Lingua Rancour


Ruth-Dudley-Edwards2Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ultach writes:

As a wide-eyed, froth-mouthed, fáinne-wearing fanatic in a Geansaí Árann I enjoyed this [below] from the {‘Fenian’] An Sionnach Fion blog and thought some of your might readers might also…

Last week we had Malachi O’Doherty in the Belfast Telegraph asserting the primacy of the Lingua Anglica, now we have Ruth Dudley-Edwards in that same publication. Some choice excerpts:

“When all else fails, have the tribal drums beat out the well-known cultural battle hymn of the Irish language.”

In other words I’m attacking the Irish language by using a stale old sleight of hand to suggest that the object of my attack actually offended first. Good one, Ruthie!

“I always resent seeing this innocent language hijacked by politicians as it used to be for years in the south until the country grew up.”

Yes, that’s right. In reality Ruth Dudley Edwards E is a defender of the language, not its enemy, so anything she says must be seen in that light; however harsh or derogatory. That’s some classic old school polemics there, a chairde.

“Compulsory Irish is virtually a thing of the past and there are only a tiny handful of language zealots left…”

See, we can obviously agree that anyone who disagrees with Ruth must be some wide-eyed, froth-mouthed, fáinne-wearing fanatic: and probably in a Geansaí Árann to boot!

“There is plenty of resentment at the waste of money (roughly £2m a year) unnecessarily translating official documents written in English into Irish. The reason, however, is that the courts ruled it was a constitutional requirement and government already has to deal with more referenda than it can handle.”

Irish language translations for the entire government of Ireland now run at less than €500,000 per annum. That’s £367,000 a year not £2 million (however roughly!). In fact the combined costs of non-Irish translations by the state into European and global languages now exceed those for our native one. Oh, and on that court ruling? It never happened.

The Official Languages Act has been in place since 2003, which naturally includes the requirement for Irish and English editions of public documents. So no, there was no need for any referendums under the present Irish-hostile Fine Oibre coalition.

Newspaper bloggers columnists who espouse the Neo-Unionist line of Irish politics are like some amoral defence lawyer sitting in a courtroom who points his finger at the victim of a sexual assault cowering in the stand while repeating over and over: slut, slut, slut!

Sure, it doesn’t have to be true, and in some cases it maybe counter-productive, but say it long enough and loud enough and maybe, just maybe, the more gullible might take it for the truth. Which is the greatest shame of all.


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54 thoughts on “Lingua Rancour

  1. Rob_G

    I think that Ruth Dudley Edwards is well-known for her unionist sympathies, but that doesn’t make her any less right, in this instance.

  2. Rob_G

    €500,000 per annum on translation – maybe true, but how much money do they spend trying to teach Irish to every single member of the population for 14 years, the majority of whom are indifferent to it (at best), and will stop trying to speak it the minute that they leave school?

    1. ReproBertie

      How much do they spend teaching geography or history or french or german or spanish or english poetry to people, the majority of whom are indifferent to it (at best) and will stop using it the minute they leave school?

      1. Rob_G

        True – most of those subjects wouldn’t be taught for the entire duration of primary and secondary school, though, and people could give them up if they didn’t like them (with the exception of the English poetry example).

        1. Ultach

          Choice of subjects should be entirely left to the choice of the child. So Patrick Pearse said, and he seems to have been a well balanced moderate chap.

    2. Neilo

      The Irish language is used by the Shinners in the Six Counties as a tool to beat the Prods, in much the same way as repugnant Orangeism tortures the Fenians. Call it Parity Of Dickbagness.

  3. rotide

    Ultach, this could have been dealt with when you first appeared but I haven’t been around much.

    Are you aware that your gravatar is massively confusing?

    It looks like you are advocating a united ulster which would remain separate from the (presumably) 23 counties of the new republic.

    Is this your intent?

    1. Ultach

      Jeepers, rotide, you’re away ahead of me. I’ll have to have a good head scratch and think about that. Thanks for bringing this massive confusion to my attention. Originally I basically just wanted a map of Ulster to go with my monicker, which means Ulsterman (or Ulsterperson or Ulsterwoman as appropriate). Instead I blithely sow consternation as to my constitutional intentions. Will I ever learn?

      1. rotide

        Apart from enlightening me that Ultach means Ulsterman, which i did not know, you didn’t actually say anything in that reply. Are you aware of that?

        1. Ultach

          It’s just that I identify with Ulster. Like some people identify with Kilkenny, or Man Utd, or Star Wars. It’s where I’m from and I like the various Ulster accents and loads of other Ulster stuff. It’s just an avatar and I didn’t really take a lot of time to ponder the implications of choosing it, honest!

