2007 - 2021

Hurtling Backwards

3253162770As Jackson Carlaw and his Dept of Cultural Self Hatred descend into a cacophony of anti-gaelic bile here’s that vile separatist, er, Deputy Transport Minister Lewis Macdonald announcing gaelic road signs back in 2003. The initiative was celebrated by that well-known Cultural Cybernat, Mike Watson, then Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport who said:

“I believe that this will make a positive contribution to the Scottish Executive’s strengthening of Gaelic language and will supplement the efforts already being made by local authorities. Gaelic signage will provide visible evidence of public support for Gaelic in Scotland and we hope it will strengthen the confidence of speakers and learners in their use of the language.”

The plans date back to March 2001, when crazed Blood and Soil nationalist Sarah Boyack, ‘gave Highland Council the go-ahead for bilingual road signs on the A87 between Kyle of Lochalsh and Uig and on the A830.’

Yesterday monoglot zealotry met obsessive British militarism.

CNwM3HGWUAAygUM (1)On an extraordinary day when the Conservatives bypassed the entire Westminster process and announce the future militarisation of the west coast of Scotland, and, in a glorious piece of theatre John McTernan explained to Kezia Dugdale how any efforts to host a meaningful dialogue within SLAB were null-and-void because defence is reserved, up bobbed George Osborne on the Gare Loch looking like Fireman Sam in Dismaland, all afloat with half a billion in his pocket.

Only two of Scotland’s 59 MPs, the Tory Scottish secretary, David Mundell, and the former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael, support nuclear weapons: Ian Murray, Labour’s sole representative, has said publicly he will vote against renewing Trident.

Democracy eh? It’s understood by so few people these days it’s probably best it was just allowed to die away naturally.

The spokesman from the Party of Death was up to announce the securing of massive investment in more weapons of mass destruction, with fantasy figures and a ghoulish projection into our future. The simple moral repugnance of this spending in times of harsh austerity is beyond belief.

CNxxV2qWoAEfg6_This is about democracy and how our politicians hate it.

Carlaw hates it when people have knowledge of their own culture. Osborne hates it when an entire national body of MPs represent a mass rejection of Trident. McTernan hates it when Scottish Labour attempts to show the most basic level of autonomy. All must crushed ignored and defeated. Centralisation and monoculture is the hallmark of Britain.

A groups called ‘Smash the SNP’ put out this image (right) saying with crushing irony ‘Wouldn’t this money be put to better use on the poor you bleat about?’

As the publisher Alec Finlay responded:

“I shared a wonderful conversation about landscape, names, and the analysis, insight, and poetry they offer us this weekend, at the Environmental Art Festival, learning about the seven languages that make up our hybrid country, including Gaelic, a language which offers such a subtle account of topography. We also discussed this: the self-hating, know nothing, feart, nihilism of people who can’t see that two names on a sign offers you the chance to learn something about where you are, hear different sounds, think about the past, the future, land ownership, colours, and beliefs. To accept complexity and change. Not understanding a language is an invitation to learn, not to hate. The Unionjackism that is scared of different languages, cultures and identities has no place in these islands.”

This narrative has become commonplace beyond un-muzzled Tories and enrage Unionist twitter-freaks. Enragés figures like STV’s Stephen Daisley or David Mitchell are uninhibited in their disgust.

The reality is that Gaelic is on roadsigns because the UK govt signed the EU charter on minority & regional languages, and the benefits of bilingualism are understood. The resistance to anti-democracy should be cultural celebration. The resistance to the people who bring us weapons of death must be cultural and linguistic celebration as testimony to life and rich living traditions.

I’m sick and tired of this relentless argument and living in a culture that is constantly under attack from within. It’s time to shift to a more pro-active way to not just defend our culture, and many languages, but to expand & challenge, and give voice to traditions old and new. We need to have much better instant rebuttal but also engage, embrace and commission more writing and publishing in all of our languages to drown out the negativity.

Anyone up for that?

Comments (66)

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  1. bringiton says:

    As far as Osborne is concerned,it appears that England’s public schools are now teaching the mantra of ‘talk loudly and carry a big stick’ even if the stick turns out to be completely useless for anything except making the bearer feel important and powerful.
    Barack Obama is about to rename Mt. McKinley in Alaska as Denali (not a Gaelic name but it’s North American First Nation name).
    The suppression of minority cultures and heritage is a throw back to British imperial times where British (English) culture was all that mattered.
    The people who cannot accept that the British empire has gone need to get over it and engage with those of us who recognise Scotland’s unique historic place in the world and how that came about.

    1. Muscleguy says:

      And about 5 years ago now New Zealand officially renamed the large volcano that juts out of the West Coast of the North Island Mt Taranaki/Egmont. It was previously just Mt. Egmont. Only rednecks objected. Nobody forces anyone to call it Mt. Taranaki. Nobody will be carted off to jail for calling it Mt. Egmont. But Taranaki Maori are happy that their sacred mountain’s name has official recognition at last. NZ’s highest peak is Mt. Cook/Aoraki. The Maori name means ‘Cloud Piercer’ a good name for a large, sharp, permanently snow capped alp, tallest of a long spinal range of alps. Again when that name change happened, nobody died.

  2. Audrey says:

    Yes, absolutely.

  3. Fay Kennedy. says:

    The same problem in Australia where the English speakers rail at having to pronounce Aboriginal place names. If only they could take up the challenge of learning new sounds and bringing new colour and shape into our programmed lives of technology and alienation.

  4. John Page says:

    Yes

    The shine has been taken off this beautiful morning by reflecting that Osborne and McTernan still influence what happens in Scotland……..

    John Page

  5. James Westland says:

    Also worth pointing out to the anti-Gaelic haters that the 9.5 million Gaelic Television Fund that was set up in the early 90s was the work of Michael Forsyth! It was John Major’s Tory government that was in power then.

  6. Delia Forrest says:

    Interesting article. I take it that Westminster have total authority over road signage. Does the Scottish Gov. have no power here?

    1. Wilson McLeod says:

      The Scottish Government (and Scottish local authorities) have full power over road signage. The slow progress on bilingualisation reflects badly on them but has nothing to do with Westminster.

  7. Big Jock says:

    Scotland looks more and more like an occupied outpost, every time these Eton boys pay a visit.

    What are we to do? Clearly no matter what way we vote. They just carry on and bi pass the majority.

    Is it time for Scotland to act rather than talk.

    1. John S Warren says:

      Osborne is a product of St.Pauls, a good school but without the same social status (he may have struggled a little to avoid being dismissed as an ‘oik’; and he has impressed few through his economic understanding, even in the City). His father sold wallpaper; his son is merely following in the family footsteps, papering over the cracks.

      1. Alan says:

        The cracks (chasms?) in his economic policy or his personality?

        1. Saor Alba says:

          Both.

  8. Wilson McLeod says:

    The irony of all this is that the SNP have done very little to advance the rolling-out of Gaelic signage since coming to power in 2007. Almost all the signage that has appeared in recent years was agreed under the Labour-LibDem coalition. Rollout to the A9 is promised but hasn’t materialised yet. (The increased use of Gaelic on railway station signs was a quiet rebranding exercise on the part of Scotrail and not any real policy initiative).

    In relation to Police Scotland, the real story is that the force wasn’t required (by the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig) to adopt a bilingual corporate identity from the outset, so that all uniforms, station buildings. police cars etc would display ‘Poileas Alba’ alongside ‘Police Scotland’. The Welsh term Heddlu is used alongside Police everywhere in Wales.

    1. Broadbield says:

      According to Wings, via the John O’Groat Journal, bi-lingual signs are being installed only when existing ones are due for replacement. The Journal also quotes a piece of research that suggests motorists find bi-lingual signs confusing.

      1. If Wings said it, it’s probably definitely true. Let’s take them all down. I think North Britain would look better on the maps too. What’s this ‘Scotland’ place? Try and speak properly to when your spoken to. Make sure you erase all trace of your own culture.

        1. Broadbield says:

          If that’s aimed at me I don’t know what you’re getting at. I was merely passing on some info. I’ve been a supporter of Independence for around 40 years, so I think you’re sarcasm is out of order.

          1. James Coleman says:

            Particularly since Wings has been trashed on his own site for publishing a ludicrous anti-gaelic article. The only good thing about it was that he allowed all the criticisms of it to be published.

          2. That was generous of his magnificence.

          3. James Coleman says:

            to Bella Caledonia Editor.

            What pettiness. And jealousy?

          4. No, I just find the acolyte culture really depressing

          5. Saor Alba says:

            I don’t think it is directed at you Broadbield and I certainly hope it isn’t.

  9. Patricia McTavish says:

    I am going to learn to speak Gaelic, somehow!

      1. Saor Alba says:

        Thanks for the link Muscleguy.

  10. Big Jock says:

    Patricia I agree..somehow!

    1. Coinneach Albannach says:

      Easiest done as part of a group with support material and liberal dash of determination. Try to do it with other Independistas. Having a Scots accent (in the two Germanic languages) is a major advantage.

      Be prepared to bend your head around some linguistic concepts which initially seem weird and then be amazed at how quickly you come to see them as normal.

      You are about to discover that other half of yourself which has been missing.

  11. Rachel MacNeill says:

    Yes, I am up for this.

  12. Jane Kidd says:

    It’s not correct or fair to describe David Mitchell’s attitude to Gaelic as ‘uninhibited disgust’. He’s not a fan of reviving Cornish, but clearly supports living Gaelic speaking.

    Informed debate cannot happen unless activists listen to other commentators IN GOOD FAITH, FFS!

  13. C Rober says:

    Remove foreign Language from the curriculum in Schools and replace with Gaelic , job dun , well not really , 40 years after French and German all I can say is oui or nein to my brockwurst and bagguete fried breakfast.

  14. Sheena Jardine says:

    It seems half of Scotland is becoming aware of its own history, traditions, land and culture, while the ‘colonialists’ get more and more angry and controlling. They can’t control our own self education and awareness, but it would be good if National Collective could come back specifically to highlight all these topics. Newsshaft is starting to cover culture and arts, so this is worth keeping an eye on. The rejuvinated yes campaign will be starting up again too through the national yes registry, so this could be one of its projects. Long live Gaelic, a beautiful language which opens all sorts of doors to understanding our own history. Finally, stay positive, that was/is our strength!

  15. Lewisite says:

    What about the Scots language? That is being overlooked and that’s a language a lot of people are actually speaking (a Germanic language that formed separately from English but quite similar) There are Trilingual signs everywhere in Barcelona with Catalan, Spanish and English, it works very well. Perhaps the signs should read: Glesga – Glasgow – Glaschu etc. It would make sense as people do commonly refer to places in Scots language.

    1. It’s not a zero sum game. This was focusing on gaelic, as it was gaelic being attacked.

      1. Gordon McShean says:

        Your editorial reply to Lewisite was fair enough, but I regret it may be taken as a dismissal of a call for the Scots Tongue to gain better recognition. Here in New Zealand each year I eagerly anticipate receiving the only greetings I can rely on to be couched in the language of my boyhood. It may be relevant to compare the political implications of demonstrations of cultural sensitivity in NZ with that in Scotland. Here we see great expenditures made to install Maori road signs and millions being squandered in playing a game about making our flag more culturally relevant, when Maori education is being privatized and educational and welfare programmes suffer serious financial deprivation. I suppose road signs in Gaelic are fine – but it does bring up other priorities – not only Scots language, but Trident, no?

