Source: (Ciarán Ó Pronntaigh,
many reasons why there should be a daily newspaper in a minority
language such as Irish.
the language as a real means of communication, where it is used
to give information and is therefore seen as necessary, is one
of the most important, as well as letting people see that the
language can be as adept at dealing with the modern world as
However, there is always one reason which is left out in
discussions about the media in Irish and that is the issue of
the standard and its promotion. For those who have not started
learning the language you will be blissfully unaware that the
language is really only at the point of adopting a 'standard',
that is, there should be only one way of spelling each word and
that there should be a grammatical system which is usable by the
may sound surprising but we have only to look back at the
English language a few hundred years ago to see that words could
be spelt just as they are said. (Some people would say that this
is the basis of the Ulster Scots language but that would be
only when books and particularly newspapers began to be printed
that this ever became a real problem and thus, by general
agreement, only one spelling was permitted.
Americans may well revel in their special spellings, such as
'thru' and 'honor' but these are the exceptions which prove the
rule. The standard in English may well seem like it is slipping
if you read the Sun, but in reality it is quite robust.
you may ask, has the Irish language not developed a standard
like English, if, as we are told it has the old vernacular in
the truth of the story is that there was a standard Gaelic
language with precise grammar and spelling all the way from the
tip of Kerry to the north of Scotland. In fact we took great
pride in our use of language, something which brushed off on our
English as well.
reason why this did not develop in the same way as say French or
Italian developed was because we were occupied by a power which
saw the Irish language as a threat. While the rest of Europe was
developing newspapers in their own language millions of Irish
people died or were
forced to flee as refugees.
important because no daily newspapers developed in the language,
one of the reasons why even today very good speakers are often
not as confident in reading or writing in the language and in
using the standard. It is only through a daily newspaper that
people can become
acquainted with the words which deal with their immediate lives.
For example, does the word 'príoracht' mean a priority or a
priory? What is the correct spelling for hurricane, Nazi or
nurse? We still a have a long way to go but these are the types
of questions which should be disappearing with a daily paper in