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GAELIC AS A DYING LANGUAGE?

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  • GAELIC AS A DYING LANGUAGE?

    Hey all, I am looking for some opinions from people on the following subject. Im currently doing a project on gaelic in education and was wondering what peoples feelings were on the idea of gaelic as a dying language? Do you think its true and if so why? If not, how do you think it relates to culture etc.Do you think enough is done to keep the gaelic language alive?
    Any opinions will be hugely appreciated!
    thank you!!!!

  • #2
    I call it "Deja Death">

    We keep being told Gaidhlig is dead, or going to die. I'm sick of hearing it, and suggest we just get on with it. We can't do any worse than the Manx or Cornish, who currently have living languages, although you can argue if they're revived or not...


    (Two can play at George Orwell quotes)
    "In this country I don’t think it is enough realized—I myself had no idea of it until a few years ago—that Scotland has a case against England."

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Scottish_Republican
      I call it "Deja Death">

      We keep being told Gaidhlig is dead, or going to die. I'm sick of hearing it, and suggest we just get on with it. We can't do any worse than the Manx or Cornish, who currently have living languages, although you can argue if they're revived or not...

      seconds SR.

      it like trying to talking it to death, stabstab... die... die...

      No way.
      'S toil leam Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn agus a leughadh agus sgrìobhadh oir 'se an cànan feumail agus àlainn a th' innte.

      Comment


      • #4
        I read once that the last native speaker of Cornish died in 1801...

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        • #5
          not sure when, but it's said that it's still alive, even if only as second or third language.

          A good but scary thought. What shame.
          'S toil leam Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn agus a leughadh agus sgrìobhadh oir 'se an cànan feumail agus àlainn a th' innte.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ceann-Mhor
            I read once that the last native speaker of Cornish died in 1801...
            From http://www.bbmedia.com.au/cornish/pages/living.html:

            The exact time when Cornish ceased to be spoken as the traditional language of Cornwall may never be known, but its last fluent speakers may have lived until the early nineteenth century.

            In 1773, an English antiquarian by the name of Daines Barrington wrote a letter to the Society of Antiquaries in London about his tour of 1768 through Cornwall in search of a speaker of Cornish.

            On this tour, he travelled to Mousehole in the west of Cornwall and there he eventually came upon a certain Dolly Pentreath, aged about 82 at the time, who spoke, he said, 'in a language which sounded very like Welsh'. He noticed two neighbours who lived in the houses opposite, old women like Dolly Pentreath, laughing at what Dolly had said. They informed him that they could understand Cornish, but not speak it as Dolly could. Dolly was abusing him roundly for thinking that she could not speak Cornish.

            Daines Barrington wrote of Dolly as the last speaker of Cornish, but if he had searched a little harder he would have found in Mousehole a number of other speakers of Cornish. A certain William Bodener informed Daines Barrington in a letter in 1776 that he also could speak Cornish, describing himself in the Cornish dialect of the region as a poor fisherman, dean Boadjack an poscas, literally, 'a man poor of the fish'. He demonstrated his knowledge of Cornish by writing nine sentences of satisfactory Cornish. He also said that he knew four or five other people in Mousehole who knew how to speak Cornish. Daines Barrington sent this communication to the Society of Antiquaries and it was published in 1779.

            William Bodener was 65 in 1776 and lived until 1789. Some have called him the last speaker of Cornish, but Daines Barrington mentioned a couple of others who could speak Cornish. One of these, John Nancarrow 'of Market Jew' (marhas johan), was about 40 years of age in 1777. He could apparently converse in Cornish, having learned it from the country people as a youth. This speaker of Cornish may have lived until the early years of the nineteenth century.

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            • #7
              I'm no expert on the subject, but the whole matter of Cornish speakers is very controversial. Dolly Pentreath probably wasn't the last native speaker, but the last first language speaker.

              Also, you can argue the toss about neo-Cornish(es) and the children who have grown up as native speakers of those.


              (Two can play at George Orwell quotes)
              "In this country I don’t think it is enough realized—I myself had no idea of it until a few years ago—that Scotland has a case against England."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Scottish_Republican
                I'm no expert on the subject, but the whole matter of Cornish speakers is very controversial. Dolly Pentreath probably wasn't the last native speaker, but the last first language speaker.

                Also, you can argue the toss about neo-Cornish(es) and the children who have grown up as native speakers of those.
                Quite - just typing it into a search engine came up with a whole load of varying opinions on the subject!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Quite - just typing it into a search engine came up with a whole load of varying opinions on the subject!
                  Check out the article at Wikipedia on Ned Maddrell:

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Maddrell

                  It lists several interesting arguments against him as last native Manx speaker. Since I know several people who knew him (he died in the mid 70s), I've heard many of these before, but the whole idea of a language dying overnight is a bit of a myth. Most languages fade out, as Gaidhlig appears to be doing... they don't just suddenly disappear.

                  In the case of Cornish for example, it was known in the 20s and 30s that certain short Cornish phrases and sentences lingered on amongst fishing folk, who would have been English speakers. Yet that was most definitely a kind of living native Cornish, which was not revived but directly connected into the real thing.


                  (Two can play at George Orwell quotes)
                  "In this country I don’t think it is enough realized—I myself had no idea of it until a few years ago—that Scotland has a case against England."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pinki
                    Hey all, I am looking for some opinions from people on the following subject. Im currently doing a project on gaelic in education and was wondering what peoples feelings were on the idea of gaelic as a dying language? Do you think its true and if so why? If not, how do you think it relates to culture etc.Do you think enough is done to keep the gaelic language alive?
                    Any opinions will be hugely appreciated!
                    thank you!!!!
                    It is certainly dying and realistically it will die as a community language although the measures already taken and currently being taken ensure that it will at the very least be kept 'alive' the same way that Manx and Cornish have been.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't agree that Gaelic is a dying language. True there are no speakers of the language who do not speak English too. Is that what you mean as dying as a community language? Gaelic was savagely attacked from the 1850s to the 1950s (give or take a decade). The fact that it survived and has continued to adapt and evolve speaks of its strength as a living language. It helps that Gaelic med units in Primary schools have a higher teacher to pupil ratio than English med, so people who do not speak Gaelic much at home are putting their kids through Gaelic medium because they get a better education. Attitudes to bilingualism and Gaelic speaking generally are very positive. Professionally, Gaelic fluency can open doors. Compare Avoch dialect which will be gone with the current older generation. Speaking Avochie to children is frowned upon and even now speaking to one another in the presence of non-Avochie speaker is regarded as ignorant, even if that person is not in the conversation. The last few younger adults who use the dialect (age in their 30s) only do so on the boats and with the attacks on the fishing industry at the moment, the industry will die out in the next 5 years. So bang goes the village economy, culture, dialect in one fell swoop... oh, not to mention the livelihoods of a number of families and centuries of a traditional industry - one which could be healthy if the EU scientits actually knew their jobs. Gaelic, on the other hand, is making a slow but steady comeback, partly supported by culture and pride and assisted by shedloads of money.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Gaelic certainly isn't a dying language. Look at the number of Gaelic Medium Units in Scotland. There are two colleges specifically for Gaelic and a good number that have Gaelic courses on offer. As far as I know and am concerned Gaelic is on a rise.
                        S'ann Ile bhoidheach!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Id say the status of gaelic could be described as living death - deja death is also a suitable term from Scottish Republican - as people still speak it but no community exists anymore and i say this as someone who lives and was brought up in the last part of the country to speak use it as a community language. My generation is the last to use the language amongst ourselves as children and the end of its use in the playground was stunningly sudden event. I have a younger sister (2 years younger) and brother (4 years) and while i and all my peers still speak gàidhlig to each other socially my siblings and their friends do not.

                          Id like to think that there is some hope for a revival of both gàidhlig and lowland scots but ,ironically given the rather fervent nationalistic feeling one finds in most scots, people seem quite happy to be Scottish by location of birth and very little else. Scottish patriotism/nationalism mostly defines itself purely through the english and england in my experience, which is a great shame.

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                          • #14
                            Here is a recent article in the BBC:
                            http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2755411.stm

                            It fails to mention the number of scottish gaelic speakers overseas. There are still at least 500 speakers in Cape Breton alone. Considering that Highlanders and Islanders are considerably outnumbered in Scotland of today, it would make sense to take more of a world view of the potential survival of this language. Also, the impact that the resurgence of Irish Gaelic in Ireland will have on Scottish Gaelic around the world should be considered. It is worth mentioning that when all the Highlanders and Islanders emmigrated to Cape Breton and elsewhere they did not speak a common dialect of Scottish Gaelic. The concept of Scottish gaelic being something standardized and distinct from Irish gaelic is relatively recent. It is more likely that historically there was far more variation within Ireland and within Scotland and on The Isle of Man, than the differences between them today.

                            http://www.acgamerica.org/

                            Scottish Gaelic in Australia and New Zealand:
                            http://www-personal.arts.usyd.edu.au/stjskilt/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JKennedy
                              It fails to mention the number of scottish gaelic speakers overseas. There are still at least 500 speakers in Cape Breton alone.
                              The figures ive seen for Cape Breton are usually around the 1,000 mark but they are almost all very old with next to no generational inheritance of the language.
                              Considering that Highlanders and Islanders are considerably outnumbered in Scotland of today, it would make sense to take more of a world view of the potential survival of this language.
                              While i agree that the emigrant communities should be considered in the greater view of gaelic culture and language they are far too small to be of any great significance or to affect the overall picture.
                              Also, the impact that the resurgence of Irish Gaelic in Ireland will have on Scottish Gaelic around the world should be considered.
                              The languages are not mutually intelligable so the effect is negligable. There are promising Scottish-Irish projects such as the Columban Institute but these will not have any great effect on the language in general.
                              It is worth mentioning that when all the Highlanders and Islanders emmigrated to Cape Breton and elsewhere they did not speak a common dialect of Scottish Gaelic. The concept of Scottish gaelic being something standardized and distinct from Irish gaelic is relatively recent.
                              Scottish gaelic was quite distinct from Irish gaelic at this point and the two dialects became seperate languages by at least the 17th century and arguably centuries earlier - with the divergence among the language of the general populace being hidden by the maintanence of the Classical Gaelic language used by the bards and other elites of Gaelic society.
                              It is more likely that historically there was far more variation within Ireland and within Scotland and on The Isle of Man, than the differences between them today.
                              I dont see how you can come to this conclusion. Historically there was one language whereas now there are three distinct languages. They have diverged over time, not converged as you suggest .

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