Ethnologue: Areas: Europe


3,900,000 (1995). Irish Republic, Eire. Literacy rate 99%. Data accuracy estimate: B. Christian. Deaf institutions: 36. The number of languages listed for Ireland is 4.

ENGLISH [ENG] 2,600,000 in Ireland (1983 estimate); 322,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Dialects: SOUTH HIBERNO ENGLISH, NORTH HIBERNO ENGLISH. National language. Bible 1535-1989. NT 1525-1991. Bible portions 1530-1987.

GAELIC, IRISH (IRISH, ERSE) [GLI] 260,000 fluent or native speakers (1983 census), 13% of the population (1983 census); 31.6% of the population over 3 claim to be Irish speakers (1981 census). Western isles northwest and southwest coasts; Galway, part of Mayo, Kerry, Donegal. Also Northern Ireland, Boston, USA. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Goidelic. Dialects: MUNSTER, CONNACHT, DONEGAL, LEINSTER, ULSTER. It is taught as an official language in schools and encouraged by the government. National language. Typology: VSO. Braille code available. Bible 1685-1989. NT 1602-1951. Bible portions 1913-1976.

IRISH SIGN LANGUAGE [ISG] Dublin and elsewhere. Deaf sign language. It originated between 1846-1849. In 1816 British signs were brought in, in 1846 Irish signs developed in the girls' school, in 1857 Irish signs brought into the boys' school. Related to French Sign Language. Several deaf schools with 750 to 800 students in each. There are informal male and female sign systems. Females learn the male system during dating and marriage. The informal system is referred to as 'Deaf Sign Language'. Irish Sign Language is a new unified system, a manual code for English. It has structural features such as directional verbs. It has influenced sign languages in South Africa and Australia. There is a committee on national sign language, and an organization for sign language teachers. Some programs on TV.

SHELTA (THE CANT, CANT, IRISH TRAVELER CANT, SHELDRU) [STH] 6,000 in Ireland; 50,000 in USA; 30,000 in the United Kingdom (1990 I. Hancock); 86,000 in all countries. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Goidelic. The secret language, or cryptolect, of Travellers in the British Isles. Based largely on Irish. Not Gypsies. Survey needed.

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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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