Lecture Series: The Irish Language

Ben O CeallaighThe Irish Cultural Center invites you to a lecture series presented by Ben Ó Ceallaigh. Ben has spent the last three years teaching Irish in the Celtic Studies Department at the University of Edinburgh, and has instructed adult learners in Irish in the Gaeltachts. He is a PhD student in the Effects of Globalisation on Minority Languages at the University of Edinburgh, and is fluent in Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx Gaelic.

1:00 – 2:30 pm
Macroeconomic Forces and Majority and Minority Language Use

3:00 – 4:30 pm
Grassroots Language Activism and Radical Politics: Current and Historical Examples from the Gaelic Contexts

VENUE: Irish Cultural Center • 429 Morgan Road • West Springfield, MA

2:00 – 3:30 pm
Minority Languages and Modernity: Technological and Social Challenges for Minority Language Reproduction

VENUE: Elms College Library Theatre • 291 Springfield Street • Chicopee, MA

7:00 – 8:30 pm
Workshop: Gáidhlig for Gaeilgeoirí (Scots-Gaelic and Irish)
This workshop is mainly focused on Irish language students; the public is welcome to attend.

VENUE: Elms College Berchmans Hall Room 218 • 291 Springfield Street • Chicopee, MA

About These Lectures – Ben Ó Ceallaigh
In this series of talks, we will explore one of the most significant cultural shifts taking place in the 21st century, the process of language extinction which is seeing the vast majority of the world’s languages falling out of use in favour of a handful of “mega-languages.” While receiving only a fraction of the publicity, languages are actually far more endangered than flora or fauna – experts believe that by the end of this century it is likely that some 90% of the roughly 7,000 languages currently spoken will have died out. This is clearly a staggering rate of loss, one which is equivalent to the destruction of the vast majority of the world’s libraries, museums and sites of historical interest.

Based on my doctoral research in the University of Edinburgh, I will examine this phenomenon of language shift with specific reference to Ireland’s indigenous, but minoritised, language. As well as giving some historic background, by looking at the challenges posed by the major social changes of our age – globalisation, economic crisis, technological development, and so on – I will explain many of the key factors responsible for language endangerment in Ireland and elsewhere. Having explored the nature of these challenges, I will also discuss some of the ways in which speakers of Irish (and the other Gaelic languages in Scotland and the Isle of Mann) are challenging these trends and attempting to ensure that our languages remain vibrant for many years to come.

I will also run a “pan-Gaelic” workshop on the differences between Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In this workshop we will look at some of the shared Gaelic history of these two countries and give tips for overcoming the main sources of difficulty faced by Irish speakers when attempting to communicate with our Scottish Gaelic cousins.

Lecture series is free and open to the public.
Beatha teanga í a labhairt. The life of a language is to speak it.

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