Changing languages

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
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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 revived after being dead for more than two thousand years, and is now thriving. Irish people feel a bit inadequate when confronted with the case of Israel. “Why can’t you be more like the Israelis?” we are constantly being asked, in the same tone that an exasperated parent would use to a difficult child. Usually, we just hang our heads and mutter something about 800 years of colonization, or remind the interlocutor that James Joyce and/or U2 are Irish. I’m going to try a different tack here. In. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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