Current Affairs Politics The Irish Language - An Ghaeilge

Scottish – A Modern Language For A Modern Nation

In the Scotsman newspaper John Campbell challenges the Scottish Government to build on the high level of acceptance and support for the native Scottish language displayed in a recent public survey after many decades of indifference or hostility within the general populace:

‘The news that Gaelic enjoys considerable public support will enrage some detractors whose hostility has polarised discussion on the language.

It might also surprise native speakers and learners of Gaelic who find very little in print that might support its use in the home, the community, or the workplace.

That is why I have written an open letter to Alasdair Allan, the new minister for learning and skills, asking him to clarify his government’s intentions for Gaelic. Dr Allan speaks Gaelic and Scots, and as a student was able to resolve hitherto implacable official attitudes against use of those languages in higher education. It would be difficult to think of anyone better qualified to accept ministerial responsibility for language planning.

If the condition of the print industry associated with an endangered language is an indication of government plans for its development, then the Scottish Government has so far shown very little real vision for Gaelic as a modern European language.

There is no provision for adult literacy, the range of dictionaries and adult learning materials is inadequate, there is a chronic shortage of trained editors and opportunities for adult learning are severely restricted.

Experts warn against restricting threatened languages to arenas where they are maintained as second languages by academic elite groups, who can be called on for tokenistic displays of “heritage and culture”.

Does the Scottish Government have any real plan to revitalise Gaelic as a living language and to secure its status, as required by the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005, on a principle of equal respect with English?’

One could ask the same question of the present Irish Government, at least part of which seems to be made up of the same vociferous lobby of Anglophone bigots who oppose the modern expression of Ireland’s native language and culture in favour of the dead hand of an anachronistic Anglicised-Irish colonial past.
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