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To what extent was the Irish famine responsible for the decline of the Irish language - Essay Example

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Irish Famine and the Decline of Irish Language Name: Professor: Institution: Date: The Irish language was the language mainly spoken in Ireland in the past until its gradual decline in the 18th Century which has gone on until present day where only 130000 native speakers are believed to exist…
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To what extent was the Irish famine responsible for the decline of the Irish language
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Download file to see previous pages As seen below, this famine resulted in the decline of the language in several ways including the death of its speakers, emigration to other parts of the world and the introduction of British culture to Ireland. How famine accelerated it When the Irish famine hit Ireland, the main crop to be affected was the potato hence it’s sometimes referred to as the Irish potato famine. The famine had a huge death toll that resulted in the death of 1 to 1.5 million people which although not much when compared to death rates in places such as china (13 million) when they had their own famine, was a lot when compared to the ratio of the general population. The population of Ireland was only 8 million when the famine started and by the time it ended population census results showed that the population had declined to around 6.5 million people. This meant that the population had declined by 18 % signifying a huge loss of native speaking Irish people.1 Moreover, since the hardest hit areas were those that still maintained speaking the Irish language. The Irish famine also resulted in the mass immigration of many Irish people to other parts of Europe as they escaped the hunger and strict anti-Catholic policies the British government had put in place. The migration resulted in many of them moving to America where they searched for new opportunities for employment however they were not welcomed due to the contempt given to the Irish culture. It is estimated that at least a million people migrated from Ireland to USA Newfoundland and Britain, resulting a significant drop in the population. People from Ireland were often stereotyped as aggressive and violent and it was not uncommon for job advertisements to specifically state that they did not want people from Ireland. For a person from Ireland to therefore survive or succeed they would have to lose their Irish accent and be Americanised. This therefore resulted in a population which although sharing a common Irish heritage, did not speak the Irish language and thus a decline in it.2 One of the factors that caused the famine and even made it worse was the marginalization of the Irish-catholic community by the British government. The British government that had been ruling Ireland since 1801 and had put in place discriminatory policies against the Irish Catholic that barred them from voting and the right to owning land.3 Many Irish viewed these policies as a form of colonization but it was clear that for an individual to climb up the social ladder they would have to adopt the British culture and religion and thus neglect their own heritage. The British policies have in fact been identified as one of the reasons the famine ravaged with such intensity as even though people were starving, food crops was still being exported from Ireland, the tenant system of farming had also meant that Irish workers could not practice large scale agriculture that had grown in popularity with the agrarian revolution. The only crop that was able to grow and support a family on the small farms were potatoes. While some might have being willing to make due with meagre earnings as a punishment for their cultural identity, when the famine reached its climax many faced with the option of death or assimilation into British culture chose to align themselves with the British way of life so as to have access to more social amenities, rights and employment opportunities as English was the language spoken by the landlords and merchants.4 ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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