The Irish Language
We all know the drill. Some 74 year old man who looks as though he’s carved from moss peat shouting bits of biscuit into your innocent chubby face. Teaching Irish through Irish to someone who doesn’t understand it. You look out the window, the kids who don’t have to learn Irish are lying in the wild meadows with kids of the opposite sex picking daisies and feeling a gentle breeze over their skin. CUPLA FUCKLA EILE A CHAIRDE ASS GAAAAGILE. …AUGH! He… wants me to recite a poem about how much I hate England and how their plantation policies contributed to our declining deer populations! Dear Jesus how did education, designed to prepare a fertile mind for the world, end up with me sitting in this seat-desk unit having the creativity spat out of me.
School’s purpose is to prepare an individual for life, to enable them to be a well rounded, adjusted and employable member of society. That’s why you wear grey uniforms for 14 years, sit in a desk all day, in a same sex environment and do little other than rote memorise. You know, to prepare you for the type of life they think you should have.
Now I’ll contend it’s a form of violence to force kids to learn Irish against their will, a violence not justified by necessities such as the ability to understand time or money (maths) or the development of the language of one’s own monologue so as to be reasonably intelligent (English). Irish is distinct amongst the compulsory subject in that it is definitely an art, whereas at least parts of English, maths or a foreign language are useful as opposed to artistic.
It’s not that useful subjects are better than artistic ones, the point is that forcing an art on somebody defeats its own purpose.
The problem with forcing Irish on students in school is that it creates people like me. For every seven A1’s, Irish loving “I study medicine because the points told me to” knob that patriotically flies the flag of Potato Famine, there’s a me produced. There’s a guy who ends up irrationally and paralysingly filled with anti-knob venom, unfairly blaming the fact that girls didn’t kiss him on being forced to learn the language of the bog.
The main reason kids are forced to learn Irish is fear.
A fear by those that love the language that if they don’t force it on everybody else it will die out. And this is the root of the violence. I know another group of people that force their ideas of culture on everybody, they’re called THE TALIBAN.
The language itself is apparently beautiful and can be enjoyed over a plate of turnips with any of the 3% of people that speak Irish because the government pays them my money to do so. But against this beauty we have hate filled folk, and a far larger group of people who waddle through life with a mixed view of it, but no ability or desire to speak it. As they sit there sieving plankton, they do so without knowledge of Irish. Roughly if there are 5% Irish lovers, there are 5% Irish haters and 90% Irish baleen filter feeders who can’t speak it either.
So let’s gets delve into this a little deeper, GET YOUR LEARNING PANTS ON – CAUSE THIS INVOLVES LESS IMPORTANT NON-COMPULSORY SUBJECTS, such as history or any of the sciences.
On a larger sort of a scale, humans have been around at least one hundred thousand years. Furthermore prehistoric humans, such as Neanderthals and H. Heidelbergensis had hyoid bones, which depress the tongue at the back of the mouth, suggesting speech and language go back far longer.
Of these at least 100,000 years, people have lived in Ireland for about 9,000 years. The Celts displaced the existing inhabitants and introduced their own languages about 3000 years ago. Just so this is clear, there were various groups of people living in Ireland for at least twice as long as the Celts who spoke language not connected with Irish. They would have built Newgrange, cut down trees wrecking the landscape for future generations, and practiced inefficient farming – like the West nowadays only they did it without massive subsidies. The earliest written records of “old Irish” appear on Ogham stones about 1500 years ago, with a language not resembling the one taught in schools.
“Modern Irish” is usually dated to about 1700 AD.
The 1841 census, taken in the early famine years, reported that even by that stage less than 50% of the country spoke Irish. English nobs forced the Irish to learn English more intensely after this and the percentage gradually dwindled. It is thus the case that modern Irish nobs who want to force us now to learn Irish, are making the case that out of the hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution, of the millions of languages our ancestors will have spoken over time, they are arguing for the teaching of a language that was dominant for less than 140 years, in a period ending about 170 years ago. All very Taliban.
Art is similar to religion in that it is subjective. If somebody wants to define a cultural norm to be the heavily modified version of a language spoken several centuries ago, then fine, but realise this is just a subjective view. It’s a subjective view based on history. I like to ride a burning donkey naked into college, I consider it a cultural norm, based on it’s obvious erotic appeal. Maybe people should be forced to learn my ideas about eroticism cism cism cism…
Now I’m not arguing against the teaching of Irish. For those who are desperately looking for unemployment after graduation, filling up on subjects like Art, music, daisy picking, latin etc can be advantageous. Furthermore maybe it is useful to you, you might use my tax money to broadcast English music on TG4 as a DJ or teach Irish to my kids someday. Irish can have its uses, much like the way an orange, in extreme circumstances, can be used as a hammer.
Now I know science is a bad word in Irish schools, given that it’s overwhelming cross cultural presence in the modern world and the world wide shortage of skilled scientists, but consider for a moment “evidence”. You know, even though that’s kinda science-y. Having made Irish compulsory for the entire history of the state, we find the language has only declined and dwindled, it is not a successful policy. Those of you who will argue that it’s merely the way it’s taught are missing the point.
The violence inherent in teaching kids something that is of no use to them will be subtly picked up on by the kids. To those that don’t want to learn it, it sets a bad precedent. It establishes for those students a relationship to education instilled with suspicion, that what they are learning is not really for their benefit. It casts the situation as them-against-me. It is the case that for 14 years an hour a day is spent teaching kids something that 97% of them will never use.
All this for keeping a language on life support.
By making the language optional, it might actually flourish. Haters like me would have nothing to complain about. Other students would pick it who would previously have had it forced on them, and this is a stronger statement than taking it without any choice. The crucial element of choice would convert them from a baleen filter feeder into a student who wants to learn.
The GAA and Irish dancing are both thriving. They are correctly understood to be arts, and they have developed as an art should, as a labour of love. There is none of the negative sentiment surrounding them the language seems to attract and they have even grown and evolved into new forms, like Riverdance. By forcing it, the art is no longer able to evolve freely away from the ideal being forced.
I’ll end by saying this;
Art forced on you is no longer art. The pursuit of art is above all a process of self discovery. This inspirational quality is lost the moment free will is removed. It is also the case that the forcer will have lost sight of the original beauty of what inspired them, having now reduced their art to a dead mental projection, it’s living quality extinguished in their attempt to cage it. The end is the current situation, where biscuit-blasting maniacs erupt as though possessed, in the faces of children who know no better.
Posted in Staff Writer |