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Friday, May 22, 2015

Region Focus

The changing Irish language demographic

Brian Ó Broin

While schools in these areas — known collectively, and legally recognized, as the Gaeltacht — transitioned to Irish with relative ease despite the paucity of Irish-language textbooks, it was not a success in other areas, where the absence of qualified teachers and fluent speakers led to the development of a schoolroom pidgin that neither teachers nor students were fully conversant in. Government reluctance to support the language outside the education system meant that learner access to native speakers, who were mostly confined to the Gaeltacht, was negligible until the foundation of a nationally-available radio station in the 1970s.

Irish-medium education (school taught in Irish) outside the Gaeltacht all but died out by the 1960s, but the language remained a required school subject. This has led to hostility in certain English-speaking quarters where the language (while accepted as an authentic badge of Irishness) is still often seen as rural, retrograde and useless.

The promotion of the language as a national entity, however, did lead to the development of small urban communities of speakers, most of them created by the conversion of English speakers to Irish. This has caused the classroom pidgin, first created in a language-revival environment for want of native speakers, to recently move toward Creole status in the cities as select members elect to raise their children in Irish. . .

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Above excerpt taken from the April/May 2013 issue of MultiLingual published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Avenue, Suite 2, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864-1495 USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310. Subscribe

April/May, 2013