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The Daltaí Boards » General Discussion (Irish and English) » A Young Irish-American's discovery of Irish and his Heritage « Previous Next »

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óseanacháin
Member
Username: óseanacháin

Post Number: 25
Registered: 08-2011
Posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011 - 08:58 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Over the past few years, I have grown very proud of my Irish heritage and have spent muchh of my spare time on the internet looking up Irish history and modern news. Doing this led to my discovery (one of many) that Gaelic (Irish) was actually a living language spoken in Ireland. I was so proud that the land of my ancestors had continued speaking their ancestral tongue. Soon my Google searches began to focus on the Irish language, Gaeilge.
I began discovering dismal statistics and articles speaking of the language's demise. I saw critics claiming that it was impossible to save a language declining so rapidly. This newfound information deeply saddened me. My very chest ached with every new negative piece of information that pointing to the extinction in Irish.
But I continued my searches and began discovering proponents of the Irish language. I first found Foras na Gaeilge's website, where I read their information on the language. After continued searches I then learned of the Celtic Tiger that had occurred, and the Renessaince that had taken place with the Irish language. I discovered the Gaelscoileanna, schools that taught all subjects through Irish.
After making these discoveries, I became a bit reassured that the language had a chance. I still continued searching and I found this website, the Daltai discussion Forums, and TG4, an all Irish language television channel that broadcasted a live feed online from their website!
At this point I was detirmined to learn Irish and bring about the language's return in Ireland. I was filled with the fire of confidence, inspired by the thousands who still spoke it, and reassured by the online resources I had discovered. I found in isfeidirliom.ie a free Irish course that was only limited by the learner. I submitted an online application to join the Daltai discussion forums, and I was detirmined to return to Ireland as soon as college was finished and see Ireland as soon as possible. I have a meeting to discuss study abroad there in a week.
I have made up my mind on the matter. The Irish language has hope. The Gaelscoileanna will continue their exponential growth as the people of Ireland continue to support their ancestral tongue. The government has made a 20 year support program for the language. TG4 has rights to broadcast the county's most popular sports with commentators speaking in Irish. New gaeltachts are being established not only in Ireland but also in Canada.
I would fight an army to keep the language alive. And I look forward to the day when I hear converstions in Irish as much as I do English on the streets of Dublin.

(Message edited by óseanacháin on October 06, 2011)

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Jeaicín
Member
Username: Jeaicín

Post Number: 244
Registered: 01-2011
Posted on Friday, October 07, 2011 - 06:18 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Well done, óseanacháin. When you begin to learn Irish you will gain access to a very strong movement supported by quiet people who will be delighted to share their own enthusiasm for Irish and Ireland with you if you give them the signal.

The signal? Also called "the cúpla focal." On the lips of a major politician, who should know Irish but doesn't, the cúpla focal is despised. Spoken personally during a quiet social occasion, however, -- paying your bill in a restaurant (Yes! Even the Lithuanians and Philipinos can reply in Irish to "Go raibh maith agat!") -- or to an Irish customer in a pub or hotel lounge you will discover people who can speak far more than the cúpla focal. Irish people recognise the cúpla focal signal very well. They know it may be the tip of the iceberg and that you want to practice your Irish.

You will meet four categories of respnses to your signal that you would like to speak Irish:

Those who will speak Irish to you until they discover how limited your own Irish is and who will then switch to English. These are either native speakers or very fluent speakers of Irish. They will gladly speak Irish to you provided you can understand them and speak just as fluently to them.

Then there are those who tell you their own Irish is "rusty" but that they were good at it once and loved it at school and would love to speak it again. They will tell you of relatives who are sending their children to Gaelscoileanna. I would like to think the mass of "middle Ireland" falls into this category. They learnt Irish, were given no opportunity by the State or society at large to practise it, and lost their fluency -- but not their favourable attitude -- over the years.

Another category will excoriate you for using Irish. "What use is it?" "People have to emigrate. What use is Irish to them abroad?" They hated it at school. They dreaded school because of it. They were abused in Irish class and "forced" to read "Peig." "It was rammed down their throats." Those in favour of Irish are "flogging a dead horse." They spent only two or three years at French and can speak it fluently. (I like to test their fluency in French with "Vraiment? Moi aussi. Je parle le (?) francais assez bien. D'ou venez vous? ..." Their response is usually "Eh! Oh! Is that the time? I have to run."

The last category will studiously ignore the signals you may give out and avoid engaging you in conversation.

In any case, óseanacháin, you will find a friendly supportive group of people here on Daltaí ready to help you learn Irish. Today we are mourning the death of Ethel Brogan who founded this website but we know she would be pleased to see it continue.

Try and avoid the "dialect versus standard" pitfall. Whether our Irish is from the dark- or sunny-side of the hill should not matter to a beginner. Beware of the unintended put-down: "Are you a real native-speaker?"

