Keeping it, losing it, or gaining it? The loss, retention and uptake of Irish in Northern Ireland 2001-2011 and UIster Scots in 2011

Language loss, retention, and gain amongst smaller languages has attracted much attention.  Most of this work has concentrated on communities or individual life courses although census data have been used to map spatial concentrations of language users, and patterns of advance and retreat through time.  However, there have been few quantitative population-level analyses which combine the general insights of the census with those from individual-level and community studies. Although the health benefits of learning and using a second language have been well recognised, there is also little evidence quantifying these advantages in relation to the general health and wellbeing associated with knowledge of another language in a post-conflict setting.

This research aims to bridge this gap by using the NILS to explore the individual and household correlates of the use, loss and gain of the knowledge of Irish between 1991 and 2011, and of Ulster Scots knowledge in 2011.  The work has three components.  Firstly, the individual, household, health, and geographical factors associated with knowledge of Irish and Ulster Scots in 2011 are analysed.  Secondly, the patterns of gaining, losing, and retaining Irish knowledge between 1991 and 2011 are described (questions on Irish have been asked in the Census since 1991).  Thirdly, changes in Irish knowledge for selected key life-stage cohorts (e.g. those in education) are considered.


The summary of the Ulster Scots research (in English) is available here: Ulster-Scots language summary (in English)

The summary of the Irish language research (in English) is available here: Irish language summary (in English)

The summary of the Irish language research (in Irish) is available here: Irish language summary (in Irish)

The summary of the Ulster Scots research (in Ulster Scots) is here: Ulster-Scots language summary (in Ulster Scots)

The full Irish report is here: Irish language report (full)

The full Ulster Scots report is here: Ulster Scots language report (full)

Research Team: Ian Shuttleworth, Estelle Lowry, John Hughes, Jos IJpelaar, Rita McAuley, and Deborah Lyness
Database: NILS
Project Status: Active
Organisation(s): Queens University Belfast, NISRA