I was at a party on the weekend where I met up with a fellow Irish speaker. To those that don’t know, I am a very proud Irish speaker and I also try to bring my daughter up speaking Irish. My new friend explained that he was a bit at a loss as he had to make a speech to his “community” about how growing up speaking Irish has helped him to become such a success (apparently he was quite a local celebrity who, I was later informed by his colleague, had every woman in the surrounding area throwing their knickers at him). Yeah, I boasted, that is also a phenomenon I have to endure on a daily basis…mostly from my wife asking me to put on a wash. He asked me if I know any benefits of speaking Irish from such a young age. I did. Sort of. As in I could make a guess having seen children brought up multilingual and marveling in awe at their ability to dive in and out of languages depending on which parent/child they are speaking to. Irish though is a whole different kettle of potatoes as Irish is rarely spoken and rarely of any use except in exams (Irish is mandatory in school) or if you want to become a teacher (again Irish is mandatory in school…try to keep up) and of course in case you meet a guy who is kind of a big deal and has to make a big speech in a few days and needs help writing a speech…in Irish.
Anyway I said I’d throw some benefits for Irish his way from a book I got from a friend called “Ag Togáíl Clainne Le Gaeilge” or “Speaking Irish at Home”. He thanked me for my help and said if I could send him an email and give him any insight he’d be forever in my debt! I’m assuming he means red carpet nights, introducing me as his right hand man at the Oscars and Jacuzzi-ing with large breasted models while being snapped by Heat magazine as Famous Guys slightly overweight, drunken “companion”. This was my ticket to the big time and I was fucked if I was going to blow it…..
Except I just opened the book tonight and flicked to the “Advantages of Bilingualism” page and I’ve already hit my first snag: it turns out there’s only about 3 benefits outlined here. Shit! What’ll I do? The only thing I can do. Bullshit my way out of this.
So I made up a list from whatever scraps I could get from the book and some I made up from thin air and hope he either doesn’t notice or else just thinks I’m having “the Craic” as we multilinguals are prone to do because we are so much better than everyone else. And lucky you, expectant reader, as you are about to be privy to this maGNIFICENT LIST. (No idea why that is written in cap locks. I was typing grand and then I looked down and when I looked back up It was in Caps. The only thing I can think of is that even the computer knows the significance of this list). See if you can tell which ones are mine and which are from the book.
Dear [insert famous name here],
After our discussion the other night regarding your speech in Irish I have done some research and come up with the following list. Do with this information what you will but remember I am trained in this type of thing and you are but a lowly celebrity.
1) So I think you should start your speech by saying something in French and completely throw them. They’ll be sitting there all comfortable waiting for Irish when you hit them with a “Bonjour tout la monde. Je suis ici houjourd’hui pour parler avec vous en Gailic” in a smooth thick Parisien accent and totally fuck their shit up!
Then when their all squirming significantly, subtly link it back to the fact that being bilingual helps with your ability to grasp other languages as you are aware from a very young age that there are different ways of describing things and that there are not necessarily set ways of saying things i.e. syntax and sentence structure varies with different languages.
Boom, they will bask in your smug, smarmy glory and laugh at you’re speech writer’s ability to write a joke to kick off proceedings.
2)According to the book it helps if you grow an awesome beard (generally red) that makes you look like a Viking God or a Chieftain warlord of some kind. While it doesn’t state the exact benefit of this linguistically, I think we can all connect the dots on this one. How well can you grow beards? Short notice I know but I’d start now if I were you. Actually If I were you I’d forego the whole speech thing and jump on my private jet to the nearest Bahama…possibly taking my witty speech writer with me.
3) Being multilingual can make you more empathetic at a very young age as you have to vary your speech depending on the needs and abilities of the people you meet on a daily basis. If you’ve never heard of the word “Empathetic” before don’t worry, it wont come up in any conversation you’re likely to have in L.A.
4) Being multilinguistic at a young age makes you prone to bullying as we all know children can be cruel and jealous of us over-achievers.
5) It can make you better at abstract ideas and reasoning as the multilingual person focuses more on the meaning of the word rather than the sound of the word unlike our uni linguistic ape-like brethren .
6) Having a strong grasp on words can make you both ridiculously clever and cleverly ridiculous.
7) It makes you believe your own hype and makes it easier to talk condescendingly and derogatorily about others (or “non-Irish speaking losers” as they are more commonly known.)
8) You get to watch and understand the rugby commentary for all the matches shown on TG4 (the Irish speaking T.V. channel) along with the other 0.2% of the population
And maybe you could finish your speech with the line they use in the book:
“There are other advantages of bilingualism which are not necessary to go into here”.
The book actually said that in the “Advantages of Bilinguilism” section. If that is not the place to “go into” the advantages of Bilingualism then I don’t know where is!! Typically Irish wouldn’t you say.
Anyway there’s no doubt that this wont help but best of luck with the speech anyway big man.
One other thing: Probably best not to mention that bilingualism causes terribal speling.
Tóg go bog é.
Vegas E. Sundance
That last bit means “Take it easy” in Irish!
So as you can see I did pretty well with what I was given.
Now all that’s left to do is sit back and wait for my own personal version of “Entourage” to begin.
See you on the red carpet, Suckers!