When Irish Eyes Are Crying – about the Irish Language Nonsense
10 February, 2011
More from the Vanity Fair article by Michael Lewis (“When Irish Eyes Are Crying”), skewering our hypocrisy on the “First (sic) National Language”.
…… The first thing you notice when you watch the Irish Parliament at work is that the politicians say everything twice, once in English and once in Gaelic. As there is no one in Ireland who does not speak English and a vast majority who do not speak Gaelic, this comes across as a forced gesture that wastes a great deal of time. I ask several Irish politicians if they speak Gaelic, and all offer the same uneasy look and hedgy reply: “Enough to get by.” The politicians in Ireland speak Gaelic the way the Real Housewives of Orange County speak French. To ask “Why bother to speak it at all?” is of course to miss the point. Everywhere you turn you see both emulation of the English and a desire, sometimes desperate, for distinction. The Irish insistence on their Irishness—their conceit that they’re more devoted to their homeland than the typical citizen of the world is—has an element of bluster about it, from top to bottom…..
I am reminded of the conceit referred to above several times day, but no reminder is more annoying than the regular receipt of a gas bill or an electricity bill, accompanied by a bulky brochure which is 100% larger than it needs to be because it’s printed in both English and Irish. This is nonsensical and is a shameful waste of paper, ink, fuel etc etc. I am not given the option of receiving no brochure at all (a link to an online version would do nicely), nor am I given the right to opt out of the dual language version and get a slimline, monolingual version instead.
This is but a small reminder that the price of our having submitted to the vanity of the extreme wing of the Irish language lobby is high, both socially and ecologically.