Irish language, Talk:Irish language
, Talk:Old Irish language
, Irish language in Northern Ireland
, Category:Irish language
, Old Irish language
, Primitive Irish language
, Talk:Primitive Irish language
, Middle Irish language
, Category:Irish-language literature
), a Goidelic language
spoken in Ireland
, is constitutionally
recognised as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland
, and has official recognition in Northern Ireland
as well. On 13 June 2005
, EU foreign ministers unanimously decided to make Irish an official language
of the European Union
. The new arrangements will come into effect on 1 January 2007
According to census figures released by the Central Statistics Office
in 2004, out of the Republic's more than 4.3 million citizens there are approximately 1.6 million people claiming a self-reported competence in Irish. Of these, 350,000 reported using Irish every day, 155,000 weekly, 585,000 less often, 460,000 never, and 30,000 didn't state how often. Of the 350,000 who were reported to use Irish every day, the majority are schoolchildren who use it during their classes in Irish. The number of people in the Gaeltacht
who use the language as their daily mother tongue
has been variously cited as 70,000
[cite web | author = CSO| year= 2002| title= 2002 Census of Population Volume 11 Irish Language | url=http://www.cso.ie/newsevents/pr_prelcen_02vol11.htm | ]
and 83,000 http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/january/Irish.html
It has been argued that previous censuses have overestimated the true number of Irish speakers, as those speaking it only in the schools are included. The recent 2006 Census may provide a more accurate estimate of the Irish-speaking population, because of changes to ask the respondents how often they speak the language and where. Other data state that 165,000 can speak Irish in Northern The results of the United States Census, 2000
suggest that some 25,000 people use the language at home in the United States.
There also exists a cant
, based partly on English
and partly on Irish, in use by the Irish Traveller
s. For the English language as it is spoken in Ireland, see Hiberno-English
Names of the language
The language is usually referred to in English
, and less often as Gaelic
: ) or Irish Gaelic
or Irish Gaelic
is often used in the Irish diaspora
(also see below). Within many parts of Ireland, the choice of name has inevitably on occasion acquired political significance. Some people believe that referring to the language as "Gaelic" suggests that the language is as distant and unrelated to modern Irish life as the civilization of the ancient Gaels. Calling it Irish,
on the other hand, is a more precise indication of its constitutional status as the national language of the Irish people. Irish
is the term generally accepted among scholars; it is also the term used in the Republic of Ireland's Constitution.
Use of the term Irish
also avoids confusion with Scottish Gaelic
), and Manx Gaelic
), the closely related languages spoken in Scotland
and the Isle of Man
, though the term Irish Gaelic
is often used when the three languages and their relationship to one another are being discussed. Scottish Gaelic is often referred to in English as simply Gaelic
(IPA: or ).
The use of the term Gaelic
instead of Irish Gaelic
can be quite misleading for beginners in the diaspora
. For example the Teach Yourself
series of books has Teach Yourself Gaelic
(Scottish Gaelic) and Teach Yourself Irish
The archaic term Erse (from Erisch)
, originally a Scots
form of the word Irish
, is no longer used and in most current contexts is considered derogatory.
In the lang|ga|Caighdeán (the official written standard) the name of the language is (IPA: ), which reflects the southern Connacht pronunciation.
Before the spelling reform of 1948, this form was spelled ; originally this was the genitive of , the form used in classical Modern Irish. Older spellings of this include in Middle Irish and in Old Irish.
Other forms of the name found in the various modern Irish dialects, in addition to south Connacht mentioned above, include (IPA: ) or (IPA: ) in Ulster Irish and northern Connacht Irish and (IPA: ) in Munster Irish.
Irish is given recognition by the Constitution of Ireland as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland (with English being a second official language), despite the limited distribution of fluency among the population of that country. Since the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 (see also History of the Republic of Ireland), the Irish Government required a degree of proficiency in Irish for all civil service positions (including postal workers, tax officials, agricultural inspectors, etc.), as well as for employees of state companies (e.g. Aer Lingus, RTÉ, ESB, etc). Proficiency in Irish for entrance to the public service ceased to be a compulsory requirement in 1974, in part through the actions of protest organizations like the Language Freedom Movement. While the requirement was also dropped for wider public service jobs, such as teaching, Irish remains a required subject of study in all schools within the Republic which receive public money (see also Education in the Republic of Ireland). The need for a pass in Leaving Certificate Irish for entry to the Gardaí (police) was dropped in September 2005, although applicants are given lessons in the language during the two years of training. Most official documents of the Irish Government are published in both Irish and English.
The National University of Ireland, Galway is required to appoint a person who is competent in the Irish language, as long as they meet all other respects of the vacancy they are appointed to. This requirement is laid down by the http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/ZZA35Y1929S3.html University College Galway Act, 1929 (Section 3) and recently was subject of a High Court case on the matterhttp://www.galwayindependent.com/news/3905.html - it is expected that the requirement may be repealed in due coursehttp://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?maincat=10861&pcategory=10861&ecategory=10876§ionpage=13637&language=EN&link=link001&page=1&doc=29800.
As a treaty language of the European Union, the highest-level documents of the EU are translated into Irish; in addition, the language has also recently received a degree of formal recognition in Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, under the Good Friday Agreement. Irish will become an official language of the European Union beginning January 1, 2007.
