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Title: Language attitudes in old and new Gaeltacht communities
Authors: Antonini, Rachele
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study aims to provide a description and analysis of Irish language use and attitudes towards it in three geographically and ideologically distinctive communities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, by examining four separate, but related, issues: (i) Attitudes towards Irish in three contrasting Gaeltacht regions (an urban, ‘revival’ area in Northern Ireland and two rural, ‘survival’ Gaeltachtaí in the Republic of Ireland); (ii) The level of Irish-English bilingualism in these regions amongst cohorts of males and females of various ages and from divergent socio-economic backgrounds; (iii) The influence which positive or negative attitudes towards Irish exert on language choice; (iv) Whether psycho-perceptual factors like attitudes are as salient to the process of declining Irish-English bilingualism as socio-economic ones such as social class or personal network ties. Data relating to language use and attitudes were collected in the three study areas by using different methodologies, including the administration of a questionnaire (in two versions: English and Irish) as well as semi-structured interviews. The data collected thus were analysed and compared in order to determine the extent to which different attitudes towards the Irish language existed in these communities that are also distinctive in other ways. Another important objective was to try and identify the factors that influence and shape such differences. In this regard, particular attention was paid to: (i) state intervention (in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) with respect to particular types of support for Irish as well as successful and unsuccessful language policies operating within these two states; (ii) language use in the community and home domains and (iii) Irish in the media. The data gathered by questionnaire was analysed by performing factor and multivariate analysis of variance and the interview data was also interrogated. Both types of analyses were performed with the aim of assessing and explaining different attitudes towards the maintenance and the future of the Irish language in the three study areas as well as usage differences with respect to independent the variables of age, gender, and educational level. The analysis of the questionnaire data revealed which sociodemographic variables have an influence on the attitudinal dimensions taken into consideration and Irish language use in the three study areas where this study took place. iii The interviews carried out in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were instrumental in probing further the issues tackled by the questionnaire. They also functioned to explore additional aspects of language orientation, namely, whether informants held positive or negative attitudes towards different accents and dialects of Irish across the island of Ireland (particularly the newer revival varieties about which there has been much media attention but less scholarly investigation
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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