There was a discussion on the box last night.
They debated the state of the Irish Language.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this subject – the Irish Language is constitutionally the first language of the state. It is compulsory in all schools and all official documents have to be issued in both Irish and English. In my day, failing the Irish exam in the Leaving certificate meant failing the entire thing even if maximum points were scored in all other subjects. Also it was compulsory that any applicant for any kind of state job was a fluent speaker.
So where do I stand on the subject?
As a kid, I was sentenced to a year at a boarding school where the shite was kicked out of anyone who spoke anything other than Irish. The only time English was allowed was on visiting days [I think there were three of those in the year] and when writing home. Even then, letters home could only be in English if the parents weren’t up to the challenge.
By the end of that year, I was a fluent speaker. By fluent, I mean that I literally thought in Irish and had to mentally translate if speaking English.
Now that year of hell did get me through my Leaving Certificate and it did mean I could get a job in RTE, but what else did I get out of it? The answer is sweet fuck all.
I can barely read the language now. I can understand it provided the dialect isn’t too strong. I certainly can’t write it any more. The only practical use I have ever had for the language is that it is handy when in France for conversing with Herself if we don’t want to be overheard.
The state still insists on feeding this language. It costs well in excess of a hundred million per year trying to breathe life into something that is effectively dead. There are probably no more than a couple of thousand who speak the language on a daily basis yet we have to have Irish Language radio stations and even a dedicated television service.
Personally, I think it is a beautiful language. It’s very poetic and soft on the ears and I would hate to see it lost entirely. However successive gubmints have rammed it down our throats to the point where most people probably resent it. Mention Peig Sayers to most Irish people and they will gag.
I think they should ban the language. Ramming it down our throats only causes resentment, whereas banning it would turn speaking it into an act of rebellion. It would save the country millions.
It would also confuse the hell out of the Krauts when they come marching in.