Lost In Translation


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Of this footage of Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada highlighting Irish Language derogation in the the European Parliament while on language strike in Brussels, Munkifisht writes:

…there’s something lovely and ironic about Irish (an official language of the EU since its founding for basic texts and an official language of the European Parliament since 2007 and is supposed to be translated) being unofficially unrecognised at the almost centenary celebration of the events which led to independence. I do not think any of the other 24 official languages would ever be treated with such a lack of respect or disregard.

(The official languages are Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian,   Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish)

68 thoughts on “Lost In Translation

        1. Mani

          Ah now, you scamp. No more of that. Russell is a a chocolate prophet. Don’t leave him out in the sun too long or he’ll melt.

    1. Rob_G

      Maltese – which has many more speakers than Irish, but their level of English would be very good, so they don’t mind.

    2. Mayor Quimby

      Catalan in’t on the list. A lot more native speakers and a lot more monolingual speakers

  1. bisted

    …I suppose if you want to make a point about the Irish language then that’s the way to do it. In my experience, many of the members and people working in the EU are multi-lingual.

  2. stealingthemichael

    Everyone in Brussels should be forced to spend 40 minutes a day for the next 14 years listening to the Irish language. Sure doesn’t that work on Irish school children…

    1. Mikeyfex

      Ah ya shoulda left the last sentence out there. Twas already funny and you dumbed it down. tut.

      seas suas go dtí deireadh an lae

  3. Mé Féin

    I would love to know who said it was OK to derogate Irish. I bet it was some sleeveen in Fine Gael trying to look good in front of his European “masters.”

    1. Neilo

      Careful – her buddies in the Six Counties could leave a little present under your car. Oh, sorry, peace process. Bygones?

  4. Hal

    why are Welch or Scottish Gaelic not on the list? and just asking… what’s the official figure on the number of fluent Irish speakers?

    1. Odis

      Nonsense, the Irish language is enjoying a huge renaissance.
      Ever since our civil servants discovered Google Translate.

  5. Boo

    Ireland did not seek to have Irish recognised as an official language when joining the EU in 1973 and suddenly became interested in 2007 at the height of the Celtic Tiger when we had more money than sense. Again Ireland did not seek full recognition and were satisfied with the derogation which means that not all material needs to be translated into Irish (or Maltese) at huge cost to European citizens including the Irish taxpayer.

    1. pmc

      Actually, the addition of Irish as an official language adds very little to the translation costs of the EU. The technological infrastructure was already there for the other 23, as was the office space. The only real additional costs is the staff, who were hired after most of the other language staffs downsized.

      The real cost of translation and interpretation in the EU amounts to less than 1% of the total budget and ensure that each EU citizen has equal access to information and legislation no matter what language they speak.

      But don’t let facts / reality get in the way of a good rant.

      1. Vote Rep #1

        1% of the total EU budget is a hell of a lot of money in fairness. It is not something to be dismissive of.

        1. pmc

          I wasn’t trying to be flippant, sorry if it came across that way. 1% is still a lot of money yes, but reflects good value to the taxpayers of each member state to ensure linguistic fairness IMO.

          Translation / interpretation into Irish does not add any extra cost, it is absorbed into this 1%. The Irish taxpayer was already (rightly) paying for translation services into English from other languages regardless of the addition of Irish as an official language.

          1. Odis

            “Translation / interpretation into Irish does not add any extra cost, it is absorbed into this 1%” – how does that work? Does it get translated into Irish for free?

          2. Bonzor

            According to Wikipedia the budget for the EU from 2007-2013 was €864.3 billion. Divided by 100 you have €8.6 billion. Terrible value for money really when almost all business could be done in English and French.

          3. delacaravanio

            Realistically you’d have to say English would be sufficient. The only ones who obsess about French are the French, and they all speeka da Inglez, too.

