Labhair Gaeilge
Labhair Gaeilge
Labhair Gaeilge!

Just time to highlight three articles that deserve your attention. The first is “10 Reasons Why Irish Is An Absolutely Awesome Language” from the Czech software engineer Michal Boleslav Měchura of the blogs “Young, Single, Multilingual” and “An Cainteoir Dóchais”. My favourite on the list is also the first:

1. Irish has no words for yes and no 

This tends to be the first thing newcomers are told about the language, so let’s start here. You will find no equivalents for yes and no in an English–Irish dictionary because Irish has no such words. But that does not mean that yes/no questions cannot be answered in Irish. They can, of course, only you must do it by recycling the verb that came with the question. If somebody asks you an léann tú nuachtáin? do you read newspapers? you can answer léim I read for yes or ní léim I don’t read for no.

Surprisingly, in spite of centuries of language contact with English, Irish has held on to this way of speaking and hasn’t evolved or borrowed simple one-word expressions for agreeing and disagreeing. True, people sometimes say things like yeah and nah in informal speech, but these seem more like brief code-switches to English than a feature of Irish, and are strictly limited to the informal register. Written Irish, even informal written Irish, almost never avails of these tricks and sticks to its traditional device of recycling the verb.

What this means in practical terms is that Irish speakers cannot easily dismiss a question or offer without giving it some consideration. Unlike English or German or French where you can say no or nein or non to pretty much anything without giving it any thought, an Irish question needs to be processed more deeply.”

Meanwhile “Diaga Language” discusses the legal and social advances made by Welsh-speaking communities and citizens in Wales and how that has stabilised the numbers of native speakers. The take-away points are: the benefits of Welsh language classes and more importantly Welsh-medium education for children; the central role of legislation guaranteeing comprehensive services through Welsh from the public and private sectors for adults. It’s a variation of the carrot-and-stick approach: carrot for those who wish to speak the language and stick for those who wish to inhibit people speaking the language.

Finally Scottish language scholar and activist Wilson Macleod takes to Bella Caledonia to absolutely eviscerate the British newspaper columnist Polly Toynbee and her obnoxious views on the Celtic–speaking peoples of western Europe, given free rein once again with Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence. As I have pointed out before there are none as bigoted when it comes to the nations of Ireland, Scotland or Wales as the British English Left. The right-wingers of Greater England hate; the left-wingers just patronise. However both are equally as contemptuous of those they categorise as “lesser”.

[ASF: thanks to Emmet Ó hInnéirgheancroiait and others for the links]

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