There are pockets of Ireland where Irish is spoken as a traditional, native language. These regions are known as Gaeltachtaí. These are in County Galway (lang|ga|Contae na ), including Connemara ), the Aran Islands (lang|ga|na hOileáin ) and Spiddal (lang|ga|An ); on the west coast of County Donegal (lang|ga|Contae Dhún na ); in the part which is known as Tyrconnell (lang|ga|Tír ); and Dingle Peninsula (lang|ga|Corca ) in County Kerry (lang|ga|Contae ). Smaller ones also exist in Mayo (lang|ga|Contae Mhaigh ), Meath (lang|ga|Contae na ), Waterford (lang|ga|Contae Phort ), and Cork (lang|ga|Contae ). However, even within the Gaeltacht areas, the Irish-speaking populations have declined since the Gaeltacht boundaries were drawn up.
Gweedore (lang|ga|Gaoth ), County Donegal is the largest Gaeltacht parish in Ireland.
The numerically and socially strongest Gaeltacht areas are those of South Connemara, the extreme west of Dingle and northwest Tyrconnell, in which a significant proportion of residents use Irish as a community language and in which children often speak the language with each other. These areas are often referred to as the ("true Gaeltacht") and collectively have a population just under 20,000, of which over 80% use the language dailycitation . The highest proportions of daily Irish speakers in the community are found in Rosmuck (lang|ga|Ros ), County Galway, (over 91%)citation , and around Bloody Foreland (lang|ga|Cnoc na ) in Donegal (88-89%)citation .
Gaeltacht summer schools are attended by tens of thousands of Irish teenagers annually. Students live with Gaeltacht families, attend classes, participate in sports, go to céilís and are obliged to speak Irish.
There are a number of distinct dialects of Irish. Roughly speaking, the three major dialect areas coincide with the provinces of Munster (lang|ga|Cúige ), Connacht (lang|ga|Cúige ) and Ulster (lang|ga|Cúige ).
Munster Irish is mainly spoken in the Gaeltachtaí of Kerry (lang|ga|Contae ), Ring (lang|ga|An ) near Dungarvan (lang|ga|Dún ) in County Waterford (lang|ga|Contae Phort ) and Muskerry ) and Cape Clear (lang|ga|Oileán ) in the western part of County Cork (lang|ga|Contae ). The most important subdivision in Munster is that between Decies Irish (spoken in Waterford) and the rest of Munster Irish.
Some typical features of Munster Irish are:
# The use of personal endings instead of pronouns with verbs, thus "I must" is in Munster , while other dialects prefer lang|ga|caithfidh means "I"). "I was and you were" is lang|ga|Bhíos agus in Munster but lang|ga|Bhí mé agus bhí in other dialects.
# In front of nasals and "ll" some short vowels are lengthened while other are diphthongised.
# A copular construction involving lang|ga|is is frequently used.
# Stress is often on the second syllable of a word, e.g. ("pin"), as opposed to in Connacht and Ulster.
The strongest dialect of Connacht Irish is to be found in Connemara and the Aran Islands. In some regards this dialect is quite different from general Connacht Irish but since most Connacht dialects have died out during the last century Connemara Irish is sometimes seen as Connacht Irish. Much closer to the larger Connacht Gaeltacht is the dialect spoken in the smaller region on the border between Galway ) and Mayo (lang|ga|Maigh ). The Irish of Tourmakeady (lang|ga|Tuar Mhic ) in southern Mayo (lang|ga|Maigh Eo ) and Joyce Country (lang|ga|Dúiche ) are considered the living Irish dialects closest to Middle
The northern Mayo dialect of Erris ) and Achill ) is in grammar and morphology essentially a Connacht dialect; but shows an affinity in vocabulary with Ulster Irish, due to large-scale immigration of dispossessed people following the Plantation of Ulster.
Connemara Irish is very popular with learners, in part thanks to Mícheál Ó Siadhail's self-teaching textbook Learning Irish but also thanks to the large number of Irish Summer Camps there in comparison to all other counties.
There are features in Connemara Irish outside the official standard—notably the preference for verbal nouns ending in , e.g. instead of , "weakening". The non-standard pronunciation with lengthened vowels and heavily reduced endings give Connemara Irish its distinct sound. Distinguishing features of this dialect include the prounouncing of broad bh as IPA|mo ("my boat") is pronounced IPA|mˠə in Connacht and Ulster as opposed to IPA|mˠə in the south. In addition Connacht and Ulster speakers tend to include the "we" pronoun rather than use the standard compound form used in Munster e.g. lang|ga|bhí is used for "we were" instead of elsewhere.
Lingustically the most important of the Ulster dialects today is that of the Rosses (lang|ga|na ), which has been used extensively in literature by such authors as the brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna, locally known as Jimí Fheilimí and Joe Fheilimí. This dialect is essentially the same as that in Gweedore (lang|ga|Gaoth = Inlet of Streaming Water), and used by native singers Enya ) and Moya Brennan and their siblings in Clannad (lang|ga|Clann as = Family .from the Water) Na Casaidigh, and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh from another local band Altan.
Ulster Irish sounds very different and shares several unusual features with Scottish Gaelic, as well as having lots of characteristic words and shades of meanings. However, since the demise of those Irish dialects spoken natively in what is today Northern Ireland, it is probably an exaggeration to see Ulster Irish as an intermediary form between Scottish Gaelic and the southern and western dialects of Irish. Indeed, Scottish Gaelic does have lots of non-Ulster features in common with Munster Irish also.
One noticeable trait of Ulster Irish is the use of the negative participle in place of the Munster and Connacht version . Even in Ulster, - most typical of Scottish Gaelic- has ousted the more common in easternmost dialects. The practice seems to that is most usually used when answering to a statement, either confirming a negative statement (lang|ga|Níl aon mhaith ann - Chan fhuil, = "It is no good" - "Indeed it isn't, alas") or contesting an affirmative one (lang|ga|Tá sé go maith - Chan = "It is good" - "No, it isn't!") while is preferred in answering a question (lang|ga|An bhfuil aon mhaith ann? - = "Is it any good?" - "No").
