December 14, 2011

If our future is in Europe, we have to talk the talk

Posted in Euro · 294 comments ·

On Monday at a breakfast meeting, I spoke to a group of students who were just finishing the masters in marketing from the Michael Smurfit School of Business at UCD.

The meeting was sponsored by ESB or, as it is soon to be known, Electricity Ireland. The students were optimistic about the future, confident and well educated. They were nervous about their own job prospects but were putting a brave face on things.

While chatting over a full Irish, one of the professors told me that he was just back from a conference in Lisbon where pan-European business and marketing courses were being devised in cooperation with other European universities. These courses hosted by various European universities would be invaluable to Irish graduates as they would give them a great grounding in international marketing. However, there was one drawback: language.

They could not find enough Irish graduates, even the top-tier ones, who could speak a second and third language proficiently enough to do the courses. He explained that this was one of the key stumbling blocks for Irish marketing graduates in Europe — very few had any competence in foreign languages.

Later at home, my 11-year-old daughter came into the kitchen. I asked her what she had done in school, and she replied that the whole class in her national school had just written a letter to the Education Minister to complain because their Spanish teacher had just been made redundant.

As part of the Government’s austerity drive, the excellent Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative — see — has been shut down. This was a scheme to introduce children early to foreign languages, to give them a feel for foreign languages and to lay the foundations of a familiarity with foreign languages.

In short, this scheme is crucial if the graduates of tomorrow are to get a fair chance to work in Europe, either for big European companies or for Irish companies exporting into the rest of the EU.

Here, we see the lack of any real joined-up thinking in our education system, all because of choices the Government is making. I bet the civil servant who made this decision to cut foreign language teaching does not speak a foreign language.

Everyone knows that it is much easier to teach younger children languages because they learn quicker.

One of the most famous discoveries in biology in the last 50 years is that, in common with all young animals, the brains of children go through critical periods when they are particularly receptive to learning or mapping different forms and patterns of information.

Language is one such pattern. Babies and young infants pick up new words and sounds effortlessly during the critical period of early cortex development. It is referred to as brain plasticity when the brain is subtle, growing and sponge-like. After age one it gets more difficult, but it is still much easier for children to learn new words and they can learn loads of languages simultaneously because of the way the words are stored in the same brain map.

After 12 years old, learning a language gets progressively harder until, as adults, it is exceedingly difficult. The older you get, the more you use your native language and the more it comes to dominate your linguistic map. You still have brain plasticity, but your mother tongue rules.

This is why early learning is so critical, because it is easier, more fulfilling and, even when seen through the narrow prism of budget accountancy, it is far, far, cheaper. Yet here we are abolishing modern language programmes in our primary schools because we need to save money when we know if we are to teach languages to these children as they get older it will be much more expensive.

The real problem is not money, but the inability to join up our thinking. We have one end of the education system crying out for some proficiency in modern languages and at the other end, cutting back on language learning for our primary school children, thereby reducing their chances of being fully paid-up members of the European Union’s workforce.

So the Irish state does one thing without considering the inconsistencies in the decision and what we get is a lack of clarity about anything. In order to stick to the austerity plan imposed by the EU, we are going to learn fewer European languages and make ourselves actually less European in order to become better Europeans.

Go figure — as our largest trading and investing partners, the Americans would say.

On Monday morning, following the weekend when we reaffirmed that we would be good Europeans and pay all the Anglo and Irish Nationwide promissory notes, another inconsistency presented itself. We are going to sell a good asset like ESB at a deep discount, while at the same time buy worthless assets like IOUs of Anglo Irish Bank at a premium — all in order to improve our national balance sheet. This is lunacy and shows no consistency. If we are to sell ESB and put the proceeds into the black hole of Anglo, what is the point?

Such stupidity doesn’t make the balance sheet better; it self-evidently makes it worse.

Even a child will tell you this makes no sense. A monolingual teenager would tell you to get your house in order you have to sell what you can, even if it might not be the best timing and that you can’t buy anything until you have enough money to do so.

Yet the EU is telling us we need to sell ESB and to pay for Anglo — a bank which is being closed down. Worse still, the promissory note, which we are paying, is a loan given to Anglo by our Central Bank, which in turn, owes the cash to the ECB.

So think about the logic here. The ECB, the bank that won’t lend to governments but will lend to banks in Europe because lending to governments is “wrong”, is forcing the Irish Government to go further into debt to finance a bust bank called Anglo and this is supposed to be right?

Confused? Me too.

One of the problems over the next few months is that the Government is going to have to present a case which explains — if there is a referendum — why we should go along with more European integration. This needs to be a clear and honest case. Sometimes the slogan “more Europe” seems like a flag of convenience rather than a set of clear ideas or coherent aspirations.

We want to be more European but we won’t teach our children European languages. We want to be more European but should we deploy kamikaze tactics whereby we sell good stuff and buy bad stuff with money we don’t have in order to be good members of the club?

So 2012 could well be the year to make these choices. We need to be clear about where we want to go next. The decisions we make will tell us a lot more about ourselves than about the European Union.

  1. Realist

    The education is old fashion, the same as 50 years ago, and should change. Foreign languages might be away more important than many of stuff children learn currently.
    In essence foreign languages are left to parents as after school activity.

    More European integration means more centralization of power.
    Economy cannot be driven centrally as the governed body, either being our own central bank or ECB or whoever cannot have all information that entrepreneurs and people possess. It is utopia to drive economy from the central place, based on wrong statistics.
    The current economics schools are just plainly wrong, basing so many things on GDP and similar aggregate statistics.
    They do not care about entreprenurship and microeconomics and what is going on with the production structure that is destroyed, while GDP is still looking good.
    Nice paper explaining some problems with GDP:

    I agree we should not centralize more into Europe, especially not on economy and finance basis.
    But the problem we face anyway is the local government and our own central bank that has no clue about proper economy, blind with printing money and bailing out their sponsored big banks.
    Getting rid of central bank and going 100% reserve banking will remove stupidity that is happening at the moment. And of course government cannot overspend and should shrink year after year.

    • 33square

      why teach the serfs useful foreign languages? or computer languages? or even typing (on par with writing now?)? na bi ag caint! we’ll teach them gaeilge, that’ll get them far in life.

      their culture will nourish them, who needs food? and at least with gaeilge they’ll be able to mount a resistance to the forces that come to take our countries resources :D

      gaeilge… it sets you free!

      • Eireannach

        You total sap!

        Tell that to all the parents who are sending their kids to the best primary and secondary schools at the moment, the network of 172 gaeilscoileanna.

        The next Elite of Ireland will come from those schools, and their linguistic code they’ll use to exclude the ‘outsiders’ will be Irish.

        Irish is not ‘ná bí ag caint’, that’s the result of Irish taught in Catholic schools where the medieval Catholic Church is the patron.

        It’s the medieval education system’s patrons, not the language, which held/hold us back.

        • 33square

          “The next Elite of Ireland will come from those schools, and their linguistic code they’ll use to exclude the ‘outsiders’ will be Irish.”

          LOL! is that supposed to be an endorsement of the language?!

          “the best primary and secondary schools at the moment, the network of 172 gaeilscoileanna.”

          again… LOL… best primary schools? where? oh… in Ireland. there was i thinking we wanted to educate people to a standard that gives them opportunities worldwide, but no, eireannach would have them tend the green green grass of home… far away hills, ha?!

      • lol Just had my first belly laugh of the day.

  2. Lyndon Jones

    It has never been so easy to learn a foreign language for example French, is the easiest , there are loads of French grammar books, theres Google translate , French internet radio “Inter France” which is 24 hrs of French chat , Websites that teach languages allow users to email counterparts which are learning English , French TV5 or Euronews on sky , it so easy if you really want to learn.
    I learned Irish and French in school and came out without a word of either , however they teach languages they are obviously lousy at teaching them.
    Au Revoir

    • Adam Byrne

      Spanish is easier Lyndon.

    • Adam Byrne

      Phonetic and less irregular verbs than French.

    • Eireannach

      Spanish is more regular and straightforward than French.

      Si quieres aprender un idioma extranjero, el español es un buen comienzo :-)

      • Lyndon Jones

        I havent tried Spanish , in french many words are the same as english , I did try German and got to a stage where it became really difficult particularly declension , but with French I progress really fast and it is a very logical language.
        I think the French have a good economy and if I wanted to retire anywhere foreign it would be France , Spain is a basket case ( much like Ireland ) .
        It always amused me that the English hate the French and like the Irish even though there was 30 year war over the North.

      • Juanjo R

        …y se quisiera de hablar castellano como un guiri, aprender e hablar como así.

        A lo menos se tiene que viver fuera del pais para aprender uma lengua, de verdade.

        Que te pienses? Рque mucha gente va a trabajar en Espa̱a como camareros cobrando quasi nada? Eles van a quedar en casa e cobrar el paro alto de Irlanda, claro!

        • breltub

          he estado en Madrid por el puente, por la mayor parte los españoles que conozco no hablan mucho ingles. No quieren dejar el país, estuvimos hablando de esa tema y me han dicho que para los españoles, España es el país mas rico en el mundo que habla castellano, y por eso es siempre mejor para quedar en España porque para ir a América de sur es un piso atrás, y no hablan ingles, ni francés, ni alemán para conseguir un trabajo en Europa, y ademas no tengan las ganas de hacer lo!

          Claro que ay algunas que se dejan el país, pero como aquí no es mucho!

          • Juanjo R

            This is such a petty forum! Gracias por la lectura!

            With 45% youth employment and a unbalanced work contract senario that screws the younger workers in Spain I hope you friends are all old with cholos…

            I have friends too in all parts of Spain for 15 years back. I have been to all parts and in all parts and aside from those i visited you will find people who learned English and often lived in Ireland. They studied worked here in all kinds of jobs and were willing to bear out less than luxurious standards of living to get by and learn some english. Many returned home and got very good jobs as a result of their language skills. Some stayed and are still in Ireland good jobs or education.

            You will not find the equivalent spread of Irish people. You can say the same about any mainland European country in relation to Irish people. Best you will get here is I went on the piss for year in Australia or a J1 in the US or I did Thailand or South America and could speak a word of any native language when I got back.

            Language skills need longer term attention and honing for those of us who don’t have A grade language learning skills and it takesmore than a 12 week BBc couse on how to order cappucinos in a foreign language to provide you with real business / professional level language skills.

            BTW your Spanish friends should get updated I live and work in South America and the wages and conditions here for me are just fine, better than the average of Spain at least were I’m at. And I have heard only once a castillian Spanish accent in any country here. Perhaps they should visit and learn…

          • coldblow

            Interesting article from the Observer about the collapse of the boom in one Andalusian town.


      • bentley

        All latin based languages like French, Spanish and Italian and the German and Irish languages are easy for anybody to learn and speak with a little bit of application. If you want difficult try learning Russian or Chinese, especially as you get older.Believe me it’s hard. English is also quite a straightforward language to learn – once basic spoken English is mastered the skill is in differentiating between sayings and meanings that appear to be the same ! There are alphabet characters we never have seen and pronounciations that are almost impossible for enostranitz (foreigners). For instance in Russian, you might have twenty different words for ‘shoes’ and at least a dozen for ‘cat’. And the names of towns and cities have geneitive and accusative cases. David should be aware that learning a language at an early stage is easier but ONLY provided you speak and practice it EVERY day !! Otherwise it just gets lost in space.

  3. Bad news for your daughter and her friends. I recommend she takes up Chinese independantly :)

    Bit off topic but I seem to recall that the critical age for learning language is the first 18 months, at least if bi or tri lingualism is the objective.

    I certainly hope that the teaching methods have improved since my time at school. It wasn’t until I studied how to teach English to adults, as well as taught myself another language that I realised just how terrible teaching methodologies were when I was in secondary school. Many of the disadvantages of age when it comes to language learning can be mitigated with the right approach to teaching and by that I mean not teaching it as though its just another exam subject.

    • Eireannach

      You can learn a foreign language as an adult, of course.

      For free too on BBC languages, start with the 12 week course called “Spanish/German/Italian/Portuguese/Chinese steps”.


      PS. It’d be a bit daunting starting Chinese as your first foreign language as an adult.
      Besides, the Chinese are learning English in large numbers.
      French, German or if you want to take an outside path why not Russian or Japanese?
      The trick is to start, to keep going and to love it as a process, not just an end result.

      • Language is culture. Take your pick. Why not Chinese. Japanese taught me an entirely different way to think. But first and foremost learn a language for the love of it. がんばってね!

  4. Peter Atkinson

    I wholeheartedly agree on the language issue.I just lost out on a business opportunity owing to the lack of linguistic skills in Spanish.Of course when I was at school it was French which I studied but I have always hated France and the French ways.I must have known something all those years ago.

    The emphasis on more and more education will eventually lead to a gulf between those who can afford it and those who can’t.The investment in educating the population may never be realised in our lifetime and who benefits from this investment.The majority of graduates will probably emigrate anyway.

