Friday, February 5, 2010


According to Reuters, so it must be true, one of the world’s oldest dialects, which traces its origins back over tens of thousands of years ago, has become extinct. The last person to speak Bo, 85-year-old Boa Sr died on a remote Indian island last week.

Survival International says there are now only 52 members surviving members of the tribe, which is thought to have lived on the Andaman Islands for as many as 65,000 years, making them descendants of one of the oldest cultures in the world.

I read this news as I listened to the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, address a press conference on the latest accord over police and justice in Gaelic.

I say he spoke in Gaelic, actually he spoke a sentence or two before switching to English as few others in the room and the wider world outside would have understood what he was talking about. Indeed he looked a bit unsure of the Gaelic himself.

When I lived in Ireland I remember Cork University having a seat in Welsh. The blind leading the blind.

The Irish and Welsh language are spoken by a handful of the residents living in each country. However, it would be a fool that suggested these two ancients nations didn’t have a living and vibrant culture based on its historic roots.

To have knowledge of these languages certainly enriches the lives of Irish and Welsh people – but then they have to deal with the real world.

Being English I pride myself that the world speaks my language – of course it doesn’t, it speaks American English. As my second tongue is Spanish it could well be that before long it is not Castilian but American Spanish that rules.

My son was born in Ireland, passed his early years in Scotland and speaks Estuary English –and oh yes, Andaluz.

Some would say he is totally unintelligible in two languages. I wonder if he could learn Bo.

No comments: