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The Irish Language and the Irish Government

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    RayCun wrote: »
    Yes, make the language that 99%* of the population are fluent in the secondary language, and make the language that 2% of the population (to be generous) are fluent in the primary language.

    That's a sensible suggestion.


    *and the 1% that aren't fluent in English are fluent in Polish, French, Spanish, Portuguese etc instead, not Irish

    If we're talking the futility of the government using Irish, this would make it more viable. I don't see the problem. People can still go about their business and anyone who chooses to speak English can. It would take Irish up from just something you have to do in school status.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    If we're talking the futility of the government using Irish, this would make it more viable. I don't see the problem. People can still go about their business and anyone who chooses to speak English can. It would take Irish up from just something you have to do in school status.

    This is about as practical as making sign language the official language of the state.

    I was going to talk about what would actually happen if a law like that was passed, but it is just too ridiculous a hypothetical. Not even the Healy Raes could propose it with a straight face.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,267 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    Maybe they should move towards making English the secondary language? People would pick up a working grasp and already have it in school. There are businesses that will do a discount if you order in Irish.

    Of all the mad ideas that have been proposed on this site, this is right up there with them.

    If Irish is the primary language, that would mean all official business would have to be done through Irish. I go into A&E and the nurse says "Dia Dhuit, cen chaoi bhfuil tu?" and I explain my symptoms in Irish, is that how it would work? As I roll around in pain, crying out in English, does she say "Caint as Gaeilge, ni thuigim?"

    I rock up to the local social welfare office to claim the dole and I am asked "Ar raibh tu ag obair an seachtain seo caite?" so do I explain my movements in Irish?

    Irish is too far gone to be ever the primary language of this country, save in the case of an apocalypse when we are cut off from the rest of the world and local languages become important again.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭LeinsterDub


    BarryD2 wrote: »
    How's your average visitor, let alone Dubliner supposed to know that Cearnóg Mhuirfean is Merrion Square???????? What use is that to the average citizen who is not a Gaeilgeoir? If this bus info was in Conamara, that'd be perfectly reasonable but elsewhere it hinders rather than helps.

    I know what you mean. I went to Canada last year after a week of attempting to get out of the airport I just gave up and went home. Bloody French everywhere


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    blanch152 wrote: »
    Of all the mad ideas that have been proposed on this site, this is right up there with them.

    If Irish is the primary language, that would mean all official business would have to be done through Irish. I go into A&E and the nurse says "Dia Dhuit, cen chaoi bhfuil tu?" and I explain my symptoms in Irish, is that how it would work? As I roll around in pain, crying out in English, does she say "Caint as Gaeilge, ni thuigim?"

    I rock up to the local social welfare office to claim the dole and I am asked "Ar raibh tu ag obair an seachtain seo caite?" so do I explain my movements in Irish?

    Irish is too far gone to be ever the primary language of this country, save in the case of an apocalypse when we are cut off from the rest of the world and local languages become important again.

    Except what would actually happen is most encounters would be two people saying Dia dhuit and having no idea what comes next


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    RayCun wrote: »
    Except what would actually happen is most encounters would be two people saying Dia dhuit and having no idea what comes next

    They'd speak English?
    RayCun wrote: »
    This is about as practical as making sign language the official language of the state.

    I was going to talk about what would actually happen if a law like that was passed, but it is just too ridiculous a hypothetical. Not even the Healy Raes could propose it with a straight face.

    You were taking about how futile it was for government to use Irish. I was suggesting a way it wouldn't be is all.
    Yes, it's very unlikely. I'm not for forcing it on anyone, but it most certainly should be there front and center to give people the option. If you want to deride the point of the government bothering, I'm merely suggesting they could make Irish more prominent, but sure unleash the Madra of hyperbolic outrage :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 207 ✭✭madbeanman


    blanch152 wrote: »
    https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/bilingual-road-signs-will-put-end-to-long-running-dingle-name-change-saga-223179.html


    The Official Languages Act made Irish-only signage in Gaeltacht areas mandatory. As a result, Dingle disappeared from road signs and was replaced by Daingean Ni Chuis.

    Tourism dropped and the locals objected - see article.

    The best example of the futility of the Act.

    This is not really an accurate representation of what happened or what your article says.