  4. ScareySarahCarey

    The fact that Ultach and that blog post are making their points in English tell you all you need to know about how healthy Irish is in Ireland.

    You can blame the education system, you can blame the English, you can blame whoever you want but the cold hard fact is that most Irish people have no interest in speaking Irish in their daily lives.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Careful! You’ll be called some kind of ‘West Brit’ or traitor for that?

      Also – REALLY classy using the sexual assault victim comparison in the article above.

    2. Ultach

      This is an English language site, Sarah. That’s why I’m writing here in English. The Sionnach Fionn website is aimed at English speakers who are interested in Irish and politics and other stuff. I’m an Anglophile and I like reading and writing English.
      As for your second paragraph, absolutely right.

      1. Ultach

        Why would Sarah be called a traitor. A traitor to what, Kieran? Is it controversial to say that most Irish people do not want to speak Irish?

        1. Kieran NYC

          As was shown the last time this came up, there is a vocal minority who LOVE IRISH! and LOVE IRISH CULTURE! who are hostile to anyone who doesn’t like the things they do, as much as they do, treating them as lesser citizens and ‘West Brits’.

          1. Ultach

            I’m sure there are, Kieran, but it’s a miniscule minority of Irish speakers and Irish enthusiasts who denigrate people who have no interest in Irish. I really think you’re playing it up. Supporting a cause does not equal hating people who do not support it. I think it is legitimate, though, to give off about people who actively denigrate and abuse something you support in an ill informed and bigoted way. I don’t mind offending people who say offensive things. Neither do I mind being offended, if that makes sense?

          2. Kieran NYC

            They’re the most vocal (like that musician tool in the last BS post on this that I can’t find) and set the tone for the debate. There are much better ways of garnering support than playing the hostile ‘victim’ while also blathering on about obscure grammatical points as the ship is sinking.

          3. Ultach

            I was gonna write “Ah come on, Kieran, no call for that kinda namecalling”, but then I looked at what I wrote earlier about offense and all. But seriously, are you really offended so much by what Maitiú the piper said. He was only giving off about West Brits (and the government), not people who couldn’t care less about Irish so therefore can’t be said to be bigoted against it. As for playing the victim, that’s an interesting line of attack. Are you suggesting Irish and Irish speakers are not the subject of discrimination and denigration. Or, if they are, they should just shut up about it and lie down?

          4. Kieran NYC

            Why would any normal, well-adjusted person ever use the term ‘West Brit’ anyway? What kind of insult is that?

            And you played the victim in your article above. “She doesn’t like the language that I do, therefore I’m like some sexual assault victim”. Really? You think that helps the debate?

            For someone who speaks a very beautiful and lyrical language, you’re very tone-deaf.

            Ultimately, it will be the Irish speakers with their fingers in their ears to any conversation that isn’t ‘100% Gaeilge or bust’ who will contribute hugely to killing the language. In slavishly protecting the language, you’re killing it.

          5. Ultach

            Kieran, Kieran, man dear (to use an Ulster phrase), I didn’t write the article. I just enjoyed it and shared it with Broadsheet. I presume your quote is paraphrasing the article. If so it’s a fairly liberal interpretation. The writer is pointing out anti-Irish bigotry and overthetoppery. He or she discusses the tired old clichés often trotted out to denigrate Irish and Irish speakers. If that’s playing the victim, well, fair enough. If comparing, for the sake of elucidation, the shrill, atavistic, wilfully ignorant hate flung by sexists to the shrill, atavistic, wilfully ignorant hate flung at Irish speakers and advocates, well, fair enough. By agreeing with that and arguing for it I may be tone deaf. Fair enough. But one thing I have to take you up on. Irish speakers in general don’t distain any conversation which isn’t 100% Irish. I don’t know where you picked that up. I don’t know a single Irish speaker over the age of five who doesn’t speak English as well, and many Irish speakers I know speak at least one other language apart from English. As for protecting the language, well, all I personally am doing in that regard is passing it on to the next generation and occasionally grouching at people who do down Irish, sometimes on here. It’s not slavish, I want to do it (I’m a bit nerdy that way). And I don’t see how that is killing the language. I thought I detected a wee bit of distain in that last paragraph of yours. If I misunderstood (and if I’m tone deaf I probably did) then I apologise. I’ll leave it there cos I suspect I might be getting a wee bit ad nauseam (if not ad absurdum). Unless you want me to answer any points or questions you might have.

