In the literature on language death and language renewal, two cases come up again and again: Irish and Hebrew. Mention of the former language is usually attended by a whiff of disapproval. It was abandoned relatively recently by a majority of the Irish people in favour of English, and hence is quoted as an example of a people rejecting their heritage. Hebrew, on the other hand, is presented as a model of linguistic good behaviour: not only was it not rejected by its own people, it was even reviv
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This is an interesting article that centers on the evolution of the Irish and Hebrew languages, but I think some of the bigger points could apply to any language that continues to be used and is evolving. I think part of what’s going on now with Irish language is that there’s a big effort in Ireland to try to revive the language so that it doesn’t die altogether. Having travelled to Ireland twice this past year, I can say firsthand that most signs are listed in Irish first, then English second. Ireland is reclaiming its heritage more than ever now, especially with the 100th anniversary of the 1916 revolution coming up. It will be interesting to see how the resurgence of bringing back Irish as a dominant language will evolve in coming years.
Of my tech comm friends who speak Hebrew (and I know there are a few of you), how do you think that re-emergence of Hebrew has gone as people have slowly moved away from Yiddish–or is Yiddish still prevelant enough that Yiddish hasn’t gone away either? I’d be curious to hear your take on it.
Languages and linguistcs are fascinating!
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