The dialects of Irish native to Leinster, the fourth province of Ireland, became extinct during the 20th century, but records of some of these were made by the Irish Folklore Commission among other bodies prior to this.
The present-day Irish of Meath (in Leinster) is a special case. It belongs mainly to the Connemara dialect. The Irish-speaking community in Meath is mostly a group of Connemara speakers who moved there in the 1930s after a land reform campaign spearheaded by Máirtín Ó Cadhain (who subsequently became one of the greatest modernist writers in the language).
What has been called "Dublin Irish" and "Gaelscoil Irish" is also spoken in the capital and amongst the students of Irish-speaking schools throughout the country.
The differences between dialects are considerable, and have led to recurrent difficulties in defining standard Irish. Even everyday phrases can show startling dialectal variation.
The standard example is "How are you?":
* Ulster: lang|ga|Cad é mar atá ("what is it as you are?" Note: or and sometimes are alternative renderings of lang|ga|cad )
* Connacht: lang|ga|Cén chaoi a bhfuil ("what way is it that you are?")
* Munster: lang|ga|Conas or lang|ga|Conas tánn ("how are you?")
* "standard Irish": lang|ga|Conas atá ("how are you?")
In recent decades contacts between speakers of different dialects have become frequent and mixed dialects have originated.
With the growth in the Irish language media -and in particular TG4- it has become much easier for speakers of different dialects to understand one another, although this is mostly seen in the younger generations.
The features most unfamiliar to English speakers of the language are the orthography, the initial consonant mutations, the Verb Subject Object word order and the use of two different forms for "to be". However, initial mutations are found in other Celtic languages as well as in some Italian and Sardinian dialects, as an independent development. They are also found in some West African languages.
Word order in Irish is of the form VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) so that , for example, "He hit me" is hit-past tense he me.
One aspect of Irish syntax that is unfamiliar to speakers of other languages is the use of the copula (known in Irish as lang|ga|an ). The copula is used to describe what or who someone is, as opposed to how and where. This has been likened to the difference between the verbs and in Spanish and Portuguese, although this is only a rough approximation. The copula-
the present tense is - is usually demonstrative:
:lang|ga|Is fear "It is a man."
:lang|ga|Is Sasanaigh "They're English."
When saying "this is", or "that is", and are used:
:lang|ga|Seo í mo "This is my mother."
:lang|ga|Sin é an "That's the teacher."
One can also add "that is in him/her/it", especially when using an adjective, when it is desired to emphasise the quality:
:lang|ga|Is fear láidir atá "He's a strong man."
: (Literally: "It is a strong man that is in him.")
:lang|ga|Is cailín álainn atá "She's a beautiful girl."
: (Literally: "It is a beautiful girl that is in her.")
This sometimes appears in Hiberno-English, either translated literally as "that is in it", or as "so it is".
main|Irish morphology|Irish nominals|Irish
Another feature of Irish grammar that is shared with other Celtic languages is the use of prepositional pronouns (lang|ga|forainmneacha ), which are essentially conjugated prepositions. For example, the word for "at" is , which in the first person singular becomes "at me". When used with the verb ("to be") indicates possession; this is the equivalent of the English verb "to have".
|lang|ga|Tá leabhar ||"I have a book."||(Literally, "is a book at me")
|lang|ga|Tá deoch ||"You have a drink."
|lang|ga|Tá ríomhaire ||"He has a computer."
|lang|ga|Tá páiste ||"She has a child."
|lang|ga|Tá carr ||"We have a car."
|lang|ga|Tá teach ||"You (plural) have a house."
|lang|ga|Tá airgead ||"They have money."
Orthography and pronunciation
The written language looks rather daunting to those unfamiliar with it. Once understood, the orthography is relatively straightforward. The acute accent, or lang|ga|síneadh (´), serves to lengthen the sound of the vowels and in some cases also changes their quality. For example, in Munster Irish (Kerry), a is or and á is in "law" but in Ulster Irish (Donegal), á tends to be .
Around the time of World War II, Séamas Daltún, in charge of lang|ga|Rannóg an (the official translations department of the Irish government), issued his own guidelines about how to standardise Irish spelling and grammar. This de facto standard was subsequently approved of by the State and called the Official Standard or lang|ga|Caighdeán .
It simplified and standardised the orthography. Many words had silent letters removed and vowel combination brought closer to the spoken language. Where multiple versions existed in different dialects for the same word, one or more were selected.
* lang|ga|Gaedhealg / Gaedhilg(e) / Gaedhealaing / Gaeilic / Gaelainn / Gaoidhealg / → , "Irish language" or is still used in books written in dialect by Munster authors, or as a facetious name for the Munster dialect)
* → , "Louth"
* → , "food" (The spelling is still used by the speakers of those dialects that show a meaningful and audible difference between (nominative case) and (genitive case) "of food, food's". For example, in Munster Irish the latter ends in an audible -g sound, because final -idh, -igh regularly delenites to -ig in Munster pronunciation.)
Modern Irish has only one diacritic sign, the acute (á é í ó ú), known in Irish as the lang|ga|síneadh "long mark", plural lang|ga|sínte . In English, this is frequently referred to as simply the , where the adjective is used as a noun. The dot-above diacritic, called a lang|ga|ponc or lang|ga|sí (often shortened to ), derives from the punctum delens, which was used in medieval manuscripts to indicate deletion, similar to crossing out unwanted words in handwriting today. From this usage it was used to indicate the lenition of s (from /s/ to /h/) and f (from /f/ to zero) in Old Irish texts.
