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President launches new English-Irish dictionary

Article by Cathal Póirtéir © 31 January 2013 Cathal .
Posted in the Magazine ( · News for Writers ).
An tUachtarán Ó hUiginn agus Príomh-eagarthóir an Fhoclóra, Pádraig Ó Mianáín

An tUachtarán Ó hUiginn agus Príomh-eagarthóir an Fhoclóra, Pádraig Ó Mianáín

On Thursday 24 January, President Michael D. Higgins launched Foras na Gaeilge’s new English-Irish dictionary in the National Gallery in Dublin. This is the first national English-Irish dictionary since the publication of de Bhaldraithe’s dictionary in 1959.

This new online dictionary can be accessed free at www.focloir.ie and currently contains about a third of its final content. This covers over 80% of normal usage in English. The online version will be expanded this year and next, and the final version will be published both online and as a hard copy in 2015.

This is a major advance for the Irish language and is one of the biggest projects ever undertaken by Foras na Gaeilge, an agency of the North-South Implementation Body, An Foras Teanga. Joe McDonagh, Chairman of Foras na Gaeilge’s Dictionary Committee who was also Chief Executive when the project started in 2000, says that this dictionary is vital to the further development of the Irish language:

“I am delighted to see that the New English-Irish Dictionary is being made available free to the public online” he said. “It will be an essential resource for Irish speakers in general and in particular for learners of Irish throughout the world, and it is also an important cultural resource that highlights our cultural and linguistic identity” he said.

A team of around 70 people has been working on this dictionary since 2000 on a total budget of €6.088m that will run until 2015. Writing the dictionary itself did not begin until 2008. The dictionary features over 7,000 headwords so far which have generated a total word count of 1.3m words, including over 40,000 example sentences, along with sound files and comprehensive grammar tools. There will be over 40,000 headwords in total by its completion in 2015. Tomás de Bhaldraithe’s ground-breaking dictionary of 1959, which is still the standard text of this kind, contains around 900,000 words.

Ruairí, Cathal agus Clíodhna ag scrúdú an fhoclóra nua ar líne

Ruairí, Cathal agus Clíodhna ag scrúdú an fhoclóra nua ar líne

“The dictionary follows the trend in modern international lexicography where usage determines content. Consequently the English content in the new Dictionary broadly reflects how that language is used in Ireland and the Irish content similarly is based on contemporary spoken Irish” says Dr Pádraig Ó Mianáin, editor of the Dictionary. “We wanted to reflect how Irish is spoken in Gaeltacht areas and we have incorporated audio recordings of pronunciations in the three main Irish language dialects as a further aid to learners of the language” he said.

The Minister for State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr. Dinny McGinley, T.D., congratulated Foras na Gaeilge and the dictionary team for the significant achievement of providing an electronic version of the new English-Irish dicitionary:

“An important aspect of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 is being implemented through this ambitious project and the status of the Irish language as a contemporary living language is greatly enhanced as a result”, said the Minister for State.

Check out www.focloir.ie