        1. Muscleguy says:

          kia ora

      2. lewisite says:

        My point was that Scots is not being put on roadsigns and Gaelic is, the Government or whoever decides these things is overlooking it, not that your article has overlooked it … defensive, chill out.

        1. Gordon McShean says:

          Sorry if you misinterpreted my response – if you’ll look again, you’ll see it was aimed at the editorial comment that was made – not at you. Defensive? Nae bother!

    2. Màiri Mhòr says:

      Not disagreeing with your comment, just wish to point out that Glesga is actually the original Brittonic word and so also Celtic – not Germanic Scots.

  16. Julian says:

    What I noticed was Osborne turned up in a gunboat surrounded by Marines, as though he was visiting a fort in Helmand, not a part of Britain. Have you noticed it is part of the upmilitarisation of our society, following America’s example? A few years ago there was an armed policeman in Lewisham Shopping Centre FFS. I was astounded. What would he do, shoot shoplifters?

  17. Finlay Macleoid says:

    I find it rather amusing that it was the Conservative Party in 1982 and then 1985 who started giving money to Gaelic language projects ranging from Gaelic pre-school education right through to Higher education at Sabhal Mor Ostaig Bilingual Road-signage and the Media plus various cultural activities and community development. Incidentally, I and others were asked to find those who were interested in similar people and projects regarding the Scots language as they also wanted to help Scots in any way they were helping Gaelic but each time I approached the Scots language groupings didn’t think it was what was needed. So I find all this ranting about Gaelic from whichever corner rather amusing.

    1. Dennis Mclaughlin says:

      Classic distraction tactics from the declining Tory clique remaining in Scotland…
      May 2014 saw their lowest ever vote share in Scotland….
      Unionism is withering on the vine in Scotia! .

  18. Alan says:

    Also see the Wings take on the signage.

    Bilingual roadsigns weren’t instigated by the SNP as part of its dastardly obsession with inculcating seperatism, but by the first Labour/Lib Dem administration in 2003. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act, which set out “the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language”, was passed by the second Labour/Lib Dem government in 2005, and subsequently enthusiastically backed by many of Carlaw’s Tory colleagues….Indeed, Carlaw stood for election on a manifesto in 2011 which said that the Scottish Tories “remain committed to the promotion of the Gaelic language and culture”. The actual total budget for “Gaelic road signs” is not £26m but £2m, and is actually just the budget for roadsigns generally – Gaelic names will only be added when signs are due to be replaced anyway, making the real cost effectively zero. (The same thing previously happened with railway-station signs.) We might not be fans of Gaelic, but we’re a great deal more concerned that honking buffoons prone to parroting idiotic drivel from internet nutcases should somehow have found themselves in senior positions in the Scottish Parliament.

  19. Brian MacLeod says:

    I pity those folk who have difficulty with our bilingual road signs.

    God help them if they ever travel abroad. 🙂

    1. Best not to. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere, you know, ‘different’.

      1. Iain Ross says:

        Yeh I know. What are all those Johnny Foreigners playing at? Don’t they realise they are are just being parochial and insular. They should face up to the fact that their languages (and culture) are worthless, historical relics and they should all be packed away and forgotten. Progress you know. Indeed the last time I was “in Europe” they could all speak English anyway.

        That’s sarcasm by the way, just in case I need to point that out ………………….

        mar sin leibh an dràsda

        1. Lawrie says:

          Im now living in a place where the foodstuffs labels in the coop are in 3 languages, including the suggested recipes, i always wondered what road sign phobia people would make of it. Here no one ever mentions labelling as a topic, though something which is often commented on is the inability of english speaking monoglots to learn the basics of the local language, even after they have been living here for 10+ years.

  20. Broadbield says:

    All this sound and fury on so many topics but very few solutions. We cannot stop Cameron, Osborne & Co, we cannot control the obscenities of our “free” press, we can do little about the BBC, we cannot have another referendum for the foreseeable future as the result is likely to be the same.

