Just in case you thought it was safe to speak the Scottish language in Scotland along comes journalist Gina Davidson with an anti-Gaelic diatribe in the Scotsman that twists logic and reason to breaking point:
“CAST your mind back a couple of years to the council’s school closures programme.
After all the wailing and knashing of teeth when it was first suggested that 22 schools and nurseries were to close almost immediately, the axe finally fell on just a handful of primaries.”
Um, does she mean “gnashing of teeth”? I do believe she does. Davidson goes on to discuss Bonnington Primary, one of the schools that was closed, and how the building which housed it was left to wrack and ruin for two years. However, under new plans, it may now be reopened as a Gaelic medium school.
“There are many who claim that the Edinburgh tram is a vanity project of city councillors, and therefore must come to fruition no matter what. Well it seems to me that a Gaelic primary school in Leith is just that – only this time it’s a vanity project being foisted on the council and Edinburgh taxpayers by an SNP government.
Of course, Edinburgh has a Gaelic speaking population that is said to number around 5000. But that’s surely no surprise as this is a city that attracts people from all over the world. Yet no-one is suggesting opening a Mandarin school or an Urdu-only primary for the vast numbers of pupils from those backgrounds who already study in our state schools.”
Is Mandarin or Urdu the native language of Scotland? Who knew? I thought it was a Celtic tongue. ‘mazing. Are the 5000 Scottish language speakers of Edinburgh not tax payers too? As for that point about Edinburgh attracting people from all over the world and having Gaelic speakers there being no surprise. Are you syaing that the people who speak the Scottish language are foreigners?
“No, Gaelic it seems is somehow more important than other languages – even more important than English, despite the 2005 Gaelic Language Act only stating it should have equal value. So important that while other schools are being closed because their rolls are too small, Bonnington will reopen with fewer pupils – around 158 – than it had when it closed. But that’s OK, as they’ll be doing their learning in Gaelic.”
But if English and Scottish are of equal value shouldn’t there be English and Scottish medium schools where parents and communities request it? Oh, sorry, I get you. You actually mean they are not of equal value.
“I don’t particularly blame the parents who send their kids to the Gaelic unit at Tollcross, and who will use the new Gaelic school, for being excited about the prospect. After all if someone hands you the opportunity to have your children learn the language you were brought up using, instead of you having to teach them at home, why not grasp it? Why not also then demand more if the political climate is right?”
Well, that’s nice of you, Gina. You don’t “particularly” blame the parents then. Only partially blame? Imagine, children learning in their indigenous language, the language they speak at home. Whatever next? Gaels sitting at the front of the bus?
“ It’s not really just about keeping an ancient language of the Scottish highlands and islands alive – it’s about courting Nationalist votes.
I realise that as the Nationalist party of Scotland, the SNP feels it has to prove its Scottish credentials time and again – I like to think membership involves knowing all the words to Flower of Scotland, proving you own a porridge drawer, and naming every whisky distilled in the land.
But Gaelic is something else. It has never been a traditional language of Edinburgh. It’s always been spoken by a minority – fewer people speak it than Scots even.”
That’s Edinburgh. Also known as Dún Éideann. The city with 5000 Scottish speakers (and growing). That is, speakers of the indigenous language of Scotland.
“I have no issue with people who want their children to learn another language – and I believe there are many studies that prove that bilingual children are more successful at school – I just don’t understand why, at a time when services are being cut everywhere else, at a time when kids who want to learn to play musical instruments are having the opportunity removed, public money has to be found for Gaelic. If I want my children to learn another language I’d have to pay for it privately – so why should Gaelic be different?”
Well, patently, you do have a problem with people who want their children to learn another language. Yet you acknowledge that being bilingual is a recipe for educational success. However, you don’t want it in the schools in Scotland? Eh, you don’t want Scottish kids being as well educated as their peers elsewhere in Europe?
As for paying to have your children learn another language other than their own, perhaps that is true. But what if the Scottish language is your own? Are Scottish speaking tax payers not eligible to the same public services as their English speaking contemporaries?
“Gaelic may well be a lovely, lyrical, ancient language and be worth keeping alive, but surely that should be in the places where it is traditionally spoken, not in a modern, cosmopolitan city, where the only Gaelic word known to the most is “slainte”.”
You say Edinburgh is “cosmopolitan” then state that there is no room in it for the national language of Scotland? Do you actually know what cosmopolitan means in a modern European sense?
“This Gaelic school is the SNP’s pet project; its a Nationalist version of the Tory government’s free schools down south. And it is bordering on ethnic engineering.”
Firstly, Gina, I think you’ll find that you should write “it’s”, not “its” (so much for English speakers and their education). Secondly, ethnic engineering? Like the kind that turned Dún Éideann into Edinburgh?
Ho-hum. Same prejudices. Same “ethnic” bias. Same Anglophone claptrap. But here’s this for irony: Gina “Save The Castles” Davidson! Bricks and mortar is for saving. Communities and rights, languages and cultures, not so much. Sounds like a supporter of Scottish Labour alright. Thankfully not everyone thinks the same.
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