Right, so tomorrow is International Mother Language Day, and partially because I wont be at @LonGaeilge to waffle on about stuff in Irish, I'll waffle a bit about #IMLD here in English
I've no idea where this waffle will go, I'm just doing to lash into it without any direction in mind. #IMLD started in Bangladesh. Bangla is a language that is of central importance to #IMLD and to me personally.
If it wasn't for #Bangla, I know for certain that my #Gaeilge would not be what it is. It was when I started to learn Bangla that I also started going back to learning Irish.
The fact that #Bangladesh has the name of the language in the name of the country is no accident. Their independence movement grew from a language rights movement
Within a year of the Dominion of Pakistan being established, the leadership decided that Urdu was the sole official language - it was the language of a small elite.
The majority of the population was in the eastern province, and spoke Bangla. The #Punjabi speakers in the western provinces were also numerous, and similarly ignored.
By 1952, the Bengali population had had enough of this, and demanded language rights. Familiar pattern: denial of rights, peaceful protest, military intervention, innocent protesters were shot and killed on the 21st February.
While the authorities eventually gave in and *allowed* people to use their own language, the momentum of the movement led to Bengali nationalism building and eventually to independence. (yes, massive simplification here.)
I come from a place where language suppression was done successfully. While there was a surge of interest in Irish language around the time of Irish independence, English has remained the primary language of Ireland
A Mother Language is one you have from birth, and so mine is English, as is the case with most Irish people. A tiny minority have Irish as a Mother Language, but it seems (hope I'm not wrong) that there is a growing interest again.
In Bangladesh, identity and language are inseparable. In Ireland, it's a bit more complicated.
A while back, my daughter told me "I'm Bangladeshi because I speak Bangla, and I'm Irish because I speak Irish, and I'm English, because I speak English..." I had a hard time trying to explain to her that she's not English.
I wasn't going to go explaining to a 3y/o what Hiberno-English is. But it made me think about identity in Ireland and how it relates to language.
I love the Irish Language. I also love the English Language, and particularly the dialect(s) that we have here in Ireland. And I love to see the mad ways that they influence each other and get mixed and become this insane soup of expression and communication.
Linguists have said that the likely future of the Irish Language is as a creole. There are many who detest this idea. I was previously a little unsure, but these days I'm more of the mind to embrace any and every form that #Gaeilge takes, and really make it our own.
We're also approaching @SnaGaeilge in the coming weeks. A yearly festival all about embracing whatever bit of #Gaeilge you have and giving it a lash. I'd encourage anyone who's able to do it to throw around your cúpla focail a bit more in general, but especially during #SNAG2018
started @LonGaeilge with a little help from myself to create a space for people to get a bit more practice - especially the crowd that might not be able to get to a @popupgael
The #PopUpGaeltacht and #LonGaeilge are awesome opportunities for immersion - especially for those of who didn't have the opportunity to go to the Gaeltacht in our youth.
I absolutely love that things like this are happening, but what I really hope for is that it will lead to more Irish being used in daily life in Ireland, and that our linguistic diversity continues to grow.
So tomorrow, International Mother Language day, and during @SnaGaeilge this year, I want to pay tribute to the languages that are of importance to me - #Gaeilge, #Bangla, #English and #HibernoEnglish.
And I want to acknowledge the influences in my life - offline and online - that have encouraged me to dive that bit deeper with languages
The whole Gael twitter world, which keeps surprising me as I keep finding more and more tweets in Irish or about Irish, from the likes of @theirishfor @TheKavOfficial @Motherfocloir @GaRoDean and the others I find out about from the podcast. You. Guys. Rock.
I think @unakavanagh @minniemelange and @MiseCiara were among the first accounts I started following when I started using twitter in earnest (dormant acct for years)
And whoever it was that first told me a joke in Irish when I was in college. I'm sorry that I can't remember your name, but you opened up a whole new world to me.
My wife doesn't use twitter, and she wont see this. But it was her that, through #Bangla, brought me back to #Gaeilge. Which is mental. And amazing. And I'm not sure I know how to express how grateful I am.
So International Mother Language Day is really significant for me. Because Bangla. Because Gaeilge. Because English. And what they all mean to me, and how I feel when my kids are speaking them.
A (pre-emptive) happy 21st February to you all. #IMLD2018

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