‘CIVIL servants swot up on their French or German to help negotiations in Europe, so why not a few well chosen words in Gaelic to assist in parts of Scotland?A new online “toolkit” launched yesterday is helping staff at three public bodies learn more about the language and some basic phrases to better connect with fluent speakers.
According to Andrew Thin, chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which is one of three agencies involved in the project, learning the language as a courtesy to Gaelic speakers would create better relationships with the public.
He said there is a direct parallel with civil servants learning French or German to conduct business in Brussels.
“It is good manners which makes a difference in the relationship and makes it work better. We expect our civil servants to be able to say a few words in French or German to officials in the EC as a basic courtesy.
“There is no difference in asking people to have some basic Gaelic phrases as a polite way to begin whatever business is to be conducted.”‘
‘The project was launched in Inverness this morning in a new programme which forms part of a Scottish Government commitment to support the languageWestern Isles MSP, who is also Minister for Gaelic and Dinny McGinley, the Irish Minister of State with special responsibility for Gaeltacht affairs, were present at the launch.
Each toolkit, developed by the Skye-based company Cànan, includes a series of generic introductory lessons, as well as personalised glossaries of useful phrases, and terminology specific to each organisation.
Alasdair Allan said: “I am very pleased to see bodies which are key to Scotland’s rural infrastructure working alongside Bòrd na Gàidhlig to widen opportunities to learn the language and about how it relates to the day-to-day work of the organisations.
“We are determined to secure a sustainable future for Gaelic, and the involvement of public bodies…’
Dinny McGinley, the Irish Minister of State with special responsibility for Gaeltacht affairs, said: “This is an exciting and innovative programme that demonstrates the positive benefits that can accrue from public sector companies working together on a shared vision.
“I commend all who were involved in developing this project and I have no doubt that there are valuable lessons we can learn from it in Ireland as we pursue the common goal of promoting increased awareness and usage of our native Irish language.”
John Angus Mackay, Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive, said: “This is a truly innovative initiative and Bòrd na Gàidhlig congratulates the partner organisations on planning and implementing it.
“Its objectives, scope and scale are commendable. As well as the benefits the individual themselves will see both culturally and linguistically, each organisation is also investing in cultural diversity which better reflects today’s business environments, as well as raising the profile of our own national language.”’
I have frequently highlighted the more advanced attitudes of politicians in Scotland to their native language, in stark contrast to our own regressive political classes, but it is good to see the presence of Danny McGinley in his official capacity as the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht at this event. Let us hope this is the start of more direct co-operation between the governments of Ireland and Scotland in promoting our shared Gaelic heritage.
Talking of which some more details on just how seriously the Scots take their national language:
‘Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, welcomed Alasdair Allan MSP to the National Centre for Gaelic Language & Culture on the Isle of Skye recently, in his first visit as Minister for Gaelic.
The Minister, who is also MSP for the Western Isles, met with managers of the College and was given a tour of facilities and projects including national projects Tobar an Dualchais and Faclair na Gàidhlig and the multimedia and design company, Cànan, which organises the annual Film G competition.
Professor Robertson said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister and to offer him the opportunity to meet with staff and become acquainted with the College. There are great many projects and activities at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig which promote and encourage the Gaelic language and culture at a local, national and international level.
“As the National Centre for Gaelic Language & Culture we look forward to working with the Minister and with the Scottish Government to take forward their aspirations for the Gaelic language and to increase the number of Gaelic speakers at every level.”’
In the motto of the Pan-Gaels, Ireland and Scotland: two nations, one people.
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