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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2000 (January-June) » When it was forbidden to speak Gaelic in Ireland « Previous Next »

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Dudley Hillier (rb-ppp216.monmouth.com - 209.191.8.39)
Posted on Monday, August 16, 1999 - 09:37 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A chairde,

I believe that there was a time when it was forbidden
to speak Gaelic in Ireland. I am looking for a specific Historic reference
to this but can't find one in any of my Histories of Ireland. Can you help
me?

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Pierre Vincent
Posted on Friday, August 20, 1999 - 04:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I am also looking for a historic reference regarding an attempt to destroy the Celtic language in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, should this exist. This may sound strange, but I actually need it for a court challenge.

In Brittany this is easy, as most Bretons are very much aware of their grand parents being forced to wear a wooden shoe hanging from a string tied around their necks as punishment for speaking Breton with classmates.

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Kay Uí Chinnéide (dialup-0819.dublin.iol.ie - 193.203.147.51)
Posted on Friday, August 20, 1999 - 06:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

In Ireland it was the tally stick (bata scóir)- a child wore a stick tied around the neck. A notch was cut everytime the child spoke Irish and he was punished by his teacher accordingly. Archbishop Mc Hale who was born in 1791 remembered being done when he attended a hedge school. Later the practice continued in the National Schools. Irish was not a subject in the early National schools whose aim was to turn out "British" citizens. English was necessary for the post of teacher, police man, civil servant. English was needed to go to law.

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Roibeárd de Búrca
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 1999 - 05:31 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

The Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) made it a crime for an English person to speak Irish, have an Irish name or to marry an Irish native.

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wm.fuller (1cust112.tnt1.ruston.la.da.uu.net - 63.11.21.112)
Posted on Monday, August 30, 1999 - 12:12 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Check a biography of
patrick Pearce for that case wherein he defended a carter who had used the
i
irish form of his own name in response to a law requiring a cart to display the owner's name.... hope this reference is helpful

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SeanFurlong
Posted on Friday, December 03, 1999 - 04:49 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The first laws against usage of Gaelic in Ireland were passed in 1299 (or 1297, I forget). The famous Statutes of Kilkenny (1367) re-affirmed the laws against speaking Gaelic in "the English areas". These laws were NOT re-enacted by the equally famous Poynings Laws of 1494 (which did re-enact most other parts of the Statutes of Kilkenny).

Officially, it has not been illegal to speak Gaelic in Ireland since 1494, the year of Poynings Law (and the law hadn't been enforced in practice for some time before that). However, various administrative rules required use of English in the courts and schools and other government offices, and that has been true all the way down to the present day. Today, if you tried to defend yourself in Gaelic in a courtroom, you might get slapped with contempt of court because, as a practical matter, nobody (or almost nobody) in the court would be able to understand what you were saying.

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Anthony Valentino
Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2000 - 11:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

It is my understanding, in response to Pierre Vincent, that the Welsh were essentially
given a choice of preservation of culture or self government, and opted for preservation
of culture. As such, Welsh has seemed to enjoy a quiet health, as opposed to the other
celtic (both "p" and "q" branches) languages of Irish, Scottish, Manx, Cornish and Breton.
I believe the current count puts the number of speakers for Welsh as highest of the lot,
followed by Scottish, and I seem to remember seeing the figure for Irish being 90,000 (but
I, the count, or both, could be wrong)

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Jonas (b-154.dial.multi.fi - 194.234.152.154)
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2000 - 07:21 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It could hardly be doubted more people speak Welsh than all other Celtic lanugages together.

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Seosamh
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2000 - 12:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Until recently Breton had the most speakers, more than the other Celtic languages combined if the large number of speakers of Irish (and Welsh and Scots Gaelic to a lesser extent) as a second language were disregarded. When I started learning Breton in the early 80s, estimates were in the 700,000 to 800,000 range.

