Mar athrú díreoidh mé ar alt ag colúnaí i mór nuachtán Bhéarla ag tracht GO MOLTACH ar an nGaeilge. San alt seo, tá Emmanuel Kehoe ag moladh ár dteanga agus ag maíomh gurb í an Ghaeilge an chúis go bhfuil sinne, na hÉireannaigh, chomh h-éirimiúil.
The title of the latest quirky Irish TV show, O’Tholg go Tolg (TG4), is a perfect example of why the Irish language has created a nimble-minded race on this island, and how, if we give it up entirely, we’re in danger of becoming a nation of people snapping at each other with lines borrowed from EastEnders.
Irish is a language that changes before your very ears, as well as doing the weirdest things on the page.
Try explaining plurals or possessives. If bean become mná in the plural, why then is women’s football peil na mban? Why is the Queen of England Banrí on Eilís and not Beanríon Eilís? (You could, if you wished, settle for Eilís Bhindsór, which is what the award-winning blog iGaeilge calls her.)
What’s English got? A few tiddling rules like ‘i before e except after c’ and the odd exceptions. I’m not saying it’s not a difficult language to master, but people seem to be able to pick it up by watching cartoons in jungle villages. There’s Shakespeare, of course, but the other side of that coin is that our nearest neighbours, who invented the language, are rapidly reducing everyday communication to soapspeak and sportspeak like ‘Leave it out, mate’ or ‘He’s lost the dressing room’. The infection appears to be spreading.
O’Tholg go Tolg simply means ‘from couch to couch’, but look at the difference between the two versions of the word tolg in the Irish title.
The magnificent inflected complexity of Irish has developed minds capable of fantastic logical and verbal gymnastics.
It explains why we’re so damned smart: millions of Irish speakers have wrestled with its challenges, falling grammatically and rising again. Genetically that has to have rubbed off on us all, though by now most other major languages – especially English – have simplified they way they do things.
Ní fhaca mé an clár seo, Ó Tholg Go Tolg, go fóill. Táim ag déanamh troscadh ar an dteilifís le linn an Charghais – agus tá ag eirí liom an troscadh a choimead, bhuel, go réasúnta maith. Féachaim ar chorr chluiche – cosúil le bua na Mumhan ar Chúige Laighean ar an Satharn beag seo (mór an trua ná raibh an gcluiche mór seo ar TG4) – agus tá an dúil agam sa sraith nua faoi New Orleans, Tremé, ina mbionn go leor snag cheoil measctha le dráma breá faoin méid a tharla don chathair sin i ndiaidh Spéirling Katrina.