Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Manchán Magan

...de la Los Angeles Times:

Gaelic -- or Irish, as we call it here -- is the first official language of Ireland. (English is second.) And 41% of the population claim to speak it. But could that be true? To put it to the test, I set off across Ireland for three weeks in the summer of 2006 with one self-imposed handicap -- to never utter a word of English.

I chose Dublin as a starting point. The sales assistant in the first shop I went to said, "Would you speak English maybe?" I tried repeating my request using the simplest schoolroom Irish that he must have learned during the 10 years of compulsory Irish that every schoolchild undergoes. "Do you speak English?" he asked again in a cold, threatening tone. Sea (pronounced "sha"), I affirmed, and nodded meekly. "I'm not talking to you any more," he said, covering his ears. "Go away!"

I knew the journey was going to be difficult, just not this difficult...

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