Archives: Irish language

Nuala-Ni-Dhomhnaill

The Irish language: hope through the words of a poet

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.

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Irish-sign_700

Irish as an endangered language

by Bob Burke

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) estimates that of the 6,000+ languages spoken today half will disappear by the end of the century if nothing is done. The Irish Language is “definitely endangered,” according to UNESCO. Will this language—spoken for several thousand years, first written around the time of St. Patrick (450 AD), and one of the oldest continuously-spoken vernaculars in Western Europe—be one of the languages to disappear? Or will it survive?

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