It’s amongst the homework reading this evening and it’s important. It’s not that it’s vital for achieving great exam results, or career success, or even personal contentment; it’s important because it says that a different world is possible. A series of novels by popular authors translated into Irish and published during the summer shows there is life outside of English.
It’s important because the Irish language – of which I have not a word – is a barrier against the globalization that seeks to turn us all into consumers of identical products all around the world.
English is the language of the huge multinational companies. It’s the English of the huge American corporations; it’s the English of the advertisements; it’s the English of the slogans; it’s the English of the music culture that has become bland and uniform and identical around the world.
A little novel in the national language is a blow against the marketing men. They want a single market where we are all identical. They want us to speak a single language so that we may understand what they are selling. They want us to be a single people so that there will be no need to reduce profits by making things different, so that there will be no need to adapt to different cultures.
There is no profit in making things for every local language group, so the more languages that are spoken, the less impact the big corporations can have. The more different we are, the more distinct we are, the more local we are, the more we retain power over our own lives, the more we preserve our own culture.
People really interested in stopping a globalized world would be far more effective if they were to stop protesting and start learning; if we spoke in languages the advertising men could not understand, then the battle would be half won.