Languages can die...but they can be revived!
Celtic- The High Days
Think back two thousand years .. Before the spread of English. Celtic was a very popular language! Speakers were spread all throughout Europe, spanning from the present day British Isles, Germany, France and Northern Italy. How could this language diminish from so many speakers throughout Europe, to only a handful in remote parts of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland?
Many years ago, the powerful Celts lost their territory to opposing warrior forces. People living in these territories were no longer expected to speak Celtic languages. Irish were enslaved by English people in the 1300's. These Irish slaves still spoke their native language, but were forced to speak English in front of their masters. Throughout the 19th century, the Irish were still punished for speaking their native language. Children wore a stick around their neck called a "tally stick" in school, and whenever they spoke a word of Irish they received a cut or notch on their tally stick. The number of notches determined the amount of punishment or beating the student would receive by the end of the day.
The Celtic Oppression
Tally sticks were used for over 765 years by the British.
Irish people were enslaved by the English and subjected to the slave trade.
The Celts were attacked by opposing tribes and lost a lot of territory.
Modern Revival of Celtic
The Celtic language branch contains many different languages, such as Irish/Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. In the past century many efforts have been made to revive and spread these languages. The Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) was made to help bring Welsh back to life. It has been very successful. England has made attempts to revive it's native languages such as the Britain's 1988 Education Act. This act made Welsh a subject for all children in schools in Wales. Welsh history has been added to school curriculum as well. When in Wales, once can see many road signs in the Welsh language and Welsh television and radio programs. Irish government promotes Irish language television stations and road signs also. Many Irish music groups are starting to record in Gaelic! Cornish was an extinct language, until the 1920's. Now, the government promotes the teaching of Cornish in elementary schools and the teaching of adult courses at night. In 2008 an official standard of the language was released. The Celts are back!