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11-01-2021, 23:16   #1
easyredrider
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Irish speakers in the Irish Freestate

Were there more native Irish speakers in the Irish Freestate than there are today?
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11-01-2021, 23:17   #2
Rodin
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Were there more native Irish speakers in the Irish Freestate than there are today?
Of course.
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12-01-2021, 10:45   #3
Mick Tator
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Of course.

Of course? Not!

In 1926 a total of 543,511 asserted that they could speak Irish.
In 2016 the figure was more than three times that number, at 1,774,437. Whether or not the people behind the 2016 figure actually could speak Irish (beyond lá brea and Jams O'Donnell is ainm dom) is open to question.
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12-01-2021, 13:55   #4
Del.Monte
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Of course? Not!

In 1926 a total of 543,511 asserted that they could speak Irish.
In 2016 the figure was more than three times that number, at 1,774,437. Whether or not the people behind the 2016 figure actually could speak Irish (beyond lá brea and Jams O'Donnell is ainm dom) is open to question.



The 2016 figure is blatant rubbish.
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12-01-2021, 18:35   #5
Mick Tator
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The 2016 figure is blatant rubbish.

The figures are from the CSO Census Returns. So if rubbish they are official rubbish. However, I agree with you. Same for French – in my experience of job interviews almost all those who claim to speak ‘fluent French’ on their CVs have a very poor level of school French, very basic at best.


The number of Irish speakers counted in the census includes schoolchildren so 14 intake years of (+/-) 70,000 pupils = 1 million and about 200k in Third Level.All would have a level of Irish (because its necessary for NUI college entry.) That brings it back to the Free State figure. Within ten years a big majority of today's speakers could not hold a basic conversation in Irish. A staggeringly amazing result when one looks at the massive amount of time and money poured into teaching a language that is about as relevant as veganism.
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12-01-2021, 18:37   #6
easyredrider
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The figures are from the CSO Census Returns. So if rubbish they are official rubbish. However, I agree with you. Same for French – in my experience of job interviews almost all those who claim to speak ‘fluent French’ on their CVs have a very poor level of school French, very basic at best.


The number of Irish speakers counted in the census includes schoolchildren so 14 intake years of (+/-) 70,000 pupils = 1 million and about 200k in Third Level.All would have a level of Irish (because its necessary for NUI college entry.) That brings it back to the Free State figure. Within ten years a big majority of today's speakers could not hold a basic conversation in Irish. A staggeringly amazing result when one looks at the massive amount of time and money poured into teaching a language that is about as relevant as veganism.
I was trying to find out what the justification was for making it an official language and I was told there were more native speakers in the Irish freestate than there are native speakers today.
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12-01-2021, 19:03   #7
Mick Tator
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I was trying to find out what the justification was for making it an official language and I was told there were more native speakers in the Irish freestate than there are native speakers today.
‘Today’ has nothing to do with it being an official language. Its official status is ‘enshrined’ in our Constitution. Prior to 1937 if you wanted any sort of civil service job you had to speak Irish and if you wanted to progress in it you had to be seen to speak Irish. Any taint of Britishness - like being an ex-serviceman/WW1 veteran put you on the heap. That grew out of a need to forge an identity of the ‘National’ Irish type and was – bizarrely – promoted by a bunch of foreigners/Anglo-Irish/Castle Catholics from the late 1800’s. Think of the Abbey. In the early days of the Free State they even were proposals to call judges ‘Breitheamhs’ and have them wear Celtic garb to distance them from the wigs and gowns of the law courts in London.
All politicians do not want to upset a vocal electorate, even if it is small– that is why the pubs were open at Christmas and Irish as a compulsory subject is not tackled.
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13-01-2021, 00:27   #8
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I really recommend RV Comerford's Ireland: Inventing the Nation.

