Can you speak it?
Do you think it ought to be taught in our schools?
Is teaching it a waste of time?
It how it is taught the reason so few people can speak it.
I was talking with a girl yesterday who is a fluent speaker. I understand some, but am very poor at speaking any. In fairness anything I DO remember is from primary school, where a bully of a Kerry headmaster insisted we spoke it regularly. But I can’t say that was a pleasant experience and I never spoke it again once I left secondary school. I can sing the national anthem in Irish, but other than a few expressions, (rith mé go dtí an siopa, Níl mé ag dul go dtî an dentist! Tá eagla orm! that sort of thing) it has pretty much fallen by the way side.
But many people who were taught it from primary to leaving cert can’t speak it, which makes me wonder if the way it IS taught is to blame. The gal yesterday was not sure, but said few people learn it that way if they don’t use it in conversational form. Her family speak it at home as do many in her community, but over the years her immediate family have developed their own version of it as well, introducing slang and so forth, English words thrown in here and there. It’s adorable to hear, but hardly a pure language, but then I’d have to ask what language is really pure any more? Language evolves over time. It has to do so. But to DO so you’ve got to use it on a regular basis.
So what do ya think? Teach it from the get go or leave it for people who want to learn it privately? Is it likely to survive outside of a few pockets in its present form? I don’t know, I think it would be a shame to lose it altogether, but think the way it is taught now does not induce a love of it in any way shape or form. Actually, having spent five years learning French in secondary and knowing even LESS* of that language than I do Irish, I think there might be something to be said about how language is taught on the whole.
* that could be just me though, I must confess I was hardly a model student.