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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 9, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Beijing Irish

    Pól Ó Muirí

    Minister for the Gaeltacht, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has approved €21,900 over three years to fund the teaching of Irish in Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. Beijing is the first university in China to seek funding to teach Irish and joins over 30 centres outside of Ireland which have Irish-language courses as part of their academic curriculum. The university has a policy of teaching all official languages of the European Union – of which Irish is one.

    Ó Cuív said that the demand for Irish-language funding throughout the world was “a clear indicator not only of the interest within the academic community in Irish as one of the world’s oldest vernacular languages, but also as proof of the opportunities for Irish speakers globally. The Irish language is a valuable export. Studying Irish in their own universities is often the first step in a lifelong interest in both the language and the country’s wider culture, and it is wonderful to see students from all over the world coming to the Gaeltacht to continue their studies.”

    • Jonathan says:

      So what happens next? A few earnest Chinese students will work hard for 4 years to learn Irish. They will then come to Ireland and realise that they should have learnt English…..

    • … and write the second part of Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom!

    • ian says:

      Pól,

      Why should stop with the Irish language? There are other important aspects of our native culture under grave threat, such as that fine celtic culinary masterpiece…wait for it…wait…wait for it…THE SPICE BURGOR. Surely we should send Bejing the recipe. looking forward to your thoughts

    • I am more a stew man myself. Which spice burgor do you mean – the Ulster spice burgor, the Connacht spice burgar or the Munster spice burgor? Do you feel threatened by the fact that some Chinese student might learn Irish?

    • bryan says:

      Paul,

      We could easily get into a argument over the dead Irish language and the black hole of money it is swallows up but we’ll both throw the same argument backwards and forwards and we would just agree to disagree. Shakespearian English is dead but you don’t see the English bending over backward to save it, old words fall out of favour (blaggard, for example), language changes and we should change with it. Its all great and well to say its part of our culture but culture changes and in this globalised world things are changing faster than ever.

      Since the main premise of this article is that of money being invested in the teaching of Irish, may I ask you how much money is brought into this country through host families housing foreign students to learn to speak English and the attraction of people from all over the globe, to Ireland to learn English? How many ‘lean English’ institutions there are in Dublin alone (Private industry), how every major University here runs courses for non-English speakers to obtain their Cambridge exams etc. I cant see the private industry setting up many institutes to attract foreign students to Learn Irish some how. How much does the Irish Govt. spend on promoting English being taught here? English is a asset to this country that brings in millions of euro a year, unlike Irish.

      Irish, on the other hand, simply attracts secondary school children to go to the country for 3 weeks of their summer holidays, have their first sexual experience and interaction with girl/Boys, learn a handful of words as Gaelige, and have fond memories. Naturally, some Gaelteachs are stricter than other but I am speaking from the experience of myself and my friends.

      There are, of course, the hand full of glirry eyed Americans who come to learn the language believing Ireland to be the old country under catholic control but those days are gone. these people are few and far between.

      To sum, Irish is a liability, while English is a asset that we must protect. We should be investing in attracting Ireland as the place to learn British English since it is very well spoken, here and we have champions of the language in Yeats, Wilde and now Colum McCann.

    • “We could easily get into a argument over the dead Irish language..”

      Acutally, we are getting into an argument over the living Irish language.

      “To sum, Irish is a liability, while English is a asset that we must protect”.

      Can’t Irish also be an asset and why do we need to protect English? There is a lot of it around and I don’t think it is going to die anytime soon.

    • There are, of course, the hand full of glirry eyed Americans who come to learn the language believing Ireland to be the old country under catholic control but those days are gone. these people are few and far between.

      As a Finn, a staunch Protestant, and a writer of erotic stories in Irish, I feel deeply insulted by the suggestion that I am an American looking for Catholic supremacy in Ireland. I am positively exasperated by the entirely unnecessary and lunatic conflation of Irish with Catholic supremacy.

    • “why do we need to protect English? There is a lot of it around and I don’t think it is going to die anytime soon.”

      Indeed. Weeds never needed to be particularly protected.

    • ian says:

      maybe we could include the spice burger in one of those fine ‘protestant’ erotic novels Panu?

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      @5 I assume you mean ‘blackguard’ pronounced ‘blaggard’…You probably need to learn English

    • Blimey O'Riley says:

      @5 ‘glirry’ eyed? language? Can’t find a definition but get the gist…I’d like to know the etymological definition though!

    • Panu says:

      “maybe we could include the spice burger in one of those fine ‘protestant’ erotic novels Panu?”

      I don’t know about the burger, but I do it spicy enough.


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