The Urban Irish Language Community





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Published on Mar 28, 2012

Professor Brian Ó Broin of William Paterson University (WPUNJ) giving a paper on the Urban Irish-language community to the Irish studies program at the University of Connecticut, Storrs on March 27th, 2012. Professor Ó Broin claims that the urban Irish-speaking community has grown noticeably in recent decades, but that several problems have arisen:
1) Second-language speakers are part-time speakers, often speaking a sophisticated pidgin. Their language activity often reflects a split cultural identity, whereby they readily take on a Gaelic identity for Irish-language events, but revert to English culture for day-to-day living.
2) A significant number of people are choosing to raise their children in Irish but, not being native speakers themselves, feel that they are facing significant parenting problems, having no experience of Irish as a home language themselves. Members of this community (and their children) are less likely to identify themselves as language enthusiasts, since the language is a normal vehicle of daily communication for them, but they are more likely to express worry about their linguistic standards, probably because they are more likely to find themselves in challenging linguistic situations (like discussing emotions, for example) than second-language speakers.

3) Urban Irish has a very different phonetic system than Gaeltacht Irish, being based on English. This has had the knock-on effect of causing a noticeable simplification of morphology. Syntactic findings remain provisional, but urban speakers *seem* to form non-standard subclauses more than Gaeltacht speakers. Urban speakers retain a sophisticated lexicon.

Thanks to Mary Burke, Brendan Kane, Fred Biggs, and Cuán Ó Flatharta.

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