Tag Archives: an Ghaeilge

Freagra ar Joe Daly

Chuir duine éigin darbh ainm Joe Daly barúil suas ar an alt a scríobh mé traidhfil de bhlianta ó shin dar teideal Did The English Ban Irish:

you dont take in to account the fact that kids where beat in school for specking Irish. while they might not have passed a law banning it their attitude towards the Irish did the same thing . even goin so far as to ban Catholic children from goin to school. Under the penal codes imposed by the British, the Irish Catholics were not allowed to have schools. and so started the rise of Hedge schools.

Tá go leor eolais agam ar stair an oideachais in Éirinn. Tá a fhios agam faoin bhata scóir agus faoi na scoileanna scairte. Tá sé ráite agam arís agus arís eile nár chuidigh Sasana pioc leis an Ghaeilge. I dtús an tseachtú haois déag, is beag duine in Éirinn a raibh Béarla aige. Ach anois, tá mo leithéidí féin, daoine a labhraíonn Gaeilge ar bhonn laethúil, tá muid chomh gann is a bhí lucht an Bhéarla anseo ceithre chéad bliain ó shin, agus is toradh díreach é sin ar bheartais a rinneadh d’aonghnó le stádas an Bhéarla a ardú agus le stádas na Gaeilge a ísliú. Mar a luaigh mé san alt sin: The fact is, of course, that the English administration in Ireland was no friend to the Irish language. Irish was progressively squeezed out of any realm of life which would have given it power or influence. I am not defending the English here.

An rud atá á rá agam (agus ní thig liom smaoineamh ar dhóigh ar bith lena rá níos soiléire), ná nach raibh an Ghaeilge in éadan an dlí in Éirinn. Níor spreagadh í, níor cothaíodh í, níor cuidíodh léi teacht slán ar dhóigh ar bith, ach níor cuireadh cosc uirthi le hacht ná reacht ná dli.  Is dócha gur chuma sa tsioc leis na Sasanaigh cad é a labhraíodh aoirí nó iascairí nó coillteoirí Gaelacha eatarthu féin, a fhad is a d’íoc siad cíos agus cáin agus deachúna le huasaicme Ghallda.

Maidir le stair na hÉireann, tá Sasana chomh ciontach leis an diabhal. Cad chuige a mbeadh ar dhuine ar bith coireanna breise a chumadh le cosúlacht níos measa a chur orthu?

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig

 

St Patrick’s Day is here again, so it seems like a good opportunity once again to attack Cassidy’s rubbish book of fake Irish, to encourage people to learn a little of the real thing, and to say a couple of words about the philosophy of language learning.

At this time of year, many people in the Irish diaspora take an interest in their culture and history. Because of the irresponsible behaviour of a number of prominent members of the Irish-American establishment like Peter Quinn, Joe Lee, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Tom Deignan, the organisers of the San Francisco Irish-American Crossroads Festival and countless others, who recommended and continue to recommend this nonsense to gullible people, this book is still being sold. This is a disgrace. Cassidy’s ‘research’ is a cruel and disgusting hoax and IMHO no decent person would support it. However, thanks in part to this blog, people are now much more aware of how dishonest and foolish this book is, so the newspaper articles about Cassidy’s linguistic ‘revelations’ which used to appear at this time of year have been considerably fewer over the last couple of years. The only major organ (yes, I’m aware of the innuendo) of the diaspora which still supports this raiméis is the egregious IrishCentral. They continue to republish a semi-literate ‘review’ of Cassidy’s book by some 9/11 Truther called Brendan Patrick Keane.

Anyway, it seems appropriate to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with some handy (and GENUINE) phrases in our beautiful Ulster dialect of the Irish language.

 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig duit!

Ban-akh-tee na fayla pahrig ditch!

Blessings of St Patrick’s day to you!

 

Go raibh míle maith agat.

Go roh meela moy oggut!

A thousand thanks!

 

Tá sé iontach deas inniu.

Tah shay intah jass inyoo.

It’s very nice today.

 

Sláinte mhór agus saol fada agat!

Slahn-chya wore ogus seel fadda oggut!

Good health and long life to you!

 

If you want some more information on these things, there are hundreds of resources on line. Focloir.ie is particularly good and has audio files for common words. Just don’t trust anything you read on IrishCentral, in any language, and don’t use Cassidy’s book as a source for learning Irish!

As for the philosophy of language learning, here’s a few points for people thinking of learning Irish:

DO

  • learn a little every day – start NOW!
  • label things you use every day – fridge, cooker, car, door
  • write common words or phrases on cards and carry them round with you
  • learn a few proverbs or songs by heart
  • use apps and words of the day and the Kindle and other new technology
  • get output by TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta and listen to the language as much as possible (without bothering about understanding it) just to get used to the sounds and intonation

DON’T

  • go to a class once a week and forget about it the rest of the time
  • try to learn everything at once and get disheartened when you can’t
  • use Google Translate to translate INTO Irish (it’s useful to get an idea of what a text means in a language you don’t speak well or at all but, for example, if you put I cycled a lot into Google Translate, you get Rothar mé go leor, which is garbage!)
  • make up sentences which are too complicated for you – stick to the structures you know to be correct. Walk, then run! There’s no point in practising elaborate structures which are wrong. Stick to simple sentences which are right! 
  • Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!!

Amadáin na Míosa – Eagraithe agus Urraithe an Irish-American Crossroads Festival

I gceann cúpla lá, cuirfear tús leis an Irish American Crossroads Festival in San Francisco. Ba é Daniel Cassidy agus cuid dá chairde agus leantóirí a bhunaigh an fhéile. Sin an fáth a mbíonn eagraithe na féile ag insint bréag faoi Cassidy go fóill.