    1. John Page says:

      Sorry you feel like this………we will be independent by 2022 and my declining years will be partly enriched by the birth of a better nation free of the Osbornes etc. and seeking to play an honourable part in a troubled world facing profound climate change, resource shortages and inequality

      John Page

      1. Broadbield says:

        Cheers, John, I hope you are right.

  21. Douglas says:

    Good stuff Mike, and of course, in stark contrast to the blessed Rev and Wings Over Scotland, a demagogue, a self-publicist and self-promoter who ought to have been outed as a liability to the independence movement the day he referenced Miliband’s Jewish origins in the run up to 18S…

    …I think he lives in England? Good. He should stay there….

    1. Broadbield says:

      Oh dear, just the sort of rant to turn people off and upset a lot of folk who have fought hard the past few years, and have gained much sustenance from the website. In my humble opinion, Wings Editorials are a breath of fresh air tackling head-on the lies, smears, innuendos and assorted bile emanating from the MSM, Unionist supporters, Better Together propaganda and fellow-travellers. The articles are usually meticulously researched, provide irrefutable evidence which can be cross-checked (something other sites could emulate) and argue cogently.

      I cannot understand why some supposed indy supporters get satisfaction from insulting and undermining other indy sites.

      One other thing, to win the next indyref we will have to convince a lot of the No voters to come on board, but we are not going to do that by using juvenile sarcasm, smart-alec gratuitous insults and by appearing to be superciliously superior.

      1. Douglas says:

        The Reverend’s piece of Gaelic bashing, worthy of the Daily Mail, is written to provoke, to kick up a fuss and a polemic. He says so himself at the top of his article….

        …but what can we expect from a man of the cloth, a stakeholder in God Inc? The church, after all, was deeply complicit in the Highland Clearances, more often than not providing ideological cover for the forced eviction of the Gael…the church, as an institution, has always been on the side of Power.

        So, no surprise, really that somebody come to spread the Word – somebody in the modest business of saving our souls no less – is also Gaelophobe…. no surprise at all….

        …of course, every decent preacher has his flock, and the Rev when he is on song is a great preacher, make no mistake….but a preacher, eh?

        1. Màiri Mhòr says:

          I think he’s a gaming journalist, the ‘Rev’ stuff is just shite patter.

      2. seon says:

        I don’t deny the Rev’s contribution to the pro-indy cause. If it’s true however that he saw Miliband’s Jewish family as worthy of comment then he should be disowned. I haven’t seen it but if true it makes him a bigger loose cannon than Carlaw, Ian Smart and McTernan put together.

        His Gaelic comments were a disgrace albeit rolled into a nasty cop/ nice cop routine. Gaels who support indy are not ‘blood and soil’ Nazis. It isn’t obsolete – obviously. We don’t live in the past – many older Gaels – 50 years plus maybe – will have been punished for speaking it. And, if a Gael uses the language or wishes to then it is patently ‘useful’. Seems like Gael’s are abused for speaking it and then derided for not speaking it.

        He apparently has other form for derogatory, supposedly so, comments on transgender people and women. If true, then he is quickly becoming an embarrassment.

        All in all, it’s been a carcrash of a week for Rev Stu. Is he the new Dugdale?

      3. Disagreeing is ok. It’s healthy. It’s not ‘insulting’.

    2. James Coleman says:

      One simple statement negates your ridiculous rant. Without Wings throughout the Indy Campaign YES would never have been near to 45%. Yes he sometimes errs in his judgement but his work is always well researched.

        1. James Coleman says:

          Unbecoming from someone who wants to be taken seriously.

