The Irish language is a ‘lost art’ – the author
A week after a controversial online survey that suggested Ireland’s language is in crisis was released, a leading Irish language scholar said the country needs to rethink its language strategy.
In the wake of the poll, Professor Michael Glynn said the question of whether Ireland has a language crisis was a “coup de grâce” and a “very serious one”.
Glynn said there was a strong argument to be made that Ireland is a language of strength and the problem is that it is a “lost art”.””
It would have been better if we had said, ‘Is there a crisis in Irish, or are there some problems we need to look at and make sure we’re taking action to address?'” he said.
Glynn said there was a strong argument to be made that Ireland is a language of strength and the problem is that it is a “lost art”.
“The problem is in English,” he said, adding that the Irish language, which was once the dominant language in the country, was now more in danger of falling into disrepair.
The issue of the Irish speaking the world, he said is a concern, but “not as important as the issue of Irish speaking our country”.
The professor said that while there was evidence to suggest Irish has fallen behind English in terms of the ability to speak and write it is important that it was understood in Irish.
He said the Irish Language Council is looking into the impact of the online survey on Irish language retention.
‘It is not a lost art’The survey was carried out by online pollster Ipsos MORI for the National Centre for Teaching in English (NCTE) and was commissioned by the Irish National Institute for Language.
Its results were published in the Irish Times on Friday.
It showed that more than 60 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of Ireland’s Irish language policy.
A total of 2,069 respondents responded, and it was found that 71 per cent agreed that Irish should be taught in schools, while 22 per cent said the same for English.
More than a third of those surveyed agreed that it should be “widely available”, while 17 per cent disagreed.
Among those who agreed with the plan to teach Irish in schools: 80 per cent were in support of teaching the language to everyone.
More than 80 per the survey said they supported teaching Irish in public schools.
However, there was disagreement on whether this was a good idea.
Nearly half of those polled said it was not a good thing, while just over a third agreed that schools should not teach the language in their schools.
Only 14 per cent also agreed that teaching Irish should not be taught.
But Professor Glynn, who has been a lecturer in Irish at Trinity College Dublin since 1999, said the survey results showed a “massive” problem with the way Irish was being taught in the UK.
This was a very serious issue in the last 10 years, he added.
“[The survey] has shown that there is a huge issue.”
There is a very big issue in Ireland.
It is not as important now as it was in 1997, and we’re not going to be back there.
But the question is whether we can have the conversation about that, and make the case for it, so that we can put this [language crisis] back on the agenda, he told The Irish News.
Professor Glynn is the author of ‘Language Crisis: How Irish Is Dying’ and has spoken to leaders of local communities in Ireland about the impact the poll has had on their language skills.
NCTe chairman Dr John McQuaid said he was disappointed by the poll results, which have led to a discussion about the future of Irish.
“This is a great moment to take stock of the situation.
We’ve seen a lot of things happen in the past week, we’ve had a very dramatic change in attitudes to language, and this is a really positive thing.
Irish has suffered a lot since the poll was carried in.
We’ve had the news on the internet, and social media, and that has changed attitudes and has caused a change in behaviour.
I’ve had conversations with a lot [of] people who said, we are very happy that we are Irish, and not English.
And I think that’s a really good thing.”
Dr McQuabaid said the issue is not unique to Ireland, with some people having a “disillusionment with Irish” and others believing that “it is more important to have English than Irish”.
He added that Irish needs to be taught to all schools.
“We have to be sure that our children are getting it, and they’re getting it in a proper way,” he added, adding the issue should be taken up by politicians.
Some of those speaking against teaching the Irish in the schools are not necessarily anti-English, but believe the language is important.
Belfast Telegraph Digital