Monday, July 29, 2013

Vernaculars


Is the loss of vernaculars a good thing or a bad thing?

When we first came here 41 years ago there were few tourists. Fewer cars. No coaches. Certainly almost no Irish on holiday. It took some ingenuity to get here at all.

But tourists made it, in ones and two. Biking. Hitchhiking. Taking the now-and-then bus to Dingle and hoofing it the rest of the way. And, invariably, stopping are Quinn's pub for a drink on his sunny benches overlooking the sea.

Where, as likely as not, we might be sitting.

It was easy to guess the place of origin of the visitors, even without hearing them speak. Americans. French. English. Italians. Germans. Spaniards. Each nationality had their distinctive dress and mannerisms.

That's all changed now. Tourists pour through the village on their way to Slea Head, on bikes, in cars, in big continental coaches. On summer evenings the pub bustles. And everyone looks the same. Same clothes. Same mannerisms. Athens or Beijing: same iPhones, same tee shirts, same gestures.

Even linguistic differences are being swept away as Globish (internet English) becomes universally spoken and understood.

I miss especially those insouciant Frenchies with their silky scarves twirled casually about their necks, and the young Canadians trying desperately to distinguish themselves from Americans with the maple-leaf flags stitched to their backpacks, and the boisterous Italians flailing their arms while their sexy wives demurely sipped whatever was that mysterious liquid they were drinking.

Now we have Koreans in UCLA sweat shirts. Moroccans in stylishly threadbare jeans. Girls from Dublin and Dubuque in black tights and short shorts. And everyone wearing the same flip-flops made in Indonesia.

A good thing, or bad? A step toward global harmony, or a boring homogenization?