“I don’t want to talk like a hick, but I want to speak Irish” – “Ní maith liom aithris a dhéanamh ar chaint na dtútachán, ach teastaíonn uaim Gaeilge a labhairt”

The term “cultural appropriation” has a relevant meaning, even in the context of learning Irish. A couple of months ago I found out about this. In a Facebook linguistic group, I made the acquaintance of a person who had had a bad experience with the Irish language movement, as those he know there stuck to what they perceived as their own “dialect” – i.e. a strongly English-influenced non-native jargon – and dismissed the native varieties saying that they didn’t want to “speak like a hick”.

Téarma ciallmhar é “leithghabháil chultúrtha”, fiú i gcoimhthéacs na Gaeilgeoireachta, mar a fuair mé amach cúpla mí ó shin. I ngrúpa teangeolaíochta ar Facebook casadh duine orm a raibh drochthaithí aige ar ghluaiseacht na Gaeilge. Iad siúd sa ghluaiseacht a raibh aithne aige orthu chloígh siad lena “gcanúint” féin – is é sin leathchaint neamhdhúchasach a ndeachaigh an Béarla i bhfeidhm uirthi ar gach dóigh – agus ní raibh meas an mhadra acu ar na leaganacha dúchasacha, nó is éard a dúirt siad ná nár theastaigh uathu “aithris a dhéanamh ar chaint na dtútachán”.

I must say that yer man was quite right to leave the language movement. The very definition for “cultural appropriation” is that you take somebody’s language, use your own faulty version of it and dismiss the language of the native speakers as “hick talk”. For me personally, “to speak like a hick” has always meant the greatest thing to aspire to if you are studying Irish. More precisely, I have always seen the native speakers’ own literature – from Séamus Ó Grianna to Máirtín Ó Cadhain – and their folklore as THE model for good Irish style.

Caithfidh mé a rá ná go raibh an ceart ar fad ag mo dhuine nuair a d’fhág sé slán ag an ngluaiseacht. Is é an “leithghabháil chultúrtha” den chineál is measa a rithfeadh liom ná teanga daoine eile a shealbhú le do leagan bacach di a labhairt agus tú ag caitheamh anuas ar urlabhairt na gcainteoirí dúchais toisc nach bhfuil inti ach “caint na dtútachán”. Mé féin, is é an rud a theastaigh uaim riamh ná mionaithris a dhéanamh ar “chaint na dtútachán”, agus is í an chéimíocht is airde is féidir a bhronnadh orm ná a rá go bhfuil mé in ann Gaeilge na dtútachán a labhairt. Is é sin, ba í litríocht na gcainteoirí dúchais – ó Shéamus Ó Grianna go Máirtín Ó Cadhain – chomh maith le béaloideas na gcainteoirí dúchais an múnla ab fhearr don dea-stíl sa Ghaeilge.

Rest assured that I write like a hick, even when I am writing about astronomy. The “hick” Irish is perfectly good for that, you only need some names for concepts to learn. Let us speak Irish like a hick, write Irish like a hick, be proud to do so, and be humbly thankful to the hick for keeping the language alive for us to learn!

Bígí cinnte go bhfuil mé ag iarraidh aithris a dhéanamh ar Ghaeilge na dtútachán, fiú nuair a bhíos mé ag scríobh faoin réalteolaíocht. Tá Gaeilge na dtútachán sách maith chuige sin – ní theastaíonn uait ach ainmneacha na gcoincheapanna a fhoghlaim. Bímis ag labhairt Gaeilge na dtútachán agus ag scríobh Gaeilge na dtútachán. Bíodh bród orainn as teanga na dtútachán, umhlaímis don tútachán agus bímis buíoch beannachtach gur choinnigh an tútachán an teanga beo, ionas gur fhéad muid í a fhoghlaim uaidh!

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