linguistic mudes, new speakers, Irish language, Catalan sociolinguistics
This paper offers a preliminary analysis of linguistic 'mudes' in the case of new speakers of Irish, critical junctures in favour of Irish adopted during the life cycle. It begins by explaining the concept of the 'muda' and outlines its importance in providing a deeper understanding of what it means to ‘become’ a new speaker of Irish. Drawing on ethnographic data from a corpus of mostly highly competent speakers, seven 'mudes' are identified in the case of Irish: primary/secondary school, immersion school, university, family, work and retirement. Speakers’ perceptions of each 'muda' are explored and the impact of each critical juncture on language practice is considered. It is concluded that some 'mudes' are more gradual than others and that sociolinguistic context is linked to the extent to which the new speaker adopts Irish as an important part of his/her linguistic repertoire.