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First web forum in old Irish script launched

category national | eu | news report author Monday February 01, 2010 22:37author by Brian Report this post to the editors

One of the ex No groups from the Lisbon campaign has launched a web forum that can be viewed entirely in old Irish script.

The Midlands Branch of the People's Movement, in consultation with other groups locally, has drawn up a special web forum which will hopefully serve to bring together the scattered remains of the defeated Lisbon No campaigners and help them coordinate matters and decide together what direction should now be taken. This is explained in the FAQs of that site avaible here: http://antilisbongroups.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=f...ad=13 .

In any case there are lots of webforums, old and new, that help to co-ordinate these groups - not least indymedia - but luckily this site has a gimmick which might send it on its way!lol This is, afaik, the first site on the web where a forum is provided entirely in old Irish script, the ancient way of writing Irish which was current in printed and manuscript Irish until the 1960s. Details are available here: http://antilisbongroups.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=f...ad=15 , and to clarify if you want to view the site in normal script just register (thats 'clárú') and in your preferences change your skin back to 'default'. It should work on most browsers but Firefox users should download the Gadelica font and install it on their computers first, its available here: http://www.iol.ie/~sob/gadelica/ .

That old script is really remarkable and uniqely historic and worth checking out if you haven't seen it before.

author by Gearóid Ó Loingsighpublication date Wed Feb 03, 2010 17:47Report this post to the editors

I installed it on my computer (A Mac) and it works fine, except it won't take fadas on capital letters only lower case letters and the dot over the letter (buailte) won't work. I tried to insert it from symbols no joy. I installed in on a pc and it works perfect.

I know indymedia is not a software consult site, but hey, if you know of a version for Macs that works fine or what the problem is, let me know.

author by Brianpublication date Wed Feb 03, 2010 21:20Report this post to the editors

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh
Thats surprising, I think maybe the browser has to code to Unicode fonts for it to work, which I thought most did anyways but I guess not. Btw don't forget to try it out in different browsers too. This whole area btw is massively complicated! but maybe if you install the Irish keyboard layout for the Mac it might help, described here: http://www.evertype.com/celtscript/ga-keys-x.html and here: http://www.evertype.com/celtscript/celt-keys.html .

I don't know how much people know about the history of the Irish type (they call it Cló Gaelach btw as opposed to Cló Romhánach) but as far as I know the only recorded defence of the old script by a public figure, when it was being abolished in the mid 60s, was by Richie Ryan TD in the Dáil in 1965:

"Children of my generation at school were the victims or the beneficiaries, as the case may be, of Gaeilge éigeantach as it is now called. If we were, we learned a considerable amount of Irish and we became familiar with a form of words and spelling which, when we left school, allowed most of my generation to maintain a constant and familiar knowledge of the language. Since then two radical changes have taken place in the appearance and form of Irish. First of all, the spelling itself was contracted so that words which we once knew at sight and did not require to spell out were no longer familiar to us, and it required a considerable exercise of self-discipline to read the new appearance of the Irish language which was produced within a matter of five or ten years after many of us left school.

Since then, a further operation has been performed. The Celtic script with which we were familiar has been thrown aside. It is not an unusual thing now for children going to school to ask their parents how to spell words in Irish and for the parents to spell them in correct Irish as the parents learned it and for the children to be slapped in school the following day for producing compositions with Irish words which have been misspelt. This is an abomination and I do not care what expert view there is in the Department to justify it. This policy has done untold harm to the revival of Irish. It has alienated the affection of the first generation to be educated in Irish schools under the system of what is now called compulsory education. It has set up a barrier between parents and their school-going children. At a time when it was necessary to cultivate goodwill and to encourage the use of Irish, to have introduced these two wholly unnecessary artificial operations and make Irish a stranger to the minds of the generation who spent ten or 15 years at school was an appalling thing and cannot be justified.

I know we will be told that for the future this is the best thing that could have been done but apparently we are not yet at the end of it. The Minister has told us that the language is now going through laboratory tests. I do not know whether that is to find out if the cancerous growth which was removed in the last two operations is still growing, but one shudders to think what the final production will be when it comes out of the test tubes and the computers in the scientific laboratories. We are led to believe that these scientific language laboratories can be of great assistance in teaching people a language. That may well be if the language is a living one and a known one, but we have made Irish into no less than three different languages in the last two or three decades. I cannot see what kind of familiar language will come out of all the scientific tests now being applied to the language.

