios agat gur léas an uile fhocal dár scríobhais go dtí seo, ar ndóigh.

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April (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 152.163.100.136
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 03:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

If services are not provided in Irish, as in the past, then speaking English becomes compulsory and "coercive". If Irish language services requested by Irish taxpayers are discontinued, people who would like to use Irish will be coerced into paying compulsory taxes in a greater amount than you suffer for the compulsory use of English on a daily basis.
If the language is in use, it should be supported in as similar a manner to English as possible.
Personally, I think more people would use services & goods than people realize in Irish, if a choice were given... and they can overcome disparaging attitudes and rhetoric such as yours. Using Irish has not been a choice in the past.
At any rate, I think you suffer way less coercion than others, at least in regards to language.
No taxpayer is free from paying taxes which support things which may be of little interest to them or are even downright offensive to them.
You , as its been proven beyond a doubt, pay a negligble amount for it.I am sure there are many other areas where you're tax money { and a much greater amount of it} is being wasted and yet , you haven't shown any sign that upsets you.
I am no mind reader, and I make it a point never to put words in the mouth of another person or judge their actions where I may be mistaken....but from your entry into this forum you have been rude & insulting, and childishly expect to be treated better than your own actions, views & speech merit. You have posted facts which were proven to be erroneous {and more than once, mind you}, and even more childishly still, expect to be treated as though as you still have credibility.
You have ignored/failed to answer points in many of the posts which may be problematic to the viewpoint you hold, at times lowering the content of the board with immature ranting as your main response..but complain those of us who are busy working haven't answered your points. {BTW your main points were answered, its the mindless not-very-well-thought-out vitriol you've been spouting which has been ignored.}
And worst of all, it's clear from your posts, that you are an individual who desperately attempts to distort the facts to fit his views, instead of letting his views be shaped by the facts.
You lost your initial argument. Your original arrogance makes that worse than it would've been otherwise. {A little advice for the future from me, if you would like to be rude & arrogant, thats fine..but you'd better have a reason to be so. Which means you'd better be right beyond a shadow of a doubt with an infallible argument based on infallible facts.}I'm amazed you're still here. But since you are...

And you say ou want to kill state funded Irish language programming, compulsary Irish classes and the rest? Fine...you'll have to come all the way over here to the exact opposite end of the political spectrum , become a Libertarian, and kill state funding of **everything** but very basic infrastructure. (Of course, government coercion in the form of any officail langauge probably would disappear.}
Until the day your own house is in order and you are capable of such a feat...don't complain about that 10 or less euros a year. You're feelings of entitlement to state funded programs is evident in your posts, and hypocrysy is an ugly thing. Uglier even than being arrogant and wrong.
When you are willing to kill off state funding for what you cherish, then you will be able to rid yourself of the nescessity of paying compulsory taxes for those things you find to be useless.
April

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Natalie
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Username: Natalie

Post Number: 15
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:30 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

This whole particular thread is really shutting down my brain, I think, because from what I've noticed is that everyone against Paul has the same arguments phrased in different words and perhaps the same could be said about Paul.

So I'm going to be the first person to admit it. Paul has a point. His point may not be perfect, but some of it is slightly there. We're spending too much time pussy-footing around the question. Yes, if English is compulsory (coercive) than so is Irish. So is everything that the government makes you do. It's true that not a large majority in Ireland speak Irish and its true that the world looks on Ireland with a "plastic paddy" view. Don't say they don't, because most people do.

When I told my friends I was learning Irish, they immediately said that the Irish were English. In fact, that's what everyone said. And maybe its not fair that it should be compulsory for all people to be able to do a "Leaving Cert" (if that's what its called and what I think it is) in Irish when the majority of them don't speak it. Perhaps it should be done the same way as we do it here. When we leave school we take an interview in French telling us our proficiency in the language. That makes us bilingual or no better than we started out as.

But by saying this I am not suggesting that the language should be completely overlooked. It's still official. Nobody understands what makes something official. Nobody cares what makes something official. So why not keep the languages you have and be proud that you have them. Continue to offer things in a more practical way and stop believing that Ireland is the only country with what you believe has a "war by other means" going on within it. Every country suffers that. Some are not as prominent as others but it is there.

By no means would I ever want to see a culture or a language die. I really am taking the view of the people on the board except for the small fact that since I do not experience this everyday as you all do, that I see it from another point of view. I do not see Paul's view. I do not see your view. I see this from an even wider view though I'm probably not explaining it as intelligibly as I could.

(By the way, Paul. In New Brunswick, the road signs are English and French. And to continue on with that little fact, I've seem them Micmac as well along with the names of countless buildings and cities in all three languages...if that is actually what you had asked up above)

Natalie

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Natalie
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Username: Natalie

Post Number: 16
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 04:47 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Another point, just while its in my head. I know you said this a very long time ago but I'm going to state it anyway because I forgot until now. You said that it would be an awful drastic change (or whatever your words were) if in America, Native Americans had to pass some sort of test the same way people in Ireland must do so with their "native" languages.

Well I don't know about America, but I have several Native friends and they speak Micmac in their homes with their family all the time, everyday maybe. Maybe that has nothing to do with the argument at hand, but I thought that I'd at least clarify that point while I thought about it.

