The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Irish language hardly dead

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 26, 2007

As a student of the Irish language, I was quite disturbed after reading Puja Parikh’s article: “Expert: Irish Language On Verge of Extinction” on Monday. I was not disturbed, however, by the apparent impending death of the Irish language, but rather by Parikh’s grossly inaccurate summary of Professor Ó Tuathaigh’s illuminating lecture. It seems as though Parikh completely missed the point of the lecture, which was not intended to be a dirge for the language, but rather an examination of its past, its present, and its future.

Additionally, Parikh took many of Ó Tuathaigh’s comments out of context in a manner which skewed their place in the overall lecture. The outlook for the language is not nearly as bleak as Parikh made it seem. True, the language has experienced a decline, due in large part to the Anglicization of the country. But government efforts, Gaelscoileanna (Irish-language schools) and Irish-language media such as TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta have combined to preserve the Irish language.

I also take great issue with the statement given by Rachel Witty at the end of the article: “It seems very hard for the Irish to find a proper balance between preserving their culture and adapting to a modern way of life.” Witty’s comment implies that Irish is not a modern language, which is an erroneous conclusion given the content of Ó Tuathaigh’s lecture. It was stressed in the lecture, for example, that a degree in computer technology can be completed almost entirely in Irish with moderate ease. Indeed, the Irish language is used in many technological and medical fields of study in Ireland. To suggest the language is archaic and has no place in modern Ireland is not only incorrect, but also extremely offensive to the many educated Irish speakers in the country who use the language in their field.

I would like to emphasize to readers of Parikh’s article that, in my opinion, Ó Tuathaigh’s wonderful lecture was seriously misinterpreted. The Irish language may indeed be experiencing a decline, but the outlook of its future is not hopeless, as Parikh suggests.

Kelsey Robertson


Regina Hall

Sept. 26