    David, the discussion always centres on graduates but does anyone have an idea of the low levels of literacy in this country.Thats the area that needs to be tackled so these people can understand people like you when you talk economics, statistics and facts and figures.Remember these people have the right to vote too and can effect change at the top by casting it once they know who and what they are voting for.

    David, I say it and say it again, nobody who matters in this country seems to be listening to you.They didn’t listen in the boom and they are not listening in the bust.There’s nothing worse than talking to yourself other than talking to Marion Finucane.

    • CitizenWhy

      You really can learn Spanish by using the free BBC Languages on the internet. That plus an immersion program in a place like Costa Rica or Nicaragua. The Euro still goes far in those countries. These countries have programs in beautiful colonial towns, some right on the Pacific. No worry about violence.

    • Eireannach

      N’importe de quoi!

      • Eireannach

        N’importe quoi even better :-) Meaning, what are you on about you hate the French. Speak to them in French and they’ll love you, I can promise you that :-)

        • Spotswood

          this is not true. Speaking French for an English-speaker is a hobby insofar as it is not esential to speak the language. For a French person, speaking English is esential. Therefore, French people under the age of forty typically hate speaking to you in French as they see an English speaker as a way of improving their English. The French do not love anyone except themselves. They are by far the unfriendliest and most arrogant people in Europe. I have been living in Paris for four years and I made a big effort to get to know French people but they make no effort at all to get to know you and they rarely have a social life. I assure you that my view reflects the consensus among foreigners who live in France. There are nice French people but as a population, I do hate them…in general,they suck. Please note that what I said is a generalisation and that there are always exceptions.

          Regarding learning languages, they’re all useful if you are bilingual but as a second language, the only really useful ones are Spanish, portuguese, arabic, russian, chinese and japanese as the native speakers of these languages do not speak English very well and they all have sizeable or growing economies. Let the French/germans/italians learn English, your payback will be limited.

  5. molly66

    foreign languages I wonder if we need then the way things are going I believe at the moment that there is punts being printed on a large scale (just in case we need them).
    Remember the lies we where told about the IMF no there not coming o yes they are and boy did they come so watch this space.

  6. Adam Byrne

    Szeretnék felíratkozni.

  7. molly66

    Later at home, my 11-year-old daughter came into the kitchen. I asked her what she had done in school, and she replied that the whole class in her national school had just written a letter to the Education Minister to complain because their Spanish teacher had just been made redundant.
    This is the government that we voted for ,what’s coming next.

  8. CitizenWhy

    Here we see one of the self-cannibalizing results of austerity. Everything productive will shrink under austerity. Crazy.

    Maybe the EU should impose a foreign language requirement on member state primary schools.

    Very sad. All my young relatives in Ireland speak French or German fluently. They have had no desire, should emigration become necessity, to go to North America or Australia and would rather avoid England. Some have had summer ski country jobs with very distant relations in Austria, others have worked in France at hotels, helped by aunts or uncles siblings who now live there.

    None of these young relatives would study business, especially not marketing. They might learn business but by apprenticeship, not school. They do take university degrees.

  9. Eurostartled

    My second language is French, I would have to say that French is definitely not the easiest foreign language to learn, especially to get the pronunciation right, which I continue to struggle with. Italian is easier, followed by Spanish according to my translator friends.

    Having learned the language it has opened up a new way to look at the world for me and not just from a job prospects point of view, but from a cultural point of view, my horizons are wider, my experiences are richer for it.

    But surely all of this is symptomatic of the broader picture, of the trickle-down austerity measures, it comes down to only one thing: we the normal citizens and what are we going to do about it? Because lets face it our elected politicians will just not rock the eu and the bankers boat.

    Vote out the current establishment, urge for political reform, grab back our democracy? Nothing will happen in Ireland unless something radical happens, nothing will happen until the pinch is even more sore in our pockets, until we miss a meal.

    It’s a shame that David and Fintan O’Toole didn’t get on with the business of starting a new party, they’d have my vote and all the votes of my friends.

    Anything has to be better than following these current euro-brown-nosers off a cliff, it’s like a cult for God’s sake!

    We need direction from somewhere, the Occupy movement is good, but we need more decisive action, we need people who can command respect, who have the will and gumption to act, to come out and lead. Will it happen, is there someone with the strength to do it? We need a movement. I know there is an appetite for some kind of ‘credible’ party to emerge that must have a chance of succeeding despite of all the logistics involved. Or are we all asleep, lemmings, willfully accepting our pathetic fate?

    At this point of the saga, I feel there isn’t an appetite, but it won’t take long, so we will have to wait and see.

    • paul newtape

      We were born to serve you all our bloody lives
      labouring tongues we give rise to soft lies :
      disguised metaphors that keep us in a vast inverted silliness
      twice edged with fear.
      Twilight signs decompose us
      High in offices we stared into the turning wheel of cities
      dense and ravelled close yet separate : planned to kill all encounter.
      Intricate we saw your state at work
      its shapes abstracted from all human intent.
      With our history’s fire we shall harrow your signs.

      Now is the time to begin to go forward – advance from despair,
      the darkness of solitary men – who are chained in a market they cannot control -
      in the name of a freedom that hangs like a pall on our cities.
      And their towers of silence we shall destroy.

      Now is the time to begin to determine directions,
      refuse to admit the existence of destiny’s rule.
      We shall seize from all heroes and merchants our labour, our lives, and our practice of history :
      this, our choice, defines the truth of all that we do.

      Seize on the words that oppose us with alien force;
      they’re enslaved by the power of capital’s kings
      who reduce them to coinage and hollow exchange in the struggle to hold us,
      they’re bitterly outlasting…
      Time to sweep them down from power – deeds renew words.

      Dare to take sides in the fight for freedom that is common cause
      let us all be as strong and as resolute.
      We’re in the midst of a universe turning
      in turmoil; of classes and armies of thought
      making war – their contradictions clash and echo through time.

    • Alanfromnavan

      I am in total agreement with you. Sometimes I watch the likes of Primetime and Vincent Brown on TV and get totally dis-heartened. People like David and Fintan have been giving what seems like very good economic advice over the airwaves for many years now. They must feel like they are banging their heads off a brick wall at times, because our politicians seem to ignore them nearly all the time. I dont agree with everything David or Fintan say, for example Fintan the other night on Frontline suggested that “we play a hard poker hand with Europe, on the signing of any new treaty, with the intention of playing hard ball for Ireland and extracting a far better deal on our bailout terms in return for our signature”. I strongly disagree with Fintan here,as I feel that we should not sell our Democracy at any cost.

      But what comes accross very clearly from both David and Fintan is that they have the “Common Good” of the Irish people at the heart of all the arguments. A lot of the time here in Ireland we waste a lot of time on idiology, with commentators from the left or the right dominating the airwaves. I think that a lot of people like myself are marginalised in this way, I see good things in both sides but dont feel boxed in by either. Maybe if we are to form a new party, we could call it the “Party of the Common Good”, maybe only then could the silent majority in this country be heard.

      • Steaf35

        Or ‘The Party of Common Sense’; Definately room for a new party though; the present incumbents offer nothing new only an extension of what occured before with a lot of spin!

  10. Paris75013

    Yes, the latest reform regarding the budget for language learning is a shame. It has never been so easy as now to learn a language, with all the new technologies around. I did my H.Dip in 1997-98 (French/History), and when I started to teach a lot of the materials which exist today were not around. Mind you, most of the French teachers I know in Ireland don’t use these modern materials in teaching today. There is a real need for teachers to be trained on CAL (computer-assisted learning) technologies for the classroom. The same goes for learning Irish.

    In France (not that I want to compare things), the situation is a lot worse. The level of the qualified English teachers is appalling. Most of us know how French people master English after having learnt it for many years in school. And most Germans have an excellent level of English!

    Definitely the younger the pupils learn, the easier it is. My son who is almost 8 is perfectly trilingual French-English-Spanish since birth, but it does take a lot of effort, trying to ‘organize’ enough daily exposure to each language, holidays in Ireland and Spain, getting into an international school in Paris, and coping with all the homework.
    I see learning languages as more of a cultural thing for Irish people. The business language will always be English. When I did Business Studies in Paris several years ago (HEC), all the classes were in English! Although in my job everyday, I use all my languages.

    Mandarin Chinese is really what can make your CV stand out from the pile today.

  11. Paris75013

    Yes, the latest reform regarding the budget for language learning is a shame. It has never been so easy as now to learn a language, with all the new technologies around. I did my H.Dip in 1997-98 (French/History), and when I started to teach a lot of the materials which exist today were not around. Mind you, most of the French teachers I know in Ireland don’t use these modern materials in teaching today. There is a real need for teachers to be trained on CAL (computer-assisted learning) technologies for the classroom. The same goes for learning Irish.

    In France (not that I want to compare things), the situation is a lot worse. The level of the qualified English teachers is appalling. Most of us know how French people master English after having learnt it for many years in school. And most Germans have an excellent level of English!

    Definitely the younger the pupils learn, the easier it is. My son who is almost 8 is perfectly trilingual French-English-Spanish since birth, but it does take a lot of effort, trying to ‘organize’ enough daily exposure to each language, holidays in Ireland and Spain, getting into an international school in Paris, and coping with all the homework.
    I see learning languages as more of a cultural thing for Irish people. The business language will always be English. When I did Business Studies in Paris several years ago (HEC), all the classes were in English! Although in my job everyday, I use all my languages.

    Mandarin Chinese is really what can make your CV stand out from the rest today.

    • “Mandarin Chinese is really what can make your CV stand out from the rest today.”
      You need to devote so much time to learning Mandarin that you really would need to be majorly motivated. I have been learning Japanese on and off for years which is not tonal and only has ~2200 characters to learn. I can learn a new Romance or Germanic language to a good level in six months but my progress with Japanese is much slower. Of the languages I know I think that Japanese, Polish and Irish are about as difficult. The languages with big overlaps with English are easier because you have a big headstart with vocabulary.


    Back in the 70′s we were all supposed to start learning Japanese,whatever became of that?

  13. peter hofmann

    David you wrote: “On Monday morning, following the weekend when we reaffirmed that we would be good Europeans and pay all the Anglo and Irish Nationwide promissory notes, another inconsistency presented itself. We are going to sell a good asset like ESB at a deep discount, while at the same time buy worthless assets like IOUs of Anglo Irish Bank at a premium – all in order to improve our national balance sheet. This is lunacy and shows no consistency. If we are to sell ESB and put the proceeds into the black hole of Anglo, what is the point?”

    Since late 2008 the 0,01% are devoid of good options to invest their money with a proft. If you see this as the real crisis for the people who matter, all EMU decisions make some sense (not for the greek or the portuguese or the italian or the german people, of course). One politic is to force the nations to privatize their silver-plates at a discount.

    • juniorjb

      Damn straight, Peter. All the blether about public versus private remains wide of the mark when this singularly critical motivation is excluded from the picture.

    • rebean

      Why are we selling the ESB when we really need to separate the higher paid civil service from those on 50 grand and lower. Our problems in Ireland are that we have too many people milking the state coffers.Yes those cosy overpaid civil servants ie those on over 100000 grand. There are 1700 of them . We could start with these people before we sell the ESB.

  14. CorkPlasticPaddy

    I’ll tell you one thing, we’ve got a complete and utter shower of langers running this country!!! So much for the smart economy??? This crowd of idiots couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery on a Saturday night!!!

    • LKSteve

      I couldn’t agree more. I get very angry these days reading the news from Ireland. All these cutbacks on the one hand, and big salaries & perks on the other for ‘advisers’. The Irish people are clueless, they deserve the clowns that are running the country, in fact, they voted for them. I’m starting to think that the Constitution should be burned & the keys of the country handed to Europe. Fair play to the Brits. They’ve told Europe where to get off. They are retaining their currency & their autonomy. I am happy that I abandoned the country. I’ll be back for a few pints & a bit of Craic when the place gets back it’s mojo, for now, I’m staying away.

  15. lff12

    How ironic is it that a company which has gouged the consumer and business user alike (ESB) and pays some of the most obscene public sector wages is the sponsor of the business talk? I’m fairly sure we still have one of the most expensive electricity rates in Europe thanks to them.

    Do agree on language learning. One of my best friends grew up in Luxembourg and spoke 4 languages by age 11. However I think the language education here is appalling: its like everything else in Ireland, so many self-appointed “experts” and charlatans trying to hoodwink fools from their cash (like all those business coaches who are basically failures themselves). I supposedly learned French at school and in 5 years learned basically nothing. While at college I found a need to learn German and taught myself enough to manage for a whole summer and read a few books. There is no point in flooding the country with crappy language teachers just like we flooded the country with poor quality housing.

