The Gaelic Gestapo. Shaping The Language Of Hate In Scotland

To name a thing is to control a thing. Words have a power beyond the immediate and obvious. The process of naming shapes perception and understanding. It influences action and reaction. To name a thing as hateful is to make it hated. Human beings have understood that for millennia. It has shaped the rhetorical wars of propaganda and misinformation, and the actual wars of bloodshed and violence. Language is a weapon, as dangerous as any other in the right – or wrong – hands.

From the regional Press and Journal newspaper in Scotland:

A Scottish Government body has been branded the “Gaelic Gestapo” after Moray councillors were forced into backing plans to spend thousands of pounds promoting the language.

A 2005 law passed by the Scottish Government requires public organisations to draw up a Gaelic language plan when requested to do so by Bòrd na Gàidhlig – the board which polices the policy.

Community planning and development manager John Ferguson said the council would now have to “show equal respect for Gaelic and English”.

But independent councillor George Alexander fought the proposals and urged his fellow members to vote against progressing the scheme…

“They are behaving like a Gaelic Gestapo. The thought of road signs with Gaelic first and English second sends a shiver down my spine…”

For others to hate that which you hate, you must seize control of the names which describe it.

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7 comments

  1. Nothing new here my foxy friend, there are still a few old farts around in local government with ingrained attitudes from times past, especially I’d guess in regions like Moray that border on the last of the Gaelic speaking areas, and themselves lost the language 3 or 4 generations ago. Maybe a sociolinguist could explain it, envy perhaps for something lost, denial? Anyway they’ve had their little tantrum and 5min of fame, no doubt things will now proceed as the law requires. Suas leis a’ Ghàidhlig 🙂

    1. I suppose you are right and five minutes of fame it is, since the vote was carried by the majority. However that term will be picked up and repeated elsewhere, gaining credence along the way. That is the nature of alternative facts. Repetition makes them real, not actual substance or proof.

      1. A sobering thought that last remark. I would be tempted to pass the GG term around in jest, because (to me) it’s laughable beyond belief, like some kind of Monty Python sketch … but then that could backfire I suppose as not everyone is well informed about Gaelic, to say the least.

  2. Mo chreach! Tha i a’ fàs ‘nas fheàrr, it gets better “dual-nationality road signage” must be a keeper. Here :
    http://www.insidemoray.com/councillor-fires-gaelic-gestapo-blast-as-moray-forced-into-line/
    “In one of the most passionate addresses seen in the Council chamber, Councillor Alexander said: ‘I find it extremely difficult to understand why we are going down a road where we kick off having to pay Bòrd na Gàidhlig £600 to translate this plan … The other thing that puts a shiver down my spine is the thought of more road signs with Gaelic first and then English afterwards'”
    Where has this eejit been all his life?

  3. It’s only really a minority of people who hate Irish and Gaelic, the problem is it’s only really a minority who love the languages enough to actually learn and speak them. The majority of people, including the author of this blog, just can’t be bothered. Continually railing against and focusing on the small amount of hate, whilst ignoring the widespread indifference, an indifference that you yourself are guilty of, is pretty odd to say the least. It really makes me question the sincerity of a lot of what is written here on the subject.

    1. A lot of assumptions in that “just can’t be bothered” judgement. I have answered that point many times before. We deal with the cards we are dealt with and play them as best we can. I am not fluent in Irish nor have I ever claimed to be. I have failed to become fluent. My Irish is rudimentary. I can read and understand far more than I can write or speak. The fault is my own but also that of wider society and state. The circumstances of my upbringing and early life were not favourable to learning, and my life since then have left me precious little space for doing so. I have made some attempts but not all of us have an ear or mind for languages. That is my burden. However, I am a product of my environment as are countless other Irish people. Arguing that the negative environment should be made positive for others, and for future generations, is sincere. Believe me or believe me not.

      1. I wonder just how many people get turned off Irish through it being compulsory in your schools, as a subject rather than as the medium. I went to school in the UK and became fed-up to the back teeth with ‘school French’ which I was eventually thrown out of after four years so never even took the exam. It was totally detached from everyday life, we only ever saw textbooks and no one much went abroad in those days. When as a post-grad I needed to read some relevant materials in French though, my attitude was entirely different, now the language was simply a means to an end, not something I was supposed to value for its inherent beauty, elegance or whatever. So I suppose the more the Gaelics are to seen and heard and used around in the “real world” the more interest their should be. It ought to start feeding back on itself at a certain point. That I suppose is the hope …

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