Natalie

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Marilyn (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 24.231.21.93
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Paul:

I would like to respond to two of your recent questions/points:

"1. Is there any direct paralllel anywhere else in the DEMOCRATIC world to our cultural engineering project? "
"2. How would an attempt to do the equivalent go down in the USA - compulsory for certain state jobs and 70%? - 80% percent of available College places - and Americans be prepared to argue for it there? "

Again - using the Canadian English/French example - Yes, I think we could be called a democratic nation (although some may think we closer to a socialism model given our education, health care and social programs models). Before the New Brunswick Provincial government stepped in and legislated French as an offical language of the province, it was difficult for Francophones to find well-paying jobs of government employment anywhere outside their Northern New Brunswick coastal communities and other pockets within the province. As a Senior Civil Servant, I am now required to meet my "linguistic profile" whenever I have need of hiring new employees. Every provincial government department, and Division or branch within them, have set percentages to reach for french/english employees. These "profiles" are reasonably well-aligned with the % of french/english citizens in the province. However, on a federal level, although I cannot cite the exact numbers, I believe a minimum of 50% of federal jobs are classified as requiring French. Outside of Quebec, New Brunswick and a small portion of Manitoba, very few people in the nation speak French so wouldn't this seem to be an inequitable situation that legislates taxpayers' dollars going into an effort that they don't feel part of? Inequitable - perhaps. Just - absolutley! While there certainly are some detractors, there are many more people who recognize the importance of supporting the language and culture of others. Even though French is not likely to become "extinct" since it is a globally spoken language, my federal government is also putting money toward the preservation of some of our Inuit and Aboriginal languages in order to save them from extinction. This is what thinking and caring people do. And for that, I am proud of our policies - anglophone that I am!

Do our colleges and universities require a basic knowledge of French for admittance? No. However, since the government support and promotion of the language over the last two decades has made a definite shift in its everyday use, most students realize that to land the better jobs and function well within our regional landscape, that knowledge is important to them. Therefore, they freely make the choice to learn the language or improve the level they left secondary school with. If the government had not stepped in and legislated the French language, these students wouldn't have had the opportunity to make that choice even if they wanted to.

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April (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 64.12.116.142
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 06:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I really loved your posts , both Natalie & Marilyn.
I can't seem to see it as coercive to provide government services in both languages..which would mean some employees of the state would have to be bilingual. I do see it as coercive if services are funded in one language only. It is much less coercive to require that some positions would require that state employees be bilingual, rather than everyone be English monoglots ,... {not because people would like to jettison Irish, but because its use is limited only to the home and a few socail situations.}
I have taken, through my years in the education system, more than my fair share of "useless" compulsory subjects. I didn't need them. Some were taught badly. If people were arguing around me about whether to keep them or not, I'd have been the first say "I hate the class, get rid if it..its useless to me". Of course, some of those subjects would've been ones like Algebra and English. Who likes diagramming sentences? Very few people, especailly teens would choose algebra, latin,{or any other number of subjects except for a select few with the wherewithal to know exactly where their life was headed.}..
Like most children, I was told whether I would be needing it or not, I should study hard and pass. I did..well, barely with algebra.
It is typical to have to pass compulsory subjects in school, and have something you fail affect your educational & employment prospects in either country. {There are way tougher countries in that regard than the US & Ireland.}
Anyway the availability of services in Irish and its revival are linked. I just can't see expecting a few bilingual state employees as a coercive thing. Its a bit difficult to fight for the continued use of a language if you can't use it.
{Some games for my PC in Irish would be nice!! My family loves games}

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Ó_diocháin
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Username: Ó_diocháin

