Re: Linguistic precedence [was: (TC304.2313)

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Sat Jun 17 2000 - 10:01:05 EDT

Mark, I don't think your comment on cultural sensitivity is on the right track.

>Séamas> In case anyone is (further) confused by this thread, I can only
>Séamas> reaffirm that the normal name of our language in English, as every
>Séamas> Irish person will confirm, is "Irish". (Interestingly, in
>Séamas> Michael's previous response, which arrived before mine, he writes,
>Séamas> "the rule in Irish is ..." which shows his spontaneous, as
>Séamas> distinct from contrived, usage.)

Marion has explained this. In certain *international contexts*, it is
useful and correct to refer to the three Gaelic languages in full. There
are shorter forms which are common and covenient, of course.

Gaeilge na hÉireann 'Irish Gaelic'; Gaeilge 'Irish'
Gàidhlig na h-Alba 'Scottish Gaelic'; Gàidhlig 'Gaelic' [N.B.]
Gaelg Vannin 'Manx Gaelic'; Gaelg 'Manx'

Note that the short native term in each of these languages is 'Gaelic', not
"Éireannach", "Albanach", or "Manninagh". In Belfast English, it is common
for Irish speakers to call the language "Gaelic" and not "Irish".

>Séamas> It is a mystery to me why Michael and his partner promote this
>Séamas> hybrid term, which is both baffling and offensive to those Irish
>Séamas> people who are aware of it.

The terms have been used widely on GAELIC-L and its sister lists for nearly
a decade. I have never heard of anyone being "offended" by this before. In
terms of classification, however all the terms as given above are in
current use. We didn't invent them. Note also that the following are also
correct within a language:

Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gaeilge na hAlban, Gaeilge Mhanann. These also have
short forms: Gaeilge, Gaeilge na hAlban, Manainnis.

It really depends on the level of discourse. If you're just talking about
the languages, you use the short forms. If you're talking more or less
formally at the level of linguistic classification, you use the long forms.
From Seosamh Watson "Gaeilge na hAlban" in _Stair na Gaeilge_ ('the history
of Irish'): "De shliocht na Sean-Ghaeilge iad Gaeilge na h-Alban agus
Gaeilge Mhanann, ach ní léir go dtéann bunús a dtréithe idirdhealaithe níos
faide siar ná an 13ú céad féin, tráth a bhí canúintí Ghaeilge na hÉireann á
n-idirdhealú féin." 'Scottish Gaelic (lit. the Gaelic of Scotland) and Manx
Gaelic (lit. the Gaelic of Mann) are descended from Old Irish (lit. Old
Gaelic), but it is not clear that the origin of their differentiating
features reaches back further than the 13th century itself, the time at
which the dialects of Irish Gaelic (lit. the dialects of Gaelic of Ireland)
were themselves differentiating.'

Michael Everson ** Everson Gunn Teoranta **
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Vox +353 1 478 2597 ** Fax +353 1 478 2597 ** Mob +353 86 807 9169
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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