    The opposition to he name change on the backs of the perception that tourism would drop was immediate leading to a narrative of causality.

    I personally find it hard to believe that a rich American couple renting a car from Shannon or Dublin and driving it to Dingle would give up on the way and turn back because they got lost rather than asking a friendly looking ginger fellow on the road.

    Quote from your article “There’s no doubt but that visitors, especially those from the US and Europe, were getting confused as they tried to make their way to Dingle, particularly those in hired cars.
    I’m sure a couple of people were confused but my argument to that is ..... *shrug* I was confused sometimes abroad but you get over these things. I never cancelled a trip.

    Aaaaaaanyways to go back to the original point of the thread the locals voted in a plebiscite and the democratic will of the people was respected. Sounds good to me.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 498 ✭✭zapitastas


    madbeanman wrote: »
    I mean I guess the skin in the game issue might be a thing but Im gonna give O Cuiv the benefit of the doubt and say that he cares deeply about the issue. Call me naive if you want.

    His family has been very involved in the development of the language over the last number of decades so it is safe to assume that he does have a strong interest in the issue.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,108 ✭✭✭Jellybaby1


    They aren't saying you're lying they're asking why someone would lie on the census


    That's not how I read it but as FreudianSlippers gave you a thumbs-up I will accept that he/she was not saying I was lying. Apologies for my error.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    To be honest we live in Ireland and have Irish here. To dismiss it altogether because English is much more common is a great way of homogenising the planet. How dull would it be to be all signing off the same hymn sheet? I don't see why some people seem to take offence to the idea that the Irish language should have a place in Ireland.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,732 ✭✭✭BarryD2


    blanch152 wrote: »
    Yes, but if a tourist in Latvia asks a local where is the Latvian equivalent of Ath Cliath, the local would usually be able to answer. In Dublin, not so.

    I would sincerely hope that your average Dub would recognise what Ath Cliath is? If not, we're failing at even the most baby step level.

    But which typical Dub would know where Baile an Bhóthair is, if a tourist asked them having see it on a bus stop? And those bus itineraries in Irish are quite common around Dublin.
    I know what you mean. I went to Canada last year after a week of attempting to get out of the airport I just gave up and went home. Bloody French everywhere

    But they speak French on the whole in parts of Canada. It's the lingua franca, you would expect to be spoken to in French in Quebec. You wouldn't expect your average Dubliner to converse in Irish. You'd have to go well out of your way to find someone.
    I don't see why some people seem to take offence to the idea that the Irish language should have a place in Ireland.

    Nobody sensible is saying that Irish shouldn't have a place in Ireland. Of course it should, but in it's own place and reflective of the proportion of the population that are sufficiently interested in it to use it. But that's not how it is reflected in legislation.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,015 ✭✭✭✭James Brown


    BarryD2 wrote: »
    I would sincerely hope that your average Dub would recognise what Ath Cliath is? If not, we're failing at even the most baby step level.

    But which typical Dub would know where Baile an Bhóthair is, if a tourist asked them having see it on a bus stop? And those bus itineraries in Irish are quite common around Dublin.



    But they speak French on the whole in parts of Canada. It's the lingua franca, you would expect to be spoken to in French in Quebec. You wouldn't expect your average Dubliner to converse in Irish. You'd have to go well out of your way to find someone.


    Nobody sensible is saying that Irish shouldn't have a place in Ireland. Of course it should, but in it's own place and reflective of the proportion of the population that are sufficiently interested in it to use it. But that's not how it is reflected in legislation.


    The average Canadian may not have any French past a few words picked up here and there. In fact Quebec would be the equivalent of some of the Gaeltacht areas language wise. Many speak Québécois (Canadian French) because that's what they grew up with in that region. You can't compare Dublin to Quebec in that respect.

    I wasn't saying anyone was. However you try suggest it have it's profile raised and the wheels come off any discussion with some folk.
    Again the suggestion was the government shouldn't have to bother with it because only a few speak it. I suggest maybe if they bothered with it more more might speak it.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 789 ✭✭✭Turnipman


    zapitastas wrote: »
    His family has been very involved in the development of the language over the last number of decades so it is safe to assume that he does have a strong interest in the issue.