    • coldblow

      Luxemburg is very interesting. I was told a story about this visiting prof (German or whatever) who was very proud of the fact that he could speak 3 or 4 languages. He was visiting a school and suddenly this kid starts up in Chinese – he’d been friends with a Chinese boy and (being Lux what it is) had just picked up the language. The prof was crestfallen. I feel some sympathy for him.

  16. TheGermanPublican

    Unfortunately the difference between learning a second language as a schoolgoer in Ireland and learning one in continental Europe is that the latter results in a working language ability.
    Off subject – survival approach to the looming catastrophy:
    - open a foreign bank account and shift your savings(Germany, Suisse or Scandinavia in Europe, or anywhere outside)
    - buy gold(now between the 200 – 150DMA)
    - emigrate if possible
    - exercise thrift, frugality and personal austerity where possible
    - look after yourself and you family. Nobody else is interested in you.

  17. breltub

    The education system needs to be completely refocussed on helping students find what their passion is and helping ignite within them the desire to follow a certain path.
    From my friends, I know that the German and Austrian schools, or maybe it’s cultural?, seem to be a lot better and allowing students to go and express themselves.

    Here its very much focussed on rote learning and then getting a handy civil service job.

    This leads to a stultifying of creativity as a student’s flame and will to follow a certain path are doused in the poison of doing the so called “acedemic” subjects so he or she can be called something solid after education. Teacher,Guard,Nurse,Accountant,Solicitor. Yet none of those professions create anything, they all rely on people really making something of value, from which society can profit and can cover the cost of those who don’t create.
    Yes, I do realise that those professions are essential in creating an environment where people can flourish, this is not an anti-civil service post

    It’s about the education system herding people in that direction without realising that by doing so it is eventually going to make the system unsustainable by killing of creativity, invention, progress and individuality.

  18. Emigrant lass

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. I was a Languages and Marketing graduate myself six yeas back but unfortunately went into the Fund admin area after college instead of just doing one more year for a H Dip or masters. At the time I just wanted out of college and earn some money. Probably one of my biggest regrets in life so far!
    German was my major and it was a pleasure to learn. Absolutely loved it and still do! Funny enough in school I loved French more than German and in my junior and leaving cert I could not understand how my grades were always better in German when I wanted it to be French! Didn’t like Spanish as much for my minor in college but I got on with it.
    I really think that students are left in limbo after college. Being young and immature I think I wanted somebody to steer me down a path and tell me what sort of job to look for using these great languages and where to go. If you did not follow on that year with a masters or H Dip you were left out in the cold.
    I have lots of neices and nephews and I’m always stressing to me sibblings that they should make sure that their kids learn to love foreign languages earlier in school and keep it on until their leaving cert. Only one in many did so far!! I have no kids yet but I will drill this into them when the time comes please God.

    The other week here in Australia, I was organising my documents together to apply for the CPA accountancy exams but it did cross my mind that I was never going to do anything with these languages in my lifetime. Very sad really. So I looked up the Hibernia website and thopught maybe when I go back home to settle I will do the post primary H Dip with German and Accounting and Business or something while still working.
    But I’ve decided since my visa is now in order here allowing me to study if I want to, I want to brush up on my German also. I also mentioned to my husband about us maybe going to work in Germany for a while after Australia and he looked at me like I had two heads or something! He left school at 15 and never had much though for languages. I have to work on that one.

    • Adam Byrne

      Great story, there’s no reason why you can’t go back and get your Masters or other qualifications in whatever language/s you want.

      With your obvious enthusiasm I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you are a top notch translator with an exciting job, somewhere exotic in a few years. Well more exotic than Australia anyway, haha!

      You never know what opportunities are just around the corner in life if you keep a positive outlook such as you seem to yourself.

  19. Adam Byrne

    I speak Hungarian myself to a high level, as I’ve mentioned on here before. Not sure how much I’ll use it in the future though as I’m heading back to the Caribbean.

    With that in mind, I’ll be brushing up on my French (neglected badly) and Spanish (very basic level – but so so easy – especially compared to Hungarian!).

    Languages are great and as ‘Eurostartled’ mentioned on here earlier, they open your mind to so much more than just the actual learned words.

    David, you speak Russian don’t you? What else do you speak?



  20. blackcase

    COMPLETELY WRONG ANALYSIS! But you were so close. Foreign Language Teachers in Ireland don’t teach kids to speak foreign languages. Not even Irish! (ask Des Bishop). I learned German (badly) from CDs and now do business in German. My son got an A+ in German leaving cert —but when he goes to Germany he can only converse in English to his German counterparts (coz the teachers in Germany teach the kids to SPEAK English). So you can join dots, spend all our money , do what you like. But unless the teachers in Ireland decide to TEACH —forget it! There are 95 million German speakers within 2 hrs plane ride from here and we cannot communicate them. Thats the main reason Europe does not work for us and why we are so dependent on Britain and North America. We should be tackling that 95m German speaking market. I had a conversation, in German, with my 9 year old in the car —there was two Honours Leaving Cert university-students there as well. They told me they had no idea what we were saying (and my daughter only learned bits and pieces from me). The language teachers in Ireland will probably complain about authorities, education system , curriculum etc. But where are their voices? Why can’t we hear their howls of discontent? I have one question for the language teachers in Ireland that rugby fans will recognise —Where is your f***ing pride?

    • Tiresias

      There have been protests over this assinine cut by the language teaching community in Ireland, but the visibility of language issues is so low and the ‘English is enough’ lobby so strong in this country at the moment that it is almost impossible to get coverage.

  21. Emigrant lass

    @Adam Byrne,

    thanks for that. Better late than never eh! I totally agree, Australia is just a time filler for the moment. I’m a true European out and out!

  22. TheGermanPublican

    @Peter Atkinson
    Upwards of 25% of the Irish population, are incapable of reading and writing well enough to be able fully to participate in society. This compares with 3 per cent in Sweden and 5 per cent in Germany. And, believe it or not, the problem is growing.

    Consider what this appalling statistic implies?.


  23. The Dork of Cork

    I wonder is Istvan familiar with the phrase : F$£K OFF.
    Maybe someone should teach him.

    Lithuania was another country whose electricity sector was gutted for spurious environmental reasons………………..”you must close the plant down” , fair enough the plant has a History to say the least.
    But when will we be building a replacement ?…….. “eh soon my son soon but time is a relative phenomena”
    But we have the skilled workers now !!!!
    “Workers workers we don’t need no stinking workers – we want a yield from this decapitalization scheme even if it kills you”

  24. Eireannach

    Ireland and Britain have national narratives which inhibit our interest in foreign language learning.

    The narrative is not often openly articulated, its more subconsciously and collectively held. It goes something like this:

    ‘English is the world’s language and the language of business. During C19, the British Empire spread English to Most of South and East Africa, South Asia and Australasia, as well as Hong Kong, pockets like Egypt and the Arabian peninsula. English language and culture and sports dominated the planet. Then, after WWII, the American Empire projected the English language and the prestige of Anglophone culture even further, to every corner of the globe. With the cold war, NATO, Hollywood movies and TV, English even became widely spoken in Europe, something the British Empire never achieved.

    With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, English enterd Eastern Europe and the Baltic and even Russia. The Chinese are learning English. Therefore, there is no point learning any other language because eventually English will displace or marginalise these other languages. Learning other languages is culturally interesting but most people are too busy for non-essential stuff like that’.

    That’s the basic gist of the narrative.

    But recent events are changing the world which supported this narrative.

    The global domination of America, and with it the English language, looks unlikely at this point. A kind of economically/culturally/geopolitically ‘multipolar’ world looks more likely. Accordingly, Chinese would appear to be an important language for the future in East Asia, and in Europe, it looks as if the Americans are retreating from involement in our affairs, so we are back to a balance of (linguistic) power dynamic in Europe, with English, French and German being the big three language spaces.

    Sure, the Teutons speak English (Scandinavia, Netherlands, Germany) and a lot of East Europeans, but our Latin neighbours don’t find English as easy so only a professional business class has good English in the Latin countries.

    In the interests of cultural exchange, it would be great if more Irish and British could speak Latin languages, but we seem to not see much return on investment, so we are nonplussed about it.

    The end result is that we want to leave the eurozone and EU because we never seized this historical opportunity to forge a new international European space. We didn’t do the linguistic groundwork to bring it into being. We didn’t do the groundwork because we thought it was the continentals who’d have to do all the linguistic groundwork, to learn the dominant language, our language.

    Therefore, it follows that the Irish and British are the most linguistically chauvinist people in Europe, not because they are bad people but more because by dint of the historical circumstances of the British and American Empires, we thought it was game, set and match to English. Hip, Hip, Hooray!

    Now we come out of our trace to realize the American Hegemony moment is over, and Europe is back to a linguistic balance of power. Guess what? The French in particular make it difficult for English speakers to speak their language, as part of their balance of power tactics. But they are much more inclusive with other, in their view less chauvinist groups.

    So we have to go from complacent linguistic chauvinism, to the very start again in linguistic baby infants, whilst some others make if hard for us to get their own back! This is a real corner and I salute any Irish of British person who learns a foreign language, because you are part of a move to change how we are perceived by non-Anglophones – you are reversing our reputation for linguistic chauvinism and bringing us into a closer relationship with our neighbours at the same time.

    Respect, wherever you are, whatever language it is.

  25. An interesting article

    There was held a meeting (a breakfast meeting, actually) for the hob nobbing elites from the God School of Business and the gladiators were bestowed with the highest order of the sword. It was the true genesis of the epic rise to legend of the third reich of the Celtic Tiger

    The apprentice God (the descendent of the one and only true God) told his warriors to dream the impossible and to go forth and conquer the lands of the earth and live in his image and the graduate conquistadors were inspired and ready for the battle of life. The earth had become strange and barren since God had conceived his original brilliant vision however and the graduates became nervous and life became like an ashtray, full of little doubts

    So nervous were the gladiators that the only soul food to be found anywhere in this surreal non existence was in the lingering genetic memory of an ancient concept known as ‘The Full Irish’. Let them have breakfast and enjoy interpersonal communications for now, while they are young, but make sure you always ration such privileges and keep them in a constant state of fear. Fear is always the piece de resistance and the weapon of choice to employ when things come to a head and our superiority is threatened

    The clock is best method of control devised to date but we have other ways of eradicating these social instincts even if it takes another 100 years and one day their souls will be ours to own and control as long as they serve some useful purpose. In a mere 20 years there will be no need for these expendable fools and they will become redundant and dispensible like all the rest

    As Longshanks once said ‘we shall breed them out even if it takes 1000 years’. No problem. Such bloody mindedness has always been the preserve of our controllers and we have plenty of evidence from history to suggest that leaders are more often than not insane yet they are prepared to label as insane those of us who refuse to conform to what is, in independent minds at least, a sick, skewed and insane society

    With bellys full of bread, tea, self assuring visits to the portaloo and mutually supportive verbal backslapping such as ‘we have to remain positive’ the graduates smiled confident smiles in the December morning sunshine and in their minds they sneered at the impending afternoon storm clouds creeping in from the west

    Sure twill all be grand me boys. We are Irish

    Ps. If you need educating fast the only way to do it is to educate youself.

  26. flowerofthemountain

    To show the Troika that Ireland is serious about remaining in the Euro: a mass, enforced translation/education to French and German needs to happen urgently! All other educational priorities must take a back seat.

    RTE are to present the Merkozy Nightly News in French/German-with Irish subtitles. Ban the thought-form control of the Saxon foe’s language! Block the pernicious BBC! No more Man U, just Bayern. I’m sure German and French soap operas and comedy culture will go down a treat.

    Having thrown off the oppression of the Pound/Punt, it’s time to free Ireland linguistically. Re-wire the Irish mind to new linguistic realities of ‘freedom within the Euro’.

    Eurovision always tickles me. The French just won’t give up their post-colonial delusion that French is as significant as English. In a West African Song Contest, perhaps..

    How long before the Germans wake up and demand all the presenting and scoring is done in the majority language of Europe?

    Hang on, Russia’s the most populous tribe in it now, so I guess they’ll say “we should replace the French and English and co-present with our German friends!”

    ‘Votes are read out in ascending order, culminating with the maximum 12 points. The scores are repeated by the Contest’s presenters in English and French, which has given rise to the famous “douze points” exclamation when the host repeats the top score in French, Traditionally votes are read in English by all countries except for France and Belgium (in odd years).’

    Once Perfidious Albion is bulldozed out of the EU, Esperanto will finally take off and be embraced by the warm, happy family of nations. It will be the warm, sunlit uplands of Europa, no more English sabotage, Scotland free to join the Euro and bankrupt itself (yet again): and no need for all those instructions in so many redundant languages on the back of consumer products. Excellent!

    First the currency, then the language, then the flag. Who needs all those confusing ones when the blue-star heaven of the EU Flag is available? And who needs all that referendum/constitution/republic stuff which gives everyone such a bad headache. Life will be much simpler.