Post Number: 8
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 06:53 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,
I'd like to take the opportunity to respond to all of the points which Paul MacDonnell raised in response to my earlier post.
1. I was not attempting to win either hearts or minds in this post. If I were attempting to win hearts, I would do it elsewhere than here; if I were attempting to win minds, I would do it by advancing my own arguments rather than offering a critique of those of someone else.
2. I do support a policy of compulsory Irish in schools - if I must give a "yes/no" answer, but I would like to see the operation of this quite different from the current arrangements.
3. No I do not support the entrance policy of the NUI in relation to Irish, and I made that clear at the time when I was working there.
4. I do not believe that the policies pursued by any Dublin government since the 1920s have been effective in promoting the Irish language.
5. If you find my prose style a little pompous, then I can only say in mitigation of this that I am bilingual in English and a Romance language, and that when I write formally in English I have a tendency to reflect this in the use of more Latinate sentence structures. In my published work, I've always had the benefit of an editor polishing this off - but here I am merely posting to a discussion forum without the benefit of editorial support.
6. The purpose of my post was as stated. In view of the fact that you had decided to rejoin the discussion, I asked you to repost briefly and without vitriol any specific points which you felt that you had made and to which you would like a response - although in so doing I sought to encourage you to this in a way which I thought might be more conducive to a discussion that would generate more light and less heat.
Thereafter, I attempted to articulate what had been my two major concerns about your recent posts: arrogance in the use of language; and denigrating, whether by accident or design, the many representatives of the “unionist tradition” in the north who are actively engaged in the current Irish language revival.
7. With all due respect, you used the term "cultural nationalism" in two lengthy posts. It was not unreasonable to assume that it was being used in its normal sense (cf for example Montserrat Guibernau, "Nationalisms: The Nation State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century", Cambridge, Polity Press, 1996, especially Chapter 2, which has a very useful short section on definitions and clear following examples). You subsequently chose to redefine the term to suit your own case. This is inappropriate in any serious discussion of the topic and, the way in which it was done still strikes me as arrogant in tone.
8. You said, 'Why not be honest and simply call it 'war'. This form of words meets the definition of "analogy" in both a standard British English Dictionary (Oxford) and the definition that I find in the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms. In a subsequent post you sought to clarify your position saying, "I think it is war by other means - not equivalent to war - but war by other means." Another form of words which clearly meets both definitions of "analogy". I do not feel that my own understanding of the word which reflects these dictionary definitions is “silly”… unless, of course, you use the term “silly” quiet differently from other people and mean something that I do not yet understand. I don’t find the use of terms like pompous and sanctimonious conducive to serious discussion of important issues. You do think that these issues are important, don’t you? I do and I am certainly interested in engaging in serious discussion of them.
9. I have no stake in the language industry in the North of Ireland. I do, however, have tremendous admiration for many of those who do - particularly those who come from the “unionist traditions” who do sterling work in the face of much misunderstanding (such as your own) and worse. I admire all of those whom I have met who are sincerely working for a lasting peace with justice there: in the case of those working in the "language industry" this includes Irish language, Hiberno-English and Ulster Scots enthusiasts.
10. I am not competent to comment on whether or not Dublin and the Brits have sold out to Sinn Féin. That is an assertion that, whether or not it is valid, goes well beyond the scope of a discussion on merely language policy issues. I would say that such an interpretation does not correspond with my own limited experience of the situation. I must nevertheless insist on my objection to your ill-informed association of the language revival in the North with Sinn Féin. I have provided four clear factual examples of the involvement of the traditionally "unionist" community in the current Irish language revival in the North. I could provide more if you wish. My concern is that, in spite of these facts, you continue with your counter-factual assertions about the situation. Do you have any explanation as to why this is the case other than the one which I suggested in my post?
11. I am not a grammarian. Language policy and planning is one of my research fields, although my professional research and published work are in relation to language planning in Spain, especially with regard to Catalan. I am therefore regularly engaging with the bigger picture rather than grammatical minutiae.
In closing, I would respond to Paul's later enquiry about the Gaeltacht by saying that, although the story itself is probably apocryphal, it dates to the time of the Gaeltacht Commission of 1925-26.
Like most enduring apocryphal tales, it has an element of truth about it, and certainly represents a view that could credibly have been ascribed to a number of Gaeltacht dwellers of the time. If anyone is looking for further information, and possibly a precise source if there is one, the leading expert on the 1925-26 Commission is John Walsh of DCU. He has a book in Irish on the subject "Díchoimisiúnú Teanga: Coimisiún na Gaeltachta 1926", Dublin, Cois Life, 2002, and an interesting companion article in English which also looks at the 2000 Gaeltacht Commission, "Language, Culture and Development: The Gaeltacht Commissions 1926 and 2002", in Kirk & Ó Baoill (Eds) "Language Planning and Education: Linguistic Issues in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland", Belfast, QUB, 2002, pp. 300-317.
Le meas,
Chris

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 219
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 09:36 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Táim bailithe den plé seo. Is doiligh plé le duine a chasann focla chun a chiall fhéin a bhaint astu. Cuireann sé Humpty Dumpty i leabhar Lewis Carroll i gcuimhne dhom:

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.'

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 220
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 09:49 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Ach nóta beag amháin NUI Entry Requirements fch

http://www.nui.ie/entry

5.1. The basic requirement with regard to the Subject Irish Candidates born on the island of Ireland (32 counties) must pass the subject Irish in the Leaving Certificate or GCE/GCSE Examinations. This requirement applies to all Irish-born candidates, whether they are presenting the Leaving Certificate or another examination for matriculation, unless they satisfy one of the conditions for an exemption set out at 5.2 below.

Note that up until a recent referendum, anybody born on the Island of Ireland was a citizen of the state

If you look at the exemptions, it is quite clear that what this requirement actually means is that anybody who sat the Irish exam, and wants to enter a constituent College of the NUI, must have passed that exam.

It goes on to say:
"All candidates are required to satisfy the English Language requirement. Candidates whose first language is not English may satisfy the requirement through any of the following: "

By Paul's own logic then, the English language requirements are more coercive than the irish language requirements

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Ó_diocháin
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Username: Ó_diocháin

Post Number: 12
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 09:50 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Aonghuis, a chara,
Tá an ceart agat... arís!
A very fitting quotation.
Le meas,
Chris

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Simon L (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 193.1.100.102
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 09:57 am:   Edit Post Print Post

To Paul McDonnell
I pity you, because you sound quite racist. You do sound like a white supremacist, believing you are superior in some way to people speaking a minor language. Reality check? What are you talking about??! You dont even know the first thing about the origin of any gaelic languages. All you seem to want is money and power. I dont think, actually I know, that any of your thoughts are based on any good basic research. You are living in some sort of dream. Time to wake up and smell the coffee!!

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Maggie Thatcher (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 137.43.156.238
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 11:34 am:   Edit Post Print Post

"We're gonna have to agree to disagree and if ever I get elected with a 100 seat Dail majority then officially the language will be Toast."

Yeah, that's a strong possibilty alright. A bunch of old chums from the UCD and TCD Economics Depts being elected to Dáil Éireann on a policy platform somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan.

I reckon there's a far greater likelihood that you'd end up loosing your deposit, than ever casting a shadow in Leinster House. Ah sure, you could always put your name down for the Permissive Dessicrats - a sort of ORIlite candidate.

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 225
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 11:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Another Mac Donnell error:

"Do you know that Dublin City Council has translated Fishambles Street in Dublin with Irish term for an Ambling Fish? Give me a break."

See http://www.dublincity.ie/streetnames.pdf

Fishamble Street Sráid Sheamlas an Éisc

This is an accurate translation of the medieval name Fish shambles. Shambles means "Archaic. A meat market or butcher shop."

Of course, its modern meaning is an accurate description of Mr Mac Donnell's argument...

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TSJ (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 66.105.235.172
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 05:36 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I must say this is a very interesting thread. I look forward every day to reading the postings. May I now be permitted to put in my two cents?

