Thursday 19 September 2019

When will our attitude to language change?

Deborah Coleman.
Deborah Coleman.
It is sad that it's just for one fortnight of the year our native language gets the focus it deserves for the rest of the year.

Deborah Coleman - Straight Talking

St Patrick's Day marks the end of Seachtain na Gaeilge 2015, although many people were probably not even aware that it was happening for most of March.

Every year, the fortnight of SnaG rolls around and there are the odd couple of nods towards it-radio presenters throw in the 'cúpla focal' and the papers promote the calendar of events.

These are all worthwhile and useful practices but the sad thing is that for just one fortnight of the year our native language becomes more commonplace and after that it is consigned back to the shadows.

It often feels like the whole thing is a chore for many and something they would rather bypass altogether-a token gesture.

There is an inherent awkwardness amongst those forced to make the effort to speak some Gaeilge for the couple of weeks as they draw on their school days for inspiration.

They giggle and stutter and probably hope they can just get through and move on as quickly as possible.

It shouldn't be this way. After at least 13 years of studying the language, or any language one would expect to be somewhat proficient and to at least be able to have a basic conversation.

It strikes me that Gaeilge is the least respected language spoken in Ireland today and there is a worrying level of apathy towards it.

Why are we not more proud of our language, the most integral part of our heritage and culture? There are so many Irish people who scoff at the thought of speaking it and see no point to preserving it for future generations. They see Gaelscoileanna and those who speak Gaeilge for reasons other than exam preparation as pretentious.

Parents who raise their children bilingually with other languages such as French or German are admired for the opportunities they are bestowing on them yet when the second language is Gaeilge people perceive it as a waste of time.

Outside of the Gaeltacht today one is much more likely to hear a variety of other languages rather than Gaeilge spoken in any shop or restaurant.

Diversity in society is, of course to be welcomed but there is no reason why Gaeilge can't be spoken just as widely as many other languages, and respected just as much.

Wexford People

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