This is a response in relation to an article by Toby McDonald, Why don’t our Gaelic speakers speak Gaelic?, which appeared in the Scottish Mail on Sunday on the 27th of May. We publish this in both Gaelic and English for you.

As a group of Gaelic speakers involved in the daily battle that is using and promoting the language we were disappointed to read petty and ill-informed slights at a sadly very necessary project to highlight the key difficulties encountered by Gaelic speakers (Why don’t our Gaelic Speakers speak Gaelic?, Toby McDonald, The Scottish Mail on Sunday 27/05/18). As we are only too aware of the ever present and overbearing promotion of the English language, it’s strange how much fulminating is done over miniscule amounts of support now afforded to our indigenous language, support which pales in comparison to the vast resources spent in trying to eradicate it over the centuries and that is far from sufficient to redress that historic injustice.

Taxpayers don’t get to decide where money is spent, the budgetary pressures faced by councils don’t explain why Gaelic is always the target, to blame for all society’s ills. When was the last time Councillor Deirdre MacKay or James Price of the self-proclaimed “Tax Payer’s Alliance”went to the Opera, the Ballet, the Football or visited any of the National Galleries, Libraries or Museums? Do they have children in state schools and use the NHS or go private, do they drive or use public transport? Any number of other sectors exist which are subsidised by tax revenue and which we all either use or not could be targeted. Why is Gaelic the go-to totem, the obliteration of which would fix the potholes and reopen the play parks?

The unfortunate and poorly informed remarks from Deirdre NicAoidh, appropriately a councillor for Dùthaich MhicAoidh, a place where the current lack of Gaelic speakers needs no explanation, the infamous Sutherland Clearances forcibly dispensing with them, and James Price (of everything value of nothing?) only serve to highlight the difficulty faced by Gaelic speakers, who far too regularly encounter this type of hostility from their monