Cèid Donn wrote:Even if she's not native, the idea that the audio for beginner's Irish has to be a fluent speaker is a bit much, in my opinion, and lends to very unhelpful gatekeeping attitudes about who gets to learn these languages. There are many highly qualified and capable people teaching Irish and Scottish Gaelic out there who are L2 speakers (the person who wrote THE book on Scottish Gaelic phonology, for example, is a L2 speaker from Germany), without whom these languages would be in a much more dire state than they are presently (and Scottish Gaelic in particular would not have been able to make the gains it has in the past 10 years). It's not the obligation of a dwindling native speaker population to step forward and give their time to help people outside their communities learn these languages. Native speakers didn't choose to be born into those communities and languages, they don't exist to be a "wellspring" for learners to learn the languages "authentically" (to take cue from the thoughts of one native Irish speaker), and there just isn't enough of them to met the demand of teaching and creating learning resources to help revive and preserve the languages, especially when the gig doesn't pay, like with Duolingo. This simply is the reality of endangered languages.
While I certainly agree with the second part (native speakers don't owe learners anything -- even if you feel your "heritage" was "stolen", it wasn't stolen by the people who still speak it!), the first is more problematic.
Why should showing deference to speakers from an unbroken line of intergenerational transmission ever be wrong? They are the ones with access to an accurate model of the language, after all, and that model is surely what all learners should aspire to, right...?
I've met far too many learners who are so invested in Gaelic being "their" language that they've closed themselves off to being wrong -- dismissing errors as "my dialect"... even in learning situations!
When people talk about "language change" and "new dialects" in the context of learners (including, but not limited to, learners taught by learners) I say:
Fine. You're welcome to your own new language (let's call it "Gallick", because that's how its speakers pronounce it)... but you shouldn't be taking resources away from speakers of Gàidhlig. Rapid, sudden language change marginalises the speakers of unbroken-line Gaelic, and that's not on.