Monoglot native speakers of Irish are few and far between now. Probably less than 10,000. They are concentrated in the Gaeltacht areas but there are some families keep Irish going outside the Gaeltacht and even abroad. There is very little Irish to be heard spoken in the schoolyards of most of the Gaeltacht. (I hope I am wrong!!!) But there are about 75,000 daily users of the language and about 1,500,000 people who claim some knowledge of Irish.

In this latter figure you may assume a wide spectrum of ability in Irish from "a minimal knowledge" at one end to "near-native speaker fluency" at the other. Nevertheless while the census figure cannot be relied on as an indicator of competence in Irish it does indicate a positive attitude and support for the language.

You will hear Irish in the schoolyards of the Gaelscoileanna. It is not perfect but from the point of view of reviving Irish it is wonderful and every one of those little children deserves a hug from their Mammy and Daddy and Mamó and all who love them for their great achievement.

Us Irish-speaking adults must create social occasions where those children can continue to play and enjoy themselves through Irish and gain adult approval for so doing outside school and beyond their school days. It is they who will carry living spoken Irish on into the next generation and, hopefully, beyond.

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óseanacháin
Member
Username: óseanacháin

Post Number: 26
Registered: 08-2011
Posted on Friday, October 07, 2011 - 08:35 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Thank you :)

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Faberm
Member
Username: Faberm

Post Number: 178
Registered: 02-2009


Posted on Friday, October 07, 2011 - 09:41 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Jeaicín gave you a very succinct summary and sort of a "State of the Irish Language" and the learning environment. I have studied several languages and the environment of Irish is the strangest I have encountered. My 2 cents would be to get a couple of good materials and just start learning. If it were impossible, nobody could speak the language. To honor your culture and your heritage jump in and do it!

I would recommend that you buy 3 things:

1) Tús Maith - Self Instructional course in Irish for Adults (20 euro)
2) Foclóir Scoile - English/Irish - Irish/English Dictionary paperback (8 euro)
3) Glance Card - "Cheat sheet" for the Irish language/verbs (4 euro)

I will be happy to give you some intro courses via Skype if you care to do that to get a start. I began my journey approx 2 years ago. I don't charge and I won't teach you something I am not sure about. I am a basic basic speaker, but at least I speak. Do it. Don't delay. You've got the right spirit and Jeaicin has warned you of the weird side-shows as you learn. Ignore them and follow your heart.

Bí ag caint! ( Be at Speaking )
Féabar MacMaoláin
Skype: faberm
email: fabermcmullen@gmail.com

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Lughaidh
Member
Username: Lughaidh

Post Number: 4010
Registered: 01-2005


Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2011 - 08:06 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

quote:

Another category will excoriate you for using Irish. "What use is it?" "People have to emigrate. What use is Irish to them abroad?"



That's a lame argument... What use is English when you go to Russia or to Southern America etc? And what use is Spanish when you go to Gaoth Dobhair? :-)

quote:

Monoglot native speakers of Irish are few and far between now. Probably less than 10,000.



Monoglots (ie. people who speak only Irish and no English at all)? I'm afraid there is only a handful of those left, old people in Inis Oírr and in places like that.

Learn Irish pronunciation here: http://loig.cheveau.ifrance.com/irish/irishsounds/irishsounds.html & http://fsii.gaeilge.org/

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Sériál
Member
Username: Sériál

Post Number: 26
Registered: 06-2011
Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2011 - 11:24 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

A óseanacháin, I too started out learning Gaeilge because I discovered it as part of my ancestry. My family has been far removed from its native Celtic lands for many generations, but there are so many sayings and things than I still hear my grandparents say, so I know that history is not completely lost in my family. I too wanted to make a connection to that heritage, and Gaeilge was the way I chose to do it.

It is very good to see another person rekindling the language of their foremothers and forefathers. And I am glad you found this forum. Everyone on Daltaí is very helpful and knowledgeable. Please don't hesitate to post your questions! :D

Slán!

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Faberm
Member
Username: Faberm

Post Number: 180
Registered: 02-2009


Posted on Saturday, October 08, 2011 - 04:09 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

My journey began when I realized that ALL of my ancestors were from Scotland or Ireland (I mean ALL of them 100%). I married a lady who is Cherokee/Irish/English. I was the first person to marry a person not Scottish or Irish by descent. I wanted to connect with something that had been lost of my culture and heritage. It has been an incredible journey. On many days I am dismayed that I could study something so hard and accomplish so little....but then I stop and marvel and am grateful for what I do know. I can read kids' books (8-10 year old stuff) in the basic language that my people have spoken since the dawn of time. And I can have a basic albeit broken conversation. I just try to add a couple of words a day. you can too.

I try to celebrate what I do know and not beat up on myself, try it...it works!
Faberm

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Suaimhneas
Member
Username: Suaimhneas

Post Number: 571
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Sunday, October 09, 2011 - 03:50 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Maith thú, osheanachain. Is laoch thú

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Macfear
Member
Username: Macfear

Post Number: 23
Registered: 04-2010
Posted on Sunday, October 09, 2011 - 06:06 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

I agree with faberm, Ive been learning 3 years (not often in my spare time) and can still only have a basic conversation and sometimes get frustrated that i dont have good irish, but then I realize how grateful i am for what I do have. You definitely get out what you put in.

Have fun!

(Message edited by Macfear on October 09, 2011)

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óseanacháin
Member
Username: óseanacháin

Post Number: 27
Registered: 08-2011
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2011 - 10:35 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

go raibh maith agat!

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Dubhthach
Member
Username: Dubhthach

Post Number: 7
Registered: 09-2010
Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 04:09 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

A very lame argument indeed Lughaidh, however those who make that statement no doubt believe that only place Irish people emigrate to is the "Anglo-sphere".

Personally never having to do Peig in school (it's been off the curriculm since early 90's) I'm almost curious about it, usual sign of one of the head-the-balls is when they mention Peig.

Faber, when you mention the "environment of Irish been the strangest" that you've encountered. I'd be curious to hear more. It's interesting as a person living in Ireland to hear the thoughts of people looking into the "fish-bowl"

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Faberm
Member
Username: Faberm

Post Number: 183
Registered: 02-2009


Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 09:26 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

Dubhthach:

That's one that will take a while to describe, but you can get a start on the idea by reading Jeacín's post at the top of this thread where he talks about the various kinds of people you encounter in Ireland (with their imbedded intense feelings about Irish). It really is the strangest that I've encountered. Sometimes it almost seems like discussing "Irish" in Ireland is like discussing religion....it's a minefield. I now Skype with many people in Ireland in basic Irish. I think they enjoy Skyping with me because I am positive and try to reenforce what we all might know, and I don't have any expectation of where they "should be" after "so many years of studying" . I believe in SPEAKING WHAT YOU DO KNOW. I remember when all I knew were numbers I practiced giving my phone number in Irish and then having others do the same. I've only studied 2 years so they can't expect me to do anything perfect and I don't expect them to speak too well just because they live in Ireland, but we are moving ahead and learning together. We are all trying to reach the goal of being conversational fluid (not fluent)...just fluid, easy, smooth, expressive.

I am not a psychiatrist (I'm a retired lawyer) but, In Ireland there seems to be an element of prevailing guilt and or shame that folks have where they think they should know more Irish than they do since they had it in school so then they're afraid to speak what they do know and "be discovered as frauds" or something. Others who are far ahead seem reluctant to help the beginners much (maybe thinking they too don't know it perfectly or something cuz they never understood what a "predicate thought" was or something), or perhaps they're busy, lazy, disinterested or even selfish in the promotion of the language. I have never had a native speaker (or even very fluent speaker) other than a lady I work with in Down Patrick who is just willing to slug out a conversation with me at my level.

When I studied French, Hebrew, and Spanish the experience was totally different. People AT ANY LEVEL were excited and desperate to get you up on the page with them. They were THRILLED to hear any attempt to learn what was a precious thing to them. They approach you with little or no expectations. Negative comments are almost unheard. Last week one of my ranch workers (we speak pretty much only in Spanish) said, "Boss, your spanish is not so fluent now...what is happening". I said, "Yeh, I know Ray, isn't that wonderful, it's because I'm spending so much time learning my own lost language and it is affecting my Spanish a bit. And when I get it, I'll teach it to you because I want you to speak to me in my language and not Spanish!" We laughed and I taught him how to greet me in the morning with "Conas tá tú?

I would prefer to have a Skype conversation with you to discuss this as I don't want to take up my morning writing a missal. (Skype faberm ). Anyway, on this forum we should ALWAYS remember the name of the site "DALTAI" and why Ethel created this. It is to promote and teach and to help others learn the Irish language to preserve it and enjoy it and to teach it to others.

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Wee_falorie_man
Member
Username: Wee_falorie_man

Post Number: 284
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 10:39 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

By the way Faber, any Spanish speaker can easily understand Conas tá tú?

Conas tá tú? = Como estás tú?

They sound almost the same

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Faberm
Member
Username: Faberm

Post Number: 185
Registered: 02-2009


Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 10:44 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

That's why I taught him that and not Cad é mar atá tú?

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Sériál
Member
Username: Sériál

Post Number: 28
Registered: 06-2011
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 03:07 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit PostPrint Post

That is an interesting observation, a Fhaberm. I have not come accross too many speakers of Gaeilge outside of this site, so it will be interesting to me to see what reaction I get when I finally do meet some. I hope that will be soon. And I'll definately let people here know about my experience.

And that was good what you and your worker were talking about Gaeilge. :) I find it very encouraging that both he and you have both been able to learn other languages and expand your knowledge of another way of communicating. I think the attitude of "I don't need to learn another language; everyone should just speak my language" is all too prevalent, especially by dominant languages. Good luck teaching him more Gaeilge! :D

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