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Commercialising the cúpla focal: New speakers, language ownership, and the promotion of Irish as a business resource

  • Sara Brennan (a1) and Bernadette O'Rourke (a1)


This article draws on ethnographic fieldwork in two Irish towns to examine the mobilisation of the Irish language as a resource for business by new speakers of Irish. We examine how local community-level Irish language advocacy organisations have implemented initiatives to specifically promote the use of Irish in business, primarily as visual commercial engagement with the language paired with the use of the cúpla focal. The article explores how new speakers of Irish understand what might be perceived as the tokenistic mobilisation of Irish and what value they invest in their efforts to use the cúpla focal. We explore tensions over language ownership that emerge as more fluent proprietors of ‘bilingual businesses’ position themselves in relation to the ‘newness’ of these speakers. (Irish, commodification, language ownership, language advocacy, language policy, commercialisation, language in business, new speakers)*


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence:Bernadette O'RourkeHeriot-Watt UniversityLanguages and Intercultural Studies Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UKB.M.A.O'


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Commercialising the cúpla focal: New speakers, language ownership, and the promotion of Irish as a business resource

  • Sara Brennan (a1) and Bernadette O'Rourke (a1)


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