A Word From Japan, the occasional blog of an Irishman who was formerly resident in the Land of the Rising Sun, highlights the manner in which the indigenous language of the island of Ireland is used, abused and most of all, simply ignored.
“Más fiú é a dhéanamh, is fiú é a dhéanamh i gceart
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Here’s the road sign of the street where I live now:
The Irish version has an error: it says “Ascaill Bhaile Shealin” instead of “Ascaill Bhaile Sheáin” (or even better, “Ascaill Bhaile Eoin”).
Here’s the street sign of the road where I grew up:
This one says “Bóthar Bhaile Bhrice” instead of “Bóthar Bhaile Bhríde”.
This kind of mistake, which is extremely common in this area, suggests to me that the people commissioning the signs just don’t care whether they are right or wrong.
These are not “typos” or slips; it’s obvious that the people actually making the signs don’t know any Irish, and are just blindly (and incompetently) copying a meaningless string of letters.
(Though that in itself is hardly an excuse; if it was your job to copy down three words in an unfamiliar language, if that was how you earned your living, would you not double-check to make sure you got it right?)
But the customer, in this case Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county council, clearly doesn’t see the need for any quality control. They just order the signs, and then whatever random words come back, put them on permanent public display.
“Bóther Dúnta” instead of “Bóthar Dúnta”; “Deislú Droichid” instead of “Deisiú Droichid”.
This kind of haphazard approach makes a mockery of the policy of official bilingualism. If even the people tasked with maintaining a token presence of the Irish language on street signs can’t be bothered to get it right, is it worth continuing at all?
To me, it is. I love to be reminded of the poetry and history embodied in the local Irish place names as I go about my daily life; Cill Iníon Léinín, Gleann na gCaorach, Baile na Manach alongside Killiney, Glenageary and Monkstown.
But I wish the local authorities would make the small extra effort to get it right. Déan é i gceart nó ná déan é!