Deireadh An Bhóthair?



There is little practical reason for rendering signs, and official documents and public announcements, from English into Irish. There is no practical reason for rendering official English into an Irish-English ‘Esperanto’ that dignifies neither language.

READ ON: It’s the end of the road: the Irish language is coming to a full stop (Victoria White, Examiner)

(H/T: John Gallen)

(Pic: Panoramio)

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42 thoughts on “Deireadh An Bhóthair?

  1. Bluebeard

    On Paddy’s day we celebrated something, Irishness, some say. The value of the day to the economy was repeatedly stated. People wore the tricolour, leprechaun hats, red beards, got drunk and sang half remembered songs. In total, it was a good expression of the mishmash that represents Irishness today. The Taoiseach spoke about jobs and jobs and the economy and prosperity. Not a word on culture, on heritage, on history on identity. Just jobs. The Patricks day website has no mention of Gaeilge or Christianity, just sponsorship opportunities. This weekend our rugby team will play and our anthem will not be played in case it might offend. We will be known as the generation that dropped the chalice of Irishness as it was known, and replaced it with not very much. For what do we stand as a nation, how should we be known, what defines us as a people, what do we hold sacred now?

    1. Stash

      This weekend our rugby team will play and our anthem will not be played in case it might offend

      This weekend our national anthem won’t be played because it isn’t our national team playing.

        1. Kolmo

          I wouldn’t agree that it’s ill conceived, good points about jobs, selling souls for ‘foreign direct investment’, while obliterating research and development funding in third level, forever depending on the whims of outside capital. Those of us that might derive a sense of identity through the Irish language are bemused at the errors on road signs and brochures too, it is a shame that the overriding feeling among Irish people is embarrassment or shame when this subject comes up, I seemed to have been fortunate in my exposure to the language growing up as I find the vitriol spat out by some at their own rich cultural heritage just baffling

          1. Clampers Outside!

            “it is a shame that the overriding feeling among Irish people is embarrassment or shame when this subject comes up”

            Can you explain that bit… I’m not sure who is embarrassed…

          2. Bluebeard

            I find the same reaction. Embarrassment or shame or regret. It manifests itself in a few ways- 1. Envy- Oh I wish I could speak it, but the way it was taught in school etc… 2. Anger-So you think you’re more Irish than me, or 3. Regret-I can’t speak it myself sadly, but am delighted the kids are learning it.
            People adopt a false visceral hate for it (mandarin is better etc, rammed down our throats, peig, IRA, Christian Brothers) to mask their actual feelings.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Oh stop acting the eejit Stash

        Every word outta Bluebeard there is right
        If you don’t like it
        Fair enough
        Just back off it

        And stick ta’

        Together crawling ball
        Moulder ta’moulder
        Together crawling yaaawwwwnnnn

        That’s some Call To Arms the rugbee crowd have left us with
        FFS. Is it any wonder Edna doesn’t know how to wear his National Colours

        1. pedeyw

          Except Stash is correct about the rugby team, the song may be poo but it’s not our National team, it’s Island wide. There would be just as much argument to have God Save the Queen. playing at rugby matches.

      2. andyourpointiswhatexactly

        Watch Rory Best chew gum through Ireland’s Call. He does it every time. And through Amhran na bhFiann too, if that’s played. Equal disdain for both, it seems.

    2. delta V

      I’ll field this one, guys: we’re no longer a nation, we are an economy. We are not citizens, we are consumers.
      Work. Consume. Die.
      Buy more poo.

  2. Spartacus

    As any cunning linguist will tell you, the article penned by Victoria (in English) uses many words stolen from French and German. The Welsh for helicopter is, strangely enough, helicopter. The French for weekend is… well, you get my drift.

    Bhfeic off with yourself, Vikki.

    1. Bluebeard

      Tá an ceart agat. English is the greatest whore language, having taken words from 350 languages to make herself the greatest of them all.

    2. Panty Christ

      The welsh word for microwave is poppitty-ping.. I think they may be over-reaching with poetic licence on that one.

      1. Welshie

        It’s actually Meicrodon, but we let it slide because people are so amused by Popty Ping.

        1. Mani

          I thought Popty Ping was a popular S4C chidlren’s entertainer from the ’80’s who was recently arrested as part of operation Yewtree.

      2. Sinabhfuil

        The Irish Sign Language slang for Prince Charles is to hold your hands behind your ears and wave them. Poppity-ping!

    3. mick jagger

      sure, even if we all spoke irish we’d be giving out about kids speaking it in a fake american accent and writing it in textspeak the way they do with english.

  3. Eamonn Clancy

    All schools should be gaelscoileanna, full stop. Mine came out fluent in Irish and English and carry none of the baggage the rest of us do.

  4. Gone North

    Slow week at the Examiner between this and Norah Casey’s anti-intellectual drivel the other day.

