From The Gaelic Journal, February 1894, published under the title ‘A Specimen of Literary Irish of the Seventeenth Century.’
Ar dTeanga Ḋúṫċais.
(Teabóid Gallduḃ, Sagairt Éireannaċ, 1639.)
Ní ḟuil náisiún ar feaḋ an doṁain naċ onóraċ leis ḃeiṫ ceanaṁail ar a ṫeangain féin, agus a leuġaḋ agus a sgríoḃaḋ. Tugadar na Róṁánaiġ an oiread sin do ċion agus d’uaisle do’ n teangain Laidne, bioḋ go raḃadar go ro-eólgasaċ ‘san teangain nGreugaiġ, do ḃí go ceanaṁail ‘san am san—tar a ċeann sin, níor ḃ’ḟiú leó teaċtairí na leitreaċa na nGreugaċ do ḟreagra aċt ‘san teangain Laidne; agus fós, tar éis na nGreugaċ do ḃeiṫ fúṫa agus fá n-a smaċt, do leigidís orrra féin naċ tuigidís an teanga Ġreugaċ, bioḋ go dtuigidís í go ro-ṁaiṫ. Óir ní ‘san Róiṁ aṁáin do ḃí so, aċt ar feaḋ na hAisia go hiomlán, agus fós i n-iomlán na Gréige; agus sin, ċum móír-ċion do ḃeiṫ ar an teangain Laidne. Fós, dá ḋearḃaḋ sin, (mar do sgríoḃ Diónisius Cassius,) is ro-ġeur do smaċtuiġ an tImpire Claudius senator Róṁánaċ tré gan Laidean do laḃairt, bioḋ gur ṫaiṫniġ leis an Impire fearsaiḋe, sean-ráiḋte, agus sean-ḟocail Ġreugaċa.
Ins na haimsearaċaiḃ so, mar an gceudna, na hambasadúirí, .i. teaċtairí na ríġṫe, ní laḃraid a ngnóiṫe aċt i dteangain nádúrṫa a ríoġ fein; tar a éis sin, is le fear teangan doḃeirid re, ṫuigsint a n-intinn. Is ró-ṁilleánaċ do ḃí Cicero ar an druing do ḃíoḋ taitneaṁaċ ar an dteangain Ġreugaiġ, agus ar ṫeangṫaiḃ coṁaiġ-ṫeaċa eile, agus do ṫarcaisniġ a dteanga nádúrṫa féin Laidne, ag ráḋ: “Ní féidir liom gan a ḃeiṫ i n-a iongnaḋ ró-ṁór orm, níḋ ċoṁ neaṁ-ġnáṫaċ sin agus atá i n-aġaiḋ an uile reusúin .i. gan cion do ḃeiṫ ag gaċ neaċ ar a ṫeangain ndúṫċais nádúrṫa féin.”
Ar an aḋḃar sin, is cóir agus is iomċuḃaiḋ ḋúinn-ne, na hÉireannaiġ, ḃeiṫ ceanaṁail gráḋaċ onóraċ ar ar dteanain ndúṫċais nádúrṫa féin an Ġaeḋealg, noċ atá ċoṁ folaiġṫeaċ, ċoṁ múċta sin, naċ mór ná deaċaiḋ sí as cuiṁne na ndaoine: a ṁilleán so—is féidir a ċur ar an aois ealaḋan noċ is uġdair do’ n teangain, do ċuir í fá ḟór-ḋorċaċt agus cruas focal, dá sgríoḃaḋ i moḋaiḃ agus i ḃfoclaiḃ diaṁara dorċa do-ṫuigseant; agus ní ḟuilid saor mórán d’ár ndaoiniḃ uaisle, doḃeir a dteanga ḋúṫċais nádúrṫa(noċ atá foirtill fuiriṫe onóraċ foġlamṫa geur-ċúiseaċ innti féin) i dtarcaisne agus i neaṁ-ċion, agus ċaiṫeas a n-aimsir ag saoṫruġaḋ agus ag foġlaim teanṫa coṁaiġṫeaċ eile.
Our Native Language.
Fr. Theobald Stapleton – Preface to his Catechism.
There is no nation throughout the world that does not think it honourable to esteem its own language, and to read it and write it. The Romans gave so much esteem and honour to the Latin language, although they were well learned in the Greek language, which was in esteem at that time—nevertheless they did not think it fitting to answer the envoys or letters of the Greeks but in the Latin language; and moreover, after the Greeks were [brought] under them and under their rule, they (the Romans) pretended that they did not understand the Greek language, though they understood it very well. For it is not only in Rome that this [language] was [spoken], but throughout Asia [Minor] entirely, and also over the whole of Greece; and this in order that there might be great respect for the Latin language. Moreover, to verify this, as Dion Cassius has written, the Emperor Claudius punished very severely a Roman senator for not speaking Latin, although the Emperor delighted in Greek verses, sayings and proverbs.
In these times, likewise, the ambassadors, i.e., the messengers of the kings, do not speak their business but in the natural language of their won king; after this they make their meaning understood through an interpreter. Cicero was very censorious towards those who took pleasure in the Greek language and in other foreign languages, and who despised their own natural language (of) Latin, saying:—‘I cannot help wondering very much at a thing so extraordinary that it is against all reason, i.e., that every one should not esteem his own native natural language.’
For this reason, it is right and fitting for us, the Irish, to be full of esteem, love and honour for our own native natural language, the Gaelic, which is so much in the background, so stamped out, that it has almost gone out of the people’s memory: the blame of this may be laid on the learned, who are the authors of the language, who have buried it under obscurity and difficulty of vocabulary, writing it in mysterious, obscure and unintelligible idioms and words; and many of our gentry are not free [from blame] who regard their native natural language, which is forcible, ready, dignified, cultured, and exact in itself, with contempt and with disregard, and who spend their time labouring and learning other foreign tongues.