Lenition of c, p, and t was indicated by placing the letter h after the affected consonant; lenition of other sounds was left unmarked. Later both methods were extended to be indicators of lenition of any sound except l and n, and two competing systems were used: lenition could be marked by a or by a postposed h. Eventually, use of the predominated when texts were writing using Gaelic letters, while the h predominated when writing using Roman letters.
Today the Gaelic script and the are rarely used except where a "traditional" style is required, e.g. the motto on the University College Dublin coat of arms or the symbol of the Irish Defence Forces, The Irish Defence Forces cap badge lang|ga|(Óglaiġ na . Letters with the are available in Unicode and Latin-8 character sets (see Latin Extended Additional chart (see http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1E00.pdf PDF).
In Irish, there are two classes of initial mutations:
* Lenition (in Irish, "softening") describes the change of stops into fricatives. Indicated in old orthography by a dot (called a sí buailte) written above the changed consonant, this is now shown by adding an extra -h-:
** "throw!" - lang|ga|chaith "I threw" (this is an example of the lenition as a past-tense marker, which is caused by the use of , although this is now usually omitted)
** "market", "market-place", "bargain" - lang|ga|Tadhg an "the man of the street" (word for word "Timothy of the market-place" (here we see the lenition marking the genitive case of a masculine noun)
** "Seán, John" - lang|ga|a "O John!" (here we see lenition as part of what is called the vocative case - in fact, the vocative lenition is triggered by the or vocative marker before )
* Nasalisation (in Irish, "eclipsis") covers the voicing of voiceless stops, as well as the true nasalisation of voiced stops.
** "father" - lang|ga|ár "our Father"
** "start", lang|ga|ar "at the start"
** "Galway" - lang|ga|i "in Galway"
History and politics
Stages of the Irish language
The date of introduction of Celtic languages to Ireland is an open question, debated by linguists and archaeologists.
[J.P.Mallory Two Perspectives on the Problem of Irish Origins Emania 9(1991)53, at 58: "The lexical evidence of the Irish language suggests that it was introduced into Ireland most plausibly after c.1200 BC and any attempt to set the arrival of the Irish before this date becomes increasingly difficult to sustain ... I find it difficult to imagine it as anything other than a language introduced by a population movement rather than a lingua franca or pidgin carried along trade routes ..." Regardless of this opinion, the idea remains in play, in, for example, John Waddell & Jane Conroy, "Celts and others" in Archaeology and Language IV: Language Change and Cultural Transformation (1999). Venceslas Kruta in Les Celtes (2000) suggests a date late in the 3rd millennium BC.] The earliest form of the language, Primitive Irish, is found in ogham inscriptions up to about the 4th century AD. After the conversion to Christianity, Old Irish begins to appear as glosses in the margins of Latin manuscripts, beginning in the 6th century, until it gives way in the 10th century to Middle Irish which was more Norse influenced. Modern Irish dates from about the 16th century.
Irish language movement
thumb|250px|The distribution of the Irish language in 1871.
[E.G. Ravenstein, "On the Celtic Languages of the British Isles: A Statistical Survey", in Journal of the Statistical Society of London, vol. 42, no. 3, (September, 1879), p. 584. On p. 583, there is a map for Irish in 1851, indicating a much healthier population base.]
The Irish language was the most widely spoken language on the island of Ireland until the 19th Queen Elizabeth I encouraged the use of Irish even in the Pale with a view to promoting the reformed religion. She was a proficient linguist and is reported to have expressed a desire to understand Irish, so a primer was prepared on her behalf by Sir Christopher Nugent, ninth baron of Delvin.
The first book in Irish was printed in 1564 in Edinburgh, a translation of John Knox's 'Liturgy' by John Carswell, Bishop of the Hebridies. He used a slightly modified form of the language shared by Ireland and Scotland at the time and also used the Roman script. In 1568 the first book in Irish to be printed in Ireland was a Protestant 'catechism', containing a guide to spelling and sounds in Irish. It was written by John Kearney, treasurer of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The type used was adopted to what has become known as the 'gaelic' script. This was published in 1602-3 by the printer Francke. The reformed Church of Ireland undertook the first publication of Scripture in Irish. The first Irish translation of the New Testament was begun by Nicholas Walsh, Bishop of Ossory, who worked on it until his untimely death in 1585. The work was continued by John Kearny, his assistant, and Dr. Nehemiah Donellan, Archbishop of Tuam, and it was finally completed by William O'Domhnuill (William Daniell, Archbishop of Tuam in succession to Donellan). Their work was printed in 1602. The work of translating the Old Testament was undertaken by William Bedel (1571-1642), Bishop of Kilmore, who completed his translation within the reign of Charles the First, however it was not published until 1680, in a revised version by Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713), Archbishop of Dublin. William Bedell had undertaken a translation of the Book of Common Prayer in 1606. An Irish translation of the revised prayer book of 1662 was effected by John Richardson (1664 - 1747) and published in 1712.
Though its number of speakers has been in decline since the 19th century, it is an important part of Irish nationalist identity. A combination of the introduction of a primary education system (the 'National Schools'), in which Irish was prohibited until 1871 and only English taught by order of the British government, and the Great Famine (lang|ga|An Gorta ) which hit a disportionately high number of Irish language speakers (who lived in the poorer areas heavily hit by famine deaths and emigration), hastened its rapid decline. Irish political leaders, such as Daniel O'Connell (lang|ga|Dónall Ó ), too were critical of the language, seeing it as 'backward', with English the language of the future. The National Schools run by the Roman Catholic Church discouraged its use until about 1890. This was because most economic opportunity for most Irish people arose at that time within the United States of America and the British Empire, which both used English. Contemporary reports spoke of Irish-speaking parents actively discouraging their children from speaking the language, and encouraging the use of English instead. This practice continued long after independence, as the stigma of speaking Irish remained very strong. Despite the policy of successive Irish governments to promote the language the decline in the number of native speakers (language shift) within the Gaeltacht has accelerated although the number of those elsewhere in the country able to speak it (as a second language) has increased albeit not to the extent that many hoped. Many believe today that only the element of compulsion is objectionable.