Níl aon amhras faoi na fíricí a bhaineann le Cassidy. Ní raibh céim aige, mar gur theip air céim a fháil ó Cornell in 1965 cionn is go raibh sé i dtámhshuan mar gheall ar na drugaí. Ní raibh céim aige ó Cornell agus níor fhreastail sé fiú ar Columbia. Bhí saol corrach lán teipeanna aige agus ansin, d’éirigh leis post a fháil mar ollamh ag ollscoil bréige darbh ainm New College of California trí bhréaga a insint faoin taifead acadúil aige. I ndiaidh dó tuarastal léachtóra nach raibh tuillte aige a fháil ar feadh dhá bhliain déag, d’fhoilsigh sé leabhar aiféiseach darbh ainm How The Irish Invented Slang. Sa leabhar sin, chum Cassidy (fear nach raibh Gaeilge ar bith aige) na céadta frása bréige i ‘nGaeilge’, leithéidí béal ónna agus gíog gheal agus gearról úr agus pá lae sámh, ionas go dtiocfadh leis cur i gcéill gur tháinig a lán cora cainte i mbéarlagair Mheiriceá ón ‘Ghaeilge’ nuachumtha seo.

Ba bhréagadóir cruthanta é Cassidy, duine a chum a lán raiméise faoina shaol agus a shaothar – ní a chuid céimeanna amháin – agus duine ar bith a léann an blag seo go cúramach, tuigfidh siad láithreach cé chomh bréagach a bhí sé.

Ar an drochuair, tá cinneadh déanta ag eagraithe na féile seo nach maith leo an fhírinne agus gur chóir dóibh leanúint leo ag moladh Cassidy mar eiseamláir agus gur chóir plé leis an chur i gcéill mhailíseach a chum sé (cur i gcéill a bhfuil an Ghaeilge agus cultúr na hÉireann thíos leis go mór) mar a bheadh fíorléann ann. Tá an raiméis seo faoi Cassidy go fóill ar shuíomh gréasáin na féile.

Sin an fáth a bhfuil mé lánsásta an teideal Amadáin na Míosa a bhronnadh ar eagraithe agus ar urraithe na féile seo. Duine ar bith a bhfuil ciall dá laghad aige, nó duine ar bith a bhfuil náire ar bith ann, coinneoidh sé glan amach ón bhastard seo agus a chuid cairde.

The Numbers Game

I began CassidySlangScam in March 2013. In that first year, I got a paltry 3,292 views. The numbers have been going up consistently every year since. And I have to say, 2018 has already been a great year for the blog. I have already had more hits in the two months of this year than in that entire first year!

February has proven to be a very good month too, with more hits than any other month since the blog began (nearly 3000 so far, with a day still to go!)

Thanks to everyone who has helped to make the stats so good over the last year and has helped to spread the truth about Cassidy and his bullshit.

Thosaigh mé ar CassidySlangScam i Mí an Mhárta, 2013. Sa chéad bhliain sin, ní bhfuair mé ach 3.292 amas. Tá na huimhreacha ag dul i méad gach bliain ó shin. Agus caithfidh mé a rá, cuireadh tús maith le 2018 cheana féin. Bhí níos mó amas (cuairt) agam sa chéad dá mhí den bhliain seo ná mar a bhí agam sa chéad bhliain sin ar fad!

Agus chruthaigh an Feabhra go hiontach maith fosta. Bhí níos mó amas agam i bhFeabhra na bliana seo ná mar a bhí agam mí ar bith eile ó thosaigh an blag (beagnach 3000 go dtí seo – agus tá lá amháin le dul againn go fóill!)

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil anseo le gach duine a chuidigh leis na staitisticí maithe seo a bhaint amach le bliain anuas agus a chuidigh leis an fhírinne a scaipeadh faoi Daniel Cassidy agus a chuid bréag.

An Fear Nach dTig Leis Ubh a Fhiuchadh

Nochtadh a lán tuairimí spéisiúla maidir leis an Ghaeilge le déanaí ar na meáin shóisialta, tuairimí a léiríonn cuid mhór faoi dhearcadh na ndaoine a chum iad. Ceann de na tuairimí ba spéisiúla ná ceann le hÉireannach (is léir nach Gael é) a bhí ag gearán faoin chur amú ama a bhaineann le Gaeilge a fhoghlaim: I help my daughter with her Irish homework, that she knows is pointless in life at age 9 & it’s so frustrating knowing her time could be spent better learning things she’ll need in the future. I wasted time on Irish and finished school unable to boil an egg.. Ní gá dom a rá gur magadh faoin fhear seo rud bocht as an tuairim seo a nochtadh (go háirithe an non-sequitur faoi uibheacha a fhiuchadh), ach nuair a léigh mé é, thosaigh mé a smaoineamh ar dhaoine agus ar thuairimí den chineál seo.

Ar an chéad dul síos, nár fhoghlaim gach duine rudaí ar scoil nár bhain siad úsáid astu riamh? D’fhoghlaim mise a lán acu. Cothromóidí cearnacha? An fhisic? Ní hamháin sin, ach tá mé lánchinnte nár bhain mé úsáid phraiticiúil riamh as cuid ar bith den eolas a d’fhoghlaim mé i ranganna staire, cé gur mór liom an t-eolas atá agam ar an stair agus bheinn i bhfad ní ba bhoichte gan é.

