Monday 24 July 2017

Kevin Myers: Let's debunk the myth of Irish as a living language, it now represents failure and a national disorder

Kevin Myers

Some phenomena exist solely as cultural tautologies, contradictions in terms whose intrinsic flaws are largely unobserved by their participants.

The Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that begins with champagne cocktails: the Noise Abate-ment Society AGM that opens with a Sex Pistols concert; the Islamic Suicide Bombers' Christmas Bar-Mitzvah that begins with prayers to the Virgin Mary for a long and peaceful life. And not least of all, the recent TV debate in Irish, in which Labour and Fianna Fail ominously warned that people might not be able to understand Irish if Fine Gael's voluntary language proposals became policy, but which had to be pre-recorded and subtitled in order for the audience to understand it. Welcome back to the Irish joke.

Moreover, so poorly is Irish spoken generally that this was the first ever such debate in the history of the State. Yet the Fianna Fail and Labour leaders clearly subscribe to the public fiction that the Irish language is alive and well. It's not. It's green around the gills and it reeks.

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