Some, however, thought differently. The initial moves to save the language were championed by Irish Protestants, such as the linguist and clergyman William Neilson, in the end of the eighteenth century; the major push occurred with the foundation by Douglas Hyde, the son of a Church of Ireland rector, of the Gaelic League (known in Irish as lang|ga|Conradh na ) which started the Gaelic Revival. Leading supporters of Conradh included Pádraig Mac Piarais and Éamon de Valera. The revival of interest in the language coincided with other cultural revivals, such as the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the growth in the performance of plays about Ireland in English, by such luminaries as William Butler Yeats, J.M. Synge, Sean O'Casey and Lady Gregory, with their launch of the Abbey Theatre.
Even though the Abbey Theatre playwrights wrote in English (and indeed some disliked Irish) the Irish language affected them, as it did all Irish English speakers. The version of English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English bears striking similarities in some grammatical idioms with Irish. Some have speculated that even after the vast majority of Irish people stopped speaking Irish, they perhaps subsconsciously used its grammatical flair in the manner in which they spoke English. This fluency is reflected in the writings of Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and more recently in the writings of Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Dermot Bolger and many others. (It may also in part explain the appeal in Britain of Irish-born broadcasters like Terry Wogan, Eamonn Andrews, Graham Norton, Desmond Lynam, etc.)
This national cultural revival of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century matched the growing Irish radicalism in Irish politics. Many of those, such as Pearse, de Valera, W.T. Cosgrave (Liam Mac Cosguir) and Ernest Blythe (Earnán de Blaghd), who fought to achieve Irish independence and came to govern the independent Irish Free State, first became politically aware through Conradh na Gaeilge. Hyde himself resigned from its presidency in 1915 in protest when the movement voted to affiliate with the Nationalist cause.
A Church of Ireland campaign to promote worship and religion in Irish was started in 1914 with the founding of lang|ga|Cumann Gaelach na (the Irish Guild of the Church). The Roman Catholic Church also replaced its liturgies in Latin with Irish and English for their liturgies following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. The hit song "Theme From Harry's Game" by County Donegal music group Clannad, became the first song to appear on Top Of The Pops with Irish lyrics in 1982.
Independent Ireland and the language
The independent Irish state was established in 1922 (The Irish Free State 1922-37; Ireland (Éire) from 1937, also known since 1949 as the Republic of Ireland). Although some Republican leaders had been committed language enthusiasts, the new state continued to use English as the language of administration, even in areas where over 80% of the population spoke Irish. The government refused to implement the 1926 recommendations of the Gaeltacht Commission, which included restoring Irish as the language of administration in such areas. As the role of the state grew, it therefore exerted tremendous pressure on Irish-speakers to speak English. This was only partly offset by measures which were supposed to support the Irish language. For instance, the state was by far the largest employer. A qualification in Irish was required to apply for state jobs. However, this did not require a high level of fluency, and few public employees were ever required to use Irish in the course of their work. On the other hand, state employees had to have perfect command of English and had to use it constantly. Because most public employees had a poor command of Irish, it was impossible to deal with them in Irish. If an Irish-speaker wanted to apply for a grant, obtain electricity, or complain about being over-taxed, they had to do it in English. As late as 1986 a Bord na Gaeilge report noted "...the administrative agencies of the state have been among the strongest forces for anglicisation in Gaeltacht areas".
[Advisory Planning Committee of Bord na Gaeilge, The Irish Language in a Changing Society: Shaping The Future, p.41. Criterion, 1986.]
The new state increased attempts to promote Irish through the school system. Some politicians claimed that the state would become predominantly Irish-speaking within a generation. However, it is generally agreed that this compulsory policy was clumsily implemented (and sometimes proved even to be counter productive). The principle ideologue was Professor Timothy Corcoran of University College Dublin, who "did not trouble to acquire the language himself"
[R. Comerford, Ireland (Hodder Books 2003) p145] From the mid-1940s onward the policy of teaching English-speaking children through Irish was abandoned. In the following decades, support for the language was progressively reduced.
Whereas the first three presidents of Ireland (Douglas Hyde, Sean T. O'Kelly and Eamon de Valera) and the fifth (Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh) were all so fluent in Irish that it became the working language in their official residence, later presidents struggled with any degree of fluency, its use declining to such an extent that it is only used now (if at all) in occasional speeches. Similarly, where earlier generations of Irish government leaders were highly fluent, recent Taoisigh (Prime Ministers) (Albert Reynolds, John Bruton, Bertie Ahern) have have not been.
It is, though, disputed to what extent such professed language revivalists as de Valera genuinely tried to Gaelicise political life. Ernest Blythe did little during his time as Minister of Finance to assist Irish language projects beyond the vested interests of already established organisations. Even in the first Dáil Éireann, few speeches were delivered in Irish, with the exception of formal proceedings. None of the recent taoisigh have been fluent in Irish; however, the two most recent Presidents, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese are fluent, though the former studied the language while in office to improve her fluency. Every President of Ireland has all so far taken their inaugurational "Declaration of Office" in the language, but they have the option of taking the English declaration at the inauguration.
Even modern parliamentary legislation, though supposed to be issued in both Irish and English, is frequently only available in English.