Agus sin ráite, tá níos mó i gceist le hábhair a fhoghlaim ar scoil ná fíricí ags faisnéis a bhailiú, nach bhfuil? Don chuid is mó againn, baintear úsáid as ábhair scoile le píosa páipéir a fháil, agus ansin, bogaimid ar aghaidh chuig rud éigin eile. Tá an píosa páipéir againn a chruthaíonn go raibh muid maith go leor leis an phíosa páipéir a fháil. Agus mar gheall air sin, táimid i dteideal dul ar aghaidh agus píosa páipéir níos speisialaithe a fháil. Tá ábhair a rinne mé ar scoil nár bhain mé úsáid astu riamh, ach tá an cháilíocht agam. Ní cur amú ama a bhí ann. Cuid den oideachas agus den oiliúint a bhí ann, sin a raibh.

Agus nuair a amharcaim siar ar na hábhair a bhí agam ar scoil, bhí cuid acu a raibh dúil agam iontu agus cuid eile nach raibh, ach ní cuimhin liom riamh a rá ag aois a 9 (nó fiú ag aois 12 nó 14) nár chóir roinnt ábhar a theagasc cionn is nach bhfuil maith ar bith iontu. Agus sin an fáth a bhfuil amhras orm cé acu a rinne páiste 9 mbliana d’aois cinneadh mar sin léi féin nó nach ndearna. Nó arbh é an tuismitheoir a d’fhág an scoil agus é chomh hamaideach sin a chinntigh go mbeadh an tuairim sin aici chomh hóg sin?

Agus ar ndóigh, tá scileanna eile a bhaineann le hábhair a fhoghlaim. An dóigh le staidéar a dhéanamh, an dóigh le ham a bhainistiú, an dóigh le nótaí a bhreacadh, an dóigh le foinsí eolais a aimsiú agus an chuid is fearr a bhaint astu. Agus ansin, tá an cumas rudaí a fhoghlaim de ghlanmheabhair. Agus níos tábhachtaí ná rud ar bith eile, tá muinín ann. Tá scileanna den chineál chéanna ag baint le teanga ar bith a fhoghlaim. Tá scileanna inaistrithe ag baint le rud ar bith a fhoghlaim, is cuma cad é atá ann.

Daoine aineolacha ar nós fhear seo na n-uibheacha amha, glacfaidh siad leis nach fiú teanga mar an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim, mar ní chuideoidh sé leat teangacha eile a fhoghlaim. A mhalairt atá fíor. Tá a lán fianaise ann go bhfuil sé i bhfad níos fusa do dhuine atá dátheangach an tríú nó an ceathrú teanga a fhoghlaim. Is é an bhacainn is mó atá ar fhoghlaimeoirí teanga nó na rudaí sa chéad teanga a nglacann siad leo mar rialacha dochta uilíocha agus ní mar ghnéithe randamacha dá dteanga féin. Más féidir leat na bréagchinnteachtaí sin a bhriseadh, bíonn an fhoghlaim i bhfad níos fusa. Is é rud é, níl a fhios ag fear na n-uibheacha amha cad iad na teangacha a mbeidh ar a iníon iad a fhoghlaim amach anseo. Asairis? Rúisis? Indinéisis? Ní féidir sin a thuar, ach is féidir teanga nach bhfuil cosúil leis an Bhéarla a theagasc di a fhágfaidh go mbeidh sé níos fusa aici Teanga 3 nó Teanga 4 a fhoghlaim más gá. Ach ina áit sin, b’fhearr leis a cuid oideachais a theorannú mar gheall ar na claonta páistiúla atá aige féin.

Is é fírinne an scéil go mbaineann teangacha ar fud an domhain úsáid as réimse teoranta fuaimeanna, struchtúr agus straitéisí le cur síos ar an domhan. Baineann Araibis agus Eabhrais úsáid as struchtúir ar nós liom, agat, astu i nGaeilge. Tá a lán lán teangacha ar fud an domhain a bhfuil an fhuaim a scríobhtar sa Spáinnis mar j nó sa Ghaeilge mar ch iontu, fuaim nach dtig le cuid mhór Béarlóirí a rá ar chor ar bith. Cuireann na teangacha Polainéiseacha sealbhaíocht in iúl mar shuíomh, ionas go bhfuil an rud ‘agat’, go díreach mar a dhéantar sa Ghaeilge nó sa Bhreatnais. Thiocfadh liom na céadta sampla eile a thabhairt. Má fhoghlaimíonn tú teanga ar bith, thig leis cuidiú leat teangacha eile a fhoghlaim ar an iliomad saindóigheanna praiticiúla.

Tá a lán fáthanna ann leis an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim mar is ceart. Fiú más dóigh leat gur cur amú ama í an Ghaeilge, tá a lán fáthanna maithe le do pháistí a spreagadh leis an teanga a fhoghlaim mar is ceart. Agus sin ráite, má mhúintear do pháistí nach bhfuil sa Ghaeilge ach cur amú ama, beidh sí ina cur amú ama, dóibhsean agus do na páistí a gcaithfidh seomra ranga a roinnt le páistí ar cuireadh brú orthu éirí as an teanga a fhoghlaim sular thosaigh siad.

Agus sin gan smaoineamh fiú ar na fáthanna deimhneacha cultúrtha leis an Ghaeilge a fhoghlaim. Tá beagnach 4 mhilliún duine ag foghlaim Gaeilge le Duolingo faoi láthair – i bhfad níos mó ná foghlaimeoirí na hEabhraise, nó na Tuircise, nó na hIoruaise. Cad chuige a bhfuil an oiread sin daoine ag iarraidh Gaeilge a fhoghlaim? Is é fírinne an scéil go gcuireann sí an duine i dteagmháil lena oidhreacht chultúrtha. Is ón Ghaeilge a tháinig an chuid is mó de na logainmneacha agus na hainmneacha pearsanta in Éirinn. Tá litríocht iomlán i nGaeilge atá an-difriúil leis an Bhéarla. Agus tá an oiread sin ceoil in Éirinn atá bainteach leis an teanga.