As they say, life is full of ups and downs. There is an Irish sayiing which goes something like this (my rough translation);

" When you are on your way up, don't sneer at those who pass you on their way down. For there will come a day when you will be on your way down and those same people will pass you on their way up ".

I remember when I was a little boy back in Dublin I used to go out to Sandymount Strand. I watched the tide go out. The water went so far out that you could hardly see it way off in the distance and it looked like the sea was going to disappear for ever. But no ! The tide turned. It always does. The water came flowing back slowly but surely in tiny waves which were barely audible. Those children who were playing on the beach were unaware of the incming tide until they suddenly felt the water swirling around their ankles. The water kept coming in slowly but surely. Nothing could stop it until the entire beach area was covered with water. Not one square inch of sand remained uncovered.

The tide will turn. It always does.

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Paul MacDonnell (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 05:07 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Dear Ó_diocháin

Reply 1. (see below for 2)

1. Cultural Nationalism

[With all due respect, you used the term "cultural nationalism" in two lengthy posts. It was not unreasonable to assume that it was being used in its normal sense (cf for example Montserrat Guibernau, "Nationalisms: The Nation State and Nationalism in the Twentieth Century", Cambridge, Polity Press, 1996, especially Chapter 2, which has a very useful short section on definitions and clear following examples). You subsequently chose to redefine the term to suit your own case. This is inappropriate in any serious discussion of the topic and, the way in which it was done still strikes me as arrogant in tone. ]

Well I didn't redefine it. I didn't even define it. I merely asserted a particular thing that I think cultural nationalists believe in. My understanding of the term is that cultural nationalists view individuals within the nation as bound by its history, culture and territory and as required to show loyalty to an understanding of these things that promotes a sense of unity of purpose. I think that's the understanding that someone like John Hutchinson would have. I think that my above 'definition' is in line with Hutchinson's view. I also think it describes many people throughout recent Irish history, present day life and in this discussion. I believe that the idea that public policy should promote a 'national' culture is fairly central to a cultural nationalist mind-set as would be understood by Hutchinson. I haven't read Guibernau, but if my view of those who would use public policy to promote a national culture falls outside Guibernau's understanding - i.e. outside a 'normal sense' of the term, then I'd be very surprised. Let me know if Guibernau has a different view.

In any case each of us can seek to draw the other into his own discipline and, thence, to the edge of Grimpen, with signposts saying 'have you read?' and 'your understanding is not informed by this thesis...'. For example should the decision as to whether the state promotes culture be left to those who wish the state to promote culture? Should other criteria be used? If you haven't read Milton Friedman's 'Free to Choose' or FA Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty' (I won't patronise you with citations, publishers and dates) are you qualified to discuss this? This is not just a discussion about culture. This is a discussion about civil life, about the economics of public choice. It is also about freedom of speech or expression - something which many supporters of the language believe has been violated by the hegemony of English. This view is often expressed (see many postings above) and it is therefore legitimate to raise the possibility that in trying to right one perceived wrong it is possible to commit another - equivalent wrong. Even if you haven't understood any recent economic theory I would be even more arrogant than you think I am should I suggest that you were, therefore, unqualified to discuss this with me.

Though I personally would be fearful of reaching the wrong conclusions should I try to approach this policy without an appreciation of economics, especially public-choice (as in the Chicago school) economics, I wouldn't hold any lack of understanding of economics against anyone from discussing this.

Another issue here is historicism as an intellectual habit. I believe that historicism is responsible for a great many intellectual errors - and these, in turn, have led to errors with regard to policies that are designed to foster national identity.You might let me know whether you agree with this.


2) By analogy

1 : inference that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects they will prob. agree in others
2 a : resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike : SIMILARITY b : comparison based on such resemblance

My OED is at home but I got this - I think it's Websters. I'm sure it's good. I didn't mean the same as or equivalent to I meant literally 'War' (in the way that Catholics regard the host as literally the body and blood of Christ). 'War' in the sense of dropping leaflets on Japan in 1945 warning of attack was 'war'. The key here is '...between things otherwise unlike'. I was commenting on what I believe to be Sinn Fein's mindset. It's not that important. Your main objection was that my use was showing disrespect to victims of the troubles and this is a judgement which you are free to make.


3) Irish language in the North

[I do, however, have tremendous admiration for many of those who do - particularly those who come from the “unionist traditions” who do sterling work in the face of much misunderstanding (such as your own) and worse. I admire all of those whom I have met who are sincerely working for a lasting peace with justice there: in the case of those working in the "language industry" this includes Irish language, Hiberno-English and Ulster Scots enthusiasts...I have provided four clear factual examples of the involvement of the traditionally "unionist" community in the current Irish language revival in the North. I could provide more if you wish. My concern is that, in spite of these facts, you continue with your counter-factual assertions about the situation. Do you have any explanation as to why this is the case other than the one which I suggested in my post?].

Where I'm coming from on this is that I believe that the Peace Process - which is the Nile Source of the current state support for cross-community approach to language - is polluted and that the entire province is kept afloat with state money - this includes the various language projects you allude to. Is it 3 in 5 employees working for the government in the North? The problem with this - and I could give you chapter, author, headings and ISBN numbers - is that according to recent theory in the field of political economy - I would draw your attention to the Austrian movement - this is creating a statist society. A society where planning is taking over everything else to the extent that people will have bought peace but are risking permanent dependency on the state. This latter is never desirable, not least from a cultural point of view. Now I am aware, as it happens, that there is a small but keen interest from some Protestants in the Irish language and I fully accept the benefit this has and that it is a sign of a preparedness to come together. However I am also aware that for many, many more Northern Nationalists, Britain is the historical enemy and that speaking Irish is very much an expression of their nationalist aspirations.

