The future of the Celtic languages

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Jurgen Wullenwever
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-28, 21:55

So you have Gaeltacht teachers in school, but they do not teach you Gaeltacht Irish?
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby linguoboy » 2014-06-29, 3:14

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:So you have Gaeltacht teachers in school, but they do not teach you Gaeltacht Irish?

My brother had Latin American teachers at the Instituto Cervantes, but they didn't teach him Latin American Spanish.

When I taught English in Germany, I didn't teach my native dialect. I didn't even teach a North American one.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-06-29, 4:31

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:So you have Gaeltacht teachers in school, but they do not teach you Gaeltacht Irish?
So you have Swedish teachers who don't teach their rural dialects?

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 10:44

mōdgethanc wrote:
Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:So you have Gaeltacht teachers in school, but they do not teach you Gaeltacht Irish?
So you have Swedish teachers who don't teach their rural dialects?

But in this case the rural dialects are the only remnants left of the language, so if you learn the language, you should have to learn a rural dialect.

Is my reasoning wrong in some way? :?:
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-06-29, 11:52

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:
mōdgethanc wrote:
Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:So you have Gaeltacht teachers in school, but they do not teach you Gaeltacht Irish?
So you have Swedish teachers who don't teach their rural dialects?

But in this case the rural dialects are the only remnants left of the language, so if you learn the language, you should have to learn a rural dialect.

Is my reasoning wrong in some way? :?:


They teach the standard, so learning a rural dialect is not the only thing you can learn. Why would it make sense to make people from the cities learn a rural dialect? In the Gaeltacht areas themselves however, I think their own dialect should be taught.

Anyway, I don't think many people in school got fluent enough for it to matter what kind of Iris they were learning.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Levike » 2014-06-29, 13:46

Is there a big difference between dialects?

Is it like American & British English
where you can't really see the differences in writing, grammar
only when it comes to pronunciation.

Is it like Spanish where you also have some grammar differences.
Or maybe like Portuguese?
Nem egy nap alatt épült Buda vára.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 13:52

But why have teachers specifically from the Gaeltacht if Gaeltacht speech is not taught? However, most foreign language teachers in the world teach their own L2 language to their own L1 pupils, I think.

Ciarán12 wrote:Anyway, I don't think many people in school got fluent enough for it to matter what kind of Iris they were learning.

Yes, there seems to be an abundance of complaints on Irish teaching. :(
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-06-29, 13:55

Levike wrote:Is there a big difference between dialects?

Is it like American & British English
where you can't really see the differences in writing, grammar
only when it comes to pronunciation.

Is it like Spanish where you also have some grammar differences.
Or maybe like Portuguese?


There are reasonably big differences between the dialects. They are still mutually intelligible, but you can tell from the way someone writes (and, obviously, form the way someone speaks) which dialect they are using. There are grammatical and idiomatic differences as well as some different vocabulary and different phonology. I would say it is considerably bigger than the differences between Standard American English and Standard British English, more akin to the differences between some of the local English dialects around the world.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-06-29, 14:02

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:But why have teachers specifically from the Gaeltacht if Gaeltacht speech is not taught? However, most foreign language teachers in the world teach their own L2 language to their own L1 pupils, I think.


The textbooks teach the standard form, but the teachers would still impose their native phonology on it (and the ideal that the government is going for is to have people speak the standard with a native phonology, any native phonology). Plus, particularly for the oral exam, Gaeltacht Irish would be considered correct too (maybe even better), and the teachers are likely to (consiously or unconsiously) coach the students to speak their own native varieties.

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:
Ciarán12 wrote:Anyway, I don't think many people in school got fluent enough for it to matter what kind of Iris they were learning.

Yes, there seems to be an abundance of complaints on Irish teaching. :(


When I left school, I started learning Irish with Teach Yourself Irish and other textbooks aimed at complete beginners. It turned out I knew a lot more than I thought, but still.
Beidh Gaeilge líofa chruinn bhlasta agam nó go bhfaighe mé bás san iarracht!

