Just a pipedream?
DREAMING PLACE dreams of becoming a bilingual project. But is this just a pipedream? Could it become a reality? We’d need a lot of help and support but it’s something to aspire to. Certainly DREAMING PLACE is interested in bilingualism so that is a good place to start. (See below for details of our trilingual cultures). We have an acute interest in Irish Gaelic and the place names have been a great intro.
Each of us, DREAMING PLACE artists belong to not Bilingual but Trilingual cultures, so we are appreciative of the richness a melange of language brings to cultures. We know that the meanings of a place are closely bound to its languages, so that if a language ceases to be spoken a culture is impoverished. More than that a part of the soul of the land dies. We are interested in language as artists and as people, we are interested to hear what language says about place.
During our project at Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark as visitors, we listened to and recorded some of the diversity of voices spoken in the Geopark. The voices of people who live, work or play in the Geopark give us a clue to the voices or languages of the past. They are part of its diversity and for us its beauty. We listen with our parabolic outsider ears!
Listen here to Tommy speak Ulster Scotts. .
The accents, cadence and dialects of English spoken here hold within them the memory of languages that have sadly been lost from right here in the Geoopark. In this category is of course is the Irish Language itself. I am not sure if I should really say that this language is lost as it is still widely spoken as a second language and Irish Gaelic is experiencing a mighty comeback. When you tune into the radio anywhere on the island it is most often this language that is heard. This is comforting so it was surprising when we discovered that Irish it is not spoken as a mother tongue or first language here in the Geopark at all and indeed there are few people who call Gaelic their first language anywhere. But there are still people living in outlying areas of Ireland who speak Gaelic. / Gaelilge Naturally those of you who live in Northern Ireland and Éire know lots more about the languages spoken in Ireland than we do and I am sure passions run high on the subject, but there is much confusion by outsiders like us who live in England or America so I am trying to clarify it a bit via this blog. Please do post your comments here….. languages other than English welcomed.
For us and also for many local people The Marble Arch Caves Geopark place names are a door into the Irish Language and into the heritage and culture of this outstandingly beautiful place. The old names still hold the meanings given to the land by the people for whom these lands have been home. The townlands are a very special part of Irish/ Northern Irish heritage that we admire greatly and we want the world to know about. You can learn more about townlands in a separate blog.
Anna and Claire Language history:
Anna has spent most of her adult life in a Valenciano (Catalan) speaking region of Spain. Anna is bilingual Castellano (Spanish) and English and communicates in Valenciano with her Catalan nationalist friends. She now lives in the county of Devon. Devon is situated in England’s “West Country” bordering Cornwall. People in Devon may speak English with an accent or use a dialect that is a relic of the ancient languages spoken here.The Cornish language or Cornish is on the United Nations list of “critically endangered” languages and is now only spoken as a second language.
In the part of New Mexico where Claire lives three main languages are spoken. As a minority white American family living in Northern New Mexico, Claire speaks American English. Many people in her region are of Hispanic descent and speak English and Spanish. She lives close to the village of Questa. Questa is a bilingual Hispanic community. But that is not the whole story. These Northern New Mexico lands are of course home to the original peoples of the area, the Native American Pueblo peoples who speak Tiwa, giving Claire’s community a very rich cultural heritage of which she is justifiably proud.
The photo is from a little booklet called Name your place (Logainmneacha Cuid Dár nOídhreacht) produced in 1965 which is intended for those wanting to name their place with an Irish language name.