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Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Irish

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:38 am UTC
by Carlington
Via Al Jazeera:
Spoiler:
Striking for Irish and linguistic diversity
Irish MEP stages 'language strike' against exclusion of Irish language within EU institutions.
Simon Hooper | 08 Mar 2015 12:26 GMT | Human Rights, Europe, Ireland

An Irish member of the European parliament is staging a "language strike" in protest against what she calls the discrimination against her mother tongue within European Union institutions and the "dismantling" of Irish language services by the government in Dublin.
Liadh Ni Riada, an MEP for the south of Ireland who grew up and lives in an Irish-speaking community, has been communicating only in Irish in the parliament since the beginning of the month and plans to continue until St Patrick's Day on March 17.
Minority and regional language campaigners and supporters from across Europe have backed Ni Riada, and accused the EU and member states of failing to meet their own commitments on protecting linguistic diversity.
"I had the Irish language from the cradle as my mother tongue. I only learnt English when I went to school," Ni Riada told Al Jazeera. "It saddens me as an Irish speaker that I cannot use my own language as I go about my work. I feel more comfortable conversing in my native tongue than I do in English."

'Except the Irish language, of course'
Irish, a Celtic language, is Ireland's first official language although English, which has co-official status, is more commonly used; a consequence of centuries of English and British colonial rule when the use of Irish was discouraged and often actively suppressed.
It is the day-to-day language of approximately 77,000 people, but 1.77 million people - 41 percent of the population - say they can speak the language, according to the last census in 2011. Predominantly Irish-speaking areas, which are concentrated primarily in western regions of the country, are known as the Gaeltacht.
Irish was given official status as a working language by the EU in 2007 but has remained marginalised since then because of a derogation which means that institutions are not obliged to provide full translation services in Irish, as they are in all of the EU's 23 other official languages.
"When they announce at committees that all languages are available I feel like jumping up and down and saying, 'Except the Irish language, of course.' It has the same status as the others, so there is huge discrimination there. Irish is excluded and ignored," Ni Riada said.
The derogation was originally put in place because of concerns that Ireland could not deliver the required pool of translators to serve the needs of European institutions. The current derogation, which is reviewed every five years, is due to be renewed in 2017, and the Irish government must apply to the EU council of ministers this year if it wants it to be lifted.

Language revival
Ni Riada, whose nationalist Sinn Fein party has long campaigned for more assertive measures to restore Irish as the country's main language, said that ending the derogation would create 188 translation jobs for Irish speakers at little cost and have "huge ramifications" for Gaeltacht communities.
"We are already paying for other languages to be translated so why not pay for our own language? The knock-on effect is that it makes it more accessible for people at home who want to see the work that I do and the work the parliament does in their own native language."

A poll last month found that 70 percent of people in Ireland favoured the provision of all public services in Irish. But the current government, led by the centre-right Fine Gael, has come in for criticism for failing to do more.
Last year, the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which is responsible for Irish language affairs, admitted it had used Google Translate to produce Irish text for a website promoting centenary commemorations of the 1916 uprising against British rule after Irish readers described the content as "nonsensical".
"The government have made much noise about their commitment in the promotion of Irish but it is evident that it is only lip service. The government have not only consistently failed to serve the Irish language community, but they have dishonoured our cultural and historical legacy," Trevor O Clochartaigh, Sinn Fein's Irish language spokesman, said last month.
Ni Riada warned that government cuts to Irish language services were also undermining a 20-year revival strategy launched with cross-party and public support in 2010, and called on Irish speakers to join the strike, and to express support on Twitter using the hashtag #StailcTeanga (language strike).
"Our language is part of our identity and it is what makes us stand out from others. This isn't just about a working language; there is a whole other depth to it in terms of its richness in history, arts and literature. It is a frame of mind, it is all about diversity and that needs to be encouraged."
Last year, thousands of people marched through Dublin to protest against the government's failure to implement legislation protecting the rights of Irish speakers.
"What was wonderful was you could hear Irish spoken everywhere on the streets of our capital," said Ni Riada. "And then you start thinking, 'My God, once upon a time this country spoke Irish all over. It is all because we were colonised and the last thing that you do in stamping out somebody's identity is crush their language."