    • bonbon

      Hochdeutsch, official news-reading German, is a synthetic language designed by a committee from Bertlesmann. Ask anyone what they think of the Rechtschreibungsreform, the latest “correct” German. Ask any teacher.

      Sarkoleon’s French has been joked about too.

      The Queen speaks Brutish – you know the pronunciation.

      Esperanto would suit the Euro, a synthetic currency designed by a Bankers committee.

      A camel is a horse designed by a committee!

      The Peppar Cook, asked at the trial by the White Queen what she learned at Oxford, not Girton, replied :
      “How to speak like this”.

      • coldblow

        Yes, that was one of the main reasons for the existence of public schools – to learn how to talk proper.

        I agree with you about standard FR and Gr. Like received pronunciation in Britain it can grate, especially when accompanied with an approved accent )(but not too much) for a bit of local colour – say that of an Edinburgh solicitor. But there’s something about the Caighdeán Oifigiúil that just leaves me feeling empty and helpless.

    • Eireannach


      How unbelievable! You’ve just epitomised the linguistic chauvinism I mentioned above, and you’re not even being ironic, you’re quite sincere.

      Learning French or German has nothing to do with the eurozone, it has everything to do with the fact that there are 70m French speakers and 92m German speakers spread across several countries which are our geographic naighbours here in North West Europe.

      • flowerofthemountain

        @ Eireannach: I’d go with Spanish, 400 to 500 million speakers, and useful in Texas too.

        You really moved me when you wrote:

        ‘Guess what? The French in particular make it difficult for English speakers to speak their language, as part of their balance of power tactics. But they are much more inclusive with other, in their view less chauvinist groups. ‘

        That’s an hilarious excuse for the boorish rudeness of the average Parisien waiter!

        Being gratuitously rude to foreigners isn’t expressing power, it’s expressing insecurity. When Englishmen in black socks and white shorts talk very loudly in the Dorgogne, they’re just doing a Basil Fawlty impersonation. They went to public school. They speak French. They just don’t take being diss’d. Two can play at silly games of ‘power tactics’.

        Some history: The ‘French’ invaded the ‘Brits’ in 1066, ‘cept they weren’t ‘French’, they were Normans, which meant they were recently arrived Vikings, from the ‘Nor’th. The ‘French’ weren’t ‘French’ either, they were ‘Franks’, who were another alien transplant onto the Gauls. The Franks were a Germanic tribe. Following this? Good. Fast foward a few hundred years to find ‘Irish’ patriots singing ‘rebel’ songs about the supposed Saxon foe, who were, in fact, enslaved by the Norman French Vikings. Soldiers of Destiny, indeedy.

        The take-away from this is that English is the mother of all multicultural languages, regardless of any ‘American hegemony’,so the silly hissy fits of the modern French language Chauvinist is just sour grapes.

        And I’ve being REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT THIS! No more ‘irony’. Down with that kind of thing!

        @bonbon: why is your nom de plume that of a French confectionary item? Are you a ‘sleeper’? One of Sarkozy’s secret band of posion’d dwarfs? I bet you speak French as well.

        best wishes,

        • flowerofthemountain

          oops! forgot to point out that when the non-French Normans invaded the non-Brit ‘Brits’ who were actually Danes and Germans (Angles & Saxons), it actually ruined the rest of human civilisation and will cause the eventual destruction of the planet!!!!!!

          This isn’t just silly little me playing at being ‘ironic’, this is THE TRUTH! Mitchell Heisman figured it all out before he shot himself on the steps of that church. His ideas are so ‘ironic’ that Wikipedia won’t even allow a page on him! You won’t find the truth about the Franco-Prussia war on the Anglosphere from Economics!

          ‘A Vendetta Called Revolution: How Ethnic Hostility between Anglo-Saxons and the Normans Who Conquered Them Evolved into Liberal Democracy’

          ‘Converse Cognates :Why the Norman Conquest was the World-Historical Ass-Kicking that Deflected the English-speaking World from the German Path to Nazism’

          ‘Creating God and the Evolution of Genetic Suicide: Why Liberal Democracy Leads to theRational Biological Self-Destruction of Humans and the Rational Technological Creation of God’

          best wishes
          Mad Paddy From Brum

        • Eireannach

          Did the waiter upset you Molly?

          I’m sorry to hear that.

        • bonbon


          Alice handed out bonbon’s after the Caucus Race where everyone cheated, so everyone won!

          Abseulement pas! Aucune chance.

        • Dorothy Jones

          Gosh Molly, I learnt enough French at the back of a guide book on a plane on the way to Paris, to say hello and to order food, make purchases, and so on. I was pretty shy, but people were really nice and friendly. Maybe it was the look of nervousness or the fact that I really did try, but it was a fantastic few days. Even managed a conversation with an art curator near Bastille…

          • coldblow


            Have you never come across the rude French waiter? I have an idea that it’s the wannabe French who are the worst offenders, from immigrant stock. I remember in Normandy my sister in law asking a waitress (who looked like she was Armenian or Arab) to replace the bottle of water as it was fizzy and she couldn’t drink it. This infringement of decorum seemed to be more than the lady could endure and she stood there shaking in an indignant emotional cocktail. Why had the order not been communicated correctly? It had escalated into an incident diplomatique. Some dope in the corner looked at us ostentatiously with an amused disdain. I held his eye with sincere “keep that up mate if you really do want a kick in the b*llocks” expression. I thought this scene was a staple of the French Experience.

            When I visited my brother and accompanied him to his hard local he always used to warn me not to catch the eye of any of the gypsies drinking there unless I wanted a fight. They’re not the problem, he explained, but the hangers on who want to ingratiate themselves. (Except he doesn’t use words like ‘ingratiate’.)

          • Dorothy Jones

            That sounds pretty grim, but I am in no position to gripe about waitresses! Back in the day, I learnt German waitressing in a busy Biergarten on Chiemsee. I had not got a clue what people were ordering for the most part. Leaving cert standard hadn’t factored in strong accents! I figured most people would like Schnitzel, so that’s what the customers got for the first week until I had the hang of it. Great way to learn a language quickly, live and work in a country.
            Still friends with the troops 25 years later, even ran off with one of the local lads for a bit! Was followed by a 10 yr stint in Berlin when I finished college.
            I really agree with David and some of the posters about the importance of languages and the advantages this offers. When I lost my job 2 and a half years ago; my German Clients ‘came with me’ and I work part-time for them in Ireland and Germany. I would not have been able to keep my home otherwise.
            Learning languages is great fun. We went to middle and south America a number of times. Two Spanish language courses at the Volkshochschule provided good enough skills to carry out ordinary conversations. Fantastic experience in those beautiful countries.

          • coldblow

            I like schnitzel so if I saw it on the plate I’d just want to eat it and forget about what I’d ordered.

            Actually the still/ sparkling water order is, I have noticed, a recurring theme in French visits. I’m torn between wonderment at people who find it impossible to drink fizzy water (they could try to shake or stir the bubble out?) and amazement at those who’d make such a fuss about changing the bottle for the customer. It would be worth doing an experiment. No proper visit to France should be without one.

            You might like the German comic novel Her Lehmann (I think) based on a W. Berliner waiter/ barman.

    • coldblow

      The French at the Eurovision – always the highlight for me!

    • Tiresias

      Modern language capacity across the board is what is needed, not just ability in French and German. Ireland needs to be able to communicate with countries both inside and outside Europe. Ironically in November Ireland signed up to another EU level agreement to promote early language learning (to fulfill the terms of the Barcelona agreement, mother tongue — Irish and English — plus two) and then within the month decided to cut languages at primary level. Arrant stupidity, you really couldn’t make it up.

  27. mishco

    I started with Irish in school, and later learned French and German in school, Spanish at uni and later picked up Slovak and some Russian working abroad. I do feel that I have a good head for languages, but just wish I hadn’t been forced to waste so much time on the compulsory Irish and spent more time on the others.

    I don’t think everyone is naturally inclined to learn a foreign language, but utility and love are two great motivators for anyone. By utility I mean if we go to live in a foreign country and want to succeed in our career there, but can only do this by learning the local language, we will do this slowly but surely. By love I mean if as a kid we make really good friends with someone who can’t speak our language or if later we fall in love with someone who also can’t speak our tongue, then we’ll learn theirs for sure (besides maybe teaching them ours). So all is not lost if we didn’t do well at French in school.

    That said, I agree with David that it’s irrational to cut back on support for Language Learning in schools particularly at this time – but then how many expect the government to act rationally any more?

    The bottom line for me is: don’t expect your govt. to
    do it for you, do it yourself (that includes parents helping their children directly with foreign languages). And what better place to start by instilling a love of a foreign culture by downloading French films, Spanish songs, or whatever your kids like, and letting them see how great “foreigners” can be?

    • coldblow


      I think we have touched on this before. In my case I always envied Irish kids when they used to complain about compulsory Irish. In my case the problem was wider: compulsory school! Similarly my old scout master in London once told us that not only did he have to study Latin at school but Greek too. Again, I couldn’t see what he was complaining about.

      I started learning languages after I left uni. – first German, then brush up on the French, then Italian, then Swedish. By that stage I knew I had a problem. Then Gaelic (what people here insist on calling Irish). The odd thing about this was when the library asst. handed over the Linguaphone stuff I felt that this belonged to me. I was certainly not expecting this. It was at this stage I had to gove up the pretence that this could be justified in career terms (as if anything needed to be justified). And in the end it was probably the Gaelic that got me into regular if modest employment. Nach ait an mac an saol!

  28. David,
    I am surprised that you miss the most important point about the education system in the south of Ireland which is that children do more foreign language learning from a young age than almost any other country in Europe.
    Irish is much more foreign to an English speaker than romance languages like French and Spanish or germanic languages like Dutch. I spent thirteen years in school learning Irish as a second language, I only spent five learning French.
    You are not incorrect that it is desirable for children to learn a second language early. For that reason countries like the UK have introduced pilot programs where languages like Esperanto are introduced as a second language. “The results “ clearly show that having Esperanto as a second language makes it easier for children to learn French compared to monolingual peers who have never learned a second language. Equally data from Basque immersion programs in Spain show that “the Basque/Spanish bilingual children” have better English language acquisition capability.

    The question is why it goes so badly wrong for many Irish children. I was lucky enough to have good Irish teachers and I got into Irish debating. That meant that I had a strong second language before I tackled French which proved to be relatively easy given that more than half of the vocabulary overlaps with English. In my adult life I have had no fear of languages so I acquired other languages as I needed to.
    If Irish children were either in immersion Irish language schools or had primary teachers who were sufficiently fluent in Irish in the English language system then there would be far more bilingual Irish children leaving primary school. There is absolutely no need to start learning languages like Spanish really early to become fluent. The key is to know how to learn languages, this is valid even for exceptionally difficult languages like Mandarin. If you get the first second language right (inevitably Irish in Ireland) then the rest falls into place.
    In the past I’ve written many posts on these issues on my own blog so I just want to copy from “one of them”:
    “The greatest irony is that those who do not want to learn minority languages often cannot speak any of the majority languages either. They may blow on about learning Chinese or even Spanish but are resolute monolinguals themselves. What they don’t grasp is that language skills are multiplicative. Learning Irish or Icelandic or Basque makes learning the next language easier. The hardest foreign language is your first one. It is easy for somebody who speaks nine languages to learn a tenth. Learning languages, any languages, is a skill you get better at. The only way to get better is to practice and the easiest way to get practice is to learn the languages you are exposed to the most. If you live in Holland you are surrounded by Dutch. In Ireland you may well hear more Polish or Chinese on the streets but Irish is the language best represented in the media and the Gaeltacht is not so far away if you want to go further.”

  29. Music & Sports

    This is one language that can unite many in a few words .I think the Irish excel on that worldwide.Maybe it must be in the ‘ Nasc ar dTeanga ‘, our cohesive mindset as a Nation.

    Our national branded products ,with a few exceptions only, cannot be found on the shelves in Europe .We seem to export more bare non branded commodities earning a lower premium price as a result .

    I have great admiration for the Irish Ballerina who with her love for that art emigrated alone to Russia many many years ago only to excel on stage and in Russian culture .She endured both physical and mind endurance to master her arts.Also the late Madam Bluebell of Paris fame and her famous entertainment houses .She originated from Dublin.

    Currently , there are a few well known restaurants owned by Irish in Paris and hotels in France including Stephen Roch .Some Irish can be found settled in Moscow managing their own software companies on the world wide markets .

    When there is a feeling of a need the instinct takes on a new world and the harmony to challenge the opportunity begins .Then the language follows.

  30. Humps of Tyme

    In the late 80s I was absolutely fluent in Arabic …well…I had a lot of free time when my hosts spent some days in prayer .During this period I eventually purchased a camel because it was cheaper than paying too much rent to have him.I was instructed how to communicate with the camel in Arabic .Now the camel was very intelligent and had many recognitions for words and local custom which I duly learned.

