Dialects, Language Change, Death and Revival

Dialects versus Languages, Historical Linguistics, Irish, Language Change, Language Death, Language Revival, Sean-nós, Uncategorized

Dialects, Language Change, Death and Revival

The fall of the Roman Empire, beautifully depicted by Thomas Cole, evokes the destruction of a civilisation, the loss of a culture and the beginning of the slow death of a language. Is this what happens when all languages die? In this episode of the TEFL show we explore the topics of death and revival of languages, dialect versus ‘official’ language, prestige varieties and language change and diversity.

 

“As one language is born, another dies. According to Ethnologue, of the (roughly) 6,909 languages which are spoken in the world today, 3,000 of these are spoken by fewer than one thousand people and are in severe danger of extinction. When a language dies, an extremely valuable part of the cultural inheritance of humanity is lost. We may struggle to preserve them, and record them for posterity, but are we merely putting off the inevitable?”

LibraryofAlexandria

Irrecoverable loss of human knowledge & culture. Is this what happens when languages die? -An artist’s depiction of the Great Library of Alexandria in its heyday.

Irish_speakers_in_2011

Language Revival: Irish is experiencing a huge surge in popularity but much more work needs to be done if the language is to be brought back as the first language of everyday communication. Statistics and image from the 2011 census.

Language and identity: Is it important to preserve the language and cultural heritage of an island for posterity? Natália Danzmann, originally from Portugal but who lives in the Gaeltacht na nDéise and has become fluent in Irish, singing a well known sean-nós called Sliabh Geal gCua na Féile by Pádraig Ó Mileadha. Ó Mileadha wrote the song while feeling lonesome about his beloved homeland of Sliabh gCua in West Waterford while living as an immigrant in South Wales. Here is a photograph from the Comeragh mountains near his birthplace, the landscape which inspired the song and music.

Comeragh-Mountains

A glacial lake, Coumshingaun, in the Comeragh mountains, West Waterford, Ireland, near the birthplace of Pádraig Ó Mileadha. Photo: ‘The view over Coumshingaun Lake’ by Mario Macrory

Here are the lyrics of that beautiful sean-nós (first in Irish):

A Shliabh geal gCua na Féile, is fada uait i gcéin mé
Im’ shuí cois cuan im’aonar go tréithlag faoi bhrón

An tuile bhuí ar thaobh díom ‘dir mé ‘gus tír mo chléibhe
Is a Sliabh geal gCua na Féile nach géar é mo sceol

Dá mbeinnse i measc mo ghaolta i Sceithín glas na séimhfhear
Nuair a scaipeann teas na gréine ó spéir gheal gan smál

Nó dá mbeinnse ansiúd fé’n réaltáin nuair a thiteann drúcht ar fhéar ann
A Shliabh geal gCua nár dhréic sin dá mb’fhéidir é a fháil

‘S é mo léan nach bhfuair mé tógaint le léann is mórchuid eolais
I nGaoluinn uasal cheolmhar ba sheolta mo bhéal

Ó do thabharfainn cuairt thar sáile is do thabharfainn bua thar bharr chugat
Mar a Shliabh geal gCua ba bhreá liom thú ardú fé réim

Mo ghrása thall na nDéise, ‘dir bhánta, ghleannta is sléibhte
Ó shnámhas anall thar tréanmhuir táim tréithlag gan brí

Ach ó b’áil le Dia mé ‘ghlaoch as, mo shlánsa siar go hÉirinn
Agus slán le Sliabh na Féile le saorghean óm’ chroí

 

(And in English:)

O bright Sliabh gCua of the welcomes,
You are far from me, my home,
As I sit I am weak with sorrow,
Here by this sea alone;

The golden tide just by me
Is twixt me and my heart’s land,
O bright Sliabh gCua of the welcomes,
My story is not so grand.

Were I among my own folk,
Kindly men in Skeheens green,
Where the heat of the sun is scattered
From a sky of flawless sheen;

Oh, were I now beneath the stars
As dew falls on grass there,
Oh, you bright Sliabh gCua,
‘Twould be an gift so rare!

Oh, I am sad that I wasn’t reared
With learning and with art,
In the noble melodious Irish tongue
My mouth would have its part;

And I would go back across the sea,
And I would give you pride,
And I would love to see, Sliabh gCua,
Your fame go worldwide!

There is my love, the Decies,
Every meadow, hill and vale,
Since I came o’er the mighty sea
I have grown weak and pale;

But since God Himself has called me here,
My greetings go back home,
Back to that hill of welcomes,
From my heart, with love alone!

Here is the link to Robert William McCaul’s article on dialects, language change and revival:

https://teflreflections.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/a-short-tour-of-babel-language-change-and-emergence-of-new-varieties/

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Spanish in the United States of America.

español, Global Spanish, Instituto Cervantes, Language in the United States, Learning languages, Second Language Acquisition, Spanish in the US

Press ‘2’ for Spanish.