Too little, too late?
Ni Riada said her personal assistant was acting as her unofficial translator during the strike to enable her to continue working. She is also continuing to speak with her constituents in both Irish and English.
Yet, addressing a parliament committee session on Monday, she was interrupted by Roberto Galtieri, the chairman of the meeting, who told her that translation by an assistant was not allowed. "Either use another language or unfortunately I am not able to give you the floor," Galtieri told her.
But supporters who signed a Change.org petition calling for the end of the derogation backed Ni Riada's protest.
"It is wonderful to hear Irish at the European parliament. What kind of 'Union' is this when all other countries speak their native languages in the parliament?" wrote Aedammair Ni Chiardha.
"It is shameful that any government should retreat from supporting the heritage and language of its own country," wrote Gabhan O Dochartaigh.
MEPs representing Ireland and other countries with co-official languages also expressed support. Deirdre Clune, a Fine Gael parliamentarian for the south of Ireland, said: "I support anything which helps to preserve our native language. I, along with my Fine Gael colleagues, have been working closely with Joe McHugh [Ireland's minister responsible for the Gaeltacht] to end the derogation for a number of months now. We have brought the minister to Brussels to discuss this. We are confident of a positive outcome in this scenario."
Josu Juaristi, an MEP from the Basque region of Spain, said: "I think the EU could be doing much more to promote the use of our national languages. For us, it is a matter of fundamental rights and the EU should require member states to fulfil that right."
Davyth Hicks, the secretary-general of the European Language Equality Network, called on the EU to recognise other languages with co-official status in member states such as Welsh in the UK and Catalan, Basque and Galician in Spain. He said there were more than 50 million native speakers of regional and minority languages within the EU, with many defined as endangered by UNESCO.
"We strongly support Liadh's action on behalf of Irish," Hicks told Al Jazeera. "If the EU and its member states are to respect linguistic diversity we need to see some substantive measures. Still today the EU has not created any legal basis for the protection and promotion of our languages. Europe could be a great leader in reversing language endangerment, but it's not even willing to act meaningfully to safeguard the language rights of its own citizens."
But some fear efforts to promote Irish are already too late. A comprehensive study of the use of Irish in 2007 concluded that the language was unlikely to remain the dominant language even in Gaeltacht areas within two decades. Joe Mac Donnacha, one of the co-authors of that report, wrote last year that Irish was in terminal decline.
"What we are now seeing in the Gaeltacht are the final throes of Irish as a living language," Mac Donnacha wrote. "The only question that remains is whether they can be maintained as English-dominant bilingual communities, or whether the shift towards monolingual English-language communities is now inevitable."
A spokesperson for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht told Al Jazeera that the Irish government was "actively engaged with the EU institutions in order to formulate specific proposals on the optimal approach to the derogation. The outcome of that engagement will inform the proposals that will be brought to government in due course".
But with another opportunity for Ireland to end the derogation not due until 2020, Ni Riada said the country's Irish speakers could not afford to wait any longer.
"Five years could be the difference between it flourishing or fading as a living language. We have very good things like Irish television stations and organisations that use Irish but there has to be much more of a political will to encourage people to use it. That is the missing piece of the jigsaw."


The abridged version: Liadh Ni Riada, an MEP from the south of Ireland, and an L1 Irish speaker, is refusing to speak in any language other than Irish in the European Parliament from the beginning of March through to St. Patrick's Day (17 March). This is in protest against the discrimination against the Irish language in the Parliament - Members are being refused the floor if they speak Irish (an official and working language of the EU), despite an official EU policy that states that all EU citizens will have access to all EU documents in all of the official languages of the EU, and that in meetings between Member States (such as the Parliament), all participants are entitled to use their own languages. The reason this can happen is a derogation meaning that EU institutions are not obliged to provide translation services for Irish.

