ACET: The Celtic World - The Irish Language

The Celtic World – The Irish Language


What’s in a language?

There are two official languages in Ireland. Everybody can speak English, but, although all children learn Irish at school, very few people use it in their daily lives. Only in Gaeltacht areas (see map) is it used as the everyday vernacular by about 40000 people.

Fir          Mna          Slainte          An lar               Oifig an phoist

These are Irish words you are sure to be confronted with! What do they mean? Which one are you more likely to hear than see?

There are several organisations that endeavour to promote Irish. There is a radio station (Radio na Gaeltachta) that broadcasts only in Irish, and a television channel which broadcasts its programmes in Irish(TG4). Anybody working in the public sector must have a qualification in Irish. But, despite the efforts made to revive it and the fact that you can see and hear it all around you, Irish is a dying language.

1.) What is the situation in your own country? Is there more than one language?

2.) Are all the languages used given official recognition? Are they thought in schools, are they needed for jobs, are they used on radio and television?

3.) Do you think the time, effort and money spent on trying to preserve minority languages is worth while?


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