Monday 1 October 2007

Irish Books III: Leabhair Ghaeilge III

Bit by bit I'm gathering a better picture of the world of Irish language publishing. The latest figures I have concern the total number of titles published in Irish per annum. The figure is 130, of which 50 are books for children. These figures tell us a few things.

First, the number is pretty small. I found it hard to find a figure for the total number of books published in Ireland (checked CSO, national lib, ClÉ, and other sites). I found an EU chart which showed titles published per capita among a list of about 18 countries. Ireland was absent. But if I took the lowest EU figure, for Greece at .4 per 1000 population, and extrapolate for Ireland I get roughly speaking 2000 titles per year. I picked the low figure because a recent discussion in the Irish Times revealed that we publish a much lower number of books per person than the Eu average. The reason is the UK. Many Irish books get published by UK publishers (there's an interesting discussion going on at the moment about why Irish publishing houses are losing so much ground to their UK counterparts). We consume perhaps more books per head than other countries, however. And it is reasonable to assume that when books published in the UK but sold here are accounted for, we at least match the EU average for titles going on sale per year. That would take us to at least 10,000 titles per year. (probably still a conservative estimate - the UK is way over 100,000 per year). So of our 2000-10,000 (conservative) titles released in ireland per year, fewer than 200 are in Irish. Surely this says something?

The second thing is that nearly 40% are childrens books. Given that the king of Childrens books, the UK, boasts no more than 10%, the figure for Irish is extraordinary. I believe it says more about the dearth of adult reading than it does about our childrens market in Irish. Though on the positive side, it does show that children may be getting their needs met.

So that leaves us with 80 titles for adults. Now remove the self-referential works - i.e about Irish language, learning materials, etc, which hold a bloated position in Irish publishing. Again, this is natural for a minority language and one heavily promoted / compulsary. (for an indication of the self-referential phenomenon visit the front page of the rather excellent on-line Irish language shop, litríocht.com. Five of the six featured titles are about the Gaeltacht, Learning Irish, or Irish usage).

What remains then is a minute number of titles, fact or fiction, published in Irish for adults about that vast mysterious thing called human life. In other words, Irish language publishing is in a parlous state. But the only irish word that captures this state of affairs, namely géarchéim, never gets uttered. Where is Bord na Leabhar Gaeilge?

I argue that the dearth of literature, research, analysis and debate through Irish, on anything from from Climate Change to Crossdressing, bolsters my case that we have no national discourse in Irish. No separate world view is represented in the language, and therefore its claim to be culturally central to who we are is vastly inflated.

And yet I know these words, far from spark a potentially useful debate, or even a single opposing argument, will do nothing but draw sparks from the live wire of blind fanaticism that runs through large parts of the Irish language lobby.

7 comments:

Panu said...

An miste leat mé mo ladar a chur ins na cúrsaí seo? Tá mé féin le breis is deich mbliana anuas ag iarraidh leabhar don aos óg a fháil foilsithe as Gaeilge. Thoisigh mé á scríobh thiar ins an bhliain 1995, agus chuir mé ar fáil do na chéad léitheoirí í fríd an liosta ríomhphoist Gaeilge-B. Ansin, chaith mé geimhreadh i nGaillimh in ainm is a bheith ag foghlaim léinn ins an choláiste ollscoile - le fírinne bhí mé ag breacadh síos leagan úr den úrscéal chéadna. Thaispeáin mé an lámhscríbhinn do Phádraig Ó Cíobháin, a bhí ina scríbhneoir cónaitheach ins an ollscoil ins an am, agus bhí sé thar a bheith sásta leis an leabhar. Bhail, ansin, chuir mé timpeall na dtithe foilsitheoireachta Gaeilge í. Freagra ní bhfuair mé ón chuid ba mhó acu - bhí cupla ceann acu sásta an lámhscríbhinn a chur ar ais, ach sin a rabh de. Go ginearálta, tá na Gaeilgeoirí a chonaic an lámhscríbhinn an-sásta leis an scéal, tá na daoiní óga a léigh an phaidir chapaill sin sásta, agus tá a fhios agam féin nach bhfuil aon locht ar an Ghaeilge ann. D'fhoilsigh, fiú, Feasta léirmheas moltach. An drae foilsitheoir, áfach.