    Alone with camel in the wilderness , the few words in Arabic I had was for me absolute fluency and fulfilled all my needs and requirements then.There were tales of the unexpected and walking like an Egyptian and the music of Oasis .

    • Adam Byrne

      I’d say the stars were bigger and brighter than anything you’ve ever seen before out in the dark Arabian desert away from artificial light, John.

      Did you hear about this Supernova going off the other day? (well 21 million years ago actually)

      There’s also a huge cloud heading for the centre of our galaxy.

      And what with the recent lunar eclipse, you must be very busy recently.

      Can anyone speak Martian?

      • Adam , you are right those nights in the desert really got me going on astrology then .

        Actually the more one delves into this art the more one realises there are other senses we humans do not have .My guess is that Martian as a language eclipses us and we cannot detect it .

        Watching rare animals of the very deep oceans and jungles are inspirational ( Eden and Eden 1 ) .Some that radiate with lights in the deep darkness .What are they communicating and how ?Colours also for part of that too .

      • bonbon

        Too early to say anything about Martianese.
        But 14 did learn Lunarese. The first lunar utterance was “One small step for Man…”. Very quickly this high classical composition became “Whoopee!” (Buzz Aldrin).

        This is the language collapse in a few years that has taken Earthlings 2000 years, from Homer via Latin to Brutish.

  31. gizzy

    I agree that we should learn languages at a young age and it would be more effective to start early and maybe transferring the language teachers from secondary to primary schools would be more effective.

    But lets not use this as another excuse for kicking poor ignorant Paddy. Most language is learnt because their is a need for it in every day life. Most Europeans speak their own language and english. Some speak those and that of a neighbouring country as they traded with that neighbour. How mamy Germans speak mandarin?

    So as a positive I’m all for it. The sooner the better. when I think of all the years wasted learning french poetry.

    However as a guy from an island whose business and technology language and that of its trading partners I do not accept the usual accusations of being a thick. Like a lot of people contributing here I have worked hard all my life, obtained degrees while working a full time job and do not feel even the tiniest bit inferior to any other race i have met.

    • Eireannach

      Who said anything about feeling inferior? This is about an attitude – de we have the right attitude toward foreign language learning. Or the wrong attitude?

      Not everyone has to spend their time learning a foreign language.

      But as DMcW pointed out in the article – how come we don’t seem to have hardly ANYONE who can speak a foreign (not Irish or English) language?

      Most poster on this blogroll would like to see that change, but it won’t change itself.

      The language issue is the reason why people emigrate to North America or Australia/NZ instead of elsewhere in the EU. All kinds of horizons can open for us if we learn a European language. Hopefully, in the future, more of us will do it. But it won’t “learn itself”.

      • gizzy

        I would like to see languages taught at primary school level (good attitude yes?)

        I would enroll my two youngest for language (good attitude yes?)

        How now can I influence the education authority who should no more about this than you or I to stop focussing language education on the 12 to 18 year olds who have never previosly learnt a language ?

        Why aren’t the teachers coming forward and saying this ?

        • gizzy

          I know spelt know as no damn d-

        • ” stop focussing language education on the 12 to 18 year olds who have never previosly learnt a language ”

          Most Irish 12 years olds have been studying a second language (Irish for English speakers, English for Irish speaking schools) for eight years.

          Irish children probably spend more time studying another language than those of any other country besides Luxembourg. My children go to a Dutch school and they don’t start learning English until they are in Group 7 or 8!

          If an anglophone Irish child finishes primary school with a good level of Irish then s/he will have no problem with a third language. French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch and Swedish all have massive vocabulary overlaps. Polish is about as difficult as Irish for an English speaker. What’s going wrong in Ireland is that children do not manage to learn Irish.

          I am an English speaking Irish person and I had a great experience in the Irish education system leaving school with a good level of Irish and French. I have learned many other languages since. You don’t need school to teach you a particular languages, you need it to teach you how to learn languages generally. Give the man a rod and all that.

  32. Taxing Matter

    I do not mean to be off the natter of this article .However , I am compelled to inform you that currently in the Court Term of St Michael and The Angels , the Revenue have submitted to the Sheriff in the last few weeks of Christmas their instructions to collect taxes and already thousands of families have received these and many of these demands are not correct as per taxpayers records.

    Normally the collector general sends a letter to the taxpayer informing them of outstanding taxes and estimated taxes and after a letter from accountant they wait until the client pays .

    However , the LANGUAGE of The Revenue has CHANGED and they have implemented AUSTERITY Collection Practices never used before . It is Very Severe and I have no doubt is causing extraordinary much social pain in these difficult times.

    And the Irish Banks are sending out Bankruptcy Notices to many Irish borrowers .

    The sad part is many of these people are suffering in silence and too afraid to talk about it .

    • I can only point to my contribution here not so long ago – Letter to the Irish Times – concerning the 84,000 Irish businesses potentially discriminated against, as they are excluded from using of the financial ombudsman in case of a dispute with their bank. On outrageous situation that even the FSO himself considers to be extremely unfair.

      I observed that it has triggered zero attention.

      I conclude, this is a side effect in an EU/IMF occupied country, it is every man for himself, and that is why they can do what they are doing, no solidarity is left.

      • redriversix

        Nobody gives a shit Georg,

        you read my story here before so you know what I went through and how happy I am today.

        How many times have I offered to help people in trouble and to share my experience with them and to listen to them and try and help them realize their is nothing to be afraid of..? ?

        Got no responses….

        But that’s okay because Fear and pride and shame is Dominant in today’s society,and that suit’s our Government just fine.

        I even emailed David Mcw to talk to him to share my experience to see if it would help anybody through him and got no reply.

        Today,I have lost everything and have a wonderful Family and we have enough to eat tonight and the House is warm and my Kid’s are happy,haven’t got a Christmas tree yet but we will figure that out as a Family.

        There may be a lot of theory on this Site but I know what is practical and fear play’s no part in our life today because we do the best we can one day at a time and the realization that everything passes,both good and bad.

        Families first.

        Financial strike now !



    Many continental teens travel to english speaking countries to help them learn a language.Irish teens rarely travel , apart from trips to the gaeltacht.You can’t learn a language from a book, Irish is the best example.Spanish is the best euro language, learnt to speak it in 1 yr in Miami.

    • Eireannach

      Actually, going to the Gaeltacht to chur feabhas ar do chuid Gaeilge is a distinct advantage and help if you want to go on to learn another language.

      Irish people, more than most students in the UK system, have a habit of studying grammar and different vowel and consonant sounds from all those years of Irish study. You should know that if you speak Spanish.

      Also, there are people who think learning Irish is a waste of time. What about the 172 gaelscoileanna, journalists for papers like Foinse and Lá, all the translation work for the civil service, radio and TV like TG4 and Raidio na Life? There is lots of work for Irish speakers – more than any other group in Ireland at the moment, I’d say.

      I say a job for an Irish speaker to design the curriculum for a gaelscoil (bunscoil). Starting salary €100K. That was a few months ago.

      • Eireannach

        I saw a job

      • The jobs you are talking about are all in the “Irish language” industry. The pity is that you can’t use Irish in the regular workplace in place of English. In Finland you see that there are certain companies or parts of companies where you get a critical mass of Swedish speakers and so they get a chance to use their preferred language without it being an artificial environment.
        In Ireland you have the very unusual situation that there is widespread antipathy to a language that was the main language of the country not so long ago. Personally it galls me that my forefathers abandoned Irish in favour of English. I do feel inferior to a Dane or an Icelander because I have to justify the fact that I am Irish but I don’t speak Irish as a first language.

    • coldblow

      You can’t learn to speak a language well from a book. One of the curiosities of Gaelic “as she is spoken” nowadays is the pronunciation of ‘ag’ in phrases like “ag déanamh” and “ag labhairt”. Even very good non-native speakers, who sensibly base their pronunciation on quality native speech, nearly always pronounce the ‘g’ in ‘ag’. Yet if you listen to native speakers, they don’t do this, but say a’ (except in front of a vowel). (Admittedly, in the last year or so I’ve heard newsreaders from Donegal on RnaG actually do this, but that’s another story). There is a difference, for example,between the two senses of “ag cruinniú” – if you don’t hear the g it means gathering, if you do it means at a meeting. “Of course”, before the Caighdeán Oifigiúil was devised ag used to be spelt a’ and reflected actual spoken usage. My son goes to a gaelscoil and he does it and won’t listen to me when I tell him it’s wrong. To quote Rigsby from Rising Damp, your eye tells you one thing and brain ear something else. I wonder if the Irish do this more than others, you know, respect the written word more rather than the real thing it is supposed to represent? In other words, is this just one more example of the old fondness for BS? But, again, there’s BS and there’s Euro-BS.

      Now yer Scotch Gaels do the same except for one word ‘ag ráidh’(rá)where they say it like “a grá”. Pay attention at the back there…

      English has its own rules of pronunciation. Everyone knows them instinctively but very few know what they are explicitly. The English have a few idiosyncracies of their own, I imagine. Take the phrase “Anna and her sisters”. Everyone in England except perhaps for the Queen and her ilk (and the Duke of Edinburgh, bonbon) would prounce this as “Anna rand her sisters”. So do I. They don’t realize they do it. Listen to Paxman on Newsnight this evening.

      For the moment I will leave it for others to explore other aspects of this gap between the written and the spoken word, the abstract and the physical world, the real world and the world of BS.

      • Eireannach

        The Irish, Bertie being a classic case, pronounce English ‘th’ as ‘t’ or even ‘d’.

        Dis, dat, de uder ting, etc.

        It doesn’t stop us speaking English.

        ‘Ag déanamh’ can be ‘egg dane-iv’ or ‘a dane-a’ and so on.

        You end up with accents.

        But the core point is to be able to speak Irish, like your son! These idiosyncracies are not that important.

        Let the native gaeilgeoirs mock the gaeilscoil graduates’ accents.

        But let them do so in a conversation in Irish, please God!

        An gaeilge beo go deo!

        • Colin

          Bertie should have taken elocution lessons amongst many udder lessons. He’s a disgrace to de English language. But I tink Bertie deliberately spoke dat way to ‘endear’ himself with the ‘ordinary’ folk of North Dublin, fooling them into thinking he was one of dem. Its a pity the things you have to do in Irish politics to get votes.
          There’s nothing to be proud of by speaking English with terrible harsh pronounciation. The number 3 is not a tree. Philip Molloy on Newstalk really annoys me – so much I need to turn over when he comes on the radio. Irish Emigrants looking for work abroad will find this out very early. Keep your accent but speak clearly, you can easily do both, Terry Wogan is an excellent example.

          • Adam Byrne

            Yep, I have always followed this method.

          • Eireannach

            Couldn’t agree more Colin.

          • flowerofthemountain

            Terry Wogan is a good exemplar. Or there’s Graeme Norton, the talented, somewhat ‘hysterical’ young pretender.

            Here, Graham researches how Americans can ‘fit in’ in Britain:

            Graham Norton – How To Speak British with Tracy Goodwin


            Any Irish and/or American following Tracy’s advice would end up in an ‘interesting’ space.

          • coldblow

            I don’t agree, Colin. (Congrats on job by the way.) When Wilfred Pickles read the news with a Yorkshire accent during the War there were complaints that he couldn’t be understood. I think that was just cover for saying that they disapproved of his accent.

            It seems that you will always have a special argot for the elite. When the rest of the people start to copy them them and to catch up they have to think of new ways to open up the gap again. This seems to include sound shifts, certain intonations or buzz words where you try to make you opponents in argument out as fools seeing as they have yet cottoned on to what they mean.

            Admittedly it seems that many exaggerate their own ‘accent’ as a badge of identity or whatever. But they seem to agree that their language is inferior.

            It’s an area where snobbery and stupidity really come into their own. If my son grows up with an RP accent, or its Irish equivalent, I will be disappointed.

            You are surely right that Bertie has ulterior motvies for laying it on thick.

          • Adam Byrne

            I was enjoying your post until you threw in the acronym RP (a very lazy use of language these days – acronyms) and I have no clue what RP stands for so your point was lost on me.

          • Colin

            Thanks Coldblow. Keep posting, but please tell me what RP is. Jargon, acronyms and initialisms are some of my pet hates .

          • coldblow

            Sorry, I hate acronyms myself. Often thrown in to bamboozle the uninitiated. But it’s an old one and you do still hear it. RP – Received Pronunciation, ie BBC/ public school speak.

          • coldblow

            The thing that struck me with the Wiki article on Pickles is the claim that his regional accent was a deliberate attempt to make it more difficult for the Nazis to impersonate BBC broadcasters. Sounds farfetched. More likely that is middle class rationalization of their intial shock at hearing non-RP on the airwaves.

  34. Language of Austerity

    Last sunday in a city church in Limerick the Priest announced that from that sunday the immigrants that usually attended the sunday mass were no longer going to attend anymore .

    Their reason was that they found the Irish had glum faces and feeling down trodden and too sad . So they are now attending a Pentecostal Service .