The United States is now the second largest Spanish speaking country after Mexico (128 million) according to a new report on the language commissioned by the highly respected Instituto Cervantes. According to the report, in the USA, the language boasts 41 million native speakers, as well as a further 11.6 million who are bilingual with English.This gives the US more Spanish speakers than Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) (figures reported in the Guardian Newspaper on 29th June 2015). The US Census office predicts that the country will have over 128 million Spanish speakers by 2050. This will mean that fully one third of US citizens will be Spanish speaking in just over 30 years time.

So why is Spanish in the US so hidden & why does it retain a minority language status even in the parts of the nation where its speakers are in the majority such as Los Angeles? How is the language being used today in the country, in the mainstream media, politics and society? Why is the language sometimes perceived as a threat? Why does Spanish still seem not to be associated with the US in Europe? Explore US Spanish with Robert William McCaul & Marek Kiczkowiak on the award-winning language podcast: the TEFL show.

Distribution_of_Spanish_Language_Speakers_in_the_United_States

(Image courtesy of the US Census Bureau & Day Transactions)

 

If you enjoyed this episode, please give us a like and a share, and maybe leave a comment too. Don’t forget that all the episodes are available on a variety of music services, while the videos are on our YouTube channel. Just click on one of the logos below to be redirected to the service.

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5 Reasons why native speakers should learn how to use English internationally

EFL, International English, Pronunciation

Are you a native speaker? Do you often get misunderstood in meetings where there are many people who speak English as a second language? Why are you being misunderstood? What can you do to avoid this situation the next time?

In this episode we discuss Chia Suan Chong’s recent article for the English Teaching Professional ‘5 Reasons why native speakers should learn how to use English internationally’, which you can read here.

Don’t forget that all our podcasts are also available on a number of music services, and the videos are on our YouTube channel. Just click on one of the logos below to be redirected the service. If you enjoyed one of the episodes, we would appreciate if you rated it or left a comment.

 

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Decentralised Teaching & Teachers’ Stories: Interview with Paul Walsh- Part 2

Decentralised Teaching, Teachers' Stoires, Uncategorized

The TEFL show presents part 2 of our recent interview with Paul Walsh of Teachers as Workers fame. In this episode, Paul discusses two of his other projects. One of them is called Decentralised Teaching, a website dedicated to the philosophy of making our classrooms more democratic, espouses learner empowerment and celebrates the idea of having a negotiated syllabus. His other project is entitled Teachers’ Stories. Listen in to find out more about this exciting new project and how you can participate. Apologies in advance for the quality of the audio, the interview was conducted over Skype and we did our best to make it as understandable as possible! Thank you for listening.

 

centralized_decentralized_distributed

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Language learning myths

Learning languages
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Continuing with our myth busting theme from this podcast about teaching methods and this one with Russ Mayne, in this episode of The TEFL Show we use our own language learning experience to debunk some of the most common myths and misconceptions about learning languages, such as that you need talent or a very long time to get to a high level. We also give several tips that will hopefully boost your language learning progress. If you’d like to get more language learning tips, you might want to listen to this podcast.

What do you think? Are there any other myths about language learning that need debunking? What’s your experience with learning languages been like? Leave us a comment below.

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Should Native Speakers take proficiency tests?

Exams

In this The TEFL Show podcast we discuss whether Native English Speakers (NES) should also be required to provide an official proof of their language proficiency. What triggered the podcast was the fact that more and more English-speaking countries (e.g. Australia) require both NES and Non-Native English Speakers (NNES) to prove their proficiency in English by sitting an internationally recognised exam, e.g. IELTS. Another trigger was what happened to Marek recently. When applying for a PhD in a British university, he was asked to provide results of a proficiency test taken within the last two years. This was despite the fact he’d done his BA in English, completed CELTA, DELTA and that he’s an IELTS examiner, which we think is enough to prove he’s highly proficient. If his passport were British, though, there would have been no need to take any exam, because, supposedly, all NES are always completely proficient. Or are they?

Don’t forget that all our podcasts are also available on a number of music services, and the videos are on our YouTube channel. Just click on one of the logos below to be redirected the service. If you enjoyed one of the episodes, we would appreciate if you rated it or left a comment.

 

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Language learning tips

Learning languages

In this The TEFL Show podcast we give several tips for learning languages more effectively. We’ve both learned various languages over the years, discovering along the way that it is much easier, faster and more enjoyable than you might think, as long as you follow a few basic rules.

All The TEFL Show podcasts can be found in this playlist on Soundcloud, on Tunein Radio and in the iTunes Store here. You can subscribe to the show there, download the podcasts to listen to later and share them on social media. And if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please rate it on iTunes and do comment below. We’d love to hear from you 🙂

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