Emma Power im Interview mit Tatar Radio

Die Irisch-Lektorin des Instituts für Sorabistik, Emma Power/Emma de Paor, im Interview mit dem Tatarischen Radiosender Azatlıq Radiosı/Азатлык Радиосы über Minderheitensprachen:

https://www.azatliq.org/a/30145987.html

Hier die Übersetzung ins Englische:

 

Could you briefly tell us the history of Irish language? When was the period when it was strong, and what reasons helped decrease its popularity?

Irish is a Goidelic language which is part of the Celtic and wider Indo-European language group. It can be dated back as far as the 4th century AD to its primitive stage and as it transitioned into Old then Middle Irish by the 10th Century, it was spoken throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Irish was the main language spoken in Ireland up until around the 19th Century.

From this time on, English became the more favourable language for many reasons. During the years of British rule over Ireland, many laws were set in place banning the use of Irish in Parliament, court and in everyday interactions. The Great Famine in 1845 saw the loss of over 2 million people in Ireland between death and emigration and this took a toll on the language itself.

By the early 19th century, it was the language of the poor in the rural west. It declined completely in the east of the country and collapsed even in the west.

As we heard, today Irish language has strong process of revitalization. Could you describe these measures, what kind of projects are being done to develop Irish language?

There has long been revival attempts and progress with Irish, some even dating back to the late nineteenth century.

Conradh na Gaeilge is a social and cultural organisation which promotes the Irish language in Ireland and worldwide. This was founded in 1893 and is still active today.

This organisation along with others helped with the establishment of TG4, an Irish public service broadcaster for Irish-language speakers in 1996. This is a crucial resource for language learners and speakers that offers television in Irish as well as Raidio na Gaeltachta which offers radio, podcasts and an online website all through the Irish language.

Seachtain na Gaeilge or ‘Irish Language Week’ is a 2 week-long festival at the beginning or March that coincides with St. Patrick’s Day that promotes and emphasises the Irish language. Many events throughout the country as well as the world are held to celebrate and draw attention to Irish which is hugely successful.

There are so many projects and events that are constantly popping up and being developed for Irish such as Gaeilge 24 – a nationwide event where thousands of students take part by speaking Irish for 24 hours both inside and outside of school/university and IMRAM – an Irish language literature festival which has been running since 2004.

Efforts from universities to offer Irish speaking accommodations for students which a scholarship awarded to those accepted have become more and more popular with many choosing to live in and Irish speaking community for university. I was lucky enough to avail of this in my final year of studying and benefited greatly from being around peers with similar interests and language skills.

Pop-up Gaeltachts are offering Irish speakers and learners to attend an evening of speaking Irish in local cafes and bars not only in Ireland but around the world! A friend of mine has organised one in Canada and from what I have heard, there was a great turnout!

There are too many projects to mention but thankfully efforts are constantly being made and more and more interest is being sparked within the Irish-speaking community.

What do you think, what are the most important fields of language use when you want to make it popular? Education, language teaching, culture etc?

In my opinion, it is a mixture of a lot of components. Having a positive experience of the language in the education system, especially from a young age, later reflects attitudes towards the language.

Prioritising the practical application and the appreciation for the language and its history should be favoured over a strict curriculum that is based on regurgitation and a lack of understanding of what the language means. Some schools get it right, others get it wrong and this unfortunately causes a huge rift in people's outlooks on the language. Negative views can sometimes be passed down from parents who didn’t get a positive language experience in school to their kids who may just be starting in the education system.

Opinions can of course be changed and new interest can constantly be sparked in a language through culture movements in the music and arts scene with both young and old. I’ve noticed that linking a language with its cultural roots and history can be important to many. A combination of fields collectively make a language popular as different aspects appeal to different people.

What's your opinion, is compulsory teaching of minority language is essential to make it popular? Does it really influence language development?

I do feel that compulsory teaching is an important factor of making a minority language popular, more specifically from an early age in the primary cycle in school. Giving everyone the chance to learn the basics at the same level and bring students to a common knowledge of the language and then allowing a later choice to continue learning it, I think, is an ideal situation.

I wouldn’t say that it is absolutely essential to make it popular as many factors need to be taken into account. People often take a later interest in a language but having that basis from a young age draws attention to the language and allows children to develop their own interest in it and learn it much more naturally. Speaking from experience, I attended an Irish speaking primary school and although it was compulsory to speak Irish, it became so natural to me that it would have a no-brainer decision for me to continue it in secondary school had it been an option and not compulsory.

