Tomhas na Teanga

Táthar ag súil go mbeidh Éire aontaithe faoi cheann céad bliain, in 2016. It is hoped for that Ireland will be united within a hundred years, in 2016. Agus is féidir sin.  And that’s possible. Ar a laghad, is iontach an dul chun cinn atá ann ó 1910, céad bliain ó shin.  At the least, it’s wonderful the progress that has happened since 1910, a hundred years ago. Uaireanta, bíonn céad bliain de dhíth.  Sometimes a hundred years are needed. Bhí timpeall an méid sin ama ann idir deireadh Chogadh Cathartha Mheiriceá agus fíor-shaoirse na ndaoine gorma sa tír seo.  It was about that much time between the end of the American Civil War and true freedom for black people in this country. Bhí an t-irisleabhar Gaeilge An Gael as cló (mar iris na Gaeilge) le breis is céad bliain.  The Irish language magazine An Gael was out of print (as an Irish language publication) for more than a hundred years. Agus dóbair gur scriosadh cultúr na nIndiach Dearg i Meiriceá breis is céad bliain ó shin.   And it almost happened that American Indian culture was destroyed more than a hundred years ago. Ach, mar a tharla in Éirinn, thosaigh siad a gcearta a éilimh ó na seascaidí/seachtóidí ar aghaidh, agus tá misneach agus dóchas ag fás ina measc ó shin i leith.  But as it happened in Ireland, they started to demand their rights starting in the sixties/seventies, and courage and hope are increasing among them ever since.

Is mionteanga í an Ghaeilge, agus ní labhraíonn ach mionlach na nGael í.  Irish is a small language, and only a minority of the Gaelic people speak it. Ach sin na mílte duine (ní aontaíonn éinne faoin uimhir chruinn…).  But that is thousands of people (nobody agrees on the exact number…). Tá treibheanna na nIndiach ann nach raibh an méid sin daoine iontu riamh, atá ag caomhnú a dteangacha fós.  There are Indian tribes which never had that many people in them, which are now preserving their languages. Tá níos lú ná caoga daoine ann atá líofa i dteanga na gCeann Réidh (Saelis), ach tá dóchas ann fós dóibh, mar tá na daoine sin ag múineadh na teanga agus ag cothú suime inti.  There are fewer than fifty people who are fluent in the Flathead (Salish) language, but there is still hope for them, because those people are teaching the language and promoting an interest in it. Féach www.salishworld.com.  See… Agus tá treibheanna eile ag déanamh amhlaidh – féach www.pieganinstitute.org, mar shampla, chun obair na gCos Dubh a fheiscint.   And there are other tribes doing likewise – see…, for example, to see the work of the Blackfeet. Tá an dá threibh seo ina gcónaí in Montana, áit a raibh mé ar cuairt i mbliana.  These two tribes live in Montana, a place I visited this year. Níl a dteanga fágtha do gach treibh, agus níl sé ag éirí le gach treibh a theanga a choimeád beo, agus tá na céadta teanga Indiach ann (féach www.native-languages.org).    Not every tribe still has its language, and not every tribe is succeeding in keeping their language alive, and there are hundreds of Indian languages (see…). Mar sin féin, tar éis céad bliain, tá suim agus dóchas ann, agus cá bhfios? Nevertheless, after a hundred years, there is interest and hope, and who knows?

Níl sé éasca, agus tá na fadhbanna céanna acu agus atá againne.  It’s not easy, and they have the same problems we have. Bíonn daoine ann nach dtuigeann tábhacht a dteanga dá bhféiniúlacht is dá gcultúr, agus ní bhíonn sé éasca na daoine óga a mhealladh chuici.  There are always people who don’t understand the importance of their language to their identity and their culture, and it’s never easy to draw young people to it. Bíonn brú an Bhéarla ag cur isteach orthu, freisin.  English is always putting pressure on them, too. Ach mar atá ar siúl in Éirinn, tá siad ag bunadh scoileanna chun a dteangacha a roinnt leis na páistí.  But as is going on in Ireland, they are founding schools to share their languages with the children. Tá cearta daonna na nIndiach agus na nGael níos sábháilte ná riamh, ach mar sin féin, bíonn biogóidí ann fós, agus tugtar dímheas dár dteangacha i gcónaí.  Human rights for the Indians and for the Gaels are more secure than ever, but just the same, there are still bigots, and our languages are always being disrespected. Ar an láimh eile, tuigeann níos mó daoine ná le fada an lá go bhfuil sé rí-thábhachtach anam an phobail a chothú agus is cuid bhunúsach de sin teanga na ndaoine.  On the other hand, more people understand than have for a long time that it’s extremely important to nourish the soul of the people, and the people’s language is fundamental to that. Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam, deirtear.  A country with no language has no soul, it is said.

Breis is céad bliain ó shin, bhíodh na treibheanna thuasluaite ag troid in aghaidh a chéile.  Over a hundred years ago, the tribes mentioned above used to fight each other. Níl sé amhlaidh sa lá atá inniu ann. It’s not like that these days. Bhí tionchar na Críostaíochta ar a lán acu, agus bhuail mé le roinnt daoine de na Cosa Dearga ag Aifreann iontach in Browning, ag séipéal an Bhláithín.  Christianity influenced a lot of them, and I met some people of the Blackfeet at a wonderful mass in Browning, at the Little Flower Chapel. Ní bheadh an fháilte a fuaireamar ann céad bliain ó shin – bhíodh na daoine sin an-fhíochmhar fadó.  We wouldn’t have gotten the welcome we did a hundred years ago – those people used to be very fierce long ago. Agus cá bhfios nach ndéanfadh mo shinsir féin dochar dóibh, mar ba ró-choitianta san aois sin.  And who knows if my own ancestors wouldn’t have done them harm, as was too common in those days. Ach tagann feabhas ar an saol, minic go leor, agus ní mór dúinn go léir bheith dóchasach.  But the world gets better, often enough, and we must all be hopeful. Go n-éirí linn uile, mar chairde a thacaíonn lena chéile. May we all succeed, as friends who support each other.