Me: Michael, how will you be able to speak to people when we go to France on holidays, if you don’t speak French to M (childminder).
Michael (with dignity): I am saving my French so that I don’t use it up before we go to France on holidays.
A colleague of mine whom I know quite well and who speaks very good Irish encourages my faltering attempts to speak in our first national language by exchanging the odd bit of dialogue with me.
The other day we both had to attend a long meeting with a big group [like all such meetings, it was one to look forward to], for which he arrived quite late. I suspected that he had forgotten our vital meeting as I had seen him out the window emerging from the canteen with a cup of coffee. Not the act of a man in a rush.
After the meeting, I went up to him and said as much. Attempting the language of our forefathers, I said, “An rinne tú dearmad ar an gcrinniú?” “An ndearna,” he said, neatly pulling the rug from under my feet. “I knew that,” I wailed. This is why our first national language is so delightful:
An ndearna tú? – Did you?
Ní dhearna mé – I didn’t.
Rinne mé – I did.
That’s only the past tense, lads.