A bad case of cúplafocailism


Sir, – In many languages the terms for language and tongue are the same: this applies for instance to both English and Irish. From this and commonsensically we can say that the essence of a language is that people speak it.

We in Ireland have a situation where very few people speak, or have the faintest intention of speaking Irish. Instead we have had a tsunami of what might be termed “cúplafocailism”, that is the provision of all the essentials of a language except by far the most important, that is people speaking it. We have documents and signage translated into Irish but clearly not read, announcements on transport services but clearly not heard and public bodies with Irish names, but whose business is carried out through English.

Much of this recent cúplafocailism has been driven by legislation which seemingly every last deputy in parliament supports. So do they make their speeches equally in both Irish and English? Do they produce all their election and other written material equally in Irish and English? Need I ask? A few superfluous words of Irish will suffice.

After a hundred years of beating a dead Sacred Cow (as it were) the latest census give the all too predicable dismal figures on the “revival” of the language. Isn’t it high time we recognised that wishful thinking and self-delusion (to say nothing of decades of brow-beating and discrimination) are achieving nothing. – Yours, etc,