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‘Irish isn't spoken here?’ Language policy and planning in Ireland

The Irish language is central to our cultural heritage, both in the north and the south, and its preservation poses major challenges for present-day Irish society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2011

Extract

A 2003 Irish short film called Yu Ming is Ainm Dom (My name is Yu Ming) by director Daniel O'Hara describes the experiences of a young Chinese man called Yu Ming who comes to Ireland in search of work. As he prepares to leave China he reads in a travel guide that Gaeilge (or Irish) is the first official language of Ireland and therefore sets out on an intensive learning course. On his arrival in Dublin Yu Ming is delighted to see public signage in Irish that he can understand. At the airport he finds his bealach amach (Way Out) and catches a bus to an lár (the city centre). However, his initial communication with local people in perfect Irish is met with strange looks and confusion with many Dubliners under the impression that they are listening to Chinese. Yu Ming eventually begins a conversation in Irish with an old man in a pub who explains to a perplexed Yu Ming that “Ní labhraítear Gaeilge anseo, labhraítear Béarla anseo – ó Shasana!” (“Irish isn't spoken here – English is spoken here, from England!”). Yu Ming leaves Dublin and finds work in rural western Ireland where the old man has suggested he should go.

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Original Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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