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 217.67.139.46
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 05:11 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Part II

The following is Sinn Fein's own account of its role in the Irish language:

Sinn Féin was instrumental in bringing about the establishment of Foras na Gaeilge, the all-Ireland body with responsibility for promoting the Irish language. Sinn Féin was successful in the fight to restore the budget to Foras na Gaeilge following government cutbacks last year. Martin McGuinness, as Minister for Education, established Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta (Irish-Medium Schools Trust) and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (Irish-Medium Schools Council), which have revolutionised the development of the Irish-medium education sector in the North. Sinn Féin also sought and was given a range of commitments of action in relation to the Irish language by the British Government which have been enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin has raised the issue of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, and has campaigned relentlessly for its adoption and full implementation in all relevant sectors throughout the North. In addition, Sinn Féin has sought, both within the Assembly and the Executive, to ensure that the Irish language is accorded the status it deserves and that Irish and the use of Irish are facilitated and promoted at every opportunity.Within his remit as Minister for Education, Martin McGuinness has delivered the most favourable criteria for the establishment of new Irish-medium schools and the sustaining of existing schools. He has ensured that his Department worked consistently with those charged with the promotion of Irish-medium education. Within her Department of Health, Minister Bairbre de Brún sought to promote the use of Irish both within the department and in the department's dealings with the public.Sinn Féin raised the question of funding for Irish language television training and production during talks with the British Government. We received assurances regarding the reception of TG4 and funding for the training and production of Irish language programmes. Despite the repeated delays by the British government, Sinn Féin continued to lobby for these promises to be delivered. We welcomed the announcement in May 2003 of a £12 million fund for Irish language television, radio and film production and training. Much remains to be done to ensure the new beginning promised for the Irish language and culture in the Good Friday Agreement. The commitments given by the British Government need to be delivered upon. Sinn Féin priorities for the Irish Language 2003 - 2008: Adequate and increased resourcing of Foras na Gaeilge; A strengthening of the clauses chosen by the British Government in Part III of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages; Delivery on the Irish Language Rights Act in the South in a way that safeguards the constitutional position of Irish;The immediate appointment of a Commissioner to oversee the promotion of Irish-language measures within government agencies and departments. The enactment of an Irish Language Bill to give Irish an equal status to the Welsh and Scots Gadhelic languages. The establishment of a properly resourced Irish-language film, television and radio fund in the North; The British Communications Act should be amended to give formal recognition to Irish on a par with Welsh and Scots Gadhelic; A commitment to establish an initiative in relation to the development of Gaelic games on a par with the initiative for the promotion and development of soccer; Speedy delivery on the promises to make TG4 readily accessible in all areas of the North; The delivery of Irish-language policies which seek to ensure the rights of Irish speakers and the promotion of the Irish language at all levels of administration in the North; A proper and integrated approach to the funding and promotion of the arts through the medium of Irish.'

I think that it's a common sense observation, therefore, and it would be pedantic in the extreme for you to ask me to cite sources to 'prove this' that Northern Nationalists regard the Irish language as central to their identity. In any case some things are self-evident. I have put this to dozens of Northern Irish people and, whatever their view on anything else, they agree that for nationalists, the Irish language is, in many cases, inherently tied into a view of national 'destiny' away from British domination. On the question of the use of scientific evidence and the nature of scientific knowledge (including social scientific knowledge) I'd refer you to K R Popper's, 'Logic der Forshung' and 'Conjectures & Refutations' - I think this last observation falls within Popper's criteria for sound theorising.

Are you aware that last March DUP councillors in Strabane opposed a motion to have Irish adopted as an EU language. Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McMahon, the council's vicechairman told them: 'The Irish language is the mother tongue of this island...'. Now, having said that, I think you're right in that there is a long tradition of Protestant support for the language. But I suggest that this has not been widespread.

I suppose it's a question of different visions. I don't wish to impugn your motives in placing the language at the center of social development and reconciliation in the North. But if a significant strand of thought within the Irish language movement itself is that the language is the 'mother tongue' of this island and needs to be 'restored' - using an element of compulsion (which you support) even to those who are ancestors of those who supposedly killed it off in the first place - then it begs the question: Are we about to perpertrate an injustice? The following is from Edmund Burke and I would offer it for your consideration (though I know that you have not expressed any 'political' view on ths matter) in the light of the widespread view that an ancient wrong is being righted by state support for Irish.

'Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts and the same modes of mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive. Whilst you are discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a new body. The spirit transmigrates, and, far from losing its principle of life by the change of its appearance, it is renovated in its new organs with a fresh vigor of a juvenile activity. It walks abroad, it continues its ravages, whilst you are gibbeting the carcass or demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourselves with ghosts and apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with all those who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under color of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different factions, and perhaps in worse.'

Paul

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Rómán (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 213.197.173.4
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 05:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

My small reply to Paul: what a hell are you talking about? Word "injustice" is ridiculuos in this context - Irish children have been BEATEN for speaking Irish at school for some CENTURIES! and you are saying that some prodding from state is "co-ercion". It makes me laugh. In my opinion Irish state is doing too LITTLE and too LATE for promotion of native (yes, Paul, NATIVE) tongue of emerald Ireland. I come also from backward (in your opinion) small country - Lithuania. The problem we had in the beginning of 20 century, were very similar to those faced by Free State in 20s. But different resolve, more enthusiasm, and state policy of "no-Polish-in-education" has born its fruits. Now 86% are Lithuanian- speakers. In the capital - Vilnius - 56% (before WWII - below 5%). Now Latvia and Estonia are battling with their Russian speaking minorities (40% and 30% respectively) - the aftermath of occupation by Soviet Union in 1940s. So they designed that from 6th grade subjects are one-by-one switched from Russian to state language in Russian-medium schools. At the graduation 40% of subjects have to be taught in state langauge. Maybe this is way to go for Ireland.