The only problem in the past was the difference between the Irish of Connacht, the Irish of Munster, the Irish of Ulster and whatever residue there happened to be in Leinster. Those of us who went through school in the past 20, 30 or 40 years were reasonably familiar with the differences between the four dialects and there was a possibility that, in time, these dialects would become amalgamated and produce a living language. It might well be the language at which the experts sneer now, the language the Dublin people use when they talk Irish, but it would at least have been a living language. It is my opinion that all the activity of the so-called experts has done untold harm, harm which can never be undone.

There is then the Department making the situation more difficult still. Some years ago the Department directed that only the Roman script was to be used. For the children in the junior schools, it was to be the Cló Romhánach and, in time, that would be the only script for the children and ultimately for future generations. Simultaneously, teachers in the junior schools were teaching children, who were supposed to have only the Cló Romhánach, the Irish script. One year the children were taught Gaelic script and the following year they started learning the Cló Romhánach. The children had the greatest difficulty in changing over from Gaelic script to the Cló Romhánach, from the Gaelic script with its aspirate and the síniú fada to the Cló Romhánach with aitches ['h's!] all over the place.

There is a movement—the title of it eludes me at the moment—in Sandyford in County Dublin dedicated to a form of Irish spelling which will get rid of the aitches. I understand the experts sneer at the activities of these people. They regard them as cranks. I can think of no greater crank where Irish is concerned than the so-called experts in the Department of Education. These people in Sandyford recently produced a book written by Miles na gCopaleen in this script. It is easily readable for people like myself, who were taught Irish through the Cló Gaedhealach, and who were not at any stage of their schooling familiar with these spurious aitches.

The Minister has had more time, and possibly a greater inclination, than others to maintain his familiarity with the Irish language. One envies him his continuing capacity to improve and his ease in expression. Many people, who had a desire to speak Irish, do not get the opportunity in their ordinary avocations because their customers or clients just would not tolerate it and their hours of relaxation are so full of other work that they do not even then get the opportunity to use Irish. Such people, however, can read the book to which I have referred because there are none of these spurious aitches in the spelling. I should like to see our scientific laboratories produce a spelling of the same kind. If they do that, I, for one, shall shout “Hurrah” because that will achieve something. Putting in the aitches means that the words one learned at school become quite unfamiliar. A familiar word of five letters can, with the Cló Romhánach, grow into a word of eight letters. Adults read visually and not by spelling out each word. An adult has become so familiar with the form and structure of words that a mere glance carries the message. That is impossible if one is forced to read a script entirely different from that with which one was familiar.

I am nervous that the Minister will accept all that the Department has done in recent years in relation to the spelling of Irish. It will take courage and, to use a stronger word, guts on his part to say that all this expertise has done untold harm and he intends to put an end to it. We would all like to see him revert to the script familiar to the parents of the school-going children of today. Unless that is done, one will not get the affection that the language should command."
( Dáil 7th July 1965: http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0217/D.0217.1....html )

author by Billy Bonzopublication date Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:30Report this post to the editors

It is really pleasant to note that an increasing number of people are realising that we are in great danger of losing a unique and graphically-beautiful West European language. I can recount my own feelings on the vandalism perpetrated on the Irish language, by those who should have known better, in the past 60-odd years. Firstly, in the late 1930s, there appeared an official condonement of phonetic spelling, followed by the "Romanisation" of the script in the late 40s. I recall a neighbour, who was born and raised in the Aran Islands, remark in the mid-50s that the "Irish" which her children learned at school, was as foreign to her as French or Spanish. At school I learned that the letter "H" was not really in the Irish alphabet - a fact that even today can be confirmed by opening an Irish dictionary and noting how relatively few entries begin with this letter. Ironically, considering how potentially divisive one's pronouncing of the letter can be - "Haitch" or "Aitch". I found after leaving school in 1950 that my considerable interest in the language ( I actually, as a schoolboy, posessed a typewriter, a Royal if I remember correctly, with a Gaelic typeface) completely evaporated with the change of font, it became too slow to convert the words mentally to the more familiar spelling and the beauty of the language had gone. At least the Greeks managed to keep their script! Long live the revival! Billy Bonzo.

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