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Normalise our native language, or lose it

Myles Duffy (Letters, Febraury 26) misses the point. The Irish language has never been nurtured by the State.

On the whole, the language has been an ornament atop a monoglot anglophone system.

Where a language is excluded from public or official business, that language goes into decline. This has nothing to do with the survival of the fittest, but is a matter of policy. The Dutch language has thrived in Belgium since the normalisation of its use in public life there was achieved. The same Dutch language is dying out just across the border in Dunkirk, where it was the majority language for centuries, because of its being banned from official spaces by the French state.

Seán Ó Cuirreáin, the Official Languages Ombudsman, resigned in December in frustration at the lack of progress on ending the systemic marginalisation of Irish. We need to normalise our language. The comparison with the GAA is not well made. Languages need active speakers with ample opportunities to use the language and pass it on to their children. There is no comparison with training for an hour once a week or cheering on from the sidelines.

Dáithí Mac Cárthaigh BL
An Leabharlann Dlí
Baile Átha Cliath 7


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