Brianna Jentz
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"It's going to be legend- and I hope you aren't lactose intollerant because the second part of that word is- DERRY."

November 2, 2010 @ 6:20 AM | Permalink

 

 

A young girl in a school uniform, complete with a white shirt, green tie, and plaid skirt, stands with her hands clasped as if she was sing in a Madrigal. There is a barricade behind her. The steel gates, pipes, and barbed wire obstruct any beauty that may have been once found in the land. She is facing me and on her right hand side rests a butterfly. It is nearer to her than the guns. Her young face, why she couldn't be more than fourteen, is confident but ghostly white. I don't recall her name. I only remember that she died.

The above describes a mural in Derry, Northern Ireland. This painting of a teenage girl was to remind the warring communities about innocence. The butterfly is a Irish symbol that is synonymous with purity. It is very fitting here because this young girl was never fought, but yet she was killed in the battle between Protestants and Catholics. Religion has a lot to do with the worldview of a society, but this is not purely a holy war. This war is about nationality.

Before 1920, the entirety of Ireland was in the control of the United Kingdom. This did not set well with many nationalists who believed that the primarily Catholic Ireland should be independent from the protestant union. The Protestants who were originally from England settled in the Northern part of Ireland. To put it simply, Catholics wanted independence. Protestants wanted to remain with the United Kingdom. This lead to much fighting until finally 26 counties were given freedom and the remaining 9 became Northern Ireland. This minimized some of the fighting, but Catholic discrimination came into full play in the North.

Londonderry or Derry is a split city. Originally Derry was a walled city that enclosed all of it's inhabitants. Since the 17th century it has grown to the second biggest city in Northern Ireland and the city has moved out of the city walls. The River Foyle now separates the city into halves. Unlike Belfast, which segregated its fighting Protestants and Catholics by peace walls, Derry is separated by a River Foyle. Today Catholics live on one side of the river and protestants live on the other side. Our tour guide on the walking tour of Derry told us that the city is at peace now, but like all recoveries of war, it will take some time to heal all of the wounds. To paraphrase what the tour guide said: “You can't put a guy to someone's head and make them peaceful. That doesn't solve the problems. We look at South Africa as an example of what not to do.”

Words are purely symbols that a culture assigns meaning to. Semantics control these meanings. In Derry or Londonderry, I found a prime example of this. Legally the town that I am writing about is called Londonderry. Tradesmen from London who settled in the town of Derry had the named legally changed to reflect the English influence on the town. The Protestant and unionist culture gladly accepted this change in the name. Catholics maintained that the Derry is the rightful name for the city. I find it very interesting that the two cultures are so close to each other, but yet have maintained a different name for their own city.

Another thing that I found very interesting in Ireland were the accents. The Irish accent omits the “th” sound. They still spell words with it, but the word “three” sounds like “tree.” There were a couple times when our tour group was instructed to be back on the bus at “t[h]ree t[h]irty” (omit the h's when you try to say this.) For awhile my Canadian friends and I thought he was talking about trees that looked like sheep, but he was actually talking about three sheep. Language was very important on the tour. Interestingly enough the tour of Ireland composed of mostly Australians and Canadians. It was very fun to talk to so many other people. I also met a woman from Argentina who had been studying English for about six months. She had learned a lot of the language from watching shows such as “That 70's Show” and “HIMYM” and “Friends.” These shows really helped us connect and created shared meanings. She was very inquisitive about the meanings of words and phrases, thus the rules of semantics and pragmatics. People who had the same experiences and same language were more likely to hang out together. I also recognized that in order to be able to communicate effectively with the others from different cultures that I should learn phrases from different cultures. Daniela, who was from Germany, was very impressed when I said “Gesundheit” when she sneezed. Language is extremely important when trying to communicate inter-culturally.

Comments

Posted on 11/09/2010 by

Brianna Jentz

Brianna Jentz

I suffer from the fallacy of perfection and therefore have corrected the mentioned grammar areas. I take responsibility for rushing through this blog since I did not realize that a blog was due. I apologize for any noise that these errors caused when reading. Until my next post, Brianna

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