I read an article this weekend in the Guardian about the global dominance of the English language. You can read this article at the end of this blog.
As a fluent Irish speaker, and someone who really wants the Irish language to survive, the article re-enforced my absolute instinct about not fighting this dominance.
While English may be the day-to-day language for many on TV, in music, and online – as a bilingual Irish woman , I would say don’t fight the dominance, look at it, listen to it , embrace it as a unifying voice but then look at it and critically assess if the English language really has dominated??
To answer that, I guess that depends on how you define what domination by a language actually is. For me I need language to be able to express how I am feeling, thinking, or reacting in any given moment. I speak Irish and English fluently, hold a degree in French and speak German passably.
Does the English language give me that? Nope
Does the Irish language give me that? Nope
Does the French language give me that? Nope
Does the German language give me that? Nope
Do a combination of all of the above languages give me that?? Yes, Oui, ‘Sea, ja…of course they bloody do , languages compliment each other .
We should be working to protect our older languages, not replace them, we should embrace them and enable people to speak as many languages as they possibly can.
When I was young, I was lucky to be afforded a bilingual education – I spoke English at home and Irish at school. That said bainne (milk) will always be what it is, i.e. bainne Shut the Door will always be Dún an doras..
As a family we managed to incorporate 2 languages into our lives – one for school and one for home. It is a very do-able thing.
Some words are un-translatable to other languages. A prime example of that would be the Irish verb ‘ag machnamh’ – this should directly translate to English as thinking but it doesn’t because it means so much more than that..it could translate as thinking but it could also translate as meditating, contemplating, analysing, strategising, taking a break, chilling, and much much more…
Below you will find the article that inspired this blog. Language is as beautiful as music, as art, as poetry, as literature..it doesn’t need to be a fight about which language dominates, it just needs to be about making sure all these beautiful languages survive xo