  5. huppenstop

    I don’t think this is a particularly fair representation of the article (nor is the headline the Examiner chose to publish it under). Victoria White is actually decrying the tokenistic approach taken by official Ireland to Irish (badly translated or ungrammatical and inconsistent phrases in official signage being one example). She then highlights the real crisis, which is the slow death of the Gaeltachtaí and the degradation in the standard of Irish spoken by the next generation of young speakers in what remains of the Gaeltacht. Her point is really that by offering badly translated versions of official documents in Irish and other sups to the Official Languages Act gives the impression that the status of Irish is being supported, whereas no real action is being taken to do anything to support native speaking communities up and down the western seaboard. For those who don’t have time to read the original article, this quote gives a more accurate representation of her viewpoint:

    “Irish people deserve the opportunity to experience the glories of this language, from the anonymous creators of the song, ‘Dónall Óg’, to the poetry of Seán Ó Ríordáin. They should have access to the original Irish placenames that bind us to our landscape.

    They should have the right to their Irish names and addresses and I support compulsory Irish, at least to Junior Certificate, to keep those doors open.”

    I think she’s right :)

    1. John Gallen

      I agree with that. I picked that quote when I sent it in because it rang a loud bell with me.

      I think her piece is very rational, balanced and fair. That Act is doing more damage to the language than good, and the Gaeltachts are not a success in their purpose when kids are growing up more fluent in English than Irish (anyone know what research she’s quoting on that bit?).
      I, personally, would prefer to see the Irish language as it was spoken and sung, preserved rather than watered down to some nonsense like ‘Esperanto’ as she says. More should be made of the oral tradition and less of the ‘civil service’ abuse of the language through that stupid Act… and the money it wastes translating nonsense (see her Cork City Council example).

      I very much agree with her point that the language today is nothing like that I would have heard growing up, the language sung or in poetry in sitting rooms and pubs. Today, it’s used more to whisper or hide what one is saying. It’s that peculiar arrogance that grates, when it is used like that…. yeah, I’m a monoglot. Get over it.

      On an aside, I recommend viewing….
      A new series on BBCNI about the ‘Irish Colleges’ in Europe called “An Coláiste Éireannach”, first episode here, focusing on Salamanca –
      Next episode will be about a college in Belgium and the invention of the Irish ‘typeface’ there.

      Another tangent… Nice piece here from National Geographic…. “One language dies every 14 days. By the next century nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear…..”

      1. Bluebeard

        You are right. We don’t need Irish for communicating, we have English for that. But as a language of expression, Irish is beautiful and allows us access sentiments and emotions unique to her. That is the power of language when spoken well. Emphasis on the speaking, on the nuances, on the turns of phrase and the way of seeing things. This is what gives us our duality that helps creativity and identity.

        1. kellma

          I couldn’t agree more. The better a communicator you are, the easier life is and the more languages you know, the more it can enhance this. Getting the feel for another language and its nuances makes you understand your “own” language even more and gives you an insight into cultural differences. And all this can only be good especially given how our world is evolving and how much we all move around the world so much.
          I think we should see the Irish language as an opportunity and embrace it for all that the knowledge of it can offer us.

      2. Joe the Lion

        Thanks for these links John

        I didn’t agree with the way the point was expressed by Victoria however, no matter how valid it may be.

  6. Rob_G

    I remember when taking the Luas Red Line (a couple of years ago now) the automatic announcer used to proclaim that we were arriving at ‘St. James’s Hospital – Ospidéal San Séamus’

    Really ground my gears

    1. Joe835

      There’s a good reason for this; Irish saints get the prefix “Naomh” whereas non-Irish saints are “San”. St. James wasn’t Irish, so he’s San Séamus.

      Now why St. Patrick is “Naomh” rather than “San” is another kettle of iasc……

      1. Joe the Lion

        A Wicklow-based historian has provocatively hypothesised that Mr Patrick was actually French.

        Can you envisage the reaction of the fake beard and sidey sporting elites to venerable ‘Without’ Paddy?
        Cue mass hysteria on the streets of Vice-land. They’d have to send Kiberd * 10 out to cover that one.

    2. Joxer

      there is a reason for that – something like, irish Saints are Naomh and foreginers are San – i could be wrong on the detail but there is a differentiation that means James is San Seamus and not Naomh Sheamus

  7. Joe835

    A bit of reality as opposed to fantasy regarding Irish in this country is long-overdue. Save and encourage it where it’s spoken now but stop pretending it’s our “first language” – it’s barely our fourth language.

    The national guilt complex about the language needs to end; we’re an English-speaking country that, like the writer says, has no practical reason to spend so much on translating English language documents into Irish for people who can speak English. No reason to include obtrusive Irish language warnings, in equal size and prominence (often more prominence), on roads, building sites and cigarette packets to name a few – not one Irish speaker would be discommoded or inconvenienced by English language signage in any context on this island.

    Preserve it where it stands today, as a second language in remote areas, or watch it die thanks to lip service, compulsion and stubbornness.

    1. Bluebeard

      You are right about the guilt complex. Those that have it need to confront it and get over it. On the signage issue, I think it is nice to have public signage, announcements etc in both languages as long as the Irish is accurate and authentic. We do have a language, it is beautiful and should be shared with the citizens. The translation, I agree, mostly because it is so poo.

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