    And the family has been almost as successful in that particular enterprise as they were with the "development" of the Irish Press group.

    Although, fortunately for the Irish taxpayer, the DeValera family wasn't in a position to introduce coercive legislation to save the dying newspapers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 207 ✭✭madbeanman


    BarryD2 wrote: »
    I
    Nobody sensible is saying that Irish shouldn't have a place in Ireland. Of course it should, but in it's own place and reflective of the proportion of the population that are sufficiently interested in it to use it. But that's not how it is reflected in legislation.

    So again, I am confused. (I feel like Im not so bright today and sorry for asking for clarification lol)

    I hope you don't feel like I am attacking everything you write.

    Anyways, it is important to note that what was said a couple of pages back is true, that urbanisation and emigration patterns have had an impact on where Irish speakers have been distributed.

    Outside of the Gaeltacht the settlements with the top numbers of Irish speakers are
    1. Letterkenny (Ok so this is close enough to the Donegal Gaeltacht and it also is the site of the biggest Irish language event of the year Oireachtas na Samhna so this might not be surprising)
    2. Maynooth (Hmmm.... Its got a university...????)
    3. Leixlip ( ????? A dormitory town in North-East Kildare?)

    So your argument is that there is a place for Irish in society as long as it is not "foisted" on the majority. But how can the 2% of the populations of these towns who speak Irish every day outside of the education system and whom are trying to raise their children with it be provided for without dirtying the eyes of the monolingual English speaking majority? Should they move back to Connemara so that they can get services? I just don't understand the point. Maybe I am misunderstanding?

    Thats one point.

    The second point is how does the provision of bilingual services and signage impact your life really unless you are saying its a waste of taxes or something? Like the only issue you have presented to buttress this argument is the signs at Dublin bus stops but the argument you have is that it confuses tourists (which I think is silly for reasons I have gone into previously), not you.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,267 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    The average Canadian may not have any French past a few words picked up here and there. In fact Quebec would be the equivalent of some of the Gaeltacht areas language wise. Many speak Québécois (Canadian French) because that's what they grew up with in that region. You can't compare Dublin to Quebec in that respect.

    I wasn't saying anyone was. However you try suggest it have it's profile raised and the wheels come off any discussion with some folk.
    Again the suggestion was the government shouldn't have to bother with it because only a few speak it. I suggest maybe if they bothered with it more more might speak it.

    Another laughable comparison. We have what, 8,000 census forms filled out in Irish.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_language_in_Canada


    French is the mother tongue of about 7.2 million Canadians (20.6% of the Canadian population, second to English at 56%)

    Hardly just like a Gaeltacht area.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,267 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    madbeanman wrote: »
    So again, I am confused. (I feel like Im not so bright today and sorry for asking for clarification lol)

    I hope you don't feel like I am attacking everything you write.

    Anyways, it is important to note that what was said a couple of pages back is true, that urbanisation and emigration patterns have had an impact on where Irish speakers have been distributed.

    Outside of the Gaeltacht the settlements with the top numbers of Irish speakers are
    1. Letterkenny (Ok so this is close enough to the Donegal Gaeltacht and it also is the site of the biggest Irish language event of the year Oireachtas na Samhna so this might not be surprising)
    2. Maynooth (Hmmm.... Its got a university...????)
    3. Leixlip ( ????? A dormitory town in North-East Kildare?)

    So your argument is that there is a place for Irish in society as long as it is not "foisted" on the majority. But how can the 2% of the populations of these towns who speak Irish every day outside of the education system and whom are trying to raise their children with it be provided for without dirtying the eyes of the monolingual English speaking majority? Should they move back to Connemara so that they can get services? I just don't understand the point. Maybe I am misunderstanding?

    Thats one point.

    The second point is how does the provision of bilingual services and signage impact your life really unless you are saying its a waste of taxes or something? Like the only issue you have presented to buttress this argument is the signs at Dublin bus stops but the argument you have is that it confuses tourists (which I think is silly for reasons I have gone into previously), not you.


    If an argument is based on the tiny number of Irish speakers needing to get services, then what are we doing for the more numerous Polish speakers?

    From the Census:

    "Of the 1.76 million who said they could speak Irish,
    73,803 said they speak it daily outside the education
    system, a fall of 3,382 on the 2011 figure. "

    So 73,803 speak Irish daily, yet there are 135,895 Polish speakers.

    https://www.rte.ie/eile/brainstorm/2018/0111/932477-speaking-your-language-irelands-72-different-languages/

    What are they supposed to do for services?


  • Registered Users Posts: 207 ✭✭madbeanman


    blanch152 wrote: »
    If an argument is based on the tiny number of Irish speakers needing to get services, then what are we doing for the more numerous Polish speakers?

    From the Census:

    "Of the 1.76 million who said they could speak Irish,
    73,803 said they speak it daily outside the education
    system, a fall of 3,382 on the 2011 figure. "

    So 73,803 speak Irish daily, yet there are 135,895 Polish speakers.

    https://www.rte.ie/eile/brainstorm/2018/0111/932477-speaking-your-language-irelands-72-different-languages/

    What are they supposed to do for services?

    Your question here raises a separate point which Im sure you have heard before. But before I move on to it lets get the absolutely obvious rebuttals to your point out of the way. Irish is in the constitution as the first language of the state (whatever that means). That means that there is a constitutional obligation for the state to provide whatever the support befitting of the first language of the state would be to the language. Now whether that extends to a fully bilingual state service and everything else is an open question (if you ignore all of the language related laws and policies) but the constiution as it stands privileges Irish over Polish, no question about it.

    Obviously, Polish doesn't feature in the constitution. If you would like to see Polish replace Irish in the constitution it might be an interesting case to make but is unlikely to gain traction.

    So the other question raised by your point is as to whether the Irish language should be privileged over Polish, English, Spanish, Maori, Ainu etc. etc. for heritage and cultural reasons.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,267 ✭✭✭✭blanch152


    madbeanman wrote: »
    Your question here raises a separate point which Im sure you have heard before. But before I move on to it lets get the absolutely obvious rebuttals to your point out of the way. Irish is in the constitution as the first language of the state (whatever that means). That means that there is a constitutional obligation for the state to provide whatever the support befitting of the first language of the state would be to the language. Now whether that extends to a fully bilingual state service and everything else is an open question (if you ignore all of the language related laws and policies) but the constiution as it stands privileges Irish over Polish, no question about it.

    Obviously, Polish doesn't feature in the constitution. If you would like to see Polish replace Irish in the constitution it might be an interesting case to make but is unlikely to gain traction.

    So the other question raised by your point is as to whether the Irish language should be privileged over Polish, English, Spanish, Maori, Ainu etc. etc. for heritage and cultural reasons.


    No, I am suggesting that there is an argument that Polish should be privileged over Irish for service reasons as more people speak it. Nothing to do with heritage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 207 ✭✭madbeanman


    blanch152 wrote: »
    No, I am suggesting that there is an argument that Polish should be privileged over Irish for service reasons as more people speak it. Nothing to do with heritage.

    Non sequitur, re-read what I wrote.

    The heritage point and the constitution point are two separate points.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭LeinsterDub


    BarryD2 wrote: »
    But they speak French on the whole in parts of Canada. It's the lingua franca, you would expect to be spoken to in French in Quebec. You wouldn't expect your average Dubliner to converse in Irish. You'd have to go well out of your way to find someone.


    English is the lingua franca of Canada


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 498 ✭✭zapitastas


    Turnipman wrote: »
    And the family has been almost as successful in that particular enterprise as they were with the "development" of the Irish Press group.

    Although, fortunately for the Irish taxpayer, the DeValera family wasn't in a position to introduce coercive legislation to save the dying newspapers.

    I meant the O'Cuiv side of his family rather than the DeValera side


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    "how can the 2% of the populations of these towns who speak Irish every day outside of the education system and whom are trying to raise their children with it be provided for without dirtying the eyes of the monolingual English speaking majority? Should they move back to Connemara so that they can get services?"

    This would be a valid question if those people were monolingual.

    But they aren't.

    In fact, I am confident in saying that they have better English than Irish.

    So they are not being denied services at all.

    Their problem is that not enough people share their hobby.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 498 ✭✭zapitastas


    madbeanman wrote: »
    So again, I am confused. (I feel like Im not so bright today and sorry for asking for clarification lol)

    I hope you don't feel like I am attacking everything you write.

    Anyways, it is important to note that what was said a couple of pages back is true, that urbanisation and emigration patterns have had an impact on where Irish speakers have been distributed.

    Outside of the Gaeltacht the settlements with the top numbers of Irish speakers are
    1. Letterkenny (Ok so this is close enough to the Donegal Gaeltacht and it also is the site of the biggest Irish language event of the year Oireachtas na Samhna so this might not be surprising)
    2. Maynooth (Hmmm.... Its got a university...????)
    3. Leixlip ( ????? A dormitory town in North-East Kildare?)

    So your argument is that there is a place for Irish in society as long as it is not "foisted" on the majority. But how can the 2% of the populations of these towns who speak Irish every day outside of the education system and whom are trying to raise their children with it be provided for without dirtying the eyes of the monolingual English speaking majority? Should they move back to Connemara so that they can get services? I just don't understand the point. Maybe I am misunderstanding?

    Thats one point.

    The second point is how does the provision of bilingual services and signage impact your life really unless you are saying its a waste of taxes or something? Like the only issue you have presented to buttress this argument is the signs at Dublin bus stops but the argument you have is that it confuses tourists (which I think is silly for reasons I have gone into previously), not you.

    I think that there is a certain amount of beating around the bush going on when people are discussing this topic. Lauguage on this island has become political in certain sections of the population. A lot of people view it as am important aspect of Irish identity and culture. There have always been those that have wished to eradicate the language as try to subsume Irish identity into that of the neighbours to the east. Among this section the language has been portrayed as dying, dead, useless, backwards, irrelevant. All this against the background of the fact that the language would have died were not for the efforts of wealthy middle class Dublin Protestants.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭RayCun


    To be clear, I have nothing against the language as such, no particular wish to see it eradicated.
    But if it is to be revived, it should be because people choose to speak it, not because the government mandates its use.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 37,589 CMod ✭✭✭✭ancapailldorcha


    RayCun wrote: »
    To be clear, I have nothing against the language as such, no particular wish to see it eradicated.
    But if it is to be revived, it should be because people choose to speak it, not because the government mandates its use.

    This has always been the problem, dating back from DeV's vision of a Catholic, self-sufficient, Irish speaking 32-county Republic. The teaching of Irish has been so wholly captured by special interests that it now exists as a way to funnel taxpayers' money in their direction via sinecures, cushy deals for publishers, grants and the like. I doubt that it is possible to save it at this stage to be honest.

    We sat again for an hour and a half discussing maps and figures and always getting back to that most damnable creation of the perverted ingenuity of man - the County of Tyrone.

    H. H. Asquith



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,771 ✭✭✭Mark Hamill


    madbeanman wrote: »
    Are you allowed to fill out a Census form in English if you get it in Irish? Again that mindset presumes that you are filling out a form in Irish to make a statement. That's not what most people are doing.

    Why wouldn't you be allowed?
    And I'm assuming a mindset of people wanting to live their lives through Irish. Why is it that Irish is important enough to these people to speak it everyday but not important enough for them to even try to read a basic form in Irish, never mind fill it out in Irish?
    madbeanman wrote: »
    Imagine a kid born in Lexlip to a family of native Irish speaking parents. He is perfectly fluent speaking Irish. Its his first language. However, he attends an English medium school and he doesnt like reading for whatever reason. Or maybe he does like reading. He goes to a library but all the books are in English. He grows older and starts interacting with the forms of the state, in English because the state service is marginalising Irish.
    I think you have a very Anglo-centric laymans view of how language works.

    And then along comes a state form, equally available in Irish (as they all are) and even though all his life this person has been restricted from fully using his native language, and even though this form can have a direct impact on how government supports that language, he just doesn't bother? If he doesn't care, why should we?
    (Also why wouldn't his Irish speaking parents send him to a Gaelscoil? Do they not care either?)
    (Also, also what's an English medium school?)
    madbeanman wrote: »
    The question do you speak language A, yes or no does not investigate fluency.

    It absolutely does. Let's say a nurse runs into a hospital waiting room and says "Does anyone speak French?". What's the implied requirement? If someone says "Yes", you don't expect them, after being introduced to the French patient requiring help, to then say "Ah well, all I can really say in French is 'hello', 'how are you?' and 'where is the bathroom'".
    If someone asks you if you speak a language, yes implies fluency. Now if you follow it up with, "not very well", or "just a few words", then you don't assume full fluency.
    And that is how the question in the census works, 1.76million say they speak Irish daily (implying fluency), with a further 111k say they speak it weekly (implying they are ok in Irish) and the 586k saying they speak it less than weakly (implying they know little).
    The problem, as I and others have said, is that a lot of people lie on the census and to themselves. Saying "yes", as RayCun pointed out, is just the "correct answer" for some people.
    madbeanman wrote: »
    It doesnt change the fact that if you had a truely bilingual state service you would have more people interacting with the state in Irish.

    That's somewhat circular logic though. If state services had a permanent polish translator on site then I'm sure more people would interact in Polish. But those people would come from the 135k Polish speakers already living here. TG4 is as available as RTE and yet it is only the 8th most popular channel with 2% market share. Take away sports coverage (by far the main thing brought up to defend it) and how far would that drop.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,771 ✭✭✭Mark Hamill


    To be honest we live in Ireland and have Irish here. To dismiss it altogether because English is much more common is a great way of homogenising the planet. How dull would it be to be all signing off the same hymn sheet?

    Does anyone actually buy this nonsense? We all speak English on this site and yet there is still an incredible breath of opinion and discussion on topics from Anime to Yoga. How would having this website in Irish change or improve any of that?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,732 ✭✭✭BarryD2


    madbeanman wrote: »
    So your argument is that there is a place for Irish in society as long as it is not "foisted" on the majority. But how can the 2% of the populations of these towns who speak Irish every day outside of the education system and whom are trying to raise their children with it be provided for without dirtying the eyes of the monolingual English speaking majority? Should they move back to Connemara so that they can get services? I just don't understand the point. Maybe I am misunderstanding?

    Thats one point.

    The second point is how does the provision of bilingual services and signage impact your life really unless you are saying its a waste of taxes or something? Like the only issue you have presented to buttress this argument is the signs at Dublin bus stops but the argument you have is that it confuses tourists (which I think is silly for reasons I have gone into previously), not you.

    Re first point, I think you can usefully draw a parallel with how we get along with Irish trad music in our society. It survives and even thrives despite general state indifference. Children go to classes, sometime compete in fleadhs etc., go to summer schools. Adults will meet up with others and play a few tunes etc. But it is overall a minority musical genre. If you're interested in trad, then you seek out other people in your area with a likewise interest. You can't just rock up anywhere and expect people to play along or even indulge you. The language movement would usefully adopt this attitude and approach.

    Re second point, I have raised the design issues. Personally I'm not in favour of public signage that seeks to be both bi lingual and equal in prominence. In fact in the case of the Official Languages Act, Irish must not only be equally prominent and carry the same content but come first (hence the Dublin Bus information schedules). The best solution are completely different signs & info but that causes additional street clutter and expense. Or it should be allowed in non Gaeltacht areas to have signage that largely & prominently in English, with a simplified version in Irish. That would be more practical, whilst supporting an interest in the language.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,732 ✭✭✭BarryD2


    On the substantive issue raised in the OP though, I don't think much of this discussion re the Official Languages Act is relevant. This only applies as far as I know to state bodies, whether central or local government. Brewers like Heineken or Diageo and so on are not bound by the Official Languages Act and can style their labels/ print info anyway they want, once it contains content specified by law. You can only presume in this instance that anti alcohol campaigners will want to get maximum bang for their buck and that means that the specified warnings would need to be as large as possible and in English. In fact if this carries and the gov isn't cute about about, the brewers could just print the cancer warnings in Irish and they would have far less impact..


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  • Registered Users Posts: 207 ✭✭madbeanman


    Why wouldn't you be allowed?
    And I'm assuming a mindset of people wanting to live their lives through Irish. Why is it that Irish is important enough to these people to speak it everyday but not important enough for them to even try to read a basic form in Irish, never mind fill it out in Irish?


    And then along comes a state form, equally available in Irish (as they all are) and even though all his life this person has been restricted from fully using his native language, and even though this form can have a direct impact on how government supports that language, he just doesn't bother? If he doesn't care, why should we?
    (Also why wouldn't his Irish speaking parents send him to a Gaelscoil? Do they not care either?)
    (Also, also what's an English medium school?)