          6. Kieran NYC

            Sorry – Broadsheet titling it ‘Ultach writes’ made me think you had written it, and not just submitted it. Apologies for that. (And they still misspelled your name)

            I actually *do* wish for Gaeilge to be taught better and be spoken more prevalently. I’m just frustrated with the never-changing, ‘more Irish than thou’ debate that is doing nothing to help the language.

          7. Ultach

            Looks like we have come to agreement (on this at any rate)! The first paragraph is an approximation of a message I sent to BS. I’m enjoying the various misspellings of my moniker which seems to be an emerging tradition. Best one so far has been “Uafásach” :-). Of course, I never misspell anyone’s name, Keurn … Kayrun … Keyring (???)
            (Only messin!)

  5. Dubloony

    Spent a little time this summer on islands over in the west.
    They are not zealots, this is the language they are born into and grow up speaking. After hundreds of years of persecution, its still a spoken language in some areas, not some dry school subject. They are worried about the fall off in use in younger people.

    This language doesn’t exist anywhere else, its unique to us. It describes our landscape and towns in a way that makes sense. The description for flowers and plants describes how they were used for food & medicine.

    That is unique knowledge once lost is gone forever. Why should an Irish person, living in Ireland be still forced to speak another language to interact with a state that claims to have Irish as its first language?

    We need to get over the scars of Peig, the colonialist mentality and at least values what in a globalized work, is uniquly found here.

    1. Ultach

      Dubloony, your fáinne and geansaí Árainn are in the post, you wildeyed foamy mouthed fanatic you! See you at flying column drill in the morning, Volunteer, and don’t forget your hurley, your Sam Brown belt and your broad black brimmer. Fill in some poorly pronounce token Irish here ___________________.

          1. Ultach

            Only messin! Saying the kinda things that are flung at anyone who puts their head up and dares support Irish, but in a concentrated over the top kinda way. You’ve articulated perfectly what I believe. Sodding off now.

    2. ScareySarahCarey

      Why should an Irish person, living in Ireland be still forced to speak another language to interact with a state that claims to have Irish as its first language?

      Why should an Irish person, living in Ireland be still forced to speak another language to interact with a state where pretty much 99% of the people in the country use English on a daily basis?

      Might not be the wisest to talk about the idea of forcing Irish people to speak another language given the amount of people who are forced to speak it for a number of years through the education system and in order to apply to a serious chunk of the universities in Ireland and the Irish language requirements for a serious number of Irish government jobs.

      1. Jonotti

        Because it’s a dead language. You can’t expect substantial numbers of public servants to be fluent I’d it’s spoken so little.

        1. Nigel

          There are many, many dead languages. You can tell that they are dead because nobody speaks them anymore, in some cases nobody even understands them anymore, and in many cases no record of the languages exist at all. That is the standard for dead languages. Irish, though not in the rudest of health, is not dead.

          1. Nigel

            Still not the standard for a dead language. If there are enough speakers around to form a committee to create modern words, it ain’t dead.

          2. Ultach

            Jonotti, if you’re interested I can quote you loadsa Irish language neolisms which have organically emerged in the last fifty years, some of which have been adopted by the terminology committee, many which the terminology committee haven’t even heard of. Here’s one: gogamán, babysitter, originally a west Donegal term for a hen that sits on another hen’s eggs, since adopted by native Irish speakers in Rann na Feirste and in Belfast to mean childminder and babysitter, since then spread into general use among Ulster Irish speakers.

          3. ReproBertie

            How do you know Janotti? Are you constantly monitoring the language as spoken today? You might be surprised at some of the terms used by students in gaelscoileanna. The only committees there are groups of their peers adopting words and phrases.

            There’s also words like bislic which no committee of gaelgóir zealots would ever speak, let alone approve.

        2. Bluebeard

          Its not a dead language. the fact that I speak it every day disproves that. Dead to you perhaps, but I imagine many things are dead to you. Like feelings probably

      2. Bluebeard

        i doubt if anyone forces you to speak Irish Scarey. tell me honestly when was the last time you were forced to speak Irish?

        1. Ultach

          Bluebeard, you and me are zombies force by a sinister mysterious self entitled powerful elite to speak a dead language. Don’t tell anyone!

  6. Joe the Lion

    Just another dull inward looking parochial passive aggressive attention seeking Nordie. carry on.

  7. B

    Ruth Dudley Edwards is female Kevin Myers. she has been writing this crap for years. I honestly thinks she hates Celtic Ireland

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