The inevitable is happening now with huge decreases as the older generation is dying off. The years immediately after WWII were a crucial, determining period similar to that of the Famine and immediately after in Ireland. That is, large numbers of native speakers decided en masse not to raise their children speaking Breton.

The Breton language revival is vigorous but the 10,000 or so fluent speakers it has created cannot be compared with the hundreds of thousands of native speakers who are dying without linguistic heirs. Welsh probably now has a good many more speakers than Breton but this is something quite recent.

U.S. census figures for 1980, by the way, were a mirror of this. There were some 35,000+ Breton speakers in America, more than all other Celtic languages put together. There were 20,000 Irish speakers. (I recall that the figures were obtained by asking if any language other than English was spoken in the household, so passive knowledge of the language -- even the many isolated native speakers -- would not have counted.)

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Dennis King (donncha.ndip.eskimo.net - 207.54.13.247)
Posted on Friday, March 31, 2000 - 03:32 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

For the number of Welsh speakers, see an article in Eurolang at

http://www.eurolang.net/news.asp?id=138

on slippage in the Welsh heartland. The 1991 census figure was 500,000 Welsh speakers, or 19% of the population of Wales.

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Jonas (b-140.dial.multi.fi - 194.234.152.140)
Posted on Sunday, April 02, 2000 - 11:19 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The article Dennis refeer to is not too optimistic, but according to my Welsh friends there is a real problem in measuring the actual number of Welsh speakers. While many Irishmen say they speak Irish even though they never use it, the situation in Wales is reverse: Many people who are native Welsh speakers do not consider themselves as such. One of my friends, a native speaker from Bethesda which is throughly Welsh, told me that his mother has spoke Welsh all her life (she's 80), but still doesn't consider herself as a Welsh speaker. The reason for this is that the southern dialect is seen as the standard, and the norhtern speakers (to whom the article refers) therefore don't consider themselves as "real" Welsh speakers, Many people from north Wales have told me abput this, so the real number of welsh speakers in the north is probably underestimated, while it tends to be somewaht overetimated in the Southeast.

Is mise le meas,
Jonas

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Dennis King (donncha.ndip.eskimo.net - 207.54.13.247)
Posted on Sunday, April 02, 2000 - 09:08 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

What you report is very interesting, and I passed it along to a Welsh-speaking friend. This was his response:

>>>
I think that's inaccurate, and that a better way to sum it up would be to say that everyone thinks that the Welsh of some other place is better than their own. It is widely agreed that Snowdonia has the best Welsh, though, which doesn't agree with the idea of Southern being the "standard", although I suppose standard and best are two different things.

I think he's addressing a valid point, though, which is that self-reporting is a dangerous way to try to gauge the decline of the language, because a lot of people are diffident about the quality of their Welsh because the language itself has been an ISSUE for so long.
>>>

The traditional attitude of Irish speakers would seem to be just the opposite: that the local Irish is the best of all and that everyone else mangles the language! On the other hand, it's not at all uncommon today, esp. in the written medium of e-mail, to find people perfectly able to express themselves in the language apologizing for their poor grammar or spelling.

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Jonas (stud94.shh.fi - 128.214.106.94)
Posted on Thursday, April 06, 2000 - 05:49 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Concerning the attitude of native Welsh speakers to their own dialect I forgot to add this very important factor:
While written Irish, and almost every European language, has been reformed many times, the written Welsh language hasn't changed since the 13th century, while the spoken language has evolved continuosly. Because of this, every Welsh speaker will feel that his or her Welsh isn't the "real Welsh". This does not mean that they don't speak perfect Welsh, it just means that they don't feel comfortable with written language, which indeed is quite far from the colloquial vernacular. If we changed the Standardized English to the language of Chaucer, I believe most English speakers would hesitate to consider themselves fluent.

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J. Hickey (tty672.netpar.com.br - 200.250.56.192)
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2000 - 07:39 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Where can I learn Irish in Paraná, Brasil

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