  22. seon says:

    The more of us learning and using Scottish/Gaelic, the better. Here’s a good place to start whether you have none or a little:
    http://learngaelic.net/

    The BBC rightly takes some stick but BBC Alba is pretty good. Made in Scotland for Scots, wherever they came from originally!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/alba/

  23. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    A central argument for having Gaelic placename signs throughout Scotland is simply that most placenames ARE essentially Gaelic but look like gibberish because they are written using English spelling. By and large, a Gaelic sign is wonderfully enlightening, because the meaning of the placename is suddenly revealed. This is most true on the Scottish mainland. It is ironic that the area where most Gaelic signage is in evidence (the Western Isles and adjacent seaboard) has a predominantly Norse substratum of names.

    To see how pervasive the Gaelic placenames “achadh” (“field”), and “baile” (“village/town”) are throughout Scotland, please scroll down to maps 4 & 5 on the following webpage:
    http://www.dsl.ac.uk/about-scots/history-of-scots/origins/

    For a powerful piece of writing chronicling parallel historical map-anglicisation in Ireland, I much recommend purchasing the text of Brian Friel’s play “Translations”.

    As for bilingual roadsigns in Scotland, the struggle for and the safety thereof, here is a relevant open letter from back in March 2009. In retrospect I am less sure of the unfortunate recipient’s personal culpability – and yes I do acknowledge that it is all a tad over-written. However, I still consider the substantive issues worth getting het up about (and that despite the identity-phobic economic reductionism of our current crop of independistas):

    Dear Stewart Stevenson,

    I was intending working on some poetry this evening, but it will have to wait. I have just read of your imminent decision to delay (at best, for years, at worst, for ever?) bilingual Gaelic-English signage on the A9 and on other Scottish roads. This pending yet another bureaucratic report, such as have for fifty years been strangling Gaelic, scrolling like an interminable premature obituary determined to fulfill itself. And you are about to add yet another wretched chapter. You are about to lift the still-warm fallen quill to continue writing one of the longest death-warrants in history (does your hand not sense the approving touch of such a lineage of imperial forebears?) I am astounded, outraged, sickened. How can I begin to convey to you some practical implications? Let me try…

    I have a rock-solid lifelong commitment to Scottish independence (I am now 60 years old). I have never voted other than SNP. I have canvassed a number of times for the SNP. As has my brother. As did our late father (in fact I am not sure it wasn’t he who signed up Alex Salmond, but maybe that’s just a family myth…) However, I also have a lifelong commitment to Gaelic. If it came down to it, I would have to choose a Gaelic-proficient Scotland within the UK, to a Gaelic-deficient Scotland outwith the UK. Why? Because for me the “republic of the mind” is the prerequisite of all else. Independence begins in thought. And nothing defines thought more than language (when did you last read your Orwell?) Some of us have begun to appreciate that Gaelic can enable a dimension of “Scottish” independence (indeed of “human” independence) on a profoundly existential level, whatever the regime in Edinburgh.

    Whether by intent, by fright, or by benightedness, you seem about to torpedo whatever incredibly hard-won if modest progress Gaelic signage has made over decades. Decades sullied with often cynically launched (and even more often cynically ignored) reports. So I must tell you with the coldest of clarity, Mr Stevenson, that should you employ this discredited timeworn tactic, I will not again vote SNP until your insufferable decision be reversed. I will also exert such influence as I can to convince others to join me. Indeed, I am making a move on this forthwith by copying this letter to an online Gaelic forum and to a number of your own colleagues. I will duly post it on my (high-hit) website. Can you hear the scunner in my tone, Mr Stevenson? I do hope you can, because it is on the point of entering my bones. And you can be very sure that I am not alone in this. In a sense it is not I who speak to you, but generations of high-minded, honest citizens who have struggled within the law to get their own place-names signed in their own language. Some societies would consider that an elementary right.

    A report on the safety-implications of bilingual signage? How about lifting the phone and talking to someone in the Welsh Assembly? You could have your answer within the hour. Confirm the matter with an email to Ottawa. Maybe even remind yourself of that old “Scotland in Europe” mantra, and check out Brussels. Then let your fingers do the walking in the yellow pages and find a half-decent graphic designer who can lay out a bilingual sign in a manner which doesn’t confuse anyone. As an art-teacher, I don’t consider that to be an immense challenge.

