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Before You Learn To Kill You Have To Learn To Hate

To kill the Gaelic languages you must first teach people to dehumanize and hate those who speak the Gaelic languages
To kill the Gaelic languages you must first teach people to dehumanize and hate those who speak the Gaelic languages

From Aodh Ó Rathaille Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman newspaper:

“In sooth, if a language fails to move with the times it dies.

The only exception is Gaelic, a terminally-ill tongue that had the Do Not Resuscitate sign snatched from its deathbed by an SNP government determined to maintain bi-lingual signage at Queen Street Station and all major Homebase stores. Putting an ailing language, one that is not recognised by the EU, on to a life support system of government subsidy doesn’t come cheap – it costs £25m to produce televisual feasts such as BBC Alba, a channel whereby one can watch football with the annoying Gaelic commentary turned down and await the half-time analysis in English by monolingual pundits.

In the 2011 census, fewer than 58,000 folk ’fessed up to having a working knowledge of Gaelic yet, like mole-hills on a bowling green, Gaelic medium schools continue to spring up unexpectedly; usually, one has to say, in leafy, prosperous areas. It is no accident that Glasgow’s institute for teuchter education is located in the city’s west end. For the parents of Angus Og and the like, the fact that one’s seed attends the Gaelic school is always something worth dropping into after-dinner conversations with friends. Clinking glasses and saying “Slainte!” rather than “Cheers!” is de rigueur for the Byres Road set (wearing a See-You-Jimmy hat while making the Erse toast is somewhat frowned upon).

While the slurping snouts of Gaels struggle to stop the trough overflowing with taxpayers’ cash, Scots language is going the way of Hittite.”

Scottish Gaelic is the language of Scotland’s middle-class elites (Irish Gaelic is the language of Ireland’s middle-class elites).

Scottish-speakers are parasites on the English-speaking majority of Scotland (Irish-speakers are parasites on the English-speaking majority of Ireland).

Scottish Gaelic is actually “Erse”, the language of the Irish and so foreign to the vast majority of the modern Scottish people unlike the English or Scots-English tongues (Irish Gaelic is actually “aboriginal”, the language of the native Irish and so foreign to the vast majority of the modern Irish people unlike the English or Hiberno-English tongues).

Oh so familiar, oh so insidious,..

From Louise Holden in the Irish Times newspaper:

“Irish is the second challenge to modern-language learning in Ireland. Irish-language groups will form part of One Voice, but the native tongue occupies a unique position that sets it apart from other languages in the Irish context. “We don’t want to put down Irish,” says Brogan. “It’s a can of worms nobody wants to open.”

In theory, the learning of Irish should complement further language acquisition, but in reality, for Ireland, it doesn’t.”

Irish is not a modern language. Irish-speakers are treated as privileged. Irish language teaching is blocking the teaching of non-English languages. Irish is a non-English language that has no value. English is the true language of Ireland, not a foreign language, and therefore its teaching must be compulsory in all schools. Irish is a “native” language spoken by “natives” and is not the true language of modern Ireland or of the modern Irish.

To learn to hate you must learn to dehumanize.

To learn to kill you must learn to hate.

To kill the Irish or Scottish languages you must first teach people to dehumanize and hate those who speak the Irish or Scottish languages.

That is the lesson for today, my fellow Gaels.

15 comments on “Before You Learn To Kill You Have To Learn To Hate

  1. There is a grain of truth in the statement “In theory, the learning of Irish should complement further language acquisition, but in reality, for Ireland, it doesn’t”, unfortunately. Learning a second language tends to make the learning of a third easier as well as increasing ability in the first but most Irish people do not attain fluency in any non-English language including Irish despite usually 14 years of Irish-language lessons and six years (or more) of another non-English language.

    The teaching of Irish is broadly (though obviously not universally) severely impoverished outside Gaelscoileanna and Gaelcoláistí. There is a real problem with the Irish language, it’s just not the problem you’ll hear about in newspapers or the one addressed in recent reformations of the Junior and Leaving Certs. After 8 years, everyone should be fluent before leaving primary school and it’s the education, not the language, that is the problem.


    • I agree on your points, unfortunately articles like that in the Irish Times make no attempt to contextualise the issue. The necessity for “compulsory” English language teaching is a given in the eyes of many. We spend billions on it. Yet on the global ranking of literacy rates we are in 41st place (a ranking calculated on English language usage). Over 4% of all Irish adults are functionally illiterate in the English language – unable to read or write English. Up to another 10% are believed to have significant problems reading and writing in English (though the figures are widely contested). On oral abilities in the English language the Irish also rank below average.

