An Náisiúin Gaelach: Questions of Identity and Nationalism in the Irish Language
Keywords:Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis (CADA), semantics, nationhood, Irish language
The current paper investigates the construction of nationhood in the Irish language through the use of a Corpus Assisted Discourse Analysis (CADA) looking at terms coding identity in the Irish language. Using the New Corpus for Ireland the terms Gael, Gaelach and Éireannach were analysed for frequency of occurrence, semantic prosody and semantic preference in the corpus. Furthermore a collocation analysis of each of the terms was carried out. Through the use of these analytical techniques insight was gathered into the contextual usage of these terms. These insights were analysed through the prism of Kolakowski’s (1995) criteria for the establishment of a nation in order to ascertain whether the usage of these terms reflected the conceptualisation of speakers’ nationhood in terms of a separate and unique national identity. Findings showed evidence of a distinct national spirit, historical memory and a national body among Irish-language speakers, three of Kolakowski’s criteria. While evidence surrounding Kolakowski’s other criteria of a nameable beginning and an orientation to, and consciousness of, the future may be drawn from the findings, ultimately more work is needed to more rigorously establish that these criteria have been met.
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