The New English-Irish Dictionary (NEID) (online since 2013 at www.focloir.ie and appearing in print in 2020) is the first major state-sponsored dictionary in the Irish language since 1978. Dictionaries are major influencers in minoritized languages such as Irish, where only a minority of its speakers attain high levels of literacy in the language. Since the Irish State was founded in 1922 and Irish was reinstated as an official language, dictionaries have been the weapons of mass dissemination of standard Irish. However, the Official Standard of 1958, a compromise between the three main dialects of Irish, was generally rejected by native speakers as "book Irish," and variant forms based on actual usage were accepted in subsequent reference sources, including the main reference source of contemporary Irish, Ó Dónaill's Irish-English dictionary in 1978, also the last major Irish dictionary. Having remained unchanged for fifty years, the Official Standard had three separate iterations between 2011 and 2017, during the writing and editing stages of NEID. The first revision (in which NEID had active involvement) shifted significantly towards current usage; however, that revision was withdrawn from press to be replaced by two further revisions (neither of which had any involvement from NEID) which largely ignored the proposed changes reflecting current usage. The dilemma for NEID then, on the verge of going to print, is finding a balance between current usage, which modern dictionaries generally follow and most users seek, and the formal standard promoted by the official authority of the State. This paper addresses the ways in which NEID strives to strike an effective acceptable balance.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 155-169
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.