Ní hamháin sin, ach gan dul rófhada ar bhóthar na polaitíochta, rinneadh feachtas den chinedhíothú theangeolaíoch ar an Ghaeilge agus bhí sin freagrach as meath na teanga. Lena rá go simplí, is geall le ciníochas an meon atá ag na daoine a rinne agus a dhéanann iarracht an Ghaeilge a mhilleadh. Tá na tuairimí seo cosúil leis an nóisean gur chóir foraoisí báistí nach bhfuil ach ina gcur amú cionn is go bhfuil siad lán speiceas atá galánta ach gan tairbhe a stróiceadh agus plandálacha ordúla lán de chrainn rubair nó bhanana a chur ina n-áit. Má ligimid do bhiogóidigh agus ciníochaithe an bua a bheith acu sa chás seo, cé chomh fada agus a mhairfidh teangacha ar nós na hOllainnise nó n Danmhairgise nó na Seicise sula gcuirfear i mbaol iad cionn is go measann daoine nach bhfuil siad inmharthana a thuilleadh mar gheall ar a n-easpa cainteoirí.

Cultural Appropriation/Leithghabháil Chultúrtha

(https://nos.ie/gniomhaiochas/polaitiocht/leithghabhail-chulturtha/)

There was an interesting little article in NósMag recently about leithghabháil chultúrtha, or cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is basically the misuse of a minority culture by a majority culture. The NósMag article asked the question, where do we draw the line? There was an immediate response by Dennis King, who wrote this on Twitter with a picture of Cassidy’s ludicrous book: An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a scríobhann duine ar bheagán Gaeilge leabhar a bhfuil a lán cacamais faoin nGaeilge ann? (Is it cultural appropriation when someone with little Irish writes a book which is full of crap about Irish?)

There have been a lot of arguments about what is or is not cultural appropriation. I don’t think anyone would argue about the most extreme cases – the Black and White Minstrel Show, or the writings of Asa Earl Carter are definitely inappropriate. Others are more dubious. Is it wrong for Anglo children to use a piñata? Should non-African Americans play the blues? Is it cultural appropriation when people get tattoos in bad Chinese or even worse Irish?

Wherever we draw the line, there is no doubt that Dennis King is right and that Cassidy is on the wrong side of it. After all, Cassidy’s book is basically a collection of made-up rubbish by a man who couldn’t even be bothered learning any Irish. Like Dennis King, I find Cassidy’s smugness and arrogance deeply offensive. It makes me angry to hear someone claiming that baloney comes from the Irish béal ónna, when there is no Irish phrase béal ónna – Cassidy invented it and then pretended it was Irish. Or that crony comes from Irish comhrogha, which exists but never had the meaning of friend or companion. Or that giggle comes from gíog gheal, which (if it existed), would mean a bright squeak. It’s all insulting, arrogant, stupid nonsense from a man with no degrees or qualifications who managed to con his way into a university job. Cultural appropriation or not, it’s a pack of lies.

 

(https://nos.ie/gniomhaiochas/polaitiocht/leithghabhail-chulturtha/)

Bhí alt beag spéisiúil ar NósMag ar na mallaibh faoin leithghabháil chultúrtha, nó an cultural appropriation, mar a thugtar uirthi i mBéarla. Is é atá i gceist leis an leithghabháil chultúrtha, lena rá i mbeagán focal, ná mórchultúr ag baint mí-úsáid as cultúr mionlaigh. Cuireadh an cheist san alt ar NósMag, cá háit a dtarraingítear an líne? Bhí freagra ann láithreach ó Dennis King, a scríobh seo ar Twitter maraon le pictiúr de leabhar bómánta Cassidy: An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a scríobhann duine ar bheagán Gaeilge leabhar a bhfuil a lán cacamais faoin nGaeilge ann?

Bhí a lán argóintí ann le blianta beaga anuas maidir le cad is leithghabháil chultúrtha ann agus na rudaí nach leithghabháil chultúrtha iad. Ní dóigh liom go mbeadh amhras ar dhuine ar bith faoi na cásanna is measa – is cinnte nach bhfuil The Black and White Minstrel Show nó scríbhinní Asa Earl Carter inghlactha ar chor ar bith. Tá rudaí eile níos éiginnte. An bhfuil an ceart ag páistí nach bhfuil acu ach Béarla piñata a úsáid? Ar chóir do Mheiriceánaigh nach bhfuil de bhunús Afraiceach na gormacha a sheinm? An leithghabháil chultúrtha é nuair a fhaigheann daoine geala nach Gaeil iad tatúanna i ndrochShínis nó i nGaeilge uafásach?

Cibé áit a dtarraingítear an líne, is cinnte go bhfuil an ceart ag Dennis King agus go bhfuil Cassidy ar an taobh mhícheart den líne sin. Níl i leabhar Cassidy, i ndiaidh an tsaoil, ach bailiúchán de raiméis a chum duine nach dtiocfadh leis bheith gaibhte Gaeilge ar bith a fhoghlaim. Go díreach cosúil le Dennis King, cuireann féinsástacht agus ardnósacht Cassidy olc an domhain orm. Cuireann sé fearg orm nuair a chluinim duine ag rá gur ón Ghaeilge béal ónna a tháinig an focal baloney, cé nach bhfuil a leithéid de fhrása ann – chum Cassidy é agus lig air gur Gaeilge a bhí ann. Nó gur ón ‘Ghaeilge’ gíog gheal a tháinig giggle an Bhéarla, in ainneoin go bhfuil fianaise chuimsitheach leis an bharúil sin a bhréagnú. Níl ann ach raiméis mhaslach, ardnósach, amaideach ó fhear nach raibh céimeanna ná cáilíochtaí ar bith aige ach ar éirigh leis post ollscoile a fháil trí chaimiléireacht. Níl sa bhrilléis seo ach deargbhréaga, bíodh sí ina leithghabháil chultúrtha nó ná bíodh!

