The Cúpla Focail: words, translation, creation.


I’m no linguist, but I love language. I love how language has formed into a universal description of a particular aspect of the world that surrounds you. It’s amazing. But, I’m no expert, and I couldn’t sit here and describe why this is the case and how it happened. I don’t understand it well enough. In fact the only language I could arguably claim to understand is English. And even that level of understanding is rudimentary. But, a bit like watching science happen, this is why I love language.

Just seeing language happen and seeing it function, and then having particular aspects explained, especially things like idioms, really wets my pants with excitement. Irish people, for reasons I won’t go into now, are known for their use of language, be it the gift of the gab, poetry, or basically telling some poor misfortunate what you think of them in sixteen different ways, and none of them being either pleasant, complimentary, or suitable for young ears.

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Letter from Korea, May 2011


Suwon, South Korea
24/5/2011

 Dear Ireland,

The summer is upon us. Of course we all have different ideas of what the summer is. For me, it’s the holidays. This June, I will be working through my summer holidays but don’t worry; I have two months of holidays so working through them isn’t as big a catastrophe as it might sound. This summer I will be in Dublin (What of the letter from Korea?  Well perhaps I’ll compromise). Every summer Dublin fills with Europeans students who come to study English. This summer will be no different. I make a living out of this.

At the same time, every year thousands of Koreans leave Korea to study in English. Recently I have started trying to figure out how to get more Koreans to go to Ireland. According to the God of Statistics there are only around 1500 Koreans in Ireland and most of them are language students. Working as an English language professional here in Korea I have been exposed to, what I’ve heard and called myself, the obsession, craze, determination to learn English on a national level. So why isn’t this number bigger? Continue reading