Mind Your Language!

Ireland in chains
Éire in chains

Following on from my post examining the scandal of a young Irish man arrested and detained in handcuffs by the Gardaí (police) in Dublin for answering in Irish to a question put to him in English by a Garda, here is a recent story from Brian Ó Broin, a professor of linguistics, medieval literature and Irish studies at William Paterson University, New Jersey, on the casualness of anti-Irish discrimination in Ireland:

“While hurrying for an American departure in Dublin Airport last week I heard the latecomers being paged on the terminal intercom. Reaching the gate several seconds later I humorously chided the gate agent for forgetting to call my name. “No,” she said, “I saw your name, but it was in Irish, so I left it out.”

I made my flight, and no damage done, but I returned to America amazed that casual acts of discrimination like this can still occur in Ireland without apology or consequence. Would the gate agent still have a job if she applied this policy to names in German?”

Ah, the joys of being a “non-person” in 21st century Ireland.

Just ask Irish Independent journo and professional Irish-hater Declan Lynch. He can tell the real Oirish from the Gaels when he sees ‘em! And thank God we have RTÉ, Ireland’s national public service broadcaster, to give airtime to the not-at-all-prejudiced views expressed so vigorously by so many Irish people journalists.

Eoin Ó Catháin has some more views on the increasingly strident anti-Irish sentiment being publicly expressed in Ireland here.

Update 11.00: To the guys from the same four or five IP addresses who keep trying to post abusive (and frankly racist) Comments don’t bother. I allow the vast majority of views and opinions on An Sionnach Fionn without interference or censure. However there is a line and you people are going well beyond it. If you oppose the Irish language and culture, and the rights of Irish-speaking citizens in Ireland to equal treatment with their English speaking peers, then make your case. I have no problem with a contrary argument, no matter how objectionable to me personally. However sinking to the level of hate-speech will get you nowhere.

Update 13.00: And here comes Squire Myers of Ballyshoeneen with his studiously gratuitous anti-Irish rant. At least I know where the anglophone fundamentalists leaving Comments on An Sionnach Fionn pick up their lexicon of discriminatory words and phases. “Young chimps” is it?

Advertisements

9 comments

  1. Don chuid is mó déanann na daoine úd a fágann focail naimhdeach i gcoinne an Ghaeilge a ainm féin a chuir faoi cheilt, aisteach nach bhfuil siad sásta seasamh taobh thiar dá gcuid argóintí cúngaigeanta agus truailliú na bhfóram a théann leis!

    For the most part the people who leave hostile words againts the Irish hide their own names, strange that they aren’t happy to stand behind these narrow-minded views and the pollution of internet forums that go with them!

    1. Very true. The names-of-convenience used by extreme anglophone Commenters on this blog are themselves very revealing. “Not A Bog Wog” tells you much about that person’s prejudices. Not too mention his colonised mindset.

  2. Kevin Myers is just such a repulsive human being, and his rantings are beyond absurd. He’s almost a caricature.

    1. Agreed. I found his description of President Barack Obama as a “mulatto” in one article particularly offensive given its negative and racially-toned use in historic times and indicative of broader problems with his “opinions”. His obsessive belief in the Norman-British/Anglo-Irish ethnic purity of Fine Gael voters/members/politicians is particularly worrisome given his prominent position in Ireland’s media elites.

  3. The only real regret in my life {I’m 63} is that I only have a smattering of Irish.
    From the age of eight I was educated in England & thus had no exposure to the language subsequent to early primary school.
    Despite a couple of attempts at classes, I only have the “cupla focal” ~ despite eight years of school French I can’t converse in that language either ~ so maybe languages aren’t my thing.
    However I’m convinced that our language is our soul ~ even the way we speak english reflects who we are as a people.
    It would be perfectly feasible for Ireland to be a truly bi-lingual country like many others ~ a small list here:

    Bi-lingual:
    Belgium Dutch & French
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish
    Estonia Estonian & Russian
    Finland Finnish & Swedish
    Latvia Latvian & Russian
    Malta Maltese, English & Italian
    Romania Romanian & Hungarian
    Holland Dutch & Freisian
    Lithuania Lithuanian & Polish
    Slovakia Slovak & Hungarian
    Slovenia Slovene & Italian
    Wales Welsh & English

    Tri-lingual:
    Luxenbourg Luxembourgish, French & German

    Quadri-lingual:
    Switzerland German, French, Italian & Romansh

    Multi-lingual
    USA English, Spanish & many others
    Russia Russian & many others

    It is to our shame as a nation that we haven’t cherished & nurtured what we have.

    As studies have shown, early immersion in Irish actually helps people to learn third & fourth languages where as the monoglot English speakers {like me unfortunately} are at a distinct disadvantage in this respect.

    I only came across your blog recently Séamas ~ great stuff ~ keep up the good work

    1. Thanks for the Comment and the additional information below on our multilingual Europe. Appreciated.

      I believe that it is incredibly important that non-Irish speakers who have a regard for the Irish language, or believe it to be their own, have a say and input in its protection and promotion. The indigenous language and culture of the island of Ireland belongs to all of us. We all have a role to play and fluency or lack thereof should be no barrier to participating in its future.

      My own Irish is dreadful, I struggle with it and have done so for years and like you find I have no natural ability with languages. I know words, I know basic phrases but putting them together to make a tolerable sentence… But I still have a view on the language and the rights of Irish-speakers. The language belongs to me as much as any native speaker, given our colonial history and the legacies of that. That is why so many English-speaking parents with little or no ability in Irish send their children to Irish-medium schools. They regard the language as their own and wish more for the next generation than they had.

  4. I am stunned to witness ‘irish’ people slam and ridicule the Irish language. I thought it only happened up here in the north. I view myself as an unrepentant irish republican but i have always felt a little bit less irish when i encountered anyone speaking as gaeilge and i must admit i envied them somewhat. But i was also proud and heartened to see these people flourish despite all the negativity aimed at them. When i was at school i shamefully fell for this propaganda and found myself agreeing with some of my peers when they said ‘whats the point?’ Now that i am a little wiser and have a young family i now realise how important the irish language is to this country. To the knockers and begrudgers, i have to tell you that where i am from the irish language is growing and growing in popularity. And i would also like to commend the parents,grandparents etc who have continued to promote and encourage the growth of our native tongue, you people deserve the highest praise. Your efforts do not go unnoticed. And just to emphasise the point i have just in the last few days enrolled myself in a irish class and i will strive to ensure my kids are given the best encouragement i can offer them in learning their native tongue too. I can only conclude that the ‘irish’ people who are viciously trying to put the brakes on the growth of this language down south, must be the remnants of planter stock. They might live in Ireland but dear old blighty is in their hearts? Alas these people will surely realise, just like the english have learned for centuries now, the true irish will stubbornly refuse to comply to their anglo ways. Long may it continue.

    1. Thanks for the Comment and your views. Very interesting and probably a typical experience for many Irish people. One notices that the city of Belfast has a thriving mini-Gaeltacht but when a proposal was put forward for the creation of an official urban-Gaeltacht in Dublin City, the national capital, it was greeted with horror and ridicule by the Anglophone media elites in the city. Irish-speakers, in OUR city?

Comments are closed.