Part of the ‘Interactive Museum of Languages for Young Audiences’

Sparking an interest in language is child’s play

It should be called something like Word Play or something catchy. It’s not. Sadly for a wonderful attraction it’s got a rather dull name: ‘Interactive Museum of Languages for Young Audiences (IMLYA).

Don’t let that put you off.

“We were thinking about creating an interactive space where people can explore different sides of the concept of a language, explore where words and language comes from, what it is and the varieties of languages that exist around the world.”

The museum itself is very engaging, and depending on the age of the child and their level of interest could see them messing about with letters and symbols of all sorts or using the interactive boards.

There’s a lot going on so any parent may also be intrigued by what they find.

Tomasz is a Polish person who learned English while in Ireland, and has a particular in interest in Kanji.

“I’m very interested in the way the language [Kanji]forms and where it comes from - especially in the case of Japanese and Chinese sign writing. I can see the similarities, I know that the language comes from observations of reality, of recognising certain shapes and using them as representation in the language - that fascinates me very much.

“Like ‘a human’ or ‘person’ - it’s two lines, which look like two legs joined together at the top,” he says. A quick Google reveals, yes the symbol does look like a figure walking with a very casual gait.

“When you want to say forest for Kanji, you make a sign for a tree and a couple of small trees around - that’s how you say forest - it’s a beautiful, intuitive way that the language evolved and came about.”

Having worked for the last two years on Cape Clear, Tomasz is aware of the mixed fortunes of the Irish language.

“I am aware that the Irish language is beautifully complex, and very poetic and multi dimensional and I sort of feel sad that it can’t be revived.”

He adds: “I think there are people who are working to revive it, and are working with it, and are working with consciousness of the language to keep it alive, but at the same time there is a natural difficulty that if language isn’t naturally spoken there is a different way of life that it keeps - it can still keep alive, but that way of being alive is slightly different to other languages that are fluently spoken and frequently spoken depend on the changes that are happening around them in the world.”