    It absolutely does. Let's say a nurse runs into a hospital waiting room and says "Does anyone speak French?". What's the implied requirement? If someone says "Yes", you don't expect them, after being introduced to the French patient requiring help, to then say "Ah well, all I can really say in French is 'hello', 'how are you?' and 'where is the bathroom'".
    If someone asks you if you speak a language, yes implies fluency. Now if you follow it up with, "not very well", or "just a few words", then you don't assume full fluency.
    And that is how the question in the census works, 1.76million say they speak Irish daily (implying fluency), with a further 111k say they speak it weekly (implying they are ok in Irish) and the 586k saying they speak it less than weakly (implying they know little).
    The problem, as I and others have said, is that a lot of people lie on the census and to themselves. Saying "yes", as RayCun pointed out, is just the "correct answer" for some people.


    That's somewhat circular logic though. If state services had a permanent polish translator on site then I'm sure more people would interact in Polish. But those people would come from the 135k Polish speakers already living here. TG4 is as available as RTE and yet it is only the 8th most popular channel with 2% market share. Take away sports coverage (by far the main thing brought up to defend it) and how far would that drop.

    I mean I can't answer your rhetorical question about why the census form is not important enough to some Irish speakers to fill it out in Irish only to reiterate points I have made before. Again, there are many people who would be perfectly fluent in spoken Irish but not be confident in written Irish. Eoghan Mc Dermott has spoken often about his fluency in spoken Irish but not written. His fluency in spoken Irish led him to present on TG4 and star in a drama in Irish. But he wouldn't fill in a census form in Irish because English is his first language and while he is perfectly fluent in speaking and listening, perhaps not reading and writing. Its very much a thing.

    The Leixlip kid example is a case study in language attrition whereby a student is supported in speaking Irish in the home but his socialisation and schooling would be in English therefore over time he would become less confident in Irish and be less confident or even care about passing it on to his children. Therefore, while he might be confident in speaking Irish if you wanted him to, he might identify more with English and correspondingly fill out a census form in Irish.

    Your point about the nurse is silly and ignores the concept of linguistic pragmatics entirely. It requires me to make a crazy logical jump that every person who is asked can you speak Irish at every situation would respond exactly the same way. If you are asked by a Japanese person can you speak Irish? You might say yeah and follow it up with Madbeanman is ainm dom. If you are asked by a person in the Connemara Gaeltacht Can you speak Irish? you might run away terrified that they might speak Irish to you. Also about speaking daily weekly or monthly, this tells us absolutely nothing about fluency whatsoever. Lets revisit the story of Leixlip kid. Now lets say his parents speak Irish but his schooling was through English (lets say there wasn't a Gaelscoil near him). He decides he wants to study engineering in UL because all of his friends are going there. He moves down there and his friends are all English speakers but he calls his mam and dad ever week on Skype on a Sunday morning and they natter away in the language they always have since he was a baby. It doesn't mean he is worse at Irish just because he uses it less. Thats ludicrous.

    Anyways, your last point about the circular logic I don't quite understand but I will give an argument to buttress my original point. So, recently I had the occasion to communicate with the state twice in Irish. On the first occasion I had a question about the Irish language policy of my local county council. I had every intention of writing to them in English but I noticed they had an Irish language email address and the question was about Irish so I thought it would make sense for me and them if I sent them an email in Irish. I got no response. On the second occasion to a different body it took 2 months. Can you see how this might make people less willing to interact with the state in Irish.
    Does anyone actually buy this nonsense? We all speak English on this site and yet there is still an incredible breath of opinion and discussion on topics from Anime to Yoga. How would having this website in Irish change or improve any of that?

    Well obviously the whole point of the thread is that you are entitled to your opinion but many many people would make all kinds of arguments for the preservation of minority languages. One branch of linguistics which is interesting (if perhaps weak on empirical evidence I will admit) is that of psycholinguistics which would discuss things like linguistic determinism and linguistic relativity. It seeks to examine the influence a certain language may have on a thought process or conception of the world. I don't subscribe to it wholesale but I will say that I do think my personality changes somewhat depending on the language I am speaking.


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