Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland (Republic of)
Language Abilities, Attitudes and Usage among Young Gaeltacht Residents: interpreting the ‘Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht’.
This paper seeks to identify and discuss the range of challenges faced by the various Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) communities which have been identified in the most comprehensive survey conducted to date on the language abilities, attitudes and patterns of language use among young Gaeltacht residents. This survey was undertaken as part of the recently submitted (November 2006) research report on the linguistic vitality of the Gaeltacht as a designated linguistic region, the ‘Comprehensive Linguistic Study of the Use of Irish in the Gaeltacht’.
The aim of the survey, conducted using a very detailed questionnaire which was distributed among final year students in all of the Gaeltacht secondary schools in early 2005, was to gather in-depth information regarding the language background, ability and attitudes to Irish of Gaeltacht youth as well as their self-reported use of the Irish language.
In presenting the findings of this survey, the paper will highlight the young peoples’ positive attitudes towards Irish and their relatively high levels of ability in Irish despite the increasingly marginal use of Irish in their own social networks in the Gaeltacht. It will also shed light on the evidence relating to weak intergenerational transmission of the language. An analysis of the role of the education system in the Gaeltacht suggests that attendance at Irish-medium Gaeltacht schools appears, incongruously, to be fostering the use of English among the young because of the English-dominated socialisation processes they encounter at school.
This paper will attempt to identify language planning measures which could be adopted in the Gaeltacht community and education system to counteract these threats to the vitality of Irish as a spoken communal language.
Session: Paper session
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00