Irish language strategy / Straitéis don Ghaeilge

According to an article I found today, the Irish government has a strategy, launched yesterday, to increase the number of regular speakers of Irish in Ireland by a factor of three over the next 20 years. Apparently there are currently about 83,000 who speak Irish on a daily basis, and the government would like this number to increase to 250,000 by 2030.

Their aims are:

  • – to increase the number of families throughout Ireland who use Irish as the daily language of communication
  • – to provide linguistic support for the Gaeltacht as an Irish-speaking community
  • – to ensure that in public discourse and in public services the use of Irish or English will be, as far as practical, a choice for the citizen to make
  • – to ensure that Irish becomes more visible in society, both as a spoken language by citizens and also in areas such as signage and literature.

Details of the strategy can be found at:
http://www.pobail.ie/en/IrishLanguage/Strategy/Strategy.pdf (English)
http://www.pobail.ie/ie/AnGhaeilge/Straiteis/Strait%C3%A9is.pdf (Irish)

I haven’t read it all in detail, but it looks like there are plenty of good ideas in there. Whether they can all be implemented and how well is another matter. Reversing a language shift that has been going for centuries is a difficult process.

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This entry was posted in Irish, Language.

9 Responses to Irish language strategy / Straitéis don Ghaeilge

  1. Andrew says:

    83,000? I’m amazed there are that many. I could see maybe that many people who know the language, but that many who use it on a daily basis? Wow.

  2. michael farris says:

    A quick persul finds a lot of vague ideas and not many concrete things to motivate people to speak Irish.

    What about tax breaks for Irish speakers (or a tax added to dealing with the government in English)?

    What about writing and speaking (and drama and singing) contests for children and teens (with attractive monetary prizes)?

    What about prestigious (monetary) awards for modern prose?

    Irish spelling bees? (do they exist already?)

    What about tax breaks for broadcasters depending on the percentage of Irish programming they carry? (and for publishers for percentage of printing)

    What about requiring fluency in Irish for those applying for citizenship?

    People respond to motivation rather than vague policy proposals.

  3. lukas says:

    Nothing about improving the dreadful drudgery that Irish classes are to most Irish youngsters? That’s where you lose ‘em, folks.

  4. stormboy says:

    This demonstrates that official backing for a minority language is not in itself sufficient for the language to thrive.

  5. William Athol says:

    I do not mean any offense, but what is the point of this?

    In increasing the number of Irish speakers, the government of Ireland will necessarily decrease the future number of Irish who speak English. England and Ireland have been close — though not always amicable — throughout their histories; England and English-speaking Ireland share many common cultural traits; and English is arguably the most important language in the world. These are three strong reasons to desire that the majority of the population be proficient in English, and the attempts to increase the number of Gaelic speakers may work against that.

    This is just a question; I would appreciate feedback, and do not wish to cause offense. I realize this is a sensitive issue, and I look at it through the lens of a far removed American.

    Thank you,
    Will

  6. lukas says:

    Will, let me assure you that every single adult speaker of Irish in Ireland has a reasonable command of English, and most are perfectly proficient in it. Monolingualism just is not an option for them, and nothing the government can do will change that.

  7. michael farris says:

    William, language is not a zero sum game (though often assumed to be by Americans). Increasing the scope of spoken Irish does not necessarily mean a decrease in the number of English speakers (or reduction of fluency in English).

    The goal of the government is to increase the degree of Irish-English bilingualism. The Irish language, though not the first language of the majority now, is still an important cultural and historical symbol for Ireland.

    “English is arguably the most important language in the world”

    There’s no evidence that maintaining native levels of fluency in English is required for a country to prosper in modern Europe.

  8. William Athol says:

    Okay. Thank you all for the answers.

    I know that English is not necessary for a country to prosper; I was simply saying for travel and international business it is highly useful to know.

  9. renato says:

    The Irish government has been trying this for years, and now a new campaign begins, let us wait to see the result