Níl sé ceart go leor …

Ciara Ní É (https://miseciara.wordpress.com/) has started an interesting campaign called NílSéCLG (Níl sé ceart go leor = It’s not alright.) The idea of this campaign is to highlight the kind of things that people say that are regarded as acceptable when applied to Irish, but which would be regarded as ludicrous or racist or just plain ignorant when applied to other languages. I’m not much of a one for social media but it’s a campaign worth supporting, I think. Here are a few good examples:

“I don’t mind when people speak French, but can’t they do it in a normal accent instead of all this fancy French pronunciation?”

“God, my love for the English language was utterly destroyed by having Thomas Hardy’s gloom and misery shoved down my throat at school.”

“You speak English? I hate English. It’s all Shakespeare and Morris Dancing.”

Here’s my contribution:

“Ariel Sharon was the 11th President of Israel – but of course his real name was Scheinemann.”

“Chinese, Japanese and Korean underwent a fundamental transformation and reinvention in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are totally artificial and can no longer be regarded as real languages.”

 

 

Tá feachtas spéisiúil curtha ar bun ag Ciara Ní É (https://miseciara.wordpress.com/), feachtas darb ainm NílSéCLG (Níl sé ceart go leor = It’s not alright.) Is é an smaoineamh atá taobh thiar den fheachtas seo ná aird a dhíriú ar rudaí bómánta a deir daoine, rudaí nach síltear go bhfuil aon rud cearr leo agus iad ag tagairt don Ghaeilge, ach mheasfadh daoine go bhfuil siad áiféiseach nó ciníoch nó aineolach ar fad dá ndéarfaí an rud céanna faoi theangacha eile. Níl mórán eolais agamsa ar na meáin shóisialta, ach sílim gur feachtas é ar fiú go mór tacú leis. Seo roinnt samplaí maithe:

“I don’t mind when people speak French, but can’t they do it in a normal accent instead of all this fancy French pronunciation?”

“God, my love for the English language was utterly destroyed by having Thomas Hardy’s gloom and misery shoved down my throat at school.”

“You speak English? I hate English. It’s all Shakespeare and Morris Dancing.”

Agus seo na cinn s’agamsa:

“Ariel Sharon was the 11th President of Israel – but of course his real name was Scheinemann.”

“Chinese, Japanese and Korean underwent a fundamental transformation and reinvention in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are totally artificial and can no longer be regarded as real languages.”

Pure Evil (English version of Íonaí Meanie)

The Irish language is obviously in trouble. There are people who believe it to be a dead language, though that is obviously untrue. I am able to write this article and I am sure that a lot of people will read it and understand it in the future. If Irish were dead, this wouldn’t be the case, of course. But Irish is in a weakened state, undoubtedly, especially among the young people in the Gaeltachts.

The English were certainly responsible for its decline. They were the ones who made it a language of paupers and pee-ons. They were the ones who forced their culture and their language on our ancestors and left the Irish language up shite creek without a paddle.

Having said that, people often blame the Irish themselves and especially the íonaithe or the purists as they are known in English. The purists are the ones who are killing the language, according to many people. They put off people who are learning the language. They discourage people. They were the ones who created a split between the native Irish of the Gaeltachts and the unnatural Irish of the books! The purists are a disgrace! If it weren’t for them, the language would be safe and sound (yeah, right!)

But this is the question which is bothering me. Who are these purists? You would think that is a simple question, so simple that it is barely worth asking, and that there would be a simple answer too. However, things are rarely as they seem.

Even if we are talking about the official language of written Irish, there are significant differences between the Christian Brothers, the different versions of the Official Standard and the practices that educated writers use in their writings, both native speakers and people in the cities.

Or there are native speakers (I mentioned people like this recently) who will not accept any new-fangled words at all. If a person says that they have to buy bogearraí to put onto the tiomántán crua in their ríomhaire, they will think there is something false and un-Irish about that way of talking. That person should buy software, they would think, to put on the hard drive of the computer. It doesn’t matter to those people that the language can’t survive if it is not able to tackle ordinary modern subjects. And this kind of defeatism didn’t exist in the olden days, when native speakers like Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin were quite happy to make words up rather than accepting words from English. Who are the purists in this case? The native speakers who want to protect their version of the language (which is full of English), or those people who are trying to keep the language free of English?

And what about those people who believe that one dialect is better than any Standard, or the other dialects? There are people like this, people who believe that anything which is not Munster Gaoluinn is not Irish, or that nothing is as good as Ulster Irish. Who are the purists in that case? Them, or the lovers of the Standard?

And there are people who believe that the rot set in long before there was any mention of the Official Standard. For example, John Grenham, a man whose opinions I have little respect for and who doesn’t even have a couple of words (because he wrote those couple of words “an cúpla focal” as the cúpla focail in the same article), claimed (wrongly, of course) that the people of The Gaelic League thought that the language of the people was corrupt and they decided to purify it. And because of that, urban Irish-language experts who had been raised with English were teaching groups of students who also only had English. The result – that English-language idioms, grammar and syntax seeped into the “revived” tongue.