  35. bonbon

    This is very revealing, likely borrowed, quote :
    One of the most famous discoveries in biology in the last 50 years is that, in common with all young animals, the brains of children go through critical periods when they are particularly receptive to learning or mapping different forms and patterns of information.
    If people do not understand the brutal insult in that statement, they will not be able to deal with brutal austerity imposed by committees. This is exactly the same as Prince Philip’s “Man is a higher Ape”, and Bruton’s remark that son Prince Charles represents “everything we aspire to.”!

    The essential step to prepare a people for culling, is to convince them they are a form of animal. Language is permitted, degraded to Yahoo sounds, as Swift very well knew first hand. Today we have committees for French, English, German to standardize, removing unnecessary subjunctives as being, well not needed in business! This is why people fear Shakespeare!

    In a high tech society more complex utterances are permitted, jargon freely accepted. But do not try to communicate an idea with Metaphor!

    For example Ireland is or was the center for European high tech reference manuals, meaning M$ could find translators in Dublin. The numbing effect of these manuals is stunning.

    RTFM is an expletive!

  36. “This is why people fear Shakespeare!”
    I think people fear/dislike Shakespeare because he wrote in Early Modern English which means that you need to have annotations to understand a lot of it. It’s the same with Webster.
    You can’t read Old or Middle English without guidance because they are just too different to Modern English. Early Modern English is just about readable.

    • bonbon

      Shakespeare’s English is dense, packed with metaphor and starts the thinking process. So after getting by the little spelling differences, one is confronted with our present Brutish.

      People do not want to see how far we have fallen.

      Erecting a Tower of Babel, some kind of “superstate”, renders the elite as babbling idiots – EU-speak.
      For example Governance and Dilligence meaning dictatorship and fascist austerity – Brutish.

      Only one thing worse than globalization,
      “Globalization” as Gaelge.

      • I am studying English Literature through the OU at the moment. We have just done “Othello” by Shakespeare and “The Duchess of Malfi” by Webster. Spelling differences are not really a difficulty because it is normally obvious what was meant. what is difficult is that many of the words used are archaic or have another meaning now. Also there are many things in the texta that relate to contemporary political and cultural issues. That does not make easy reading.
        On the other hand there are countless authors writing in Modern English who write quite beautifully and accessibly. That is not to decry the value of reading Shakespeare but I don’t see how texts written for modern legislative purposes can be compared to this. If you read David Crystal’s work on English language history you will come across plenty of boring, inane texts written in Old English detailing the mundanities of life back then too.

  37. Eireannach


    You have the power to change that.

    The gaelscoileanna movement is one of the largest cultural shifts occuring in Ireland, comparible in its long term implications to the EU accession of the 10 East Europe countries , so many of whom now live and work in Ireland.

    In the coming 10-15 years, far, far more Irish people will be competent in Irish that at any time since the famine, due to bunscoileanna and meanscoileanna as Gaeilge.

    Google it – 10% of all Irish primary and secondary schools now conduct ALL of their daily classes uniquely in Irish. It’s breathtaking. The only thing stopping yet further expansion is the lack of gaeilgeoir teachers.

    Irish is making a comeback – how much it will change Ireland remains to be seen. The aspiration by parents to send their kids to gaeilscoileanna is huge.
    If we end up really and truly in the EU superstate – and we will – the interest in learning in Irish will go into high gear. It’s obvious.

    You mention Finland – a country linguistically colonized by Sweden but which revived its native language after independence. We didn’t succeed, but we have the medieval Catholic Church in charge of education. Now we are secular, now we dissassociate our language from the medieval lot who taught us the language in previous decades.

    Irish will make a comeback in the coming years. The seeds are being sown in the gaeilscoileanna.

    But “Learning Irish” by Micheal O Siadhail (book and CD set) or the “Turas Teanga”.

    Our President is a gaeilgeoir. An Gaeilge beo go deo!

    • @Eireannach
      I don’t live in Ireland any more so I am afraid that I won’t be changing things personally. I got an A in the LC in 1989 and I still listen to Irish and read novels when I have time. I speak a few words of Irish to the children (oíche mhaith, ná bí ag caoineadh srl.) but I don’t speak the language well enough to raise my children through it in a third country.
      My children speak Dutch as a first language (school) and Polish (from my wife) and English (from me) at home. We are bringing them up to respect all languages and definitely not to value English more than other languages. As they are trilingual and will inevitably take French/German/Spanish at school here I am pretty sure that learning Irish will not be a big deal if they want to learn it.
      I really hope that the Ireland you talk about comes about. The only time I have ever spoken Irish naturally in a city setting was in Belfast. I found that people there readily engaged in Irish as soon as they encountered another person who spoke Irish. Here I have a colleague who speaks Irish too (as a second language) and we have had ‘lón trí Ghaeilge’ but neither of us were really able to feel unself-conscious. If there were more people around me willing to speak Irish instead of English I would be all for it. In my daily life I speak at least three different languages each day so I am continually reminded of the fact that I am not speaking the language of my forefathers but regularly using other people’s tongues.

      “You mention Finland — a country linguistically colonized by Sweden but which revived its native language after independence”
      That’s not really correct. Sure, Swedish was the language of administration and education when Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden but there were always Swedish speakers in Finland who came with the original Viking settlements.
      Similarly to Ireland there was no concerted effort to wipe out Finnish so it just got a different status after independence, it did not have to be revived. It was similar to what happened to Flemish in Belgium which went from being low status to high status.
      In Ireland the Irish people abandoned Irish en masse in response to economic and political forces. The fact that our forefathera jumped like lemmings off a linguistic cliff is probably the reason why it is so hard for people to just to what the Israelis did and just speak the language that is claimed as ‘ár dteanga dúchais’.
      The mystery for me is why anybody would want English speaking schools in Ireland outside of those of British descent but my views from another planet compared to what I encounter when speaking to Irish people or reading their views in the media. People are often really proud to be English speakers.

      If there were an Irish speaking city I would definitely consider living in Irelan

      • Eireannach

        Galway is a city which at least brands itself ‘the cultural capital of Ireland’ and it’s pubs are full of TG4, Raidio na Gaeltachta and Bórd Scannán na hÉireann media types. Michael D has worked tirelessly for these folks, setting up TG4 and so on. He’es their man, and he’s now also the President.

        This is very encouraging for the gaeilgeoir movement in Ireland.

        The two cities most likely to be semi-Irish speaking in the future are Belfast and Galway. Not Dublin, Cork or Limerick, that’s for sure.

        Cities always brand themselves different from each other, to clarify what they’re about as cities. Galway brands itself as the gaelgeoir city. I think in the coming years it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it’ll be increasingly gaelgeoir.

        The whole Galway city project could almost be described as the Gaelgeoir revival project. The largest concentration of gaeilgeoir meanscoileanna as Gaeilge are in Co. Galway, outside the Gaeltacht proper.

        Our President for 7 years, who knows, maybe 14, represents this region and this cultural movement. This is deeply significant.

        It’s the people in the midlands – neither Gaeolgeoirs nor Anglophiles, who are caught between 2 poles of attraction. Many are emigrating to Australia, NZ or North America….this will profoundly effect the future.

        They may not feel at home in an increasingly Gaelophone and European Ireland of the future.

        • Colin

          I remember hearing the Galwegians saying “Galway is different” when the edifice of Irish property prices started crumbling in 2007. Turns out the couldn’t talk up the local property market and the prices there keep falling to this day. Also, they seemed very proud of their ‘expensive’ properties in the boom. Its a city thriving on bullshit, from the Galway races washout to the crusties who think they’re beyond cool. The bullshit extended to them thinking they needed their own airport when Shannon is within 1 hour’s journey from Galway. The sense of entitlement that place has is unreal.

          • Adam Byrne

            Haha funny Colin.

          • Eireannach

            I agree that there’s an insufferable snobbery in Galway, from crusties to Gaeilgeoirí.

            But their man is in the Áras and that counts.

          • Adam Byrne

            Bloody smelly crusties, dog on a piece of string. Arse about face ideologies.

          • Pedro Nunez

            Ya Galway is ‘Gombeen nation’ theme park.
            I went to college there, the smell of BS hung in the air when as I arrived, it took a long time to shake that smell off and the 3rd rate teaching of its glorified ‘gentrified crustie finishing school’.

            Most people admit that to live in Galway is the death of ambition, unless its BSitting PR spin-offs

    • bonbon

      And Michael D., economist, dedicated to ideas, is the only European president to clearly pin down the cause of the financial disaster – the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

      This is no coincidence. Ireland never had the bestiality of the Roman Empire; it had later the British Third Empire. Because of this, for example, the St. Gallen Scriptorium has the first written vernacular of the continent, all done by Irish scholars. Charlemagne could neither read nor write, yet opened 600 schools, had Alcuin as advisor educated at Kells.
      And just look at the old Irish alphabet taught into the 1960′s. Look again – It’s mostly the Greek alphabet! Look at the Chi Ro on the Book of Kells.
      Greek, the culture of ideas. Now standardized to match “european” idea-free rules!

      For this reason Homer is the father of Europe.
      A bankster or Bertlesman committee is no match!

  38. CorkPlasticPaddy

    Hey, Eireannach,I’m sorry to have to bring you back out of your ‘dream world’, but the only reason why those parents send their ‘little darlings’ to gaelscoil is because the students end up in way smaller classes then they would in the National Schools. It’s got nothing to do with them learning Irish although they do end up learning the language. It’s just to do with the parents having a certain amount of ‘snob’ value when they get into conversation with their friends.

    • Eireannach

      Well if they end up learning the language it has EVERYTHING to do with the language, hasn’t it?

      They’ll be Irish speakers in the future – 10,000s of them.

      Whatever their parents motivation, that’ll be the outcome and it’ll change Ireland.

  39. stiofanc02

    Did anyone hear Dan Boyle singing on RTE radio this morning? What a lousy voice and crappy material, he wrote it himself and his piano playing sucked too. It was so bad that even Phat Skinney couldnt bring himself to say nice one Dan, or good job. It was pretty damn bad. But he,y there is your license fee at work and as well as that, does the green fella get a pension? It was horrific listening let me tell you.

  40. Tiresias

    Learning one language well will help them learning others. If the parents can also get their kids into smaller classes by this means, it looks like a good stragegy to me. Language capacity is language capacity, in whatever language. We should be using our knowledge of Irish as the basis for becoming a plurilingual society of people happy to communicate in lots of langauges.

    • Eireannach

      +1 Tiresias

      When I was in France learning French my English friends couldn’t believe the speed I picked it up.

      I told them it was because I studied a “foreign” language from the age of 5-17 in school in Ireland – Irish. Thus, I wasn’t daunted by the prospect of learning French.

      Now I speak French. I’m grateful to the Irish education system for my self-confidence in learning another language.

      An Gaeilge beo go deo!

      • Eireannach

        That should be ‘An Ghaeilge beo’ of course because the noun Gaeilge is feminine.

        Lord, if we had more exchanges as Gaeilge it’d all come back to us!

        Speaking Irish would do wonders for the moral of this country.

        Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir!

  41. CorkPlasticPaddy


    Sorry, I didn’t understand what you said!! Irish is a foreign language to me. If you said what you had to say in French or German I might have undertood you. Didn’t the ‘handle’ CorkPlasticPaddy give you a clue in that department???

  42. Eireannach

    Fair enough Paddy! You’re obviously a real plastic Paddy. If you learn Irish you could be, like the C13-16 Normans, ‘more Irish than the Irish themselves’.

    My point is that there are 10,000s of Gaelic-speaker ‘hatchlings’ being reared in our primary and secondary schools. They will not have the same negative view of the Irish language that the 1960s-80s generation had, my generation, who associated Irish with medieval Christian Brothers and nuns.

    On the contrary, they will use Irish as a code to recognise one another, and in what may become a snobby twist, Irish will become an ‘insiders’ language to identify those who went to good schools, and talk over the heads of those who went to bad schools.

    I lived abroad from 2001-2008, when I came back I noticed Irish everywhere – TV, radio, all the brochures and explanatory panels in museums, etc. Festivals with titles in Irish everywhere. It’s a grassroots thing and it’ll grow in the future, because the gaeilscoil movement will ensure that it’ll grow.

    Irish will become a language associated with good schooling and good breeding.

    If you don’t speak it you’ll be a bit down the social hierachy. You’ll be a one-trick pony with your ‘Languages – English’ on your CV. Other kids from your class will have ‘Languages – English, Polish’ or ‘Languages – English, Irish, Latvian’ and so on.

    The ‘Irish’ on the CV will be a chance for the interviewer to ask what school you went to – as Gaeilge, ar ndóigh! (in Irish, of course!)

    This is what will happen. The gaelscoileanna graduates will be like the grammar school graduates with their rugby and cricket and yaughting were for the Celtic Tiger.