[Article 25.4 of the Constitution of Ireland requires that an "official translation" be provided of any law in both official languages—if not already passed in both official languages.] Much of publicly displayed Irish is ungrammatical, thus irritating both speakers and activists and contributing to the public image of the revival as phony and bogus. The fact that the Dail uses Irish in less than 1% of its business has not helped.
thumb|200px|Bilingual sign in English and Irish in Tesco store, Ballyfermot, Dublin.] Many public bodies have Irish language or bilingual names, but some have downgraded the language. An Post, the Republic's postal service, continues to have place names in the language on its postmarks, as well as recognising addresses (as does the Royal Mail in Northern Ireland). Traditionally, the private sector has been less supportive, although support for the language has come from some private companies. For example, Irish supermarket chain Superquinn introduced bilingual signs in its stores in the 1980s, a move which was followed more recently by the British chain Tesco for its stores in the Republic.
In an effort to address the half-committed attitude of Irish language use by the State, the Official Languages Act was passed in 2003. This act ensures that most publications made by a governmental body must be published in both official languages, Irish and English. In addition, the office of Language Commissioner has been set up to act as an ombudsman with regard to equal treatment for both languages.
thumb|200px|Picture of a typical Irish road sign with placenames in English and Irish.]
A major factor in the decline of spoken Irish has been the movement of English speakers into the Gaeltacht (predominantly Irish speaking areas) and the return of native Irish-speakers who have returned with English-speaking families. Some government grants have helped to limit the effect of this. "only about half Gaeltacht children learn Irish in the home... this is related to the high level of in-migration and return migration which has accompanied the economic restructuring of the Gaeltacht in recent decades".
[The Irish Language in a Changing Society: Shaping The Future, p. xxvi.] Many see this as a deliberate attempt by anti-nationalist politicians to wipe out the language. "That economic development of the kind undertaken was likely to have such consequences was readily predictable a decade ago". [The Irish Language in a Changing Society: Shaping The Future, p. 47.] In a last-ditch effort to stop the demise of Irish-speaking in Connemara in Galway, planning controls have been introduced on the building of new homes in Irish speaking areas. These are supposed to ensure that the proportion of Irish speakers in the local population does not decrease.
Attempts have been made to offer support for the language through the media, notably with the launch of Raidió na Gaeltachta (Gaeltacht radio) and Teilifís na Gaeilge (Irish language television, called initially 'TnaG', now renamed TG4). Both have been relatively successful. TG4 has offered Irish-speaking young people a forum for youth culture as Gaeilge (in Irish) through rock and pop shows, travel shows, dating games, and even a controversial award-winning soap opera in Irish called Ros na Rún. Most of TG4's viewership, however, tends to come from showing Gaelic football, hurling and rugby matches and also films in English, although some of its Irish language programmes attract large audiences.
In 1996, Nuacht TG4 (TG4 News) was getting only about 5,000 viewers daily. This figure has now risen to just under 50,000 (as of 2006). The channels viewershiop has steadily risen since the foundation of the station it will become independent from the State in the distant future. Arguments about the level of funding it receives persist.
There is also a daily Irish-language newspaper called Lá, a weekly called Foinse. The "Irish News" has two pages in Irish every day. The Irish Times had up until recently one article in Irish every week. Now it has several articles with some articles appended with short lists giving the meaning of some of the words used in English. Another paper, Saol, and about 5 magazines are published in the language also. The immigrants magazine Metro Eireann also has articles in Irish every issue, as do many local papers throughout the country.
The Placenames Order (Gaeltacht Districts)/lang|ga|An tOrdú Logainmneacha (Ceanntair (2004) requires the original Irish placenames to be used in the Gaeltacht on all official documents, maps and roadsigns. This has removed the legal status of those placenames in the Gaeltacht in English. Opposition to these measures comes from several quarters including some people within popular tourist destinations located within the Gaeltacht (namely in Dingle/An Daingean) who claim that tourists may not recognise the Irish forms of the placenames.
However following a campaign in the 1960's and early 1970's, most roadsigns in Gaeltacht regions have been in Irish only. Maps and government documents did not change, though. Previously Ordnance Survey (government) maps showed placenames bilingualy in the Gaeltacht (and generally in English only elsewhere). Unfortunately, most other map companies wrote only the English placenames, leading to significant confusion in the Gaeltacht. The act therefore updates government document and maps in line with what has been reality in the Gaeltacht for the past 30 years. Private map companies are expected to follow suit.
Beyond the Gaeltacht only English placenames were officially recognised (pre 2004). However, further placenames orders have been passed to enable both the English and the Irish placenames to be used. The village of Straffan is still marked variously as lang|ga|An Srafáin, An and lang|ga|Teach , even though Irish has not been the spoken widely there for two centuries.
In 1938, the founder of the Conradh na Gaeilge, Douglas Hyde (an Anglican), was inaugurated as the first President of Ireland. The record of his delivering his auguration Declaration of Office in his native Roscommon Irish remains almost the only surviving remnant of anyone speaking in that dialect.
There is a concerted effort by some to promote the language among recent immigrants. From 1964 The Bible was translated at Maynooth for Catholics under the supervision of Professor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta and was finally published in 1981.
[An Bíobla Naofa (Maynooth 1981)]
:Main article: Irish language in Northern Ireland
thumb|Bilingual welcome sign in [Newry]
As in the Republic, the Irish language is a minority language in Northern Ireland, known in Irish as lang|ga|Tuaisceart na hÉireann/Tuaisceart or lang|ga|na sé (the six counties).