Then, he gives us an example of this impure Irish : My own favourite example is the Irish-language sign in my local park urging dog-owners whose pets foul the grass to “Glan suas é”, “Clean it up”, an utterly idiomatic English phrasal verb translated word by word. Imagine a sign in French that says “Nettoyez-le en haut.” But this comparison is not valid at all, because French has an entirely different history. There are plenty of long-established phrasal verbs in Irish which have suas in them, which is not the case with en haut in French, of course. (If you don’t believe me, this is a line referring to Luther from the year 1615 – he opposed [chuir sé suas do – he put up to] the head of the Church through envy and lust and the phrase glanadh suas/clearing up was common enough with Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin in the 1820s in reference to the weather.) So, it is clear that Grenham’s opinions about the Irish language and its corrupters are nothing but horse feathers and nonsense.

What is my position on these matters, then? Well, I am not a purist. I believe in the Standard. It is a very useful thing. With the Standard, Irish speakers can share books, material on line and other things freely throughout the island and overseas. But it is not necessary to give up the dialects at all. The Standard is only a tool and as is the case with English, it is not a matter of Irish but of Irishes. There are different kinds of Irish which are suitable for different purposes. A conversation in a pub in Kerry and an article on science in a state publication are not the same and it would not be right to use the same kind of Irish in both cases.

Having said that, I respect people who care about the Irish language and who work tirelessly to master it. At the end of the day, we Irish speakers cannot do much to defend the language. The only thing which all of us can do is to learn the language properly and acquire fluency and richness and a wide knowledge. If there are ten thousand people speaking Irish throughout the country every day, the enemies of the language can say that it is not worth saving. It wouldn’t be as easy for them to claim that if there were three hundred thousand, or five hundred thousand, or seven hundred thousand people speaking it every day. If everyone who is favourable to the language learned the language and used it, it would stop the rot immediately.

There are strong similarities between falling in love with a language and falling in love with a person. If you love a language, you will try to learn everything about that language. Not only that, but you will accept that language for what it is. You won’t try to change it or recreate it in your own image, as the various purists mentioned above do – and as those dilettantes do, who are too lazy to put in the effort needed to acquire the basics of the language.

Íonaí Meanie

Is léir go bhfuil an Ghaeilge i dtrioblóid. Tá daoine ann a chreideann gur teanga mharbh í, cé gur cinnte nach bhfuil an méid sin fíor. Tá mise ábalta an t-alt seo a scríobh agus tá mé cinnte go léifidh agus go dtuigfidh neart daoine amach anseo é. Dá mbeadh an Ghaeilge marbh, ní bheadh sin amhlaidh, ar ndóigh. Ach tá an Ghaeilge in ísle brí, gan amhras, go háirithe i measc aos óg na nGaeltachtaí.

Is cinnte gurb iad na Sasanaigh ba chúis leis an mheath sin. Iadsan a rinne teanga an bhochtáin agus an íochtaráin den Ghaeilge. Iadsan a bhrúigh a gcultúr agus a dteanga féin ar ár sinsir agus a d’fhág an Ghaeilge in áit na leithphingine.

Agus sin ráite, is minic a chuirtear an locht ar na Gaeil féin agus go háirithe ar na híonaithe nó na purists mar a deirtear i mBéarla. Is iad na híonaithe atá ag marú na teanga, dar lena lán. Cuireann siad as do dhaoine atá ag foghlaim na teanga. Cuireann siad beaguchtach agus lagmhisneach ar dhaoine. Iadsan a chruthaigh scoilt ollmhór idir Gaeilge dhúchasach na nGaeltachtaí agus Gaeilge mhínádúrtha na leabhar! Mo náire iad na híonaithe! Murab iadsan, bheadh an teanga slán sábháilte, mar dhea!

Ach seo an cheist atá do mo chrá. Cé hiad na híonaithe seo? Shílfeá gur ceist shimplí sin, chomh simplí sin nárbh fhiú í a chur, agus go mbeadh freagra simplí air fosta. Ach ní mar a shíltear a bítear.

Fiú más teanga oifigiúil na leabhar atá i gceist, tá difríochtaí suntasacha idir na Bráithre Críostaí, na leaganacha difriúla den Chaighdeán Oifigiúil agus na nósanna a úsáideann scríbhneoirí oilte na teanga ina gcuid scríbhinní, idir chainteoirí dúchais agus daoine sna cathracha.

Nó tá cainteoirí dúchais ann (luaigh mé a leithéid ar na mallaibh anseo) nach nglacfaidh le focal nua-chumtha ar bith. Má deir duine go bhfuil orthu bogearraí a cheannach le cur ar an tiomántán chrua den ríomhaire, beidh na cainteoirí dúchais seo ag smaoineamh go bhfuil rud éigin bréagach neamh-Ghaelach faoin chaint sin. Caithfidh an duine sin software a cheannach, dar leo, le cur ar an hard drive den computer. Is cuma leis na daoine sin nach féidir leis an teanga maireachtáil mura bhfuil sí ábalta dul i ngleic le gnáthrudaí nua-aoiseacha. Agus ní raibh cloíteacht mar sin ann sna seanlaethanta, nuair a bhí cainteoirí na teanga ar nós Amhlaoibh Uí Shúilleabháin sásta focail a chumadh in áit glacadh le focail ón Bhéarla. Cé hiad na híonaithe sa chás seo? Na cainteoirí dúchais atá ag iarraidh a leagan féin den teanga (atá lán focal Béarla) a chosaint, nó iad siúd atá ag iarraidh an teanga a choinneáil saor ón Bhéarla?

