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View Diary: Irish Surprises: 13 Things You Probably Don't Know about 21st Century Eire (88 comments)

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  •  The Irish do not speak Gaelic. They speak Irish. (6+ / 0-)

    I am on a mission to educate people not to refer to the Irish language as speaking "Gaelic".  Gaelic is a generic term referring to all celtic languages.  It would be similar to me asking a Korean if they speak Asian.  And if you ask an Irish person if they speak Gaelic they will give you a look like you are daft.  

    •  All /goidelic/ Celtic languages (1+ / 0-)
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      I don't think Welsh speakers would be pleased to be told they speak a Gaelic language!

    •  Or more accurately, the Irish speak English and (4+ / 0-)
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      milkbone, zinger99, FarWestGirl, DocGonzo

      not a whole lot of anything else.

      By one account:

      Aidan Doyle's book states that for "propaganda reasons" the Irish government wildly exaggerates the number of speakers as well as the unreliable census reports. People with little Irish reporting themselves as Irish speakers. "There are not more than 10,000 native speakers left, most of then over the age of 40".

      That's not even "gun control". It's more like "massacre control".

      by Inland on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 08:49:19 AM PDT

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      •  As their first language (3+ / 0-)
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        FarWestGirl, blue muon, kyril

        Yes, that number is probably accurate.  

        But as far as the number of people that are fluent in Irish,  I would say that number is much, much higher.  It is required learning from 1st grade all the way through secondary school.  

        That being said my uncle would often go into shops and speak to the clerk in Irish and would be cross with them when they could not respond.  He would say "Whats the matter with you, don't you know your own language".  

        I imagine with the influx of immigrants from all over the world it is even more difficult now to maintain knowledge of the Irish language.  The welsh have done a better job of that.

        •  It was almost extinct not long ago. I remember (2+ / 0-)
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          blue muon, kyril

          hearing that it started being taught again by those in prison to the younger inmates during the Troubles. It apparently messed up the regional accents, a bit like TV in the US has given everyone California accents.

          I'm glad it's being taught in school again. The Welsh have, indeed, been very protective of their native tongue and made it part of the curriculum many years ago.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
          ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

          by FarWestGirl on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 02:36:03 PM PDT

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          •  I have cousins that lived on the Aran Islands (2+ / 0-)
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            FarWestGirl, kyril

            There first language as well as most everyone on the Island's was Irish.  Interestingly enough when they spoke english it would be with an american accident because most of the TV programs were american programs.  

            The English occupation nearly wiped out the language since teaching it was a crime you could be killed for.  But it persisted and was taught illegally within hedge row shools.  

            It would be a shame for the language to die out altogether, however, it is difficult to get students to study a language that is not even common in your own country.  

        •  Nah (0+ / 0-)

          It's required, but not well learned. My wife's a graduate of one of the top Dublin colleges, won a prize for Irish writing in high school, and can't speak more than a dozen words and a handful of phrases of it today.

          Just as most urban Americans "study" a foreign language like Spanish or French for at least 2-3 years in middle and high schools, but never actually learn to speak it any better than someone who's just seen it on TV.

          Around Galway we found lots more people who speak Irish, and people who speak nothing but. FWIW, in NYC's Chinatown there are people who speak nothing but Cantonese.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 09:23:59 PM PDT

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    •  This is true. (3+ / 0-)
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      zinger99, FarWestGirl, blue muon

      One of the reasons I think people remain confused on this issue is that predominantly native Irish-speaking areas are referred to as the Gaeltacht, which of course is of the same linguistic root at the term "Gaelic."

      But it's the Irish language, and that's all there is to that.

      "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel." -Sepp Herberger

      by surfbird007 on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 10:34:33 AM PDT

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    •  Hmm, they speak Irish in the Gaeltacht (0+ / 0-)

      And the Irish translation of English 'Gaelic' is per Google Translate 'gaeilge'

      So the whole Irish-Gaelic opposition as a general proposition is a little suspect. Now there is a very good case for opposing 'Irish' to 'Scotch Gaelic' as official language terms. Then again 'Scotch Gaelic' is historically an import or perhaps re-import from Ireland in the 5th century as Irish DalRiada formed the Scottish kingdom of Dal Riata which then formed the historical core of the Kingdom of Scotland. And in a final irony 'Scoti' was the Roman name for Ireland and Irish.

      So from a deep historical view there is nothing more Irish, in fact terminologically doubly so, than 'Scotch Gaelic' while as you note the Gaels who inhabit ancient Eriu speak 'Irish'. Ain't etymology and linguistic history grand?

      (Man I miss the Celtic Studies Program at UC Berkeley or actually its predecessor Celtic Colloquium of the 80s-good times and interesting studies) - SocSec.Defender at - founder DK Social Security Defenders group - (hmm is there a theme emerging here?)

      by Bruce Webb on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 11:17:47 AM PDT

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    •  Americans Speak English (1+ / 0-)
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      It's correct to say that Americans and English people (and Australians, etc) speak English, though their specific dialects differ, and with accents often cannot be mutually understood.

      Also, most Irish people speak only English. Some who have been well educated will know what you mean by Gaelic, and most of them probably won't look at you that way even if they distinguish Irish from the general Gaelic.

      Though I know South Americans who are annoyed by USA'ers referring to themselves as "the Americans" as if those in the Southern Hemisphere aren't.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 09:20:52 PM PDT

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