Segments in this Video

Irish Gaelic Speakers in Ireland (03:32)


In the 10th century, the golden age of Irish saints and scholars, there was a flourishing Gaelic culture in Ireland. Ireland had one of the oldest written vernaculars in Europe. Some people still speak Irish Gaelic.

Irish Gaelic: Oral Tradition (03:04)

An Irish poet discusses Irish Gaelic as a holder of Irish myth. He says the language is not dead, but "on hold." Few people remain who speak Gaelic as their native tongue. They hold Irish history in their words.

Gaelic: Sign of Irish Patriotism (01:59)

One of the last speakers of Gaelic, a poet recites his poetry in both English and Gaelic, the latter of which is a sign of Irish patriotism.

Gaelic Gives Way to English Language (04:21)

When the English language crossed the sea to Ireland, the decline of Gaelic began. The rise of English sovereignty and the establishment of an Irish stronghold depended upon the gradual use of English by all Irishmen.

English Settlements in Ireland and Blarney Stone (01:34)

English military conquest of Ireland was quickly followed by English settlements on which Irish landholders were dispossessed and forced to become tenants. The film host shows the Blarney stone and explains its history.

What Is the Irish Accent of English? (03:35)

The speech in the Irish city of Cork still has remnants of its Elizabethan settlers. The Cork accent is often called an Irish brogue. The Irish accent of English comes from two heritages: Gaelic and Elizabethan English.

Emigration of the Irish (03:02)

Under Cromwell's rule, many Irish are exiled to Barbados, while others to Montserrat. As they scattered, the Irish also take their accents and language to Newfoundland. An Irish step dancer demonstrates his talent.

English: Linguistic Advantage in Ireland (02:52)

Another legacy of the Cromwellian settlements was the emergence of an Anglo-Irish ruling class known as the Ascendancy. Historically, the Irish who learned to speak the King's English fared better and had higher status under British rule.

Potato Famine: Linguistic Effects (02:23)

By 1800, nearly half the Irish population spoke Irish, but by 1900, nearly 85% spoke only English. The cause of this linguistic upheaval was the potato famine that began in 1845 and lasted 6 years. Millions fled Ireland and a million died of starvation.

Playwright J.M. Synge: Irish English Dialog (04:28)

Excerpts from Synge's "Playboy of the Western World" demonstrate Irish English, the language evolving out of Gaelic and English. Synge's sentence structures reflect Irish structures more than English structures.

James Joyce: Flavor and Intonation of Dublin Accent (04:06)

Joyce, who left Dublin and Ireland at the age of 22, universalized the Irish experience in his writing. In many ways, he "transformed the idea of language." No writer after Joyce can ignore his achievements.

James Joyce: "Finnegan's Wake" (02:39)

The ultimate exploration of English as a language foreign to Ireland is in Joyce's last novel "Finnegan's Wake." He uses a new language system to reflect the shattered experience of the Irish.

Irish Immigrants in Liverpool (02:38)

The Liverpool accent is a direct product of Irish settlers after the potato famine. People in Liverpool and Dublin speak with similar accents as demonstrated by soccer fans at a game between the two cities.

Influence of the Irish in New York (03:33)

In the 19th century, nearly 5 million emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. Archival film footage shows Irish immigrants on board ship bound for America. Thousands of New York police officers have Irish ancestry.

Irish Descendants: Pilgrimage to Ireland (02:39)

Like thousands of other Irish Americans, a descendant of Irish immigrants returns to Ireland in search of his roots.

Language as Political Weapon (03:25)

On the streets of Belfast in the north, language is still a political weapon. Irish Gaelic is being revived, and children learn Irish in the only school where Irish in the native language. In the Mays prison, republican prisoners take lessons in Irish Gaelic.

Irish Gaelic in Northern Ireland (03:12)

Learning Irish Gaelic has become a political gesture in Northern Ireland today, but it is largely symbolic.

Irish English Endures (00:57)

Historically, the Irish have taken a foreign language (English) and are making it their own. The literary genius of the forgotten Celtic centuries is not dead, but is translated. Perhaps in their accents of Irish English, the Irish can escape their prison of their history.

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Loaded Weapon

Part of the Series : The Story of English
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
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The Irish experience reflects two language traditions, English and Gaelic. This classic PBS program shows how English was first established in Ireland in the 17th century and how, in cases of violent cultural conflict, language can function as a weapon. Exploring the west of Ireland today, the program identifies traces of Irish Celtic culture, despite the historical decline of the Gaelic tongue. Typical Irish accents in Cork are examined, with examples containing strong echoes of Elizabethan speech. The impact of Cromwell’s rule and the catastrophic famines of the 1840s—both of which forced many Irish into exile, further distancing them from their native language—is also studied. (59 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL36930

ISBN: 978-1-4213-6094-2

Copyright date: ©1986

Closed Captioned

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