Having just typed a thunderously huge response to something brought up in the "Exclamations" posting, it occurred to me that if I really want replies I'd be best served by starting a new convo.
What interests me is how, exactly, Gaelic became nearly extinct, then was revived, in Ireland in the 20th century.
I'll attempt to copy my original post under this.
By Suzycat on Saturday, February 5, 2000 - 02:33 am:
Goody, here it is.
I'm rather enjoying all this comparative linguistics. Since the only language we ALL have in common appears to be
English, I can't see the point in never referring to it at all.
While English has been the dominant language in many, many colonisations of many, many countries, to the
detriment of the languages spoken there, don't forget English has itself picked up quite a few words from other
languages. Only Irish example I can immediately recall is galore - appears to come from go leor, enough. Does
anyone know of any others?
It's important to remember, too, that languages are ever-growing and changing things. There are more languages
in danger of extinction than there are animals. Languages die out every year, and not always for sinister reasons
(eg genocide). In the Middle East and Asia it's quite normal for people to speak three or four languages - family
dialect (eg home village), another one for school and business, perhaps another for religious purposes, and so
forth. But with the way the world changes, people increasingly have to move to new places for work etc, where
their native tongue is useless, so they stop using it. Maybe they use it to the kids, who end up knowing a little,
but who stop using it when they marry. And before you know it, all gone.
Re Irish nearly dying out - I know it wasn't taught in schools for a long time, I know that a couple of hundred
years ago it was actually illegal to speak it (but practically impossible to enforce, since it was also illegal to
educate Irish people), but I also know that in the West, if nowhere else, there were still people who spoke only
Irish early in this century.
WHat happened between then and now? There are certain parallels with the NZ indigenous language, Maori. One
of the reasons it nearly died out was because teachers actually punished children for using it at school during the
'20s -'50s. So when those kids grew up they made a point of not teaching their own kids Maori. What resulted
was an entire generation with no knowledge of their own language, who often didn't even realise their parents
were fluent speakers. My cousin's husband is such a person - his kids speak more Maori than he does (in fact I
speak more Maori than he does - and I can't say anything except hello, goodbye etc!!)
Did something similar happen in Ireland? My granny was a fluent speaker but my father insists point blank he
knows no Irish whatsoever (I've tried secretive testing and this appears to be true). Yet his younger siblings all
know a tiny bit.
I'd really like to know the ins and outs of the Gaelic resurgence.
Folks, go mad!
By Accasbel on Tuesday, April 4, 2000 - 09:13 am:
Oops! I wasn't keeping an eye in the validity of links in my Gaeilge section: http://www.alia.ie/tirnanog/gaelige.html
Is trua liom.
The government website description of the ups and downs of the language is now at
Focal an Lae http://www.lincolnu.edu/~focal/ features section has some relevant material.
By Suzycat on Saturday, April 8, 2000 - 07:26 am:
By Monadh on Thursday, November 9, 2000 - 11:04 am:
What an interesting topic...but I think I missed the boat :(