1) Corey Kilgannon has a nice story in today’s NY Times that begins thus:
The jolly trash man was going about his route in the Rockaways, Queens, when he spied a woman in front of her house. “Cé hé bhfuil tú?” he greeted her. Naturally, the woman replied, “Tá mé go maith.” “Ceart go leor,” the trash man shot back.
This exchange — roughly: “How are you?” “I’m fine.” “Ah, grand!” — was in Irish, the Gaelic language that survives only in parts of Ireland — and to a lesser extent, along the garbage route of Ed Shevlin, 51. The route winds through the Belle Harbor section of the Rockaways, where conversations were once commonly conducted “as Gaeilge.”
“I was amazed to find there were people I could speak Irish with, while picking up their garbage,” said Mr. Shevlin, a New York City sanitation man — a “fear bruscar” in Irish — who began studying the language a few years ago.
He studied in Galway, so he speaks the same Connemara dialect I studied myself several decades ago.
2) From the Washington Post, Linda Davidson’s “At French immersion school, a love for Russian“:
To find the public school with the largest reported number of tweens learning Russian, look not in New York City, Alaska or anywhere else known for enclaves of immigrants from that country.
Instead, peer into Room 213 at Robert Goddard French Immersion School in Prince George’s County, where a teacher on this particular day is bouncing a rag doll named “Tyoti Moti” on her knee. Dani Sanders is leading the seventh-graders in a silly song about the frustrations of this doll, her Aunt Moti…
In 2010, Sanders had 176 Russian students in eight classes, according to a survey by the Committee on College and Pre-College Russian, which has tracked Russian class enrollments since 1984. Goddard has the only full-fledged Russian public middle school program in the region. Of the nearly 300 schools at all grade levels that reported data, Goddard has the largest middle school program in the nation.
Often, the biggest Russian classes are filled with “heritage kids,’’ Sanders said. Not so at Goddard. At this school, where 82 percent of students are black or Hispanic, not a single person in Room 213 has a Russian background. Not even Sanders, who is from Bulgaria. …
I’m very glad to see Russian is not a vanished subject in this country.