I don’t know why, but this Irish Times article by Carl O’Brien was quite surprising to me:
From Acholi to Zulu, Ireland a land of over 167 languages
More than 167 languages are being used in Ireland, according to research conducted by academics at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The list of languages, ranging from Acholi – spoken in Uganda and Sudan – to Zulu, was based on research with translation firms, schools and the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.
Anne Gallagher, director of the language centre at NUI Maynooth and president of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, said they expected a high number of languages but were surprised at the results.
“When you ask most Irish people how many languages are used here, they expect the figure to be around 30 or 40. I expected between 100 and 130 languages. But I don’t think anyone expected 167,” she said. The languages are used by 160 nationalities. Regional dialects were excluded…
A conference on the new languages of Ireland at NUI Maynooth yesterday heard that the lack of translation services was a serious issue for thousands of migrants based here.
Mary Phelan, a lecturer at Dublin City University’s school of applied language and intercultural studies, said there was a “huge” demand for interpreters by State authorities, but little focus on the standards of translation.
In areas such as the courts, Garda stations or health services, the consequences could be serious. “People offering their services don’t always see a need for training because authorities are not looking for standards,” Ms Phelan said.
I knew in part of my mind that Ireland had very much joined modern Europe, but in another part of my mind it was a quaint land where people spoke a little Irish and a lot of English. Wake up, Hat, it’s the twenty-first century! (And thanks for the link, Trevor.)