    You must surely realize that you are playing into the hands of every petty-minded, mischievous, letter-page-befouling, anti-Gaelic bigot out there. These are such as will cheer your decision, sir. Perhaps as you lie abed at night, ere you sleep, you will hear soughing on the wind their distant voices, lauding your name. Perhaps as you drive down your Gaelic-free A9 they will honk their horns and flash their lights in exuberant recognition, shouting to their children “That’s Stewart Stevenson, kids! Can you believe it? Those obnoxious Gaels were within a whisker of getting signs on this road, but thanks to him, we are safe!”
    Yours sincerely,

  24. K.A.Mylchreest says:

    IMO the Scottish roadsigns are some of the clearest bilingual signs I’ve seen, the colour coding being the key to easily picking out the version you need. They are far superior to those in Wales and Ireland. Something to be proud of I’d say?

  25. Kendo says:

    Somewhat ironic that Mount McKinley is losing its ‘Gaelic’ name and regaining its North American name!

    Wings over Scotland is quite right with its debunking of the alleged £26m spent on Gaelic road signs’ nonsense – just a great pity he kicked off the article by sticking the boot into Gaelic with the usual ignorant cliches.

    Virtually every poster disagrees with him on his opening 3 paragraphs. He’s not capable of ever admitting he might be wrong though. Totally belligerent. Plummeted in my estimation and likely all Gaels and their descendants and supporters, of which probably 90% support independence. Great job.

  26. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    I wrote above: “most placenames throughout Scotland ARE essentially Gaelic. They look like gibberish because they are written using English spelling. By and large, a Gaelic sign is wonderfully enlightening, because the meaning of the placename is suddenly revealed.”

    It occurs to me that forms a powerful metaphor for where Scotland is at in terms of self-obfuscation/ self-discovery. I am fond of quoting the remark by François Mitterand: “Un peuple qui perd ses mots n’est plus entendu de personne” (“A people which loses its words is no longer understood by anybody”. With the insightful rejoinder by journalist Philipe de Saint Robert: “Et par malheur ne s’entend plus lui-même” (And unhappily no longer understands itself”).

    For Bella Caledonia readers who can follow spoken Irish I draw attention to an excellent lecture on Youtube (from three months ago), with top-ranking speakers Aindrias Ó Cáthasaigh and Alan Titley: “Idir dhá chultúr: Impiriúlachas, Éirí Amach agus Teanga sa tréimhse réabhlóideach 1914-18”
    http://youtu.be/QDQ2bQC4YOM

    And for an English-subtitled discussion of the interface between language and leftwing politics, here is a good (Vimeo) interview with Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh:

  27. Ray Bell says:

    Latin everywhere on Scottish buildings, even ancient Greek on Edinburgh Academy, St A’s uni etc. How many people complain.

    Gaelic isn’t even available as a subject in 93% of Edinburgh schools. So much for ramming it down folks’ throats. (That figure doesn’t even include the private schools a quarter of local children attend. AFAIK none of the private schools teach it.)

    1. Kendo says:

      Two very good points Ray Bell.

  28. Wul says:

    I used to be relaxed about the idea of Gaelic dying out, until I read enough to understand that it had been deliberately smothered by the authorities. Children in Highland schools forced to stand in the corner or being belted for accidentally uttering the language of their own home. From that moment on, I wanted it to live.
    When you read translations of Gaelic poetry or song into English, you can see that there is a different way of seeing people and places being uncovered. To me, that is very, very precious and the culture of the whole UK should be diminished by its loss.
    Why would any sane person make demands to live in a smaller, less interesting, less varied world?

  29. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    A usefully portable and concise publication is “Place-names of Scotland” by Iain Taylor (Birlinn, 2011, paperback £7.99). The book is essentially an alphabetical list of 7,000 placenames, giving Gaelic derivations and English translations.

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