Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

‘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


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.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Fishman 1991. Reversing Language Shift: Theory and Practice of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

A. Mac Póilin 1997. ‘Nationalists and the Irish Language in Northern Ireland: Competing Perspectives.’ In A. Mac Póilin (ed.), The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Ultach Trust.

M. Ó Siadhail 1989. Modern Irish: Grammatical Structure and Dialectal Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

E. Thaden & M. Haltzel 1981. Russification in the Baltic Provinces and Finland, 1855–1914. New Jersey: Princeton.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 34
Total number of PDF views: 117 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 362 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.