Obies Using Languages: Noel Warford ’18

Noel is a dual degree student majoring in Computer Science and Organ Performance. This summer he traveled to Ireland with his family.

This past summer, I traveled with my family on a choir tour to Ireland, and through our travels, I got a taste of the cultural prevalence of Irish. It was extremely interesting to see what I could parse through an outsider’s lens into the culture, and I did learn a few interesting things about it. First, Irish is called just that, rather than Irish Gaelic. Scottish Gaelic is referred to by its ‘full name’, but according to one of our other tour parents, who is herself Irish, saying Irish Gaelic is an immediate marker of someone who doesn’t know its cultural context.

My most direct experience of Irish learning was observing a class of Irish kids learning the language on Inisheer (spelled in Irish as Inis Oirr), which is one of the Aran Islands. This group of three islands is on the west coast of Ireland, and they have extremely small populations wherein almost all of the locals are bilingual in English, helpful for their tourism business, and Irish, for the cultural tradition. Unlike the mainland, where the street signs have both English and Irish spellings, this island only has Irish ones. It’s an interesting example of a small microcosm of a language in a larger culture, and I found even my brief experience with it to be fascinating.

Image: Noel on Inisheer

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