As a hopeful-interpreter-in-training, student of linguistics, and general massive nerd about languages, I fully support the strike. Irish is already an endangered language, and as evidenced in the article this action is not only representing the interests of Irish speakers, but also lending confidence to representatives of other minority language communities, such as those of Basque and Welsh. The article does end on a bit of a pessimistic note, and it may well have a point. Irish is still the daily language of nearly 100,000 people, presumably mainly in the Gaeltachts, but nearly half the population of Ireland can speak the language, which is plenty enough people to keep it alive. The difficulty comes in convincing the Irish people it's worth holding on to, something which often doesn't quite sink in until it's just about too late.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:48 am UTC
by BattleMoose
The derogation was originally put in place because of concerns that Ireland could not deliver the required pool of translators to serve the needs of European institutions.


The solution is obvious.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:32 am UTC
by Carlington
Mhmm, but there are other sentences in this article too that complicate things slightly. This is why there is a protest and a news story. For example:
...she was interrupted by Roberto Galtieri, the chairman of the meeting, who told her that translation by an assistant was not allowed. "Either use another language or unfortunately I am not able to give you the floor," Galtieri told her.
Means that bringing in a translator can't happen while the derogation is in place.

But with another opportunity for Ireland to end the derogation not due until 2020, Ni Riada said the country's Irish speakers could not afford to wait any longer.
"Five years could be the difference between it flourishing or fading as a living language..."
Five years could be the difference, but there may still be ti--
A comprehensive study of the use of Irish in 2007 concluded that the language was unlikely to remain the dominant language even in Gaeltacht areas within two decades. Joe Mac Donnacha, one of the co-authors of that report, wrote last year that Irish was in terminal decline...


Ah.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:31 am UTC
by BattleMoose
The core function of any parliament is dependent on being able to communicate. Why it is both important that all languages are included. But rationally this is also dependent on other members of the parliament being able to understand what is being said. If other members cannot understand what is being said due to an insufficiency of translators then that is actually a very big problem. And if the Irish culture (for want of a better word) cannot provide (or is unwilling) the translators then that is also telling of the seriousness of this issue. That there is actually a shortage (or fear) then that is pretty telling about the position of the Irish language and its use.

The protest is fine too but what is it really going to achieve. Feels a bit like, "hey, what I have to say is very important and I know you cannot understand me but I am going to continue anyway until I can provide the proper translators". And the response will most likely be, "fine, you carry on son, while I tap away while I work on my laptop here and no one will hear or can take your issues seriously".

Personally I really don't care about languages going into decline and dying. Be it Irish or anything else. I just don't see the value in it or care. I get its important to many people and that's fine, they can take the effort to keep it alive, but as it seems, while the older generations cares about the language, the younger generations don't, and that's fine too.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:44 am UTC
by Carlington
Yes, and that would be a perfectly good point if it weren't for the fact that the translators are actually there. It says in the article that this has the potential to create around 180 translation jobs for Irish speakers. The MEP in question has had a translator during the strike, but was told that this was unacceptable because of the derogation in place for Ireland. The next chance Ireland has to change this is 2020, by which point it's fairly likely that the Irish language will be highly endangered and beyond the point of saving (it may already be there, if Joe Mac Donnacha is to be believed). The point of this protest, then, is to highlight the unfair treatment of minority languages such as Irish, even those that have been given official language status.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:54 am UTC
by BattleMoose
Yes, and that would be a perfectly good point if it weren't for the fact that the translators are actually there.


I really cannot speak to this. The EU parliament seems to think they aren't or might not be and you say they are there. If the need is for 180 translators then I think the best thing to do is to present a list of 180 names of people who want the job of translating and this should directly contradict the implication that the translators aren't there.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:48 am UTC
by Zamfir
And if the Irish culture (for want of a better word) cannot provide (or is unwilling) the translators then that is also telling of the seriousness of this issue.

