Friday, 6 May 2016

Rebirth of a language

Hi there,

Stuart and I arrived in the UK this week and drove directly from Heathrow to Cardiff in Wales. The following day - after a blissful sleep - we drove from Cardiff to Pembroke, boarded the ferry and arrived in Ireland.

For me, one of the greatest joys of travel is the various accents and languages you come across, and the United Kingdom is chock full of them.

I have family from Yorkshire - which is where Torn and Inviolate are set, as you'd know! - and the Yorkshire accent is one of the most distinctive.

My grandma Olive, and my mum too, used to pull out a bit of the Yorkshire dialect from time to time if they wanted to be discrete about something, especially in front of friends. "Put wood int'ole!" was a particularly common order from my mum.

Anyway travelling into Wales and seeing all the signage written in the Welsh dialect enchants me. I love it that the Welsh have refused to let their language die. I also love that unless you're a native, the words are largely unpronouncable - they simply do not work for we English speakers.

I started to think about the revival of so-called dead languages and how the Irish, Scots, Welsh, et al are actively revitalising their languages.

They're teaching the languages in schools again, they're promoting native-speaking programs on dedicated television stations and their governments are supporting native language programs in local communities.

According to an article in the Irish Times that I found, the Irish government is recognising that the native tongue of the Emerald Isle is in "crisis", a worrying condition.

These languages are referred to as minority languages, and studies are being conducted into how they can be both preserved and revitalised.

In various modes, they are already extinct, for example, in modern radio and television you'll almost never hear the traditional languages spoken. In private conversations you may occasionally hear them spoken although it's recognised that they are weakening as the older generation passes on.

The younger generation have for a number of years viewed the traditional languages with contempt. Thankfully, this attitude is shifting and a number of programs dedicated to their revitalisation are being well-received.

One solution being touted is to increase formal study of the languages. Another is to create a socially interactive population of minority language speakers, and by such integration, grow the usage of the language.

A lot of other ideas are being explored and increasingly, governments are supporting the revitalisation movement, for example, in Wales, I saw this sign for a bilingual day.



I think it's exciting and necessary. These languages are so colourfully connected to culture and tradition; particularly in songs, poems and stories which recount the old tales of history and heritage.

So there we are - with hopefully a new generation of native speakers coming along, these wonderfully traditional languages will enjoy a rebirth.

Until next week ... a choinneƔil go maith.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Put wood int'ole! means shut the door!

Spring flowers in Wales. Spotted this in the centre of a roundabout.

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