    The seeds are being planted up and down the country and all that remains is to visualize the tree that will grow from those seeds.

    The number of Gaelscoileanna is breathtaking – 172 and growing.

    All the mammies want their kids to enrole in a gaelscoil, because they know which way the wind is blowing. Some of them may brag and be snobby about it – you’ll always have that. But a massive army of Irish speakers – in a decade, your going to see those CVs.

    • CorkPlasticPaddy

      Eireannach, what good will it prove to have Irish as one of their languages on their CV’s? Does anyone other than Irish people speak Irish? What’s your point? If I had a son or daughter in the Irish education system I’d make sure that they went away and learnt a language that might prove useful to them in their working lives such as French, German, Spanish or even Mandarin Chinese!! What good would their native language be to them in those countries I’ve listed? None whatsoever!!! The only way it might prove useful is if they got a job in one of the Gaeltacht areas otherwise they might as well be ‘pissing against the wind’ for all the use Irish would be to them in any other situation!!
      You know as well as I do that governments down through the years have only played lip service to the Irish Language and that’s all that’s going to happen for the forseeable future, so, why bother putting so much effort into teaching it in schools when resources could be better used to teach ‘useful’ languages instead????

      • No no, let’s through another few tons of dosh into force feeding language skills that have zero practical use whatsoever for the future of children but satisfy the nationalist sentiment of a generation on the brink of extinction instead.

        I’d say lat us make a Graecum, Latinum and Irish exams mandatory from primary school to leaving cert. We greatly enhance the future prospect of our kiddos and hey, there is secondary business involved as well.

        Gaelic Logitech keyboards, produced in Dublin, and exported all over the world to the millions of diaspora Irish who can not wait to type supporting emails home in gaelic.

        • “zero practical use whatsoever”
          It has been said so many times but just to repeat. If you successfully learn Irish then other languages tend to be easier. I speak from experience, I can speak ten languages and Irish was my first ‘foreign’ language. Why wouldn’t you want to learn the historical language of your country? It’s not really that difficult.

          • Amazing .I am curious what languages are they ?

          • English is my mother tongue. I learned Irish and French at school. I took French as a minor at university and then did all of the DELF and DALF exams.
            I learned German first at the Goethe Institut in Dublin and later I lived in Duesseldorf for a year.
            I learned basic Dutch when I lived in Eindhoven as a student. Later I did a four week summer course at the University of Amsterdam and now I live in Holland so Dutch is my second language.
            My wife is Polish and I learned that through exposure and Teach Yourself Polish. My wife speaks Polish in the home so I use that language every day.
            My ex was a Finland Swede so I learned Swedish from her and later took courses too. I understand Swedish well but my spoken level is basic.
            I go to Spain regularly and I have taken many Spanish courses and the first DELE exam. I have a subscription
            to Punto y Coma and I read Spanish as often as I can so my level in Spanish is intermediate.
            Italian is my favourite language to listen to. I have only done one basic course in Italian but I have a subscription to Adesso so I read Italian regularly. Italian has a big overlap with English, Spanish and French so it is easy enough to get by in.
            Finally I have been learning Japanese for a number of years and I go to Japan once or twice a year with my work. As it has a totally different script Japanese is really difficult. Not being able to read native materials is a major stumbling block, that’s what makes European languages (even ones with Cyrillic realtively easy). With Japanese there are two phonetic character sets (hiragana and katakana) which are easy to learn. However there are ~2200 Chinese characters called Kanji and I know only aboout 200 of them.
            Japanese is difficult but it is much easier than Mandarin or Cantonese (tonal languages with ~5000 characters you need to learn). People who say that Irish is useless and that we should learn Mandarin really don’t know how big a challenge that would be.

        • Harper66

          Irish. The language is called Irish not gaelic.

          Several years ago after a wonderful holiday in the south of France I sat on the plane waiting to return home.

          To pass the time I texted a friend of mine. I recieved a text back telling me the weather was awful back home – heavy rain.

          I turned to the lady across the aisle to me and told her the weather was poor in Ireland. She was French and was coming to holiday in Ireland with her family.

          I jokingly apologised for the weather in Ireland and asked why she would want to leave such beautiful weather to come to rainy Ireland.

          She laughed but then listed out to me all the things she was looking forward to seeing and doing on her holiday – it was all cultural.

          The Irish language is unique and is part of a unique culture . To expierence this is a reason for holiday makers to visit this country.

          Of course we knock and deride it at every chance. I cannot understand why. It is almost as if people have an agenda to do so.

          • coldblow

            Nah, Gaelic. When I first came here I was told “We don’t call it Gaelic here, we call it Irish!” So I’ve never looked back.

          • Harper66

            You can call it what you like coldblow but the language is called Irish.

            Why do you object to caling the language by its proper name?

          • coldblow

            That’s what I am doing. You are the one telling people what to call it. Who says Irish is its proper name? Is there an Academy of the (English) language here? What other rules are prescribed for the Englsh language, be they explicit or implicit? Is it correct to say BallaghaDERReen or BallaghaderREEN as you hear everywhere nowadays? The former is the way my parents say it and comes directly from the original Ir… (sorry, Gaelic). But a Guard once stopped me on the Galway road and on hearing my reply as to where I was going insolently corrected my pronunciation to BallaghederREEN. Similarly are we to refer to MAYo rather than MayO just because Orr Tee Ee say it? The fact that most people from Balla have now stepped into line with recent usage is merely further evidence of cultural cringe. Hyde would have understood.

            Or, for writing, why is it considered wrong to use letter z for the endings of words ending in -ize? Although this is the dictionary form? Who decides this? The IT? I once asked my boss why he corrected my spelling in submissions going up the line – it’s because the z is American. Not true. It was the English spelling. And what matter if it were American (which it isn’t) – is American English inferior to that of ex-masters? Who decided this?

            Irish is the usual word for the language among the Irish themselves, but they don’t own the copyright, or the English language for that matter. I think my parents call it Gaelic as well as Irish – I’ll have to check with them over Christmas. Americans tend to call it Gaelic in my experience. Some foreigners are confused by the term “Irish” and think it refers to the English spoken here. And as I implied in my earlier post, just because I came to live in Ireland and was told how I was to refer to the language I don’t see why I am obliged to follow this direction. Is it the case that Irish people have never heard the word Gaelic, or if they have that they don’t know what it refers to? Is it the case that they cannot actually understand what Bartholomew Ahern is saying, rather than that they don’t like the way he insists on saying it?

            Nah, it’s Gaelic. Why do you object to people calling it what they want?

      • Eireannach

        My mate works for Raidio na Life and he’s got a pensionable job for life on good money.

        Teaching jobs in gaeilscoileanna REQUIRE fluency in Irish, nobody else need apply.

        Hasn’t it occured to you that with so many people leaving gaeilscoileanna in the future, you may NEED Irish for a lot more jobs than you do today?

        Hasn’t it occured to you that the civil service and police and so on might REQUIRE fluent Irish in the future in a country with 10,000s of gaelgeoirí?

        Obviously if you speak a foreign language it’s very practical, and on balance you’d have to prioritize European languages over Irish.

        Nonetheless, there are jobs in Ireland today – in gaeilscoils, on TG4, in the National Museum, in Foras na Gaeilge, and on and on and on….that REQUIRE fluent Irish.

        Like you said you’re a plastic Paddy – you don’t even know that much, you blow-in!!

        I work in the tourism industry with the French market – 280,000 visitors in 2011, of which 43,000 on coach tours. If you don’t speak French you needn’t apply!

        I said it already but I’ll say it again – the Irish speakers will hire each other and look after each other in jobs in the future. Once they get into positions of authority, when they’re hiring people, they’ll HIRE THEIR OWN ya nit-wit!!

        • redriversix

          I hope you come across better to tourist’s than you do to reader’s on this site……..

          • Eireannach

            I don’t like the anti-European tone of this site and I will never, ever apologize for attacking the anti-Europeans on this site.

            They are a disgrace to this country.

            Having a beef with continental bond-holders is totally understandable.

            Anti-European bigotry is going to get it in the head from me every single time.

            I love my country, but not the small-minded bigots who give the place a bad name.

            I work for the other side of the force.

            May the force be with you – as long as you’re not an anti-European xenophobe.

          • Eireannach

            As for Irish who hate the gaeilgeoir movement – they can f**k off and emigrate, as far as I’m concerned.

            So Irish people who hate the Irish and European languages – monoglut Anglophile xenophobes, basically – my advice is move to the Tory City of London so we can bomb you all in one go and blame it on Al Qaeda.

          • flowerofthemountain


            I note your endorsement of mass murder:

            ‘So Irish people who hate the Irish and European languages — monoglut Anglophile xenophobes, basically — my advice is move to the Tory City of London so we can bomb you all in one go and blame it on Al Qaeda.’

            If you were attempting ‘irony’, it really doesn’t come across. What’s Irish/Gaelic for ‘irony’?

            I wonder if you share your desires for mass murder in London with your French customers? No doubt, they would be ‘surprised’ to hear that ‘authentic Irish people’ still retain such atavistic asymmetrical war plans against their ‘enemies’: enemies which include other ‘Irish’ people with insufficient Irish purity.

            You write:

            ‘I don’t like the anti-European tone of this site and I will never, ever apologize for attacking the anti-Europeans on this site. They are a disgrace to this country.’

            No, Eireannach: You are a disgrace to this site, to the very notion of what it is to be Irish, and a disgrace to everything honorable to have emerged from Irish history and culture.

            I’m against censorship but David will suffer serious ‘reputational damage’ if he doesnt’ challenge and/or ban you for these remarks. As the son of an Irish bus driver in Birmingham: I have no intention of allowing your casual calls for mass murder in British cities to go unchallenged. Who, exactly, were ‘The Birmingham Six’?

            I may also bring your remarks to the attention of the appropriate office of the Garda Siochana, who will no doubt have concerns about your proximity to innocent people as part of your current employment.

            ‘we can bomb you all in one go and blame it on Al Qaeda.’

            Who is this ‘we’ you refer to? Are you advertising your membership of a paramilitary terrorist group? If so, I trust your plans receive the attention they deserve.

            Yours sincerely
            Molly Bloom
            aka: Mad Paddy From Brum, etc

    • Colin

      That is a myth we learned at school about foreigners coming here in the past becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves. Wellington born in Dublin as John Allen points out did not consider himself Irish. Same regarding Oscar Wilde, yet we have hundreds of Oirish Pubs around the world called “The Oscar Wilde”. Gaelic Ireland lost in the cultural battle. We all use English more than Irish in our everyday lives.

      Our recent arrivals from Poland visit their own ethnic stores for their food and drink purchasing. They have no intention of becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves, no Irish stew for them, or bacon and cabbage with spuds swimming in butter. No, they import their own pork from Poland. Your schoolteacher was using Fianna Fail Historical Propaganda when he told you that.

      • Adam Byrne

        Their kids will eventually become very Irish though Colin. And by the time you get to grandchildren, they have assimilated completely.

      • Eireannach

        Irish lost the battle?

        Tell that to the graduates of the 172 gaeilgeoir bunscoileanna and 39 meanscoileanna who’ll be walk around Irish as adults in the next few years with more that their “cúpla focail”.

        Will they use Irish as a way to get ahead of others who don’t? Of course they will!

        Will they hire their own over and above the monoglut Anglophones? Of course they will!

        Will they have a sense of solidarity and fraternity lacking in the monglut Anglophone community? Of course they will!

        English will always be the dominant language in Ireland. But the terrain will be more diverse in C21.

        There are jobs in Ireland that require Irish, French, German, Spanish and so on, and nobody else need apply.

        There’ll be communities of different language speakers in Ireland in the future – including Irish – who’ll stick together and work toegether get ahead of the masses.

    • Colin

      The gaelscoileanna represents a chattering class Irish cunning response to prevent immigrant’s children in Ireland mixing with their precious Killian or Sorcha. Its a rejection of the liberal lefty multiculturalism experiment being foisted on Ireland without any consultation. I dare say, you’ll probably find the children of people employed in NGOs advocating asylum seekers rights more likely to be attending a gaelscoil, but they’ll expect other Irish people’s children to do the mixing in junior society, as most immigrants here tend not to live in the affluent neighbourhoods in Ireland.

      • Harper66

        My nephews attend a gael scoil. It is one of the most receptive schools in the locality for welcoming children of all backgrounds and races.

        • Colin

          An honourable exception perhaps, but I’ve spoken to teachers who privately admit to me that the gaelscoil is there to keep out foreigners.

          • Harper66

            No Colin I don’t think so.

            Quite appalled by your statement that gaelscoil are there to keep out foreigners. Who are these teachers? What other insights did they offer?

            If you get another “private” moment, could you ask your contacts in the teaching fraternity if it’s the gaelscoil behind the recent economic instability?