  6. Bluebeard

    Waste of money shoving it down our throats, mandarin, money, fascists, IRA and if I keep scrubbing myself one day I shall be clean and good and English and pure.

  7. Boo

    Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Catalan etc. are not official languages of their respective EU Member States whereas English and Irish are the two official languages of Ireland. It is up to each Member State to promote their own language(s). Ni Riada says expanding the use of Irish at EU level would create jobs for 188 Irish speakers but fails to point out that these would be ultimately be paid for by the Irish taxpayer.

  8. Spartacus

    And if the Irish tax payer picks up the tab*, is that such a bad thing? Creating jobs, no? Prosperity and stability going forward? Isn’t this why Constant Markievicz voted yes to Lisbon on the second attempt?

    *The German tax payer taking up the slack for the time being.

    1. Joe the Lion

      Who’s Constant Markievicz? I feel like some vital piece of information has eluded me.

  9. Nikkeboentje

    Luxembourgish was dying out in the 1980s as the local were choosing to speak French or German as their main language (it was mostly a spoken language with very little literature). It is now a thriving language as the government made it mandatory in the mid 1980s for all public primary schools to teach lessons in Luxembourgish (the course work is in German but all the explanations are in Luxembourgish). Then in secondary school the course work is in French but the explanations remain in Luxembourgish. All the locals speak Luxembourgish to each other, switching to a different language if a non-Luxembourger joins the conversation. It is estimated that 400,000 people speak Luxembourgish as their first language on a day to day basis, a lot more than Gaelic, but they haven’t tried to make it an official language of the EU.

      1. Stewart Curry

        I’d say you’re great fun at a bar…
        “I’ll have a beer… make it a dubbel!”
        “Sorry sir, we don’t stock that…”
        “It’s Dubbel or nothing!!!”

      2. Nikkeboentje

        You’d be better off with a Mousel, Okult, Diekirch, Battin, Bofferding or Simon Pils.

    1. huppenstop

      Luxembourgish is a variety of German though (in the same way Bavarian is considered a regional variant and not a separate language). German as we know is an official language :) I brace myself for a backlash here. I once almost got beaten up for simply saying that Flemish was a regional variant of Dutch and not a separate langauge.

        1. huppenstop

          It isn’t. And I say that as someone with a degree in Germanic linguistics (forgive the priggishness of that comment). For political or romantic reasons, sometimes these things take on a life of their own. But for a variety of very good and convincing reasons that are easily found online these days but too much to put here, Luxembourgish (like Bairisch or Schwäbisch or other dialectal variants of German) is not a distinct Germanic language. I say this with love!

  10. Odis

    Clearly, the fairest way to deal with the situation, is to get the respective governments, of the various countries to provide their own translation services.
    If we as a nation, require stuff to be translated into Irish, then what is wrong with us picking up the tab for it?

    1. Bluebeard

      Move on where? Are you pretending you live somewhere else where Irish is not the original, native and first language of?

  11. peckerhead

    Political affiliation aside, what’s the point of that smug, offended-martyr Gaelgeoir smile at the end, when she declines to speak in English? (not the chairperson’s language, either, but it didn’t seem to bother him or anyone else in the room). I’m one of the Irish citizens she’s there to represent — born and bred, 14 years of compulsory Irish rammed down my throat — and I wouldn’t have been able to follow her either, although I speak three other European languages pretty fluently. I could have excused myself to go to the toilet or offered up a few Hail Marys, I suppose.

    Yes, we need to move on here.

    1. ReproBertie

      What did they use to ram Irish down your throat? Was it a bit like what they do to Geese to make pate?

  12. peckerhead

    From her page on the SF website:
    “The interests of Ireland are not currently well represented in Europe. We need to strengthen the voice of the plain people of Ireland. The voice of Sinn Fein needs to be heard. A republican voice that will say enough is enough. I believe I have the potential to be that voice in Europe.”
    She could start by speaking the language used daily by 99% of “the plain people of Ireland”, FFS…

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