I can only speak for myself and what I have experiences and many people work in different ways with language learning but as a child it is much easier to pick up and apply a language, the earlier the better.

What is the role of high technologies in developing minority languages? Games, applications, social networks etc? What is experience of Irish language with these things?

Technology plays a key role in any language really. As technology develops, the language should adapt and develop with it. There are more and more Irish language apps being developed and popping up from dictionaries to language learning apps. These are crucial as almost everyone has a smartphone and access to the language is in the palm of their hands, literally! Not many people will go out and buy a dictionary or a language learning book, it takes time and can be costly. Applications are the answer to this. Phones offer the option to change your language of use, along with Facebook and Whatsapp and fortunately Irish is an option. The language is therefore incorporated into everyday life for the user.

The use of minority languages on social media makes an impact, while it may be often slow at the beginning, many like minded people have a virtual platform to come together and communicate in minority languages. A larger pool of people can be reached with a few clicks. I can see Irish use growing online between young and old on Twitter and Instagram, every generation of speakers have the ability to discuss the language, grammar, vocabulary and many beginners reach out to these groups and gain support from the more advanced speakers. It is great and brings a new aspect to language learning.

Are different subjects taught in Irish language, or students study just the language? Do you think it is important to use a minority language as a language of instruction?

Usually students just study the language except, of course, in all-Irish speaking schools. I do think that it is important for instruction at least some of the time. Coming from an all Irish primary school, I learned all of my subjects through the medium of Irish. My education and knowledge was no different from anyone who attended an English speaking school so why not have both? I have been told of schools that teach through Irish from 9am until lunch time and then continue the rest of the day using English as the language of instruction. This makes both languages equal and useful for students and teachers.

What are modern approaches in teaching Irish language? How this process is organized and how they make it interesting for students?

An obvious answer to this is the utilisation of online media for language learning. Gone are the days of just reading books and listening to CD’s. Online resources have come on in leaps and bounds with more and more dictionaries, websites with games, literature and audio available as well as a growing number of videos, films and documentaries in Irish.

These resources are offering a new light to Irish, showing that is not only a classroom language, but a language that is heard and spoken in everyday life. New music draws attention from students, for example TG Lurgan, who translate and perform modern songs in Irish. These are not only a source of entertainment, but it is a chance to learn new vocabulary and understand sentence structure.

Many critics say that some parts of the learning of Irish are outdated or old-fashioned. This often includes literature or older poetry that may not feel relevant to students. The key to this is the teaching, not the material as literature and prose is important for the learning of any language. Many teachers take a modern approach to these. Utilizing songs and music for language learning also helps students, but this isn’t a new teaching technique of course. In the last few years, Ireland has seen a surge in Irish language songs which are modern and exciting for students and young people. Teachers are taking advantage of this and incorporating music into their lessons.

Is it important to translate worldwide popular movies, TV-shows, modern literature into minority languages? What about Irish language?

It is definitely important to have a corpus of modern literature and movies translated into minority languages for speakers, even for beginners it can be a good starting point if they have already seen or read them in English or L1’s. Irish definitely has an abundance of translated movies, books etc which are enjoyed by all ages. I have noticed that there are people online crying out for new material and original movies and shows on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. A good idea is to produce new, original content in the language to give speakers, actors and writers an opportunity to create new literature or shows that may appeal to more people and also provide more jobs and opportunities in the field of production. It draws excitement for those who don’t want to watch movies that are dubbed over but rather organic content produced and created in their own language.

What advice could you give to Tatar language activists? What should they do for developing the minority language?

Focus on the accessibility of the language for people, both old and young. Be it more social media awareness or radio shows for listeners. Young people can help build the language up.

I read an interesting article on the Mohawks in Akwesasne where there are only about 1,000 Mohawk speakers left. The St. Regis tribe started a two-year immersion programme full of workshops and culture classes for the natives there. They even have language apps and dictionaries! I think it’s amazing that from such a low number, efforts are being made and are paying off.

Using the Mohawks as an example, change and development can start from a small idea and become something bigger. Emphasising the importance of the language and its tie to history and cultural identity can make people more curious in understanding the language!

poslednja změna: 09.10.2019