          • Colin

            Harper, who are you, the Stasi Secret Police? I won’t tell you their names. All you need to know is that I believe them to be telling the truth as they have no motive for making up lies like that. Also, same goes for me, I have no motive for making up a lie like that. Look at my posts, I don’t tell lies.

            Now, it looks like you can’t/won’t consider that the gaelscoil movement is keeping immigrants out of the schools. If you are dogmatic about it, then I can’t change your mind.

            What I will do is search the internet for a report on the backgrounds of children attending gaelscoileanna, and those who attend non-gaelscoileanna, and if I can discover a stastical anomoly regarding the two grouos, I will tell you. I’m confident I will find it, but less confident you will accept it.

            And less of the ‘I’m appaled” remarks please, I’m not here trying to appall people, I’m here to shine a light on dimly lit aspects of Irish society.

      • Adam Byrne

        Interesting and plausible theory although I wouldn’t know enough about it to decide either way whether it’s accurate.

  43. Eireannach

    I believe the original Irish as we know it here came from NW Africa and not Europe .And it arrived by Boat .

    • Colin

      The evidence points to North West Spain and the Northern part of Portugal. Look at Andre Villas Boas the new Chelsea Manager. He looks like he was plucked up from a Main Street in Tipperary. Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata look like they’re brothers. If you showed someone from Asia with no interest in golf a photo of Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia, they would I guess be very unsure which one is Irish and which one is Spanish.

      • Colin

        I agree but before they arrived there where did they come from.Given that mankind came from Africa and only some came the route Niger/ Congo River route from Senegal to Atlantic by boat .

        The rest from Africa came through NE Africa into Saudi Arabia etc

        • Colin

          We’d need to look into what the Greeks and the Romans said about the people of Iberia and the people of Ifrica. We know Cartagena in south east Spain was founded by the Carthaginians, who originally came from what is called Phonecia, modern day Lebannon. Greeks founded the city of Gades, modern day Cadiz in the far south of Spain. We know Iberia was divided into different provinces, with different peoples.

          Regarding the Berbers of North Africa, Zinadine Zidane being an example, they don’t look like the people of Iberia, and they are different to the Arabs too.

          • My point now as before ‘these originals’ from west coast of africa arrived by large boats known as the GAL ( splash boat )…thus SeneGAL , PortuGAL, GALway , dun na nGAL .

            The word ‘Curragh’ (baby splash boat ) is also an African word meaning a baby boat of the GAL

          • Are Fine GAeL the boat people ?

          • Incidently the word GAeL is the basque for Irish .So we must have been the boat people .

            Also the Viking boat ( people from the fjords) is by design the same as the original Gal boat.

            Too mush evidence points to the Gal.

            Dingle is a bastardised word for Dun na nGAL .

          • Eireannach

            John Allen,

            May I recommend Bob Quinn’s excellent documentary ‘The Atlantean Irish’ discussing the origins of the Galway hooker boat called the Púcán. Basically its a Moroccan dhow.

            Similarly the Irish word for a black man is ‘fear gorm’, meaning blue man.

            In Morocco blacks are called blue men because the Tuareg wear blue turbans.

            Aran knitwear patterns are the same as the geometry on Moroccan pottery.

            Celtic knotwork is the same as Moroccan knotwork.

            And so on. Check it out John, you’d like it.

          • I sat beside Bob Quinn at a wedding in 2006 and was telling him I was penning my wee book a sort of Atlantean thing .He was puzzelled and asked where was my Atlantean I said off the coast of Galway .He said thats ok mine is off north Africa.

            He then said , do you not feel mad writing a book , and I responded , yes of course . But I am not insane . We both laughed.

    • Eireannach

      Correct John! Well done, top marks.

      Irish is a Celtic-Hamito-Semitic language. It’s grammatical structure reveals traces of a North African language underneath European Celtic.

      So the Iron Age Language of Ireland is from Europe (Celtic) but whatever we were speaking before during the Bronze Age was Hamito-Semitic (from North Africa).

    • bonbon

      Irish, ancient Gadelic, now Gaeilge, is Indo-European. That is easy. Basque, Finnish, Komi (Sami I am not sure) are not. The languages can be written in different scripts, epigraphy. So for example Ogham can be used for Gadelic or Phoenician.
      Indo-European stories have been dated, and localized to their original sources. Best example is Gandhar Tilak’s Orion. The key is cosmogenic or astronomic movements in the tales.
      So what does Indo-European mean? Migration across Asia from India? There is a better idea, common migration from the Arctic down the coasts and to India after the last Ice Age. Tilak localizes the old stories to further than 66N by the position of constellations, precessed Pole Star, and the 6-month day.
      Look now at ancient Irish epics. Hamlet’s Mill looks at a vast array of stories, including non-Indo-European Finnish in the same way. These stories were spoken for at least 6000 years before writing. Stories over many generations, accurate information not lost. That’s human culture.
      With this insight the Odyssey and Illiad are open books.
      Look at the story of Cuchulain – he kills the hound with a ball. The dog star Sirius and Orion have a special astronomic movement and alignment. Sirius under the horizon means its defeat. Orion – the Saighdiur – is it Setanta? We all know Osiris, Seth, and Orion from Beauval’s Giza presentation. We know the movement of Sirius. When was this story first spoken (sung)?
      Language this way can be dated scientifically. It is amazingly resilient, accounting for the brutality of its suppression by various empires. Language is also identity. Writing was likely a way to counter repeated cultural destruction. Homer complained the new (Phoenician) alphabet was killing the great “Seannos” epic oratory. But the Ionians lost their written script after Troy for 800 years until Homer (50 years before him).
      Standardizing language removes most of this, cutting people off from their unique history. What remains is rootless, easily fed with beliefs like “Euro”.

      • Adam Byrne

        Hungarian is not Indo-European either – it’s Ugric.

        The grammatical structure takes some getting used to but it’s well worth the effort. Gave me a new way of thinking.

      • coldblow


        “Language is also identity.”

        Well said. Some have lectured me in the past saying: language is just communication.

        There have been a number of these, what, truisms over the years.

        You can’t go wrong with property.

        You can’t eat scenery.

        Anyone remember: A car is a loaded weapon?

    • bonbon

      Since we are discussing language, not DNA, the link of N.Africa to Ireland is the written script Tifinag which Tuareg spoke and used until 1802. The writing was re-discovered not only in Ireland but also in North America. By the way Ogham is also found in many North American sites, mainly coastal, some pre-christian (no chi-ro), and in Gadelic.
      On boats, Caesar’s famous description of the battle of Quimper where Brutus defeated the Celts by chaining the sails, is the best source. These boats were capable of crossing the “great ocean” and the Romans had nothing like them. Celts preferred swan necks, not the monsters of the Vikings, on the prow. So these were much bigger than Pucans.
      After Caesar Atlantic traffic stopped.

      • bonbon

        Brendan retraced the voyages a few hundred years later, and Columbus knew this. See his Toscanelli map with the St. Brendan Island.

  44. Paris75013

    I agree with Colin. Have read many articles saying that Gaelscoil is nothing more than an elitist school for parents who don’t want to send their children to the local for example Educate Together school. What has changed in Irish society in recent years is the attitude towards Irish. Since the 90s, the Irish language has started to experience new popularity in Ireland. The same goes for Irish culture both in Ireland and abroad (success of River Dance etc).

    I’m not so sure about the future of the Irish language in Ireland, never mind Europe. This is of course very sad. Wasn’t there talk recently about making it non compulsory for the Leaving Cert and getting into college? There was also talk about being able to train as a primary teacher in Ireland, without having to do Irish. I think that in the next 20 to 30 years, Irish will become a dead language (jut like Gaelic in Brittany), but we’ll still hear a few everyday words like Taoiseach, slan … I read a book once about the history of languages in Europe and it was really fascinating. Languages evolve, and sometimes disappear. That’s just the way it goes.

    I’m pretty sure that Polish is the second most spoken language in Ireland today. Look at the all websites in Ireland which are in 2 languages, English and Polish. Wasn’t there at one stage a daily Polish newspaper a few years ago (not sure if it is still around).

    The economic environment is the priority for Ireland today. Shouldn’t we be showing the rest of the world how many of our pupils are studying Chinese?

    • Eireannach

      Well if the gaeilscoil graduates are elitist, will they become a sort of elite using Irish to include some and exclude others?

      Of course!

      Can’t you dopes see that?

      You must have gone to crap schools yourselves and have an anti-elite beef.

      • Colin


        I will personally vow to never hire any individual who attended a gaelcsoileanna. More people will see them for what they are and hopefully take the same approach as me. Stick your elitist crap up where the sun don’t shine.

  45. CorkPlasticPaddy

    I rest my case!!!!

    • redriversix

      Evening all

      Just to clarify the topic of Irish language.

      Irish is utterly,completely,useless as a “language”

      It’s teaching is such a complete waste of time and resources that it beggar’s belief.

      Chinese,German or indeed any other language would be of much better use to our children and indeed ourselves than this dead,antiquated, “language”.



      • “Chinese,German or indeed any other language would be of much better use to our children”
        Really? I learned Irish at school and German later in evening classes at the Goethe Institut. I think that you underestimate how difficult Mandarin is compared to European languages. Japanese has ¬2200 Chinese characters and two phonetic syllabaries. That is a difficult language but a lot easier than Mandarin.
        If you think that Irish is difficult I would not bother with any Chinese language.

        • redriversix

          I am not saying it would be easy,but it is worth a try,just like most useful thing’s in life.

          • Yes but it is a lot easier to learn Irish first. If Irish kids are having an issue with learning a language that is all around them at school, in place names, on the radio, on television etc. I doubt that they are going to find a totally foreign language any easier.
            In the 1980s everybody said that we should learn Japanese. Some Irish people did but they normally had some extra connection to Japan. All Irish people have a connection to the Irish language.

          • Eireannach

            You’re don’t speak any language apart from English, it’s obvious.

            Alors fou le camp, con.

      • I agree but a countries language is related to location , landscape, weather ,laws and the earth we live on.It will be interesting if Ireland can bridge a highway with Poland in the foreseeable future with economic benefits .

      • bonbon

        True you cannot buy a language at Macy’s and wear it or drive it. So it is useless.
        Cats and dogs forego teaching a language (although we can teach them up to 250 words with verbs). They are much too efficient.

        And the simplest language to learn is Mandarin or Cantonese, more kids do that every day than any other.

        More people learn a totally synthetic language never actually spoken – Latin.

        Today the most useful language is C#, re-worked C++. Ask M$ !

        • Deco

          The computer language C is actually a very good way of learning logical problem solving/thinking.

          And the surprising thing is that once you get past the initial six weeks, everything then becomes straightforward.

          I recommend it, as a life skill.

  46. My wife is deputy principle of a country primary school and the only teacher in the school with a degree in French .She takes early retirement next week .

    Many of her ex pupils who since received their degrees in French attribute their knowledge in primary school as an advantage later in life .

  47. redriversix

    War in Iraq declared over….


    yeah right..and Enda has our best interest’s at heart !!

    • Paris75013

      best interests (spelling!).

      Sorry but English and languages were always my best subjects!

      • The French are very hard on foreigners speaking French and nothing less than perfection will satisfy them .

        Its the flavour that is more important than what you are eating that wins the admiration of the French.Sometimes they forget to eat but they will never forget the smell.

      • redriversix

        Thank you Paris75013

        I really don’t know what to say……….

        Perhaps have a glass of wine and chill out..?

    • bonbon

      And Obama needs the troops to start WWIII. After all Bush Jr. declared Iraq over in 16/04/2003.

  48. gizzy

    Interesting that a lot of the senior politicians can switch flawlessly into gaelic and being bilingual does not stop thrm being totally out of their depth.

    • Eireannach

      Yes but I’d bet speaking Irish didn’t do their career progress any harm.

      Look at Michael D.

      • bonbon

        Michael D. stands out because he speaks of ideas in at least 2 languages. “Ideas need time” in an anti-intellectual Tiger culture.
        Real ideas can only be communicated with metaphor, demanding a real command of language. And language is for communication after all.
        The subjunctive has survived in Irish, and is almost removed in German, French, and English after repeated committees.

    • bonbon

      I agree, and you can be sure the new damned Treaty will be rendered in perfect Irish. Sure to make Colmcille turn in his grave.

  49. gizzy

    God protect us from zealots

  50. CorkPlasticPaddy

    First and foremost I’m not a nitwit and secondly I’m not a ‘blow in’. I may have been born in England of Irish parents and I consider myself to be Irish. In point of fact I chose to be Irish. When I applied for a passport I had to decide between either one for the UK or an Irish one and I chose the Irish option. I don’t have an English accent either in fact I have a Cork accent and I’m proud of that fact and if you’re wondering how I have a Cork accent it’s down to the fact of I spending considerable time here in Ireland back in the 50′s along with I also enjoying long and hot summer holidays during the 60′s here as well.
    I’m not anti-Europe. I’m just anti-Merkel and anti- Sarkozy and anti-bondholder. So, stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!!!!

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