The play ‘Translations’ is set in a Gaelic-speaking, Hedge school in Northern Ireland, 1833. Brian Friel explores the modernization affect individuals and communities that occurred as a result of the conquering English language. He examines how language shapes reality, whilst questioning the assumption that any two people can share the same reality; ideas can be translated between cultures without necessarily being altered. The play offers a parable about the fate of a parochial attitude for those who are not familiar with Irish history. Brain Friel is considered to be “concerned with the nuances of both personal and cultural-national identity and its relation to colonial dispossession, issues of home, language, tradition…’ (Bertha 2006, 154). Friel writes a story of how one nation lost its language, culture and literature as a result of being conquered by another. He explores the reasons behind this loss and the ways in which society can overcome this sense of isolation.
There is a sense of forced assimilation through the loss of the Irish language, with the reoccurring feeling of isolation appearing to be the result. A lack of mutual understanding is present between not only the British and Irish but also the Irish themselves, for there are common disputes about conforming to the English language. “The native language declined, not as an outcome of British policy so much as because an entire generation of the Irish themselves decided no longer to speak it” (Kiberd 1995: