Tomhas na Teanga

Bíonn rotha mór an tsaoil ag dul timpeall. The wheel of the world keeps going ‘round. Bíonn an saol ag athrú, sin a rá. The world is always changing, that is. Agus ní athraíonn aon rud chomh tapúil agus a athraíonn an teicneolaíocht. And nothing changes as quickly as technology. Nuair a bhí m’athair óg, d’fheictí capaill agus cairteacha go coitianta gCathair Nua-Eabhrac fós.  When my father was young, it was still common to see horses and carts in NYC. Bhíodh tralaithe agus gal-traenacha  ann. There used to be trolleys and steam trains. In Éirinn, fiu le linn m’óige féin, ní raibh leictreachas ar fáil faoin tuath.  In Ireland, even in my own youth, there was no electricity to be had in the countryside. Is deacair a chreidiúint nach mbíodh teilifíseán ag an uile dhuine, ach ní bhíodh.  It’s hard to believe that everybody didn’t have a TV, but they didn’t. Ná ríomhaire, ná fón póca! Or a computer or a cell phone! Conas a b’fhéidir le daoine maireachtáil mar sin?! How could people live like that?!

Bíonn an t-athrú deacair mar rud, minic go leor.  Change is hard, very often. Sin ráite, is iomaí rud maith a thagann as.  That said, lots of good things come of it. Is beag rud sa saol seo atá buan, agus ní mór dúinn go léir dul i ngleic leis an saol mar atá, agus mar a bheidh – an teicneolaíocht san áireamh.  Very little in this world is permanent, and we have to come to grips with the world as it is, and as it will be –technology included. Tá daoine ann, fós féin, a dhiúltaíonn an teicneolaíocht nua. There are people, nevertheless, who reject the new technology. Tá aithne agam ar dhaoine gan teilifíseán, agus tá siad sásta lena saol.  I know people with no TV, and they’re happy with their lives. Bíonn roghanna againn mar sin – ach bíonn níos mó roghanna ann i gcónaí!  So we always have choices – but there are always more choices!

Éiríonn an saol níos casta agus níos éasca ag an am céanna, ar dhóigheanna áirithe. Life gets more complicated and easier at the same time, in certain ways. Cuir i gcás an ríomhaire.  Take computers. Tá an iliomad rud níos éasca sa lá atá inniu ann mar gheall ar an ríomhaire – taighde a dhéanamh, litreacha a sheoladh, ticéid nó rud ar bith a cheannach, srl. Many things are easier today because of computers – doing research, sending letters, buying tickets or anything at all, etc. Ach ní mór do dhuine foghlaim conas ríomhaire a úsáid.  But a person has to learn how to use a computer. Agus ceann a roghnú, roimhe sin.  And how to pick one, before that. Agus bíonn an bogearraí ag athrú i gcónaí.  And the software is always changing. Agus, Dia dár sábháil, má tá fadhb agat le do ríomhaire, is féidir mórán ama a chaitheamh amú ar thóir a réitigh. And, God save us, if you have a problem with your computer, you can waste a lot of time looking for its resolution. Rud a shábhálann am dúinn de ghnáth, is féidir leis am a ghoid uainn níos mó ná aon rud eile, idir fadhbanna agus cluichí nó súgradh ar an idirlíon srl.  Something that usually saves us time, it can steal time from us more than anything else, between problems and games or playing on the internet. Paradacsa is ea é.  It’s a paradox.

Minic go leor, nuair a thagann rud nua ar an saol, imíonn rud eile. Lots of times, when a new thing comes along, something else goes away. De réir a chéile a tharlaíonn seo, den chuid is mó. This happens gradually, mostly. Nuair a thánaig na Diesel chun tosaigh ar na hiarnróid, níor cailleadh gach gal-inneall traenach ar an lá céanna.  When Diesels took over on the railroads, every steam engine wasn’t lost on the same day. Ach d’imigh siad, agus d’imigh ní ba thapúla céim ar chéim.  But they went away, and did so more quickly step by step. Is breá le daoine mar mise iad, agus sábháladh roinnt díobh, ach ní úsáidtear iad ar chor ar bith chun fíor-ghnó a dhéanamh níos mó.  People like me love them, and some of them were saved, but they’re never used any more for real business. Is breá liom na traenacha nua, agus tá siad níos fearr, gan dabht.  I love the new trains, and they’re better, no doubt. Níos saoire, níos cumhachtaí, srl.  Cheaper, more powerful, etc. Ach tá grá agam do na sean-chinn freisin. But I love the old ones, too.

Tá clóscríobhán leictreach agam sa bhaile. I have an electric typewriter at home. Nuair a fuair mé é, bhí sé sean, ach i bhfad ní b’fhearr ná na sean-chlóscríobháin a bhíodh agam.  When I got it, it was old, but much better than the old typewriters I used to have. An cuimhin leat na ribíní agus an white out? Do you remember the ribbons and…? An bhfuil a fhios agat cá bhfuaireamar an giorrúchán ‘cc?’  Do you know where we got the abbreviation ‘cc?’ Is cuimhin liomsa.  I remember. Nuair a bhí mo pháistí óg, bhain siad sult as an gclóscríobhán leictreach mar rud aisteach suntasach.  When my kids were little, they had fun with the electric typewriter which was strange and interesting. Ní minic a fheictear rud mar é riamh níos mó lasmuigh de iarsmalann.  You don’t ever see such a thing any more outside of a museum. Tá ríomhaire ag gach éinne.  Everybody has a computer. Nach bhfuil sé ait anois sean-phictiúr d’oifig gan ríomhairí a fheiscint? Isn’t it strange when you see an old picture of an office with no computers?

Glacaimid leis na rudaí nua (de ghnáth), ach bíonn cuimhní cinn breátha againn de na stuif atá ag imeacht ón saol, minic go leor.  We accept the new things (usually), but we have fine memories of the stuff that’s disappearing, very often. Meascán a bhíonn ann idir an sean is an nua. It’s a mix of the old and the new. An t-aon rud buan, sin an t-athrú. The only thing permanent is change.

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.