In this case, it's highly misleading to talk about an Irish culture as if it is one unified actor. This is not primarily (or hardly at all) a debate between the Irish and the EU. It's a debate between Irish who highly value the Irish language and those who do not, with the EU as platform for that debate.

The Irish government goes along along with the derogation, and apparently doesn't do much to provide (or even train?) translators. This protest is from a nationalist opposition party, who wants the Irish government to take more actions to preserve the Irish language.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:02 am UTC
by CorruptUser
I thought the language was known as "Gaelic"?

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:25 am UTC
by WibblyWobbly
There's also Scottish Gaelic, which comes from the same language family and shares some similarities, if I remember correctly, but enough difference that they're different languages. So it's easier and more accurate to call it "Irish" than simply "Gaelic".

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:29 am UTC
by Alexius
CorruptUser wrote:I thought the language was known as "Gaelic"?


It is correct to refer to it as "Gaelic", but in written English that introduces an ambiguity as the word also refers to the related but different language spoken by some people in Scotland. The two are pronounced differently- the Scottish language is pronounced "Gallic"- so there's no ambiguity in spoken English. Calling it "Irish" is more common, less ambiguous, and also correct- it is referred to as "the Irish language" in the Irish constitution.

As for the claim that it's declining, the answer is "yes and no". Irish is declining as a first language in Gaeltacht areas, which tend to be remote and rural, due both to emigration and to internal migration (of English-speaking Irish people to the Gaeltacht). However, the number of educated urban Irish people who are fluent in Irish is going up. These people, who tend to have grown up speaking English at home and learned Irish at school (all schools are required to teach it), are on average better-educated than Irish people who speak only English, to the point that I have heard Irish friends say that ability to speak Irish may be becoming a class marker.

Interestingly, the Irish spoken by urban Irish speakers is different from that spoken by Gaeltacht Irish speakers- it's noticeably simplified, and may be evolving into a different dialect. So it might be correct to say that Irish as spoken in the Gaeltacht is dying...

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:17 pm UTC
by Lazar
Carlington wrote:Irish is still the daily language of nearly 100,000 people, presumably mainly in the Gaeltachts, but nearly half the population of Ireland can speak the language, which is plenty enough people to keep it alive.

What I've frequently heard from Irish people, though, is that a significant share of the population claims to speak Irish despite not really being fluent in it.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 2:22 pm UTC
by Diadem
Carlington wrote:The difficulty comes in convincing the Irish people it's worth holding on to

Is it?

Honestly I think we have way too many languages in Europe. It's a massive and expensive mess that's obstructing international cooperation and trade. Let the smaller languages die off already.

If I had my way we'd abolish Dutch tomorrow. And that's a language with 21 million native speakers, 30 if you count Afrikaans. To keep around a language with a mere hundred thousand speakers is sheer madness.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:50 pm UTC
by PolakoVoador
Diadem wrote:
Carlington wrote:The difficulty comes in convincing the Irish people it's worth holding on to

Is it?

Honestly I think we have way too many languages in Europe. It's a massive and expensive mess that's obstructing international cooperation and trade. Let the smaller languages die off already.

If I had my way we'd abolish Dutch tomorrow. And that's a language with 21 million native speakers, 30 if you count Afrikaans. To keep around a language with a mere hundred thousand speakers is sheer madness.

Just out of curiosity, which languages you do not consider "smaller"? Because 21 million is a lot of speakers.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:51 pm UTC
by Tirian
Zamfir wrote:The Irish government goes along along with the derogation, and apparently doesn't do much to provide (or even train?) translators. This protest is from a nationalist opposition party, who wants the Irish government to take more actions to preserve the Irish language.


That's what I thought from reading the article. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the Irish government is saying "We are satisfied to conduct our business in English, since that is one of our national languages and this is a legislative body whose primary focus is on international communication and not a world's fair whose primary focus is on showcasing individual cultures as a mosaic." From a quick Google search, the major subcultures in Spain who don't speak Spanish are similarly "snubbed" in EUP.

So my question is why a high-ranking official of the Irish delegation to the European Parliament is from an opposition party and is taking a very public stand that is embarrassing to the Irish government.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:56 pm UTC
by Diadem
Tirian wrote:So my question is why a high-ranking official of the Irish delegation to the European Parliament is from an opposition party and is taking a very public stand that is embarrassing to the Irish government.

Because she was voted in?

You do realize that the European parliament is directly elected by the European population? The Irish government doesn't have a say in who the Irish MPs are.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:01 pm UTC
by speising
Honestly, i fail to see how not speaking a language in the european parliament influences the viability of that language. A language lives by it's native speakers, not by what's spoken in brussels.
The main consideration in a parliament meeting should be how they can best understand each other, which would be easiest if they speak a language everyone understands, not by playing a game of telephone.

Ich meine, ich könnte auch deusch schreiben hier, und ihr könntet google translate benutzen, aber das ist offensichtlich nicht zielführend.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:30 pm UTC
by Tirian
Diadem wrote:
Tirian wrote:So my question is why a high-ranking official of the Irish delegation to the European Parliament is from an opposition party and is taking a very public stand that is embarrassing to the Irish government.

Because she was voted in?

You do realize that the European parliament is directly elected by the European population? The Irish government doesn't have a say in who the Irish MPs are.


I do now.

Okay, I suppose her argument is sound. If the European Union was sufficiently idealistic to name Irish as an official language despite the fact that it only has 77,000 daily speakers, then they should do what is necessary to live up to their values. Either hire a bunch of translators or else formally demote Irish to the co-official language with Welsh and Catalan despite being the constitutionally-designated first language of one of its member states.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:53 pm UTC
by Derek
speising wrote:Ich meine, ich könnte auch deusch schreiben hier, und ihr könntet google translate benutzen, aber das ist offensichtlich nicht zielführend.

Ha, that's what you think! Turns out Google Translate fucking nailed that sentence, except for your typo in "Deutsch", but that was easy to figure out.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:23 pm UTC
by speising
Derek wrote:
speising wrote:Ich meine, ich könnte auch deusch schreiben hier, und ihr könntet google translate benutzen, aber das ist offensichtlich nicht zielführend.

Ha, that's what you think! Turns out Google Translate fucking nailed that sentence, except for your typo in "Deutsch", but that was easy to figure out.

oh, embarassing.

anyway, there just was a european court decision regarding private copies of digital media, and both the anti-levies community and the music industry claimed a victory. the difference? one of them used the english, the other the german version of the decision for their argument.
of course, the real culprit here is the court which, it seems to me, wasn't able to form a definite opinion on the subject and so produced a bs sentence which doesn't say anything concrete at all.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:05 am UTC
by moiraemachy
Diadem wrote:
Carlington wrote:The difficulty comes in convincing the Irish people it's worth holding on to

Is it?

Honestly I think we have way too many languages in Europe. It's a massive and expensive mess that's obstructing international cooperation and trade. Let the smaller languages die off already.

Let's put it this way: if 100,000 people speak Irish, and 180 of them become EU translators, you get 1.8 EU translators per 1000 persons in that group. For reference, the number of physicians (used UK because Ireland is outdated) is 2.8, the number of primary teachers is 3.9, and the number of nurses is 8.8. Another nice data point I found is the number of interpreters and translators in the US: 63,600 , which translates (...) to about 0.2 per 1000 inhabitants. From that, to me, keeping Irish alive sounds just too wasteful.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:32 am UTC
by Carlington
Carlington wrote:Irish is still the daily language of nearly 100,000 people,

The exact number is 276,310 native speakers overall and one million non-native users of the language in Ireland alone, according to Ethnologue.
I personally believe that a language of any size should be preserved for as long as possible and documented as thoroughly as possible, but I say that only to give a sense of the perspective I'm approaching this from.

speising wrote:Honestly, i fail to see how not speaking a language in the european parliament influences the viability of that language. A language lives by it's native speakers, not by what's spoken in brussels.
The main consideration in a parliament meeting should be how they can best understand each other, which would be easiest if they speak a language everyone understands, not by playing a game of telephone.

