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Finally -- even stocious loopers will be able to natter as Gaeilge

IT'S a €6m project to bring our native tongue into the internet age.

By the end of this year, people on the internet (an idirlin) will be able to tweet (tuit) their followers (lucht leanuna) 'i nGaeilge' and let them know if their latest YouTube video has gone viral (mearscaipthe).

Foras na Gaeilge plans to launch the first new English-Irish dictionary (EID) in more than 50 years which will add thousands of 'new' Irish words into the lexicon.

Not since 1959 has the State produced an up-to-date dictionary, and the main reason for the project is because huge numbers of modern words and terms are completely missing from the current text.

"The current EID dates from an era when the language documented in dictionaries tended to be of a more formal register rather than reflecting language as spoken by the people," Foras na Gaeilge spokesman Cathal Convery said yesterday.

"This means that many less formal words and terms which were in currency at the time of its publication were not included, including jammers, looper, natter, nosh and oxter.

"The original EID was based on standard British English, and anything relating to Irish life would be absent from it. Even words like hot press, which the British would call the airing cupboard, were missing, along with other words like bockety, eejit, mitch, square ball and stocious."

But the new dictionary, which will be published at the end of this year and available free on the internet, will change all that. Based on a database, or corpus, of 1.7 billion words of contemporary English, it will bring the Irish language completely up to date.

Examples of words to be included relate to new sports which didn't exist in 1959 like aqua aerobics (aerobaic uisce); technical terms such as cloud computing, cyberbullying, tweet, follower and predictive text along with terms which only entered usage with the advent of the recession like toxic loans and rogue (as in solicitor).

The computer system needed to publish the dictionary online is provided by a specialist French company, IDM.

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It has also provided software for English, English-Spanish and English-Turkish dictionaries. No Irish company submitted a bid to provide the system.

The dictionary will have taken almost seven years to produce, at a cost of just over €6m.

"The current EID sells over 2,000 copies per year, despite its age, and we're aiming to recover some of the development costs through sales of the hardcopy version," Mr Convery added.

"The database that has been compiled for the New EID will also form the foundation of other dictionaries in the future, including a pocket English-Irish dictionary and technical dictionaries.

"The initial version to be published at the end of 2012 will have 51,000 words and terms. We're hoping to get permission to go on for another year, which would result in about 100,000 words and terms. We think it's money well spent."


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