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby linguoboy » 2014-06-29, 14:12

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:But in this case the rural dialects are the only remnants left of the language, so if you learn the language, you should have to learn a rural dialect.

Is my reasoning wrong in some way? :?:

It isn't, but it doesn't really take into account the realities of the Irish situation. If you're in (or near) a Gaeltacht, all your teachers are drawn from the local community and they'll all teach the same variety (with minor differences). But if you live elsewhere--and a quarter of all residents of the Republic live in Dublin, which is about as far removed from any Gaeltacht as you can get (pace the 450 souls in Ráth Cairn)--then it's catch as catch can. IIRC, every major dialect area was represented among the teachers Ciarán had during his time at school. Imagine if each had taught not just using their native accent but in their native variety as well. It would be like learning Scouse one year, Strine the next, and Yat the year after that.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 15:37

linguoboy wrote: IIRC, every major dialect area was represented among the teachers Ciarán had during his time at school. Imagine if each had taught not just using their native accent but in their native variety as well. It would be like learning Scouse one year, Strine the next, and Yat the year after that.

They should rather have one local dialect teached per region, so if the entire island has, say twelve basic varieties that can be defined from what is known today (some now dead but partially known), then each of these twelve should get its own historically based region where it is the variety taught. (Twelve was an arbitrary number, but it should be something similar.)
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Ciarán12 » 2014-06-29, 16:15

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:
linguoboy wrote: IIRC, every major dialect area was represented among the teachers Ciarán had during his time at school. Imagine if each had taught not just using their native accent but in their native variety as well. It would be like learning Scouse one year, Strine the next, and Yat the year after that.

They should rather have one local dialect teached per region, so if the entire island has, say twelve basic varieties that can be defined from what is known today (some now dead but partially known), then each of these twelve should get its own historically based region where it is the variety taught. (Twelve was an arbitrary number, but it should be something similar.)


I'm all for more research into the extinct varieties and attempting to revive them, but for Dublin, for example, I'm not sure if we know enough to reconstruct it. And I'd rather speak an "koine" that is not associated with any particular region (and then embellish it with what we do know about the native dialect of the area I'm from) than speak the Irish of a Gaeltacht I have no association with. I expect Gaeltacht speakers should feel the same about their varieties - they'd rather have their Irish taught in their own areas than the standard or some other dialect.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby linguoboy » 2014-06-29, 16:47

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:
linguoboy wrote: IIRC, every major dialect area was represented among the teachers Ciarán had during his time at school. Imagine if each had taught not just using their native accent but in their native variety as well. It would be like learning Scouse one year, Strine the next, and Yat the year after that.

They should rather have one local dialect teachedtaught per region, so if the entire island has, say twelve basic varieties that can be defined from what is known today (some now dead but partially known), then each of these twelve should get its own historically based region where it is the variety taught. (Twelve was an arbitrary number, but it should be something similar.)

That's a tall order. As I said, most of Ireland's population lives in Leinster, whose historic varieties are the least well-known, having been the first to go extinct. So what you're advocating is that the majority of teachers of Irish learn an artificial revived variety based on very incomplete information in order to teach it to learners. That doesn't sound to me like a winning strategy.

For better or worse, Ireland has to work with what they have, and that's a smattering of native varieties classed into three major dialect groupings (Ulster, Connacht, and Munster). The Standard is based most heavily on Connacht (a conscious decision, since it has the largest remaining number of native speakers), partly on Munster (which was the basis for the older literary standard), and hardly at all on Ulster (the most divergent). And there's a range of allowable variation within in order not to exclude too many prominent dialect features.

I'm a staunch advocate of learning Gaeltacht Irish, but then I have the luxury of being an outsider. Most Irish-learners are in Ciarán's position: strongly attached to a locale whose native variety has not survived in learnable form.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 17:05

linguoboy wrote:That's a tall order. As I said, most of Ireland's population lives in Leinster, whose historic varieties are the least well-known, having been the first to go extinct. So what you're advocating is that the majority of teachers of Irish learn an artificial revived variety based on very incomplete information in order to teach it to learners. That doesn't sound to me like a winning strategy.

