Thursday, November 02, 2006


Episodes in the strange attitude of the Irish Republic to its official first language

On December 14th 1921 the underground revolutionary Parliament of the Irish Republic (Dáil Éireann, phonetically Dawl Air-in) met to debate the Anglo-Irish Treaty that was, with its ratification, to become the founding document of the independent Irish state. It was also the basis of the division that led, by the middle of 1922, to a relatively brief and small-scale, but, unsurprisingly, bitter and consequential, civil war.

Opening the debate, then President of the Dail government and an iconic figure in Irish politics from 1916 until his retirement as head of state in 1973, Eamon de Valera started off in Irish:

Tá fhios againn go léir cad é an fáth go bhfuilimíd anso iniu agus an cheist mhór atá againn le socrú. Níl mo chuid Gaedhilge chó maith agus ba mhaith liom í bheith. Is fearr is féidir liom mo smaointe do nochtadh as Beurla, agus dá bhrí sin is dóich liom gurbh fhearra dhom labhairt as Beurla ar fad.

But then switched to English:

Some of the members do not know Irish, I think, and consequently what I shall say will be in English.

My Irish is poor enough, but I can translate the first bit roughly:

We all know why we're here today and the great question that is before us. My Irish is not as good as I would like it to be. I would prefer it if I could put across my thoughts in English and I hope for the same reason that everyone will speak in English throughout the debate. [italics added]

So in Irish it's "I'll speak English because I can't Irish well enough", in English it's "I'll speak English because these fools won't understand me in Irish". You chancer Dev!

Another story, heard on the radio this evening: Dev is conducting a cabinet meeting some time in the thirties or forties - in Irish. In Irish, that is, until near the end when de Valera breaks into English and says: "Given its importance, we shall discuss the next item in English."

It's doubtful whether Dev's reputation will ever recover from Alan Rickman's brilliant rendition in the film Michael Collins. The first incident doesn't exactly disabuse one of the notion that there was indeed something rather slippery, a touch of the cute hoor about "The Long Fellow" - the joke about whom apparently went that, unlike many other independence leaders, there had never been a street named after him because "they couldn't find a street long enough, narrow enough and crooked enough to fit de Valera".

Thiѕ is the perfect sіte for еveгуοnе whο wishеs to understand
thіs topiс. You unԁеrѕtand so muсh its almοst hard to arguе with уou (not that Ι actually
would want to…HaHa). Yοu cеrtаinly put a new spin оn a subject which has been writtеn abοut for уears.

Gгeat ѕtuff, just exсellent!

Hегe is my wеbsite; altec bucket trucks for sale
My site: bucket trucks
When you are like many who have issues trying to keep your eyeliner where it should certainly be, try out using your vision shadow on the top of the eyeliner using a wet pure cotton tennis ball. It may help to set the liner and keep it in its position beyond it would normally. [url=]Obse8ighve[/url]

Usually do not assist wine through the dish. You will help save a lot of cash on your own wedding should you only use champagne to the toasts. Your guests can enjoy wines or another cocktails during the dinner, and it is possible to indicate how specific the toasts will be to you by breaking up out of the wine at that time. [url=]t22wuul[/url]

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?