Attitudes towards the language in Northern Ireland have traditionally reflected the political differences between its two divided communities. The language has been regarded with suspicion by unionists, who have associated it with the Roman Catholic-dominated Republic, and more recently, with the republican movement. Many republicans in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, learnt Irish while in prison, a development known as the jailtacht . Although the language was taught in Catholic secondary schools (especially by the Christian Brothers), it was not taught at all in state (Protestant) schools and public signs in Irish were effectively banned under laws by the Parliament of Northern Ireland, which stated that only English could be used.
These laws were not repealed by the British government until the early 1990s. However, Irish-medium schools, known as gaelscoileanna, had already been founded in Belfast and Derry, and an Irish-language newspaper called Lá ("day") was established in Belfast. BBC Radio Ulster began broadcasting a nightly half-hour programme in Irish in the early 1980s called Blas ("taste, accent"), and BBC Northern Ireland also showed its first TV programme in the language in the early 1990s.
The Ultach Trust was also established, with a view to broadening the appeal of the language among Protestants, although hardline DUP politicians like Sammy Wilson ridiculed it as a "leprechaun language".
[ Irish News, 6 February 2003] Ulster Scots, promoted by many loyalists, was, in turn, ridiculed by nationalists (and even some Unionists) as "a DIY language for Orangemen" [ Irish News, 16 November, 2002]. According to recent statistics, there is no significant difference between the number of Catholic and Protestant speakers of Ulster Scots in Ulster (see Ulster Scots language), although those involved in promoting Ulster-Scots as a language are almost always unionist. Ulster-Scots is defined in legislation (The North/South Co-operation (Implementation Bodies) Northern Ireland Order 1999) as: the variety of the Scots language which has traditionally been used in parts of Northern Ireland and in Donegal in Ireland http://www.coe.int/T/E/Legal_Affairs/Local_and_regional_Democracy/Regional_or_Minority_languages/Documentation/1_Periodical_reports/2002_5e_MIN-LANG_PR_UK.asp.
Irish received official recognition in Northern Ireland for the first time in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement. A cross-border body known as Foras na Gaeilge was established to promote the language in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, taking over the functions of the previous Republic-only lang|ga|Bord na .
The British government has ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in respect to Irish in Northern Ireland.
It has been claimed that Belfast now represents the fastest growing centre of Irish language usage on the island - and the Good Friday Agreement's provisions on 'parity of esteem' have been used to give the language an official status there. In March 2005, the Irish language TV service TG4 began broadcasting from the Divis transmitter near Belfast, as a result of agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Northern Ireland Office, although so far this is the only transmitter to carry it.
Irish in North America
The Irish language emigrated to North America along with the Irish people. Although Irish is one of the smaller European languages spoken in North America, it has cultural importance in the northeast United States and in Newfoundland, and according to the 2000 U.S. census, an estimated 25,000
[http://www.usenglish.org/foundation/research/lia/languages/irish_gaelic.pdf] people in the U.S. speak Irish at home.
TG4's hit Irish-language soap opera, Ros na Rún, is even televised in Pennsylvania and other northern states. http://www.wybe.org/comedy.html
Irish in Australia
The Irish language reached Australia in 1788, along with English. In the early colonial period, Irish was seen as an opposition language used by convicts and repressed by the colonial authorities. http://www.gaeilgesanastrail.com/docs/history.php Although the Irish were a greater proportion of the European population than in any other British colony, the use of the language quickly declined and is now almost unknown. As legal barriers to the integration of the Irish and their descendants into Australian life were progressively removed, English became the language of social advancement.
Many Australian slang words are Irish-derived and there are arguments that Australian English is more influenced by Irish than other Englishes. There is a small movement to re-establish the language in contemporary Australia http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~jmatthew/articles/irish.html. The Special Broadcasting Service transmits Irish language radio and television.
Irish language today
The number of native Irish-speakers in the Republic of Ireland today is a smaller fraction of what it was at independence. However, this number has risen significantly over the past two decades. The Official Languages Act of 2003 gave people the right to interact with state bodies in Irish. It is too early to assess how well this is working in practice. Other factors were outward migration of Irish speakers from the Gaeltacht and inward migration of English-speakers. The Planning and Development Act (2000) attempted to address the latter issue, but the response is almost certainly inadequate. Planning controls now require new housing in Gaeltacht areas to be allocated to English-speakers and Irish-speakers in the same ratio as the existing population of the area. This will not prevent houses allocated to Irish-speakers subsequently being sold on to English-speakers. Outward migration of Irish-speakers could be reduced if the state, which is the main employer in the Republic of Ireland, were to exercise its right to have certain jobs performed in Irish and relocated to the Gaeltacht. On 3rd December 2003 the Minister for Finance announced a new Decentralisation programme, moving over 10,000 civil and public service jobs to 53 locations in 25 other counties outside Dublin. The government explicitly said this was being done to boost the economy of outlying areas. None of these jobs were used to provide employment for native Irish-speakers in the Gaeltacht.
According to data compiled by the Irish Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, only one quarter of households in Gaeltacht areas possess a fluency in Irish. 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 one of Ireland's cultural pasts and identities, and its future. All sides, irrespective of their view on the methodology used by independent Ireland in its efforts to preserve the language, agree that such a loss would be a cultural tragedy on a monumental scale.
An interest in the Irish language is maintained throughout the English speaking world among the Irish diaspora and there are active Irish language groups in North American, British, and Australian cities. In Australia, a network of people have established special Irish schools around the country teaching the language and music. In recent years the expansion of the Irish language in Australia been so overwhelming there is too much demand for the supply of
Several computer software products have the option of an Irish-language interface. Prominent examples include Mozilla Firefoxhttp://gaeilge.mozdev.org/, Mozilla Thunderbirdhttp://gaeilge.mozdev.org/, OpenOffice.orghttp://ga.openoffice.org/, Microsoft Windows XPhttp://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=0db2e8f9-79c4-4625-a07a-0cc1b341be7c&displaylang=ga and Microsoft Office 2003.
