To Gaeilge or not to Gaeilge, that is the question.

Conn at an tImeall posted about a topic that I’ve been agonizing over as well – weblog and podcast language choice. His blog is, of course, done in Irish. I was a bit surprised to see that the bulk of hist post today in English, though the accompanying podcast was still predominantly in Irish. His quandary – should he continue to blog and podcast in Irish exclusively (BTW, I like the term “GaelBlogs”), or to begin to also produce them in English as well. Is it better to have separate blogs for each language, or produce a dual language blog. He has many valid points about the value of being able to fully participate in the technology blogosphere. As it is, he can read both Irish and English tech blogs, but by publishing An tImeall in Irish only, he restricts his own readership and participation.

I agree with Conn that not everyone has to be an “A-list” blogger to create value on the web. This blog exists to entertain me and me alone. If others stumble across it and find something of value or interest, that’s gravy. Like him, I view it as “thinking out loud”, and appreciate (most of the time) people taking the time too comment on my thoughts.

I’ve done quite a bit of soul-searching myself. I did a podcast in Hawaiian a few weeks ago, on a whim. I didn’t intend it to be a cultural or linguistic statement, but I guess it is. As far as I know there are no regular Hawaiian language podcasts. That alone should be incentive for me to do one, but at this point it is not. I have two blogs, both done in English, and I need to start another one like I need another hole in my head. Ditto for doing a second podcast. If I do the podcasts in Hawaiian I might gain some new listeners and probably lose a lot more. Not that this is an issue for me personally, but it would negatively affect those that I believe benefit most from the existence of the blog and podcast – my friends in the recording industry and their fans and supporters.

While our situations are somewhat similar, there is one glaring difference – by posting in English, Conn would expose his thoughts and writings to a far larger audience. If I begin to podcast in Hawaiian only, I greatly reduce my own. Of course, many may listen simply for the music or to listen to the “sonorous” (as it has been described) Hawaiian language. But most would be in a similar situation that I face in listening to An tImeall – being able to pick out a few words or a short phrase, but not comprehending the bulk of the podcast or blog.

I can’t make out most of the comments he’s gotten on his blog in response to his request for feedback. I image most he will get will be the “it’s your blog so do what you want, but this is what I think…” variety. Which is exactly what I’m going to do here

The value of Conn’s blog and podcast to me at this point is simply the fact that it is done in Irish. I am a long way from being able to comprehend and appreciate what he is talking about. While he obviously takes great pride in his ability to communicate on a specialized topic like technology in Irish, the language itself is simply the vehicle and not the content. From that perspective, my desire for him to continue to blog and podcast should be inconsequential, and I don’t mind. If he were to stop blogging or podcasting in Irish, he’s left behind a significant legacy of material in the Irish language. I did this a few years ago when I blogged my travels in Ireland in Hawaiian. A hundred years from now, my (hopefully) Hawaiian-speaking great-great-great-great grandchildren will be able to read and appreciate it. And hopefully Conn’s work will be seen, heard and appreciated by his.

When my wife and I departed Ireland three and a half years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would continue to learn the language. I have found it very difficult to fulfill that promise, however, in discovering his blog and podcast, and those of others, I have been inspired to pick it up again. The technology has made it possible for me to connect with speakers of Irish (or at least those that tolerate a Gaeilge newbie’s feeble efforts). Perhaps there will soon be a real (I hate the term “virtual”) Gaeltacht online, where people will be able to interact as Gaeilge synchronously and asynchronously, as easily as someone in Ireland.

So my friend, whatever decision you make will be the right one. I have hours and hours of your podcast that I will someday be able to listen to and appreciate for their content as well as their language vehicle. And your work has helped inspire me to fulfill a promise to myself. Consider it an unintended consequence of your work, but certainly not one that compels you to keep doing it. Go raibh maith agat a mo chara.

As for, I am not considering switching the blog to Hawaiian, but may do so for the podcast. And while I value my listeners and their opinions, the decision is ultimately mine alone.

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