Irish must be the only European language which you can be unable to speak yourself but which can still leave you wondering where others have learned it.
My favourite example of this is assorted London BBC journalists' pronunciation of the word 'Gardai'. I once heard one newscaster pronounce this word 'Gorrrrrdeeeeeee', their chin almost hitting their chest on the downstroke and their nose on the upswing, the whole action performed almost balletically in a slow motion worthy of a John Woo gunfight.
From what one reads of the recent ramblings of Enda Kenny, An Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, he seems to have taken to speaking English in the same manner.
I am indebted to Mark Shea for pointing out that the Irish government is proposing to abolish the seal of the confessional, and that the clergy are not for it. Good for them, and shame on Kenny. There seems to be a strong but intellectually lazy strain in modern Irish thought that believes that when all else fails, you should kick the priests. Now, this mindset may stem from having been kicked by priests, or more properly that your fathers and grandfathers were, or may have been, kicked by priests (Kenny is an hereditary member of the Irish political elite, so I would doubt whether any priest has ever aimed so much as a dirty look in his direction). However not even dourly Presbyterian Scotland, the most reformed nation in Europe, with its Orange marching bands proclaiming 'For God and Ulster!' when even the most unbiased observer could fairly note their apparent distance from both, would ever dare to go so far as to break the seal of the confessional. This move would not be a reformation of the Irish law of evidence, but would be an attempt to pick a fight with the Vatican; perhaps even a deliberate attempt to have Ireland placed under interdict.
That might please the usual gobshite tendency of windy soi-disant intellectuals with Dublin 4 postcodes, and those internationalised 'businesspeople' of the type who got the country into the mess it's in and who want to be able to do what they like with whom they like when they like and how they like without any damn priest telling them what to do. However, for the very great majority of ordinary Irish people the breaking of the confessional's seal would be one break too far from their cultural roots; what would happen if the churches were closed doesn't bear thinking about. The Irish government might find that some, probably even most, Irish people would be more loyal to their churches and confessionals than they would be to Ireland, and would then find itself attacking the Irish peoples' freedom of religion, their human rights, when successive Irish governments have made not just a song and dance but a veritable pub lock-in of proclaiming the need for other nations to preserve and protect their citizens' human rights.
As I say, you can have none of the tongue yourself, and still wonder where others have learned it. I wonder what the Irish word for 'Kulturkampf' is.
Labels: A Very Irish Kulturkampf