Agus cad é faoi na daoine sin a chreideann go bhfuil canúint amháin níos fearr ná Caighdeán ar bith, nó na canúintí eile? Tá a leithéid ann, daoine a chreideann nach Gaeilge rud ar bith nach Gaoluinn Chúige Mumhan í, nó nach bhfuil canúint ar bith inchurtha le Gaeilge Chúige Uladh. Cé hiad na híonaithe sa chás sin? Iadsan, nó lucht an Chaighdeáin?

Agus tá daoine ann a chreideann gur thosaigh an meath seo i bhfad sula raibh trácht ar an Chaighdeán Oifigiúil. Mar shampla, mhaígh John Grenham, duine nach bhfuil mórán measa agam ar a thuairimí agus nach bhfuil an cúpla focal féin aige (mar scríobh sé an cúpla focal sin “an cúpla focal” mar an cúpla focail san alt chéanna), gur shíl muintir Chonradh na Gaeilge go raibh caint an phobail truaillithe agus go ndearna siad íonú ar an teanga dá réir (nil an méid seo fíor, ar ndóigh). Agus mar gheall air sin, bhí saineolaithe uirbeacha Gaeilge a tógadh le Béarla ag teagasc grúpaí daltaí nach raibh ach Béarla acu fosta. An toradh – gur shíothlaigh cora cainte, gramadach agus comhréir an Bhéarla isteach sa teanga “athbheoite”.

Ansin, tugann sé sampla dúinn den Ghaeilge neamhghlan seo: Is é an sampla is fearr liom féin ná an comhartha Gaeilge sa pháirc áitiúil a áitíonn ar úinéirí madaí a mbíonn a gcuid peataí ag salú an fhéir le “Glan suas é”, “Clean it up”, briathar frásach atá go hiomlán nádúrtha sa Bhéarla atá aistrithe focal ar fhocal. Samhlaigh comhartha i bhFraincis a bhfuil “Nettoyez-le en haut” air. Ach níl an chomparáid seo ceart ar chor ar bith, mar tá stair iomlán difriúil ag an Fhraincis. Tá neart briathra frásacha seanbhunaithe sa Ghaeilge a bhfuil suas iontu, rud nach bhfuil sa Fhraincis le en haut, ar ndóigh. (Mura gcreideann sibh mé, seo líne ag trácht ar Liútar ón bhliain 1615 – chuir sé suas do cheann na hEagluise tré formad agus ainmhian agus bhí ag glanadh suas coitianta go leor ag Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin sna 1820í agus é ag trácht ar an aimsir.) Mar sin de, is léir nach bhfuil i dtuairimí Grenham faoin Ghaeilge agus lucht a truaillithe ach cleití capaill agus amaidí.

Cad é an seasamh atá agamsa maidir leis na nithe seo, mar sin? Bhal, ní íonaí mise. Creidim sa Chaighdeán. Rud úsáideach atá ann. Leis an Chaighdeán, is féidir le lucht na Gaeilge leabhair, ábhar ar líne agus rudaí nach iad a roinnt go saor lena chéile ar fud an oileáin agus thar lear. Ach ní gá éirí as na canúintí ar fad, ná ar chor ar bith. Níl sa Chaighdeán ach uirlis. Agus mar atá i gcás an Bhéarla, ní Gaeilge atá i gceist ach Gaeilgí. Tá cineálacha difriúla Gaeilge ann atá fóirsteanach do chásanna éagsúla. Ní hionann comhrá sa phub i gCiarraí agus alt ar an eolaíocht i bhfoilseachán stáit agus ní cóir an cineál céanna Gaeilge a úsáid sa dá chás.

Agus sin ráite, tá meas agam ar dhaoine a bhfuil dúil acu sa Ghaeilge agus a bhíonn ag obair go dúthráchtach le máistreacht a fháil uirthi. I ndeireadh na dála, ní féidir linne, lucht na Gaeilge, rud mór a dhéanamh leis an teanga a chosaint. An t-aon rud is féidir le gach duine againn a dhéanamh ná an teanga a fhoghlaim mar is ceart agus líofacht agus saibhreas agus eolas leathan a fháil. Má bhíonn deich míle duine ag labhairt Gaeilge gach lá ar fud na tíre, is féidir le naimhde na teanga a rá nach fiú í a shábháil. Ní bheadh sé chomh furasta sin a mhaíomh dá mbeadh trí chéad míle, nó cúig chéad míle, nó seacht gcéad míle duine á labhairt gach lá. Dá ndéanfadh gach duine atá i bhfách leis an Ghaeilge an teanga a fhoghlaim agus a úsáid, chuirfeadh sin stop leis an mheath láithreach.

Tá cosúlachtaí láidre idir titim i ngrá le teanga agus titim i ngrá le duine. Má tá grá agat do theanga, beidh tú ag iarraidh gach rud a fhoghlaim faoin teanga sin. Ní hamháin sin, ach glacfaidh tú leis an teanga sin mar atá. Ní bheidh tú ag iarraidh í a athrú nó a athchruthú i d’íomhá féin, mar a dhéanann na híonaithe éagsúla atá luaite thuas – agus mar a dhéanann na dileataint (dilettantes) atá rófhalsa an dua a chaitheamh le máistreacht a fháil ar bhunchlocha na teanga.

 

Motherfoclóir

I hope all my readers had a fun and relaxing Christmas. I have been taking it easy, so I am only just now getting round to my first post of the New Year.

Some time ago, I recommended a Twitter feed called theirishfor. It is about strange and interesting words in the Irish language. I like it for a variety of reasons. Firstly, most native Irish speakers are resistant to new words, or book words. They would rather use the word fridge than cuisneoir or invent a phrase like prios fuar or cófra fuar. It’s great to see people trying to find suitable words to fill the gaps in their knowledge. And it’s even better to see them having fun with the language rather than being i ndáiríre faoin Ghaeilge.