Ich meine, ich könnte auch deusch schreiben hier, und ihr könntet google translate benutzen, aber das ist offensichtlich nicht zielführend.
Yes, you could write in German, and we could put it through Google Translate, but I don't think that's analogous. The point was made further up by BattleMoose that communication is fundamental to a parliament. I agree with that, and that's exactly why I think this language should be preserved. MP Ni Riada speaks Irish as a native language, and didn't speak English until learning it in school. It stands to reason, as with most such cases, that she would feel more comfortable articulating herself in Irish than in English. If accurate communication is important in this context, which I think we all agree it is, then it makes sense that all parties should be given the greatest possible opportunity to articulate themselves accurately, and where necessary, should be given access to trained professionals whose job it is to accurately convey precise meanings across language boundaries, rather than being expected to cross these language boundaries themselves.
This isn't a particularly unusual thing in cross-linguistic interactions of this type. For example, when Angela Merkel meets with Vladimir Putin, they converse informally in English (being both L2 English speakers) outside of the formal meeting context, and then switch to German and Russian respectively, communicating with the assistance of interpreters.

Tirian wrote:
Zamfir wrote:The Irish government goes along along with the derogation, and apparently doesn't do much to provide (or even train?) translators. This protest is from a nationalist opposition party, who wants the Irish government to take more actions to preserve the Irish language.


That's what I thought from reading the article. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the Irish government is saying "We are satisfied to conduct our business in English, since that is one of our national languages and this is a legislative body whose primary focus is on international communication and not a world's fair whose primary focus is on showcasing individual cultures as a mosaic." From a quick Google search, the major subcultures in Spain who don't speak Spanish are similarly "snubbed" in EUP.

So my question is why a high-ranking official of the Irish delegation to the European Parliament is from an opposition party and is taking a very public stand that is embarrassing to the Irish government.

The bit about MEPs being different to MPs has been covered, so I'll skip that.

The languages spoken by the "major subcultures" in Spain don't have official language status in Spain and thus not in the EU either. The same applies for Welsh. Official languages of EU member countries are also official languages of the EU, according to EU policy, and Irish is the official language of Ireland.

Re: Irish MEP stages language strike over EU exclusion of Ir

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:34 am UTC
by HungryHobo
Carlington wrote:The exact number is 276,310 native speakers overall and one million non-native users of the language in Ireland alone


Ha!

That's a joke and a half. most of the gaeltacts are just a tax dodge where any family members who can't speak a few sentences are hidden when the inspector comes round. (anyone from outside the country: keep in mind when reading that joke of a number that people literally get written a cheque for claiming to speak irish so the figures get massively inflated by people who don't speak a word 364 days out of the year but who want free money.)

There's a tiny tiny fraction of a percent of the population who actually use irish day-to-day.
Most of them are almost unintelligable to people who speak "official" version of irish. (ie the construct with a vague similarity to the language that was created a few decades ago.)

Irish as our grandparents spoke it is basically a dead language already.

Add to that, the standard of language education is so abysmal across the board that despite 14 years of education in the language most people come out of school not even vaguely fluent in the vaguely irish-ish construct-language. (really, ireland trains some of the worst language teachers anywhere. it's not even a matter of funding, it's a cultural thing. Too many teachers learned how to teach from nuns and pass on bad techniques, it's the first thing I ever hear from anyone born outside the country who tries to learn from irish-trained linguists: how incredibly bad the classes are, there may be competent language teachers but the other 99.x% are so inept they don't even know how inept they are)