Many English-speaking Irish people use small and simple phrases in their everyday speech, e.g. ("goodbye"), lang|ga|Slán ("get home safely"), ("good health"; used when drinking like "bottoms up"), lang|ga|Go raibh maith - ("thank you"), lang|ga|Céad míle ("a hundred thousand welcomes", a tourist board saying), lang|ga|Conas atá ("How are you?"). There are many more small sayings that have crept into Hiberno-English. The term craic has been popularised outside Ireland in its Gaelic spelling: "How's the craic?" or "What's the 'craic'?"("how's the fun?"/"how is it going?").
The Irish language is a compulsory subject in government funded schools in the Republic of Ireland and has been so since the early days of the state.
[The exemption from Irish on the grounds of time spent abroad or learning disability is subject to Circular 12/96 (primary education) and Circular M10/94 (secondary education) issued by the Department of Education and Science.] While many students learn Irish well through the Irish school system, and develop a healthy respect for it, many other students find it difficult or are taught it poorly by unmotivated teachers; these students' attitudes toward Irish tend to range from apathy to hostility.
All things being equal, for English-speakers, Irish is more difficult than, for example, Spanish or Germancitation . Irish syntax, morphology, and vocabulary are a good deal more different from English than many other European languages are; this makes learning it challenging for many. The Irish Government has endeavoured to address the situation by revamping the curriculum at primary school level to focus on spoken Irish. However, at secondary school level, it can easily be argued that Irish is still taught "academically". Students must analyse literature and poetry, and write lengthy essays, debates and stories in Irish for the Leaving Certificate examination.
Recently the abolition of compulsory Irish has been discussed and while some Irish people favour such a move, many do not. In 2005 Enda Kenny, leader of Ireland's main opposition party, Fine Gael, called for the language to be made an optional subject in the last two years of secondary school. This call drew widespread criticism from many quarters although some have supported his call. Mr Kenny, despite being a fluent speaker himself, stated that he believed that compulsory Irish has done the language more harm than good.
A relatively recent development is the proliferation of gaelscoileanna, i.e. schools in which Irish is the medium of education. By September 2005 there were 158 gaelscoileanna at primary level and 36 at secondary level in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland together (excluding the Gaeltacht, whose schools are not considered gaelscoileanna), which amounted to approximately 31,000 students. This has grown from a total of less than 20 in the early 1970's and there are 15 more being planned at present. With the opening of Gaelscoil Liatroma in County Leitrim in 2005 there is now at least one gaelscoil in each of the 32 counties of Ireland.
Notes and references
* Brian O Cuiv in 'A New History of Ireland 1534-1691, Oxford 1978 ISDN 0 19 821739 0
* R.V. Comerford, cited above, chapter 4.
* A. Kelly, Compulsory Irish; Language and Education in Ireland (Dublin 2002).
* Differences between Scottish Gaelic and Irish
* Irish initial mutations
* Irish name
* Irish morphology
* Irish orthography
* Irish phonology
* Irish syntax
* Irish words used in the English language
* Swadesh list of Irish words
* Modern literature in Irish
* Place names in Irish
* List of Irish given names
* Common phrases in different languages
* List of Ireland-related topics
* Céad míle fáilte
* Newfoundland Irish
* Language Freedom Movement
* Gaelic script
* Old Irish
*http://www.forasnagaeilge.ie/ Foras na Gaeilge
*http://www.translatorsassociation.ie/content/view/26/48/ Irish Translators and Interpreters Association
*http://publications.europa.eu/code/en/en-370200.htm#fn4 EU Interinstitutional Style Guide
*http://wikisource.org/wiki/Main_Page:Gaeilge Irish main page at Wikisource
*de http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Die_araner_mundart Die araner mundart (a phonological description of the dialect of the Aran Islands, from 1899)
*http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaeilge/gaeilge.html Gaeilge ar an ghréasán Irish online recources
*http://homepage.ntlworld.com/r.a.mccartney/baile_nua/main.html A Plan to save the Irish Language - includes background info from authoritative sources
*http://www.focal.ie/Home.aspx Focal.ie, a large terminology database developed by FIONTAR, DCU
*http://www.foinse.ie Foinse - weekly newspaper
*http://www.daltai.com Irish Language Information and Resources
*http://www.ceantar.org/Dicts/search.html Gaelic Dictionaries
*http://www.englishirishdictionary.com/ Online English-Irish dictionary
*http://nualeargais.ie/gnag/gram.htm Braesicke's Gramadach na Gaeilge (Engl. translation)
*http://www.naaclt.org/ North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers
*http://www.celticleague.org/ The Celtic League, American Branch (CLAB)
*http://www.celtdigital.org/ Celt Digital, The Celtic World on the Web
*http://www.irishhamilton.ca/ Irish Hamilton
*http://www.celtic-tigers.com Irish language for children in SE Asia
*http://www.abhus.com/ Online Irish Language Art Resource
*http://www.standingstones.com/gaelpron.html Beginner's Guide to Irish Gaelic Pronunciation
*http://www.irishrealm.com/ir_gaelic.html Pronouncing Irish
*http://www.summerlands.com/crossroads/celticlanguage/labara5.html A Taste of Irish Verse
* http://www.cinni.org/ultach/ Ultach Trust
* http://www.nuacht.com Lá
* http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/irish/ BBC Northern Ireland Irish language
Category:Junior Certificate subjects
Category:Languages of Ireland
Category:Languages of the United Kingdom
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