Becoming a new speaker of Irish: linguistic mudes throughout the life cycle

John Walsh, Bernadette O'Rourke

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    This paper offers a preliminary analysis of linguistic mudes in the case of new speakers of Irish, namely, critical junctures in favour of Irish adopted during the life cycle. It begins by explaining the concept of the muda and outlines its importance in providing a deeper understanding of what it means to ‘become’ a new speaker of Irish. Drawing on ethnographic data from a corpus of mostly highly competent speakers, seven mudes are identified in the case of Irish: primary/secondary school, immersion school, university, family, work and retirement. Speakers’ perceptions of each muda are explored and the impact of each critical juncture on language practice is considered. It is concluded that some mudes are more gradual than others and that sociolinguistic context is linked to the extent to which the new speaker adopts Irish as an important part of his/her linguistic repertoire.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-74
    Number of pages8
    Issue number16
    Publication statusPublished - May 2014


    • critical sociolinguistics
    • new speakers
    • linguistic mudes
    • minority languages
    • Irish


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