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 230
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 07:40 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Lord Laird (UUP), the Chairman of the Boord of Ulster Scots, made pretty much the same claims about having the budget restored to the Language Agency / An Foras Teanga, which is the umbrella organisation for both the Boord o' Ulsters Scots and Foras na Gaeilge. So did the SDLP.

I, and many other Irish speakers are not at all happy that the language has in some ways become a political football in the peace process in the North.

But Paul is once again trying to have his cake and eat it. We shouldn't trust Sinn Féin, but we are to take their statements on the language policy at face value.

Where are these "Cultural Nationalists" who promote the language, but don't speak it, he keeps telling us about?

Can he name me one who is as prominent as his witness for his case, Kevin Myers?

For accurate information on the current State Policy on implementation of the Language Act, here is the press release on the publication of the draft schemes on which public bodies are to base their schemes

In Irish:
http://www.pobail.ie/ie/Preasraitis/d7795.ie.v1.0.t4.html

In English:
http://www.pobail.ie/en/PressReleases/d7795.en.v1.0.t4.html

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Marilyn (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 142.139.0.68
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 01:22 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Diamo: A while back in this thread you apologized for having opened the door for Paul to come into this discussion group. I would like to actually say thank you for having done so. While I cannot agree with Paul's opinions, I have learned more about public policy, at an international level, in this thread than I have anywhere else in a long time. I've been thrilled to see the passion with which people have been posting their views here. For that, I also say Thank you Paul. Open discussion on such an obviously emotional topic can only serve to bring more attention to the things that really matter (and those, we all have to decide for ourselves). I even excuse the heated manner in which both sides have been expressing their thoughts. I applaud everyone for the strength, intelligence, for the most part (if I had a smiley face emoticon it would go here) and well-researched knowledge with which both sides of the issue have been presented.

However, sorry Paul, (or perhaps that should have been sorry - comma - Paul -hmm?) I still disagree but - you see, it doesn't really matter what each of our opinions have been! What's important is that you've got us all talking about a very important issue. Of course - I will continue to hold my opinion that "state" interference can occasionally be for the best, and the protection of language and culture is one of those occasions. As you've pointed out in several posts - that remains my very basic right.

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Ó_diocháin
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Username: Ó_diocháin

Post Number: 20
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 01:53 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dear Paul,
Thank you for your two most recent posts.
It is refreshing to see you presenting clear supported argument.
I still believe that much of what you present is contestable, however, and I will attempt to challenge a number of your points without my prose style becoming overly pompous for your taste if I can.
Firstly, with regard to your second post. I would fully agree with Aonghus.
Sinn Féin are not alone in making those claims. The UUP and SDLP also make similar claims. Indeed, it is not uncommon in political discourse of this type to find claims which parties see as appealing to their own supporters or potential supporters which will tell you much more about the party and its aspirations than the facts of the situation to which they are referring. I would suggest that this often makes the use of such sources highly problematic in support of an argument.
I would not accept that the language revival is Sinn Féin's responsibility just because they say so any more than I would the specific claim that they are responsible for the restoration of the funding.
There is a problem with your use of the term "cultural nationalism", but at least now I can see where the problem is coming from.
Cultural nationalism is a term that is not usually employed in the way that you suggest. If anything, the way in which you use the term has elements which are quite at variance with its common usage in the social sciences.
Cultural nationalism is generally a more apolitical term. A cultural nationalist being one who associates the construct of national identity to which s/he ascribes with elements of the "culture" of the "nation", rather than having any political dimension. The idea of someone who might weep into her/his pint of Guinness to the strains of The Mountains of Mourne or Skibereen, regardless of whether s/he thought that any political party should be spending money on "preserving" elements of the "national culture" would come closer to meeting the meaning of the term as it is commonly used.
I taught the Spanish element of an interdisciplinary course on Constructs of National Identity in Europe to Honours Students of Sociology, Politics, European Studies and Modern Languages for a number of years. My colleagues in the Sociology department were in the lead in terms of the theoretical models which informed the course and this was certainly the way in which they - and subsequently we - used the term "cultural nationalism". It is in this sense that it is found in the literature on the subject.
I'm not sure if my illustration above in the Irish context is sufficiently clear, as it is coming straight off of the top of my head, but I can (briefly I hope!) give a clear illustration from the Catalan context. During the Franco regime, many Catalans - particularly among the middle and upper classes - retained their "emotional affinity" to their Catalan identity, while supporting the regime (out of which they and their "class" were doing very well economically) which was pursuing a public policy of repression of Catalan language and other "public" symbols of that identity. Numerous writers (such as Monserrat Roig, Terenci Moix and more recently Carme Riera) depict this phenomenon very well.
Against this background to suggest that a cultural nationalist is one who will support the state spending money on the Irish language does not seem to fit.
The definition of "analogy" which you give does not seem to contradict what I said earlier. You have two things, you are bringing them together in a way that suggests similarity. This is analogy. The second form of words that you used in your earlier post is closer to what the Dictionary of Literary terms refers to as "direct" as opposed to "indirect" analogy, because you are linking the two terms more explicitly and identifying them more closely with each other, and I don't see anything in what you are saying here which contradicts that understanding of "analogy".
I hope this issue will not overly concern you, as my major concern about your use of the term "war" was that it seemed particularly insensitive since it related to a context in which there had been until so recently actual blood on the streets.
I agree that the Peace Process has been responsible for State support for Irish and Ulster Scots languages in recent years.
I personally welcome the fact that some small amount of State funding is now going to both of these languages, although I fully understand why you would disagree with that point of view.
I nevertheless also appreciate that the revival of the Irish language in the North predates that process, crosses traditional political and religious boundaries to a much greater extent than many people would have you believe and is much more deep rooted. If all state funding for Irish there were to be withdrawn tomorrow, I've no doubt whatsoever that it would continue to go from strength to strength - although probably not at the current pace.
I would have thought that the sort of "voluntarist" Irish language movement that developed in the Six Counties between 1922 and 1995 would have been the sort of thing that you yourself might have applauded, and indeed used as an argument against the failed policies of state investment on the Dublin side.
I would like to say that I am also in agreement with Aonghus in deploring the way in which the language has become more of a political football since it started to attract some state funding.
I do however think that this is a small price to pay for the benefits which are being derived from that financial support.
The vast majority of Irish language activists in the North are well aware of the risks and, if anything, are even more careful to ensure that they maintain the strictly non-sectarian profile of the language movement which Gordon McCoy describes in his PhD thesis.
I think that if you have time to read the sources, you'll find that "Protestant" support for the Irish language has at times been more widespread than you might think, and it is certainly on the increase currently. If you do not have time to read into the subject, I'd ask you to trust the judgement of those among us who have had the opportunity to do so.
As you say, I have not expressed any political view on the matter, but I do appreciate the reminder which the quotation from Edmund Burke provides. At least we have admiration for one writer in common!
I would like to conclude by saying that I don't place "the language at the centre of social development and reconciliation in the North". I do believe that a better understanding of the linguistic heritage of Ulster (all nine counties!) in Irish, Ulster Scots and Hiberno-English has a part to play in promoting the sort of mutual understanding which can contribute to a just and lasting peace. And I continue to applaud all of those who are working in the "language industry" there to that end.
Is mise le meas,
Chris

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Liam Ó Briain (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.125.167.29
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 05:20 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dear Paul,
Delighted to see you've started such an engaging debate and I can see where you're coming from - the same position as most Irish people. A few myths need to be exploded.

1. Irish is being forced onto English speakers in Ireland. Actually since the foundation of the state in 1922 the opposite has been the case with English á brúigh siar scornaigh(rammed down throats)of Irish speakers who were and still are denied basic services such as dealing with Government Departments and State agencies. The state has undermined Irish speaking communities by forcing (yes forcing) them to speak English. You are not forced to speak Irish every day are you?

2.With English Ireland has become a progressive society, if everyone still spoke Irish we'd be dirt poor and a standard of living like Albania. Also false. As far as I know up to 1994 Ireland with the English language was a failed state in terms of economic unstability-high inflation ,mass emigration ,lack of industry and huge unemployment. Iceland has a population of 250,000 who speak Icelandic and they enjoy a very high standard of living. Keeping their own language has not cost them and what about Denmark 5 million people who mostly speak Danish?Luxembourg is the richest state in the E.U. they also speak their own language.

3.Irish is exclusively the language of republicans in Northern Ireland. This is most definitely wrong as
A) A lot in Sinn Féin don't speak Irish
b) Many unionists can speak Irish like Chris McGimpsey, Gusty Spence and even David Ervine has a fáinne.
c)Most speakers have no paramilitary connection.

4.It has been said Biingualism would make the Irish illiterate in two languages which is complete nonsense.There should not be a sense of one or the other.What of the Netherlands a prime example of keeping one's language while the majority speak excellent English as a second language. That should be the case in Ireland with English used with foreign companies as it is after all the international language.

5.Most Irish people say to foreigners that no- one speaks it and it is dead as an excuse for their inability to speak it. Irish is the medium of instruction in 12.5% of primary schools and 5% of second level schools which will increase in years to come. There is a vibrant Irish language media with a daily paper, tv, radio, weekly newspaper and numerous websites. Some 50,000 speak Irish daily with areas such as Clondalkin and Andersonstown/Falls Rd traditional working class areas, reporting increased usage and a vibrant social use.

6. Irish is a difficult language to learn. Well off the top of my head Chinese,Japanese, Basque, Navajo,Icelandic and Afrikaans are all more dificult to learn. If you really like Irish and want to learn it it's quite easy.I guess that English speaking welsh people would say Welsh is a very difficult language but Welsh is also easy.

7.More people speak Chinese in Ireland than Irish. Eight out of thirty two counties have areas where Irish is a spoken language with native speakers in all other counties. I know there are a lot of Chinese takeaways in the country but not that much.

Lastly I would make the point that the Irish language has no class barriers with people from every walk of life ag caint as Gaeilge. I came to the conclusion of a sudden one day, sort of like Paul on the road to Damascus,that as i'm from Ireland I should speak Irish no arguments.

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O Deorain (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 216.232.36.44
Posted on Saturday, October 02, 2004 - 05:51 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Liam,

Can you tell me which 8 counties are the ones which have areas where Irish is the spoken language?

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Jonas
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Username: Jonas

Post Number: 469
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Saturday, October 02, 2004 - 09:38 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Not that I'm Liam but here goes:
Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath. In other words, there are only 7 countries with Gaeltacht areas but that's a minor error in Liam's otherwise excellent post.

