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an béal bocht

Grrrr. In today's Grauniad, Manchán Magan (whom I have interviewed, and who is extremely nice) writes about his attempt to travel around our native land speaking only as Gaeilge, to the general confusion and, surprisingly, wrath of his (and my) compatriots. No, this isn't what has provoked my growling. What annoyed me was the subhead, in which, despite the fact that Magan refers to the language as 'Irish' throughout the piece, our supposed native language is refered to thus:
Gaelic is the first official language of Ireland, with 25% of the population claiming to speak it. But can that true? To put it to the test, Manchán Magan set off round the country with one self-imposed handicap - to never utter a word of English

Except of course Gaelic isn't the first official language - Irish is. God! I know that lots of people in Britain think that the language is called Gaelic, but they're not going to learn anything by being given inaccurate information.

Interesting piece, though. I was surprised by how hostile people apparently were to Magan's Irish-speaking - it seems very odd that people would get so aggressive when asked for a drink as Gaeilge, and I don't really think it's becasue they're so ashamed of their lack of Irish. But I have no idea whether these reactions are typical or not, as, like most of us, I've never spoken Irish to strangers outside of the Gaeltacht.


Jan. 5th, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr
My main problem was putting in German words

That reminds me of the week before my Irish and French orals - I remember literally not knowing what language was going to come out when I opened my mouth.

The last time I rediscovered my Gaeilge was in the markets in Marrakech - it became a very handy means of discussing whether we were getting an item at a good price, or whether we liked it, without any of the stallholders (many of whom had a few words of English) understanding us. I was pretty impressed by how much of it I remembered, in particular my ability to discuss jewellery and bags.

(Of course, then there was the shopkeeper who immediately beamed and shouted "Céad míle fáilte!".....)

We also had a great night out in Prague on our band tour, where we started talking Irish in order to avoid being identified with/talked to by a noisy English stag party - I remember the fluency increasing rapidly after a few pints.


fat pony like thunder
The Monkey Princess

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