But the majority of teachers today have to learn the artificial standard, and teach that all over the country. In my suggestion this would not be the case everywhere, as it is today, if I understand things correctly (only semi-informed and has forgotten much). This new Leinster Irish might be less artificial than the one in use today.
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby linguoboy » 2014-06-29, 17:11

Jurgen Wullenwever wrote:But the majority of teachers today have to learn the artificial standard, and teach that all over the country. In my suggestion this would not be the case everywhere, as it is today, if I understand things correctly (only semi-informed and has forgotten much). This new Leinster Irish might be less artificial than the one in use today.

I don't see how it could be "less artificial" when the current standard is based on actually existing spoken varieties which can be learned completely whereas the Leinster standard would have to be based on extinct varieties for which only fragmentary documentation exists.

Another issue is that this would severely limit the mobility of teachers if they could only find work within a single province--or else be compelled to learn a distinct standard for every province.
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby kevin » 2014-06-29, 17:14

In other countries, it is taken for granted that a standard is taught that is either the prestigious local dialect of one specific city/region or completely artificial and not a local dialect anywhere. Not wanting to learn a different variety seems like a luxury problem (and that's in both directions). There are certainly more serious problems for Irish, like people not speaking it in any variety.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 17:35

linguoboy wrote:I don't see how it could be "less artificial" when the current standard is based on actually existing spoken varieties which can be learned completely

I thought it was the mix of forms that was artificial, and then the bias towards simplified forms.

Let's put it this way, regarding artificiality, if the current standard is modified with one Leinster particular, then it would become less artificial in Leinster (but probably more artificial elsewhere).

kevin wrote:In other countries, it is taken for granted that a standard is taught that is either the prestigious local dialect of one specific city/region or completely artificial and not a local dialect anywhere.

The problem with the standard in this case is the relation to the remaining traditional L1 speakers. In other countries this would only be the difference between spoken and written language, but here the L2 majority has to speak as it is written, since they have no other choice (or have they?), and this puts the L1s with their deviant speech at a disadvantage as country hicks or extremists, both when they speak and when they write.

With my suggestion, everyone would be at an equal disadvantage when to write, so you would have the usual situation "snakk dialekt, skriv nynorsk" as the Norwegians say.
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby kevin » 2014-06-29, 19:05

Not sure about Sweden, but in Germany people started giving up their dialects and speaking as written long ago, especially in the North. This puts dialect speakers in a similar position as you describe. Yes, this can be a real problem for dialects, but as I understand it, it's by no means specific to Ireland.

I may be missing important points, but the main difference in the situation that I can see now is that the artificial written standard has a shorter tradition in Ireland and perhaps the change is happening faster (though I have no idea if the latter is really true today or if there is just a perceived danger of it happening in the future).

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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Levike » 2014-06-29, 19:20

Does Irish have some kind of prestige?

Or is it just like "another school subject" for kids?

How did you feel about it at school?
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Re: The future of the Celtic languages

Postby Jurgen Wullenwever » 2014-06-29, 20:07

kevin wrote:Not sure about Sweden, but in Germany people started giving up their dialects and speaking as written long ago, especially in the North. This puts dialect speakers in a similar position as you describe. Yes, this can be a real problem for dialects, but as I understand it, it's by no means specific to Ireland.

In Germany and Sweden, people still speak the language, even if they no longer speak the dialect. In Ireland they lost both dialect and language.
Chekhov wrote:I don't know about naive worldviews, but Jurgen Wullenwhatever pisses me off to no end because of his extreme pessimism and cynicism. You'd think the world was going to end imminently when talking to that guy.

Jag är rebell: jag sockrar teet, saltar maten, cyklar utan hjälm, och tänder glödlampor.


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