      I would like to see the figures for literacy rates amongst fluent Irish-speakers. Anecdotally they would seem to be at the top end of the range.

      The “problem” with Irish is the ghettoization of the language in the education system. Unable to use it outside of school why would Irish children make any great inroads in learning? Unless we adopt the policies pursued in Québec or Catalonia then we will continue to “waste” billions on Irish.

      Finally, as several academic figures have pointed out, the idea that Chinese can be taught as a second language in Irish schools is a nonsense. It’s beyond stupid and demonstrably so.

      Furthermore why do some Hibernophobes believe that we can successfully teach Chinese but not Irish? Their own arguments against Irish education are equally applicable to Chinese, French, German or any other non-English language.

      Those who support these positions do not do so because they truly believe in them, they do so because they see them as another mechanism to kill off the Irish language and by inference this nation’s Irish-speaking population.


  2. NMunsterman

    I tend to think that most Irish people actually are very happy to have the language as a part of our identity – as a kind of label we can easily produce especially, if we are abroad, and would resist attempts to kill the language off. A bi-lingual Ireland where we can use both official languages proficiently is realistic – and it could easily be done with the correct National plan. (Israel resurrected Hebrew from the dead as one example in modern history). Most Nordics learn English (a difficult foreign language especially for Finnish speakers) and can speak it well after 7 years.
    As the EU continues to harmonize and turn Europe into one enormous supermarket, maybe one day Irish people will truly realize the richness in having our own native language.


    • Officially we are a bilingual state by all-party agreement and have been since 2006. Except it was never implemented in any meaningful way and the Fine Oibre coalition of FG and Lab have rolled back from it in every way possible since taking power.

      Many of our European neighbours are multi-lingual states. Most Finns learn English to a very high degree of fluency. Many also learn Swedish. The Danes, Swedes and Germans are the same. Even the Poles, with considerable financial difficulties and budgetary restraints and lack of resources in education, produce tens of thousands of English-speakers every year.

      So why couldn’t an Irish-speaking Ireland produce English-speakers? Lets reverse the solution of a majority English-speaking state producing Irish-speakers and suggest that a majority Irish-speaking state could produce English speakers.

      Or if people are serious about Chinese why not a majority Irish-speaking state producing Chinese speakers? Though of course we know that all the rhetoric about substituting Irish with Chinese or German or whatever is meaningless noise. The aim is to remove Irish from the education system by whatever means possible (or seemingly plausible) and those targeting Irish are the same old lobby of anglophone supremacists.


  3. Barra Ó Muirí

    What a horrible opinion you present of Irish speakers, scholars and enthusiasts. Our native language is one dimension of who we are as Irish men and women. And in today’s wonderfully multi-cultural society, it is amazing to see so many of our children being given the opportunity to be educated through the medium of Irish. To many people, right across our beautiful Island, our language is part of who we are, proud Irish people! Please consider how your views are contrary to Irish speakers throughout Ireland, don’t be ignorant, it’s your language too.


  4. The Scotsman is obviously signed up to Project Fear (their name, believe it or not) and playing good ‘ol divide and rule re. Highland vs Lowland. All parties support Gaelic, and the revival in Scotland has been building for decades and is not really closely linked to the SNP at all, although obviously it’s one more way in which Scotland can be shown to be ‘not England’. I don’t really see any strong parallels between the situation regarding Scottish Gaelic and Irish during say the last half-century or more. The language was simply left alone and ignored as a mostly harmless bit of cultural froth, like highland games, kilts and tarten. The native speakers had mostly long since learned to “know their place” and kept a low profile. Attempts to start any kind of campaigning organisation along the lines of Cymdeithas yr Iaith in Wales always quickly fizzled out. There was never anything like the almost aggressive but at the same time tokenistic promotion of the language seen in the RoI.


    • Perhaps the problem is that the Gaels in both nations never really attempted the pro-active language rights campaigns staged elsewhere in Europe and the world? And successfully so. The Flemish, Catalans, Québécois, etc. have proven the value of campaigning on language rights, not begging or pleading for sympathy-money to ease guilty consciences.

