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Gaelic Mafia?

Twitter hashtags do not normally attract much attention from Island Voices, far less participation or amplification. Firestorms and pile-ons are not our usual digital habitat. Our natural inclination is more towards common sense than confected indignation or online mass hysteria. But every now and then, one catches the eye – #GaelicMafia being a case in point. The phrase has been around for a long time, a dismissive and derogatory shorthand conveniently covering up the user-accuser’s unwillingness or inability to actually name any names in their imagined shadowy conspiracy of mad Gaelic zealots plotting the appropriation of rights and resources way beyond their proper station.

Well, it cropped up again recently, though perhaps without the effect the original twitterer intended, prompting an avalanche of ironic, sardonic, even scornful #GaelicMafia tweets in response. Of course, negative feelings towards Gaelic may spring from a range of sources in any individual’s mind, one of which is no doubt the monolingual’s understandable insecurity in the face of clearly communicative expression beyond their own comprehension. One “convenient” way of suppressing this fear is to let oneself believe that it’s actually the Gaelic speaker’s world view which is the defective one, reflecting a “narrow”, “inward-looking”, or “retrospective” mindset, by contrast with the modern and open outlook that the English language supposedly supremely affords in comparison with any other language in the world today – a view which conveniently neglects to acknowledge that every Gaelic speaker is bilingual, and so already possessed of all the advantages that English (or perhaps another language) can bestow, and plenty more besides.

It’s this additionality that balanced bilingualism, or indeed multilingualism, confers that Island Voices has been promoting from the start. A project founded upon transnational European co-operation is never going to accept a characterisation of its linguistic roots as somehow blinkered or introspective, or that it is motivated by selfish concerns for “cosa nostra” alone. Island Voices would not even have started, with its origins going back to the POOLS project of 2005-2007, without the support of European funding and partners from many different language backgrounds. We hope our response has been, and continues to be, appropriately reciprocal too, for example through our Other Tongues initiative – which actually extends way beyond European borders.

And so it is that an exception has been made, and we have allowed ourselves our own contribution to the hashtag of the day with a gentle reminder that other worlds beyond the English-only one continue to grow and develop. “Mi piace questo binario!” was first created about ten years ago, as an exercise in the POOLS-CX project – a rough and ready multilingual production, with English “flashcards” interspersed. Here it is again, this time with the English replaced by Gaelic. There cannot be any Gaelic Mafia without Guthan nan Eilean as a fully signed up member!

Prego!

Categories: Community, Video

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