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Tag: Irish language

An Cód: Craicing the Code in Irish

Language, Language in the News

It’s often assumed that computing coding lessons are always taught in English because most (though not all) programming languages use English language syntax.

Not so.

Hour of Code is worldwide

Hour of Code is worldwide

Take this great example of learning to code in Irish (Gaeilge), part of the Hour of Code initiative in 2016, thanks to computer science professor Kevin Scannell (@kscanne), from Saint Louis University in Missouri in the United States of America.

The Irish Independent newspaper tells us that Hour of Code‘s focus is on “making coding fun through the use of popular games like Minecraft, as well as films such as Star Wars and Frozen“.

Learning to code as Gaeilge thanks to Hour of Code

Learning to code in Irish thanks to Hour of Code and Professor Kevin Scannell.

2016 was the “third year the (Hour of Code) event has been run in Ireland since it was taken up by digital learning movement, Excited“, co-founded by Irish member of parliament, Fine Gael’s TD Ciarán Cannon (@ciarancannon).

The Indo also says that “Prof Scannell kickstarted the initiative as he loves the language and believes children should be able to access coding lessons in their mother tongue.”

Who could argue with that?

Super initiatives. Kudos, or should I say “Comhghairdeas” to all concerned.

Oh, and about that “Irish” word “craic”.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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The Politics of Irish Language: Gaeilge (Never Gaelic)

Language in the News

I was going to write about the politics of the Irish language (Gaeilge) in the North of Ireland/Northern Ireland (see? in trouble already).

But I won’t.

Curry my yoghurt. Funny on one level, deadly serious on another.

Curry my yoghurt. Funny on one level; deadly serious on another.

The topic’s just too hot to handle (see what I did there?)

Recent news about the Irish language in that part of the island of Ireland is a reminder that language everywhere has powerful political and cultural dimensions. Language is a deadly serious business that can raise passions of the heart that no head can rationalize.

Still, on the subject of Gaeilge, it’s great to see how the Duolingo mobile is helping to spread Irish language learning elsewhere.

I bet that news fires up the passions too, huh?

Duolingo mobile app helps increase Gaeilge learning

Duolingo mobile app helps increase Gaeilge learning worldwide.

As far as I’m concerned, whatever your views, just don’t call it Gaelic.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

IUC44

Ich Bin Ein Taoschnó

Language in the News

Yes, taoschnó. That’s the answer to the Twitter question (asked by @patricox) “How do you say donut in Irish? Some Irish cops want to know.

Thanks to @aonghusoha for the translation into Irish (Gaeilge).

The question was prompted by the news that members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland are lining up to learn Irish.

Two points arise:

  • Such a development would have been unthinkable not so long ago. It’s good news. It’s also a reminder of how the fortunes of a language can be closely tied to political, as well as social and cultural events.
  • It’s also further evidence there is little danger of the Irish language dying out soon, though not everyone speaking it can actually understand each other.

Yes, I know about the urban myth.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Saint Patrick and Twitter

Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Just love this story on ReadWriteWeb: Using Twitter to Preserve Minority Languages. It’s about Indigenoustweets.com,  launched on Saint Patrick’s Day by Professor Kevin Scannell of St. Louis University. The Prof uses his An Crúbadán (literally, in Irish “The Crawler”) web-crawling statistical software to identify which minority languages are being tweeted, and by whom.

Check out the indigenoustweets.com. I did, and I was proud to see my twitter name in there as an Irish language (Gaeilge) tweeter too.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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20 Year Strategy for Irish Language Launched: It's All Politics

Language in Business, Language in the News

Just before Christmas, 2010, the Irish Government launched their 20 year strategy for the Irish language. Ten years in the making, there was little reaction to announcement from the translation industry, other than latching on to a media-friendly pitch about tripling the number of daily Irish speakers from 83,000 to 250,000 by 2030.

Most Irish language enthusiasts —or watchers of the subject—prefaced their comments along the lines of “Cuirim fáilte roimh stráitéis an rialtais i dtaca leis an Ghaeilge, ach….”. I am no different. I do welcome a strategy, but unfortunately, it’s the wrong strategy, for the wrong language, at the wrong time. What a shame the strategy wasn’t about creating a multilingual society in Ireland and positioned Irish within that, along with other languages. But then, there are politicians in the mix.

Firstly, 1.5 million Euros is a tiny amount of investment to dedicate to any language. And, the targeted increase in the numbers of speakers is unrealistic. Furthermore, the strategy offers nothing in the way of integration of all Irish speakers or reflects what’s really going on with the language today.

Instead, the message is clear, and it’s a political one. The strategy’s central thrust is about forcing people to learn Irish a particular way because Irish law requires it, and Irish is a recognized language of the European Union. Ironically, it is clear that Irish people are already well capable of learning and using Irish today, leveraging more popular culture influences such as TG4 and so on. Brian Ó Broin  (no relation) of the William Paterson University in New Jersey has already pointed out that more Irish people than ever are speaking Irish in some form—though they cannot all understand each other because of dialectical differences—an encouraging trend that should be allowed to continue. A language is a living means of communication, not something defined by a legalistic interpretation and enforcement of some concept of Gaeltacht or a mandatory part of  formal education for children and teenagers.

Next, it is clear that Ireland needs a language policy in general, one that goes far beyond statutory commitments to an teanga dúchais and addresses the needs of Ireland’s place in a globalized economy. Ireland’s already been criticized for its failings in multilingual skills provision and how this negatively impacts employment for Irish people (and indeed exports).

Anyone interested in how other countries value multilingual skills from an economic perspective should read Professor Ingela Bel Habib of University of Göteborg, Sweden’s paper “The effects of linguistic skills on the export performance of French, German and Swedish SMEs“, which demonstrates that  multilingualism and economic competitiveness are closely linked.  The list of job openings posted by Facebook in Dublin highlights the importance of language skills.

Finally, I found the strategy lacked any credible references or ideas about the role of technology in increasing Irish language usage. Sure,  it makes some vague allusion to machine translation as being “critical”. But what of more innovative technological approaches? The strategy might have referred to the use of computer games in learning Irish (an area being researched by Ireland’s Centre for Next Generation Localisation, for example) or other ideas. Perhaps the strategy’s claim that “the Historic Dictionary of the Irish language being developed by the Royal Irish Academy will be completed by 2037” perhaps we should not be surprised at lack of insight here.

In all, a rather disappointing strategy document, destined for abandonment. Clearly, it’s a political document, delivered without much fanfare by a government that is deeply unpopular and also on the way out. Not that it will stop Irish people who want to speak Irish from doing so, thankfully. Besides, most of us now have much higher priorities now than paying attention to government “strategies”.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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