'An cupla focal' now a dying breed


It may be Ireland's first official language, but according to a new world atlas the native tongue is an endangered species.

Despite the best efforts of comedian-turned-gaelgoir Des Bishop, the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) rates Irish as 'definitely endangered'.

The 'definitely endangered' category is defined as when children no longer learn the language as mother tongue in the home.

That puts its survival at a more worrying level than 'unsafe' -- where most children speak the language but it may be restricted to certain domains, such as the home.

Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Basque are all in the 'unsafe' category. However, Irish is regarded as having a healthier outlook than 'severely endangered' languages, spoken by grandparents and older generations but not parents. UNESCO cites its source as Department of the Gaeltacht figures showing 44,000 people living in primarily Irish-speaking areas.

UNESCO Endangered Languages Atlas: