Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We can't afford to fund Gaeilge!

This is a letter sent to the Sunday Independent last week but not published by them. I don't blame them for not publishing, the task of a letters editor is unenviable and I always respect a decision taken by him as totally unbiased.

Dear Sir

I find Mr Dryhurst's letter (29 July 2012) interesting and almost laughable.  It reflects the ignorance of the journalists he finds so brave and angry. The "cost of Irish" which they decry is in fact in no small measure due to a decision made by a former Fine Gael/Labour coalition (Cosgrave/Corish Administration:1974) who abolished the need for Irish in people who enter the civil service. (See Blog: Richie Ryan decision made language marginal! Feb 2012)

Where I live Irish is by no means virtually dead though the Government (despite the "millions" Mr Dryhurst alleges it costs) can hardly be said to be one of the agencies which supports it by providing anything like a full service in that language.

As an example, the bulk of the work of the Department of Education was conducted in Irish prior to the 1974 decision. Now only 1% of the staff of that department are capable of conducting business in Irish. This means they must contract out translations if they are to comply with their constitutional responsibilities. If competent staff are employed who are fluent in both languages there would be no increase in staff costs of this expensive Department and indeed a reduction in overall costs due the lack of need for out-sourcing of translations if required.

The same applies mutatis mutandis to other Government Departments. Using the figure he quotes 5% of the population which speaks Irish, (which by the way is incorrect unless he feels that the CSO is involved in some pro-Irish conspiracy!) then is it not logical that 5% of the Departments should be capable of conducting business in what is after all the only language we can call our own? A language that was here before English was thought of and which hopefully will be here long after "the Googles, Intels, Microsofts, GlaxoSmithKlines etc" are forgotten?

Incidently many corporations, including Microsoft, Google, as well as Facebook, Apple, and Samsung,  think enough of our language to invest money in developing programs ifor their platforms. Is it possible that they understand something that Messrs Dryhurst and the brave and angry journalists, Lynch and Hanafin do not?

Yours etc

PS The original article was sparked by the information that Vodafone charge extra if a "fada" (Long sign) is used while texting in Irish. 
Vodafone state: "As per the standards set by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, texts sent in Irish or Mandarin languages will be charged for three text (SMS) messages if they included a single 'sineadh fada' in a text of 160 characters. Also note that a very short text, of less than 70 characters, can include multiple fadas and still be charged as one text. However, additional costs arise if the text is what the industry considers a standard length, or 160 characters."
One gasps at the comparison of Irish with Mandarin rather than another indo-european language say French, German, Danish or Polish.

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