Another thing I would disagree with (and it's really a positively insignificant one) is the description of which languages that are hard to learn. For an English speaker, no language in the world could be easier than Afrikaans but otherwise I agree with Liam's "Hard Languages". Not that I think Irish is particularly difficult compared to many other European languages. Welsh is probably the easiest language found in Europe. I only speak ten of the European languages but I have acquainted myself with all languages in Europe that have at least 500.000 speakers - and I'm always saying that Welsh is the easiest one.

Those were my minor points. I repeat what I already said - Liam's post is a brilliant description in a nutshell of the issue discussed here.

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Diarmuid
Member
Username: Diarmuid

Post Number: 1
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2004 - 09:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Do the cities in those counties you mentioned speak Irish daily or is basicly restricted to the Gaeltacht? Also, are you serious that Welsh is the easiest of all European languages?

Diarmuid

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Rómán (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 213.197.173.4
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 03:13 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Yep, a Jonais, a chara, más é do thoil é, comment on Welsh. I thought you were kidding. In my humble opinion of most taught/learned languages English is the easiest by far margin. The only difficult thing are tenses (which are rather simple to understand intuitively). Of less-learned languages I would name surely Dutch/any of Scandinavian, which have even simpler grammar than English. Most difficult European language is probably Hungarian (although níl a fhios agam about Basque language - anyone comment?). People say Russian is difficult - it is difficult for me to say as I am a fluent speaker. Russian and Lithuanian are tricky because of shifting stress, but I don't know if this is something insurmountable.

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Jonas
Member
Username: Jonas

Post Number: 472
Registered: 08-2004


Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 04:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde!

Irish as a spoken community language is restricted to the Gaeltacht, you will not hear it spoken in the cities. Of course you can hear it, but English is the language of every Irish city and town with a population of over 2.000 people.

Regarding Welsh, I'm absolutely serious in saying that it is Europe's easiest language - provided you don't speak any other European language. Of course someone who speaks Swedish will find Norweigian the easiest, Estonians have no problems at all with Finnish, a Portuguese speaker picks up Spanish in no time etc. A language closely related to your own is always the easiest.

However, if you don't know any European language (the majority in the world does not) I certainly find Welsh the easiest. I will agree with Rómán that the way the world looks today, picking up English is quite easy - but the English language in itself is not that easy; there are hundreds of irregular verbs that you cannot predict, you have to know them by heart - Welsh has only five irregular ones. The English spelling is by far the most unlogic in Europe - for most European languages you know how an unfamiliar word is pronounced if you see it spelled - in English you don't, as this short list should prove:

Pronunciation of "ough"
enough [Vf]
thought [o:]
hiccough [Vp]
through [u:]
lough [ox]
cough [of]
Six pronunciation of the same spelling. I guess you all know that Shaw argues that "fish" could be spelled "ghoti" in English. :-)
GH = F in enouGH
O = I in wOmen
TI = SH in noTIon
Still, despite a ludicrous spelling, English is easier than French or German, so I'll agree with Rómán that English is the easiest of the "most taught/learned languages".

With regards to the Scandinavian languages, well of course I find them easy - Swedish is my native language and I pride myself on being a very good speaker of it. No matter how much I study any foreign language (such as the one in which I'm writing at the moment) I'll never know them as well as I know Swedish. I don't think they are that easy, though. Definitely harder than Welsh. We too have hundreds of irregular verbs. You always have to know if a noun is an "en-word" or an "et-word". The pronunciation is extremely hard for most foreigners because of a large numbers of phonems not found in most other languages. Swedish (and Danish and Norwegian) are not as hard as many other languages, but they are not that easy - not on par with Welsh.

Welsh is easy :
- because of the extremely straighforward spelling - you always know how to pronounce it.
- because of the fact that there are no cases for nouns. In Irish you have to know two caes, in German four cases, in Russian six and in Croatian (and Lithuanian too, I think?) seven.
- because of the verbal system. No hard conjugations, absolutely regular - in sharp contrast to English, Swedish, German, French, Spanish and so on.

With almost all European languages I can easily point out some aspects that are hard. Few languages are so extremely hard as Finnish but most languages have some aspects that learners find difficuly. Welsh is the only language I know that totally lack such obstacles.

Finally for the really hard ones. Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian are all very hard for most people since they are so different. All languages we discuss here (Irish, Welsh, English, Swedish, Russian, French, Lithuanian and so on) are of course related to each other while Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian are not. The fact that, with all possible conjugations, a simple Finnish constructions such as an adjective followed by a noun can be conjugated in well over 100 different ways and meanings tend to make the problems in Irish seem absolutely minimal :-) Add to that a number of vowels that most people cannot pronounce and a vocabulary that is totally alien to speakers of European languages. So the Finno-Ugric languages are definitelt hard - way beyond other European languages with regards to anyone not from Finland, Estonia or Hungary. I don't know Basque that well but I have gone through a basic course it is. It too is extremely hard - about as hard as the Finno-Ugric ones but in totally different ways.

(Message edited by jonas on October 04, 2004)

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Rhiannon Watson (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 213.202.138.36
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 05:45 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Dhaoine uaisle,
I just wanted to say that I was brought up in Dublin, and completely through Irish. I am now married to a man who was also brought up through Irish and is from Dublin. We have two young children who we speak to only in Irish and the eldest of the two was 'forced' to learn English when he went to school so he could communicate with the other children.
Now, in my opinion, it is good for people to be multi-lingual and if I could speak fluent French i would teach this to my children also. I love all cultures but am particularily proud of mine because...it is mine. I do not want to see my 'mother-tongue' die out, or the Irish songs and the irish dancing. I love it all, and not a day goes by without people trying to talk to my children in Irish and saying how wonderful it is to hear the first official language of Ireland being used so casually.
Le gach dea-ghuí, Rhiannon



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