He has an excellent chapter on language.
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13-01-2021, 00:49   #9
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That 2016 figure is rubbish. Many people might think they can speak Irish just because they learned it in school but they could not converse in it at all. They might have a few words or phrases, that's about it.
I guarantee if the question was asked in Irish the number of answers would be a lot smaller!
It's an embarrassment that after going through school where we studied Irish for about 12-14 years very few are actually fluent in it after all that time.
So little emphasis is put on speaking the language throughout our schooling, rather the focus is on learning poetry and trying to read Irish prose while only have only a rudimentary grasp of the language, these things would be much easier if we were taught how to speak the language properly first.
I've seen students studying languages in schools abroad who are much more fluent in their chosen language after 5-6 years of study than any Irish person I know is after going through the Irish schooling system 'learning' Irish.
Mosts students can barely get through the basic conversation in the Oral in the Leaving Cert, you only have to see the panic and stress it causes, with students trying to learn answers to questions they think might be asked. If we were fluent by that stage the Oral should be a breeze and as normal as having a conversation with a stranger in English.
I wish I could speak fluently but the reality is that I remember very little despite taking Higher Level to LC. I've lived abroad most of my adult life and when this comes up in conversation people are shocked to hear that most people can barely speak the language despite learning it for so long.
If it was done properly Irish children should basically grow up being bilingual.
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13-01-2021, 00:56   #10
Mellor
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That 2016 figure is rubbish. Many people might think they can speak Irish just because they learned it in school but they could not converse in it at all.
It's not rubbish, it's simply a badly phrased, unqualified question.

If the question is "Can you speak irish?"
Then even somebody with very basic irish, a couple of words or phrases only, should answer, technically they can speak (some) irish.

If they want to survey the fluent speakers or the conversatioal speakers, they should specify.



In 1926, people probably assume they were asking about being reasonably fluent.
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13-01-2021, 10:56   #11
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It's not rubbish, it's simply a badly phrased, unqualified question.

If the question is "Can you speak irish?"
Then even somebody with very basic irish, a couple of words or phrases only, should answer, technically they can speak (some) irish.

If they want to survey the fluent speakers or the conversatioal speakers, they should specify.



In 1926, people probably assume they were asking about being reasonably fluent.
I think this, I would say that I can speak Irish but my level would be A1 maybe A2 at best how as ever, I would speak French at a C1 level and German maybe B2 level. People lie about how well they speak a language and unfortunately it is all subjective.

I would assume that there were more native speakers in the 1920s as it was a common language in the 19th century, and it has declined since.

Just to clarify A1/C1 etc... The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages divides language proficiency into 6 categories with A1 as the most basic level and C2 being mother tongue (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2).
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13-01-2021, 17:01   #12
pinkypinky
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The language was in decline before the Famine.

If you compare:

1901:
Monolingual Irish: 44276
Bilingual:589394

1911:
Monolingual Irish: 33539
Bilingual: 522714

Actual stats from the 1926 on language decline:
https://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/ce...VOL_8_T3,4.pdf

Says 18% of the Free State could speak Irish (no definition on how well) in 1926.
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13-01-2021, 18:53   #13
whisky_galore
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Originally Posted by Mick Tator View Post
The figures are from the CSO Census Returns. So if rubbish they are official rubbish. However, I agree with you. Same for French – in my experience of job interviews almost all those who claim to speak ‘fluent French’ on their CVs have a very poor level of school French, very basic at best.


The number of Irish speakers counted in the census includes schoolchildren so 14 intake years of (+/-) 70,000 pupils = 1 million and about 200k in Third Level.All would have a level of Irish (because its necessary for NUI college entry.) That brings it back to the Free State figure. Within ten years a big majority of today's speakers could not hold a basic conversation in Irish. A staggeringly amazing result when one looks at the massive amount of time and money poured into teaching a language that is about as relevant as veganism.
A more telling statistic would be how many completed their Census forms in Irish, not parrot a few half remembered fragments of schoolboy Irish.

"8,068 Irish language forms were completed in Census 2016 compared with 8,676 in Census 2011."

Last edited by whisky_galore; 13-01-2021 at 19:58.
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13-01-2021, 20:20   #14
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And to those like Newstalk's, Shane Coleman, who would have all our primary schools teach through Irish because it's 'our' national language I call bs. In case he hasn't noticed the population demographic is changing radically and the 'new' Irish along with many of us who are not bona fide Celts do not regard Irish as 'our' national language.

Build an Interpretative Centre and stick it in a glass case; there's been more money wasted on promoting the Irish language than on bovine TB eradication and that's truly saying something.
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13-01-2021, 20:31   #15
whisky_galore
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And to those like Newstalk's, Shane Coleman, who would have all our primary schools teach through Irish because it's 'our' national language
It never ceases to amuse me the way some Irish adults' way of reviving a language is to get others, i.e. children, to do the work, and every excuse under the sun why they can't, or won't, be bothered themselves.
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