Tomaltach said...

A Phanu, a chara. Tá cíbear-aithne agam ort. Bhí mé i mo bhall de Ghaeilge-L blianta ó shoin agus táim i mo bhall de fhoram.ie ag acmhainn faoi láthair. Léigh mé cuid mhór de na scéalta cumasacha a chuir tú ar fáil ar an líon. Is níl aon amhras ann ach go raibh an Ghaeilge sa leabhar úd nár foilsíodh ar fhíor-ardchaighdeán.

Sílim go bhfuil lochtanna móra ag baint le cúrsaí foilsiúcháin i nGaeilge. Ar an drochuair is annamh a chluinimid fúthú agus ní dóigh liom go bhfuil na heagraíochtaí éagsúla i gcumas na fadlbannaí a réiteach. Seans maith nach n-admhaíonn siad go bhfuil fadhbanna ann ar chor ar bith!

Panu said...

Ó,seadh, tusa atá ann. Cha dtáinig mé ar d'ainm anseo ar tús. :) Bhail, tá a fhios agat an scéal mar sin. Níor éirigh mé as feabhas a chur ar mo chuid Gaeilge in aghaidh an lae, ná as a bheith ag líonadh an Eadarlín le Gaeilig, ach mar sin féin, cha dtáinig oiread is líne amháin liom i gcló ó aon teach foilsitheoireachta.

Scéal eile go fóill, an callán a tharraing na haistriúcháin úd a tháinig i gcló le déanaí i sraith "Open Door" an tí foilsitheoireachta New Island. Is é sin, cupla leabhar le scríbhneoirí mór-ráchairte Béarla ar nós Maeve Binchy agus Roddy Doyle a haistríodh go Gaeilge agus a tháinig i gcló ón teach foilsitheoireachta sin. Níl siad léite agam go fóill, ach chaith mé spléachadh ar cheann acu nuair a bhí mé i nGaillimh le mo chailín tá mí ó shin, agus bhí an chuma ar an scéal go rabh an Ghaeilig cuíosach maith, i bhfarradh is na rudaí a thig amach ó Choiscéim uaireanta, ar a laghad. Bhail, is é an t-aisfhreagra a fuair na leabhartha seo ó mafia foilsitheoireachta na Gaeilge ná gur bagairt a bhí iontu ar an scríbhneoireacht Gaeilge (= cuid deontas na mafiosos, is dócha). Is iomaí uair a d'easaontaigh mé le Séamas Poncán, ach ní mór domh a rádh go n-aontaím go hiomlán leis an bharúil a bhí aigesean ar na cúrsaí seo: is féidir go rachadh beagáinín iomaíochta chun sochair do chás na litríochta Gaeilge, agus is maith an rud é má bhacann teach trádálach foilsitheoireachta cosúil le New Island le rudaí a chur i gcló as Gaeilig. Is é an tuairim a foilsíodh ar an Lá Nua, áfach, gur bagairt iad na leabhartha seo ar litríocht agus ar leabhar na Gaeilge. Is deacair liom a thuigbheáilt cén fáth a mbeadh foilsiú leabhar snoite ins an teangaidh ina bhagairt ar leabhar na Gaeilge? Is é an chuma atá ar an scéal, a déarfainn, gur bagairt é ar na tithe foilsitheoireachta agus iad in ainm a bheith ag foilsiú leabhar ar dheontais. Ach an gcaithfidh gluaiseacht na Gaeilge go léir a bheith ar aon fhocal leis na mafiosos?

abookisabookisabook said...

Tomtalach,

Thanks for the comments on my blog!
I wrote a quick post in response!
Eoin
http://eoinpurcellsblog.com/2007/10/02/a-quick-debate-about-irish-publishing/

abookisabookisabook said...

Opps!
Rushing gets you nowhere!
Sorry for the mistaken spelling!
Eoin

Panu said...

Dála an scéil: chuir mé tús le blag úr le haghaidh mo chuid scéalta anghrácha Gaeilge. Anseo a thiocfas tú air:

http://anghragaeilge.blogs.ie

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