Confirming two cultures: Negotiation of negative evaluation in the narratives of adult learners of Irish in post-conflict Northern Ireland

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Abstract

The learning journey of adult learners of Irish in post-conflict Northern Ireland can contain contentious elements, particularly related to (perceived) politicisation of the language during and following the conflict. Coates and Thornborrow (2005) suggest that stories involve striking a balance between deviation from norms and presenting oneself as “culture confirming”, so an apt way to explore these learners’ experiences is to elicit and analyse their narratives. A majority of the narratives contain one or more “opponents”, in the Greimasian sense, that detrimentally affected the learner’s engagement with the Irish language and would therefore invite negative evaluation. The learners, however, use a unique range of devices to mitigate, background, abstract or make implicit their evaluation. This enables them to simultaneously mark and move on from the challenge, maintain or restore equilibrium, and confirm two cultures: their traditional culture and a new post-conflict cultural formation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-118
Number of pages25
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Volume28
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • conflict
  • post-conflict
  • Northern Ireland
  • narrative
  • identity
  • evaluation
  • negotiation
  • Irish
  • mitigation
  • culture

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