The Irish Language, Symbolic Power and Political Violence in Northern Ireland, 1972-2008

Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost


Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost

Distributed for University of Wales Press

234 pages | 8 color plates, 25 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2012
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780708324967 Published July 2012 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
E-book $35.00 ISBN: 9780708324974 Will Publish October 2019 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

Jailtacht closely analyzes the emergence of the Irish language among republican prisoners and ex-prisoners in Northern Ireland from the 1970s to the present. This pioneering study shows how, despite the efforts of prison authorities to suppress the language, in some parts of the prison it became the exclusive language used by prisoners. Drawing on interviews with these prisoners, Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost shows how these developments gave rise to the popular coinage of the term “Jailtacht,” a deformation of “Gaeltacht”—the official Irish-speaking district of the Republic of Ireland—to describe this unique linguistic phenomenon. He goes on to trace the dramatic impact this politically rooted adoption of the language had on Irish society both at the time and in the subsequent decades.

List of illustrations

1. Introduction
2. Chronology
3. Style
4. Performance
5. Visual Grammar
6. Ideology
7. Conclusions

Review Quotes
Irish Literary Supplement
“An ambitious project, broad in scope, and theoretically rich. . . .This is a book that should be read by anyone serious about sociolinguistics and the contemporary culture of Northern Ireland.”
Jeff Sluka, Massey University, New Zealand | Irish Journal of Anthropology
“This book combines excellent historical and ethnographic description with strong semiotic analysis, and includes outstanding black and white and color illustrations. . . . This is a fantastic book that does a great job of introducing readers to the historical background and bringing them up to date with the ongoing significant developments with regard to the Irish language in Northern Ireland today.”
Stephen May, University of Auckland
“Mac Giolla Chríost’s study of the role of Irish in the republican conflict in Northern Ireland—and, more broadly, the often complex relationship between language and political violence—is nuanced, innovative, and deeply compelling. This is sociolinguistic study at its very best.”

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