I was interested to see that the man behind this Twitter feed (Darach Ó Séaghdha) has brought out a book called Motherfoclóir. I was given a copy at Christmas and decided to read it and review it here. I would recommend it, for the same reasons I would recommend the Twitter feed. It’s amusing, it’s informative and it’s well worth reading. Just to give one example, the word stadhan (I would pronounce it sty-un) apparently means a gathering of seagulls over a shoal of fish. It’s a great word. You could use it of journalists over a scandal (= feeding frenzy), or ignorant Irish-American phoneys gathering around Cassidy’s book. And now, thanks to Twitter and this book, most young Irish-speakers would understand what I’m saying if I used it. That’s got to be a good thing. It’s an antidote to defeatism and the creeping loss of the richness of the language among its speakers.

However, there’s a but and it’s quite a big but. I wish I could be 100% positive about this book, but it is a mixture of a very good idea and some very enjoyable writing, marred by some really sloppy research and editing. For example, on the front cover, there is a funny observation that the Irish word for extremist sounds a lot like the Irish phrase for ‘the Prime Minister’. The problem is that the Irish word for extremist should be spelled antoisceach, not antioisceach, because it comes from toisc, meaning circumstance. And on the same cover is the observation that a simple fada (acute accent) can make a lot of difference: fáil means hiccup, while fail means ‘of destiny’ or ‘of Ireland’, as in Fianna Fáil. Except, these two words should be reversed – it’s fail that means hiccup, not fáil (talk about an epic fail!) And that’s only THE COVER!!!

There is actually a reference to Daniel Cassidy and a brief discussion of etymology. It epitomises why this book is both good to a point and immensely frustrating. The central comment on Cassidy is exactly right: This text has since been discredited; so much so, in fact, that any claim to an Irish origin for an English word now seems to be suspect. He also points out that well-known apocryphal stories like the word kangaroo meaning I don’t know or I don’t understand in an Aboriginal language also draw exasperated sighs from linguists.

However, he then goes on to do exactly what Daniel Cassidy and every other crap etymologist from the beginning of time has done – spouting rubbish without checking whether any of it is true first. He says that the word gansey, meaning a jumper (or undershirt in the Caribbean) comes from Irish or Scottish Gaelic geansaí. But the word gansey almost certainly comes from Guernsey or Guernsey frock (just as jersey comes from the isle of Jersey) and geansaí is a relatively recent borrowing of gansey into Irish. I looked in the Corpas na Gaeilge, a huge seven million word database of Irish and there I found just one reference to the word geansaí, in a poem probably written in the early nineteenth or late eighteenth century. However, I was surprised to find that it isn’t a reference to the geansaí or gansey you wear, but to Guernsey itself: A bhfuil as seo go Geansaí /De fhíon, de bheoir is de bhrandaí (Of all that there is from here to Guernsey/Of wine, of beer and of brandy).

Then he makes a number of correct assumptions about how genuine etymologies can be established: if it’s a genuine phrase in the source language, if it is mentioned as being from the source language in documents from the time and if there is no other more probable source for the word, then it’s likely to be a genuine connection. He claims (or he seems to be claiming – it’s not very clear) that mucker for a friend comes from the Irish mo chara because it meets the criteria he’s mentioned. In reality, it only meets the criterion that mo chara exists in Irish. There is a much better explanation (that muckers are people you muck around with), I’m sure there are no contemporary documents claiming that mucker comes from Irish, mucker isn’t exclusively or mainly an Irish expression and mo chara, (which roughly rhymes with Sahara) doesn’t sound anything like mucker and therefore couldn’t have become mucker in English.

And finally, at the end of this section he talks about the word bróg and the expression brogue for an Irish accent. He says that Merriam-Webster suggests that it comes from barróg, meaning a tight hold but then says that no-one ‘has come up with a chain of evidence such as Barrett suggested.’ This is nonsense. The chain of evidence is pretty clear. If you look up barróg on foclóir.ie, you find the following definitions:

barróg1, f. (gs. -óige, npl. ~a, gpl. ~).1. Hug. ~ a bhreith ar dhuine, to hug s.o. 2. Wrestling grip. D’fháisc siad ~ ar a chéile, they got to grips with each other. 3. Brogue, impediment of speech.

In other words, barróg (meaning something like ‘a little tip’) is a perfectly fine Irish expression for someone who has a bachlóg ar a theanga (a bud on his tongue, lisp) or whose speech is impeded by the crampa Gaelach (the Gaelic cramp). It has no connection with the Gaelic word for shoe, bróg. It would take a very fastidious linguist to deny the strength of the evidence linking barróg to brogue. All Ó Séaghdha had to do was look it up in an Irish dictionary to realise that! This is strange, because before he begins his piece on etymology, he says that he can predict that if he claims a word is of Irish origin, he will be told he’s got it wrong. Knowing that to be the case, you’d think he might have looked in an Irish dictionary instead of just Merriam-Webster … (Actually, if he had said that shebeen, or galore, or phoney or whiskey are Irish, nobody would argue, because they are. It’s only when the claims are false that people like me will shoot them down.)

Having said that, Ó Séaghdha wouldn’t be the only person to think that etymology requires no skill or research and can be dashed off on the back of an envelope without effort or donkey-work. (Una Mullally produced a dreadful pile of bullshit for the Irish Times last year.) I hope that the book does well but I sincerely hope that in future editions of Motherfoclóir, the typos and errors and the crap etymology will disappear. There is so much about the Twitter feed and the book that is admirable and I would love to be completely positive about it.