"The Irish Language in Ireland: From Goidel to globalisation."

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Tue Mar 13 14:20:41 UTC 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Diarmuid MacGiolla-Chriost's "The Irish Language in Ireland."
SUBTITLE: From Goidel to globalisation
PUBLISHER: Routledge
SERIES: Routledge studies in linguistics
YEAR: 2005


Reviewed by John L. Murphy, Humanities, DeVry University, Long Beach


This volume overlaps three areas: sociological theory on ethnicity and
identity formation within a globalized context; a historical synopsis of
the Irish language; analyses of surveys and public policy addressing its
use in both the Republic and the North of Ireland. Aimed at an academic
rather than a general audience, this study would be appropriate for
research-level university libraries. Its hefty price of 80 should not
impede the wider impact upon which the author, a lecturer in the School of
Welsh at Cardiff University, intends this book to have to foment practical
policies that encourage the future survival and growth of Irish-speaking

In about 250 pages, Diarmait Mac Giolla Chrost contributes enough material
to keep not so much scholars as workers in the area of linguistic
promotion inspired for years. He manages to avoid polemic, ignores
romanticization, and provides sophisticated models upon which informed
initiatives to nourish Irish-language use can be constructed. Although the
density of considerable amounts of data may overwhelm any casual reader
seeking a concise introduction to the fortunes of the past and present
conditions within which Irish has emerged and endured, for those already
familiar with sociological and public policy analyses, this study
condenses immense efforts to direct discourse about the state and fate of
Irish into a previously neglected intersection between academic and
community-based efforts. The author applies research too often languishing
upon government and academic shelves into a theory-laden but careful
examination for a public forum.

This appeal heightens the relevance of Mac Giolla Chrosts thesis. But, his
presumed audience may remain narrower than his message deserves. With such
impacted concentration of so much research, the book remains curiously
uneven. Its three stubbornly discrete levels, even partially synthesized,
lack crossover appeal for the majority of an already specialized
readership to whom this bookand I would emphasize its implicitly stated
need to put its many theories vigorously to work within everyday Irish
lifewould be received and understood, let alone shifted into action that
would strengthen the tenuous grip of the Irish language upon a rapidly
globalizing and quickly shrinking native core for whom the language
represents a necessary, daily commitment.

See original blog for more [hs]


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