by Ger Killeen
This is an excerpt of a talk given by Killeen at the annual Irish Language Day at Marylhurst University, May 18, 2013.
One of the most thumbed-through of the books I own in the Irish language is a dictionary: An Irish-English Dictionary compiled and edited by The Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen in 1904. I have other Irish-English dictionaries which are more useful to me than Dinneen’s, dictionaries that are printed in standard Roman type, unlike Dinneen’s which retains the half-uncial lettering and unreformed spelling in which Irish was written for centuries; dictionaries which have kept up with the times and can tell me the Irish words for “injection mould” and “file transfer protocol”; dictionaries laden with all the serviceable, civil service-concocted words necessary for communicating the intricacies of the bureaucratic machinery running the modern Irish state. These are all valuable dictionaries in their own right, and I depend on them almost daily. But I don’t love them the way I do Dinneen’s; I don’t take as much pleasure in them; and they are not nearly as heartbreaking.