      If you study the language of anglophone prejudice it is essentially the same in Ireland as in Scotland, especially in relation to new or urban Gaelic speakers and Gaelic-medium education. They share the same lexicon of bigotry.


  5. And here’s a real beaut of linguistic discrimination I heard from a young female fellow German grown up in Milton Malbay when I was in my honours years in Gaelic Studies at the University of Aberdeen: “Gaeltacht people don’t go to university”. Please not that yon odd concoction of a Neo-Ascendancy White Settler and a German Herrenmensch of the worst sort was none of my fellow students in my field, but merely a neighbour at the halls…


    • It is bizarre that in Ireland we have gone from the “racial” stereotype of Gaelic-speakers as dirt-poor, uneducated, backwards, rural-dwelling peasants to the new stereotype of Gaelic-speakers as middle-class yuppies, yummy-mummies, Merc and BMW-driving, two-house owning, suburban elitists. Both viewed by anglophone supremacists as equally reprehensible.

      If you speak Irish in Ireland you can’t win. If you live with a pig in the parlour you are despised, if you live with a nanny in the guest-house you are equally despised. The truth is no matter the social or economic standing of Irish-speakers some English-speaking peers will always hate those who speak or associate with our indigenous language and culture.

      I can see the same thing happening in Scotland as Gaelic-medium education takes root in Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Even the language of the prejudice is the same.


      • Oh, there are parallels in Wales too, even though there is a much larger proportion of native speakers than in Ireland and Scotland. Critics argue that the money is all going to a clique of educated media/government types in Cardiff. It’s probably less true now, but in the past many native speakers couldn’t read or write in Welsh with any confidence, whereas learners usually could but often couldn’t manage an ordinary conversation. Hence plenty of places where the Divide and Rule boys could drive in their wedges and turn one part of the community against another.

        But there are two problems here. Besides the (hopefully now dying) association of ‘native’ languages with poverty and ignorance, there’s the wider problem that English speakers find it hard to accept that almost any other language is a ‘proper language’. Not only in Ireland but in the UK and USA foreign language teaching rarely produces fluent speakers. Is this a matter of attitude or technique, both I should imagine, otherwise it would have been solved long since. If it was just a matter of teaching methods it would surely simply be a matter of copying the Dutch, Finns etc.

        Such is the stigma against ‘second langage teaching’, that some Welsh activists, spurred on by a 1% drop in Welsh speakers over the past decade (I know, I know …), are now demanding a end to ‘Welsh as a 2nd language’ (compulsory at present), they want every child to be educated at least partially through the medium of Welsh … interesting … I’m not sure how this will go down, or what the consequences would be if successful. It would certainly define Wales more sharply from England.


        • If it’s not too OT, here’s the start of the backlash by the look of it … and not *all* the comments are silly …


          • Sorry to keep doing this (edit facility??) but there are some other interesting articles on that site (which I’ve only today discovered). This for instance should give rise to a few resonances and maybe deserves a post in response …

            “What the Welsh-speaking community needs is a term similar to Gael” Discuss?? 🙂



          • Thanks for that link, I might post about it if I get a chance. Some of the Comments are quite intelligent critiques, if ultimately flawed or derived from a predefined bias, many though will fall into the category of this example:

            Bob Jones says:
            John Nicholson: So very true!!! I’ve put the champagne on ice for the day that Welsh draws its last breath. You, and all those who’ll toast its demise, are welcome to celebrate at mine.”

            What he really means is the day that the last Welsh-speaking man or woman draws their breadth. The fun side of linguistic and cultural genocide.


  6. If I may add something to my contribution earlier today: the same Milton Malbay-reared German lass could have met a lot of Gaeltacht people at Aberdeen University, both Irish and Scottish, not all of whom were doing Celtic Studies with Gaelic as their main focus – many young Gaels I knew there also went into oilrig-related subjects such as engineering etc., or into divinity and ecclesiastical studies, and a vast part of Aberdeen’s Irish student community at both the UofA and RGU are into medicine, pharmacy or pharmacology. But in order to really meet these native Gaelic-speaking fellow students, and there were many biding at Hillhead Halls back then, folk from Lewis to Mayo, she would first have had to actually open her eyes and overcome her inherent prejudice – but she stuck to it according to our saying: “Was nicht sein kann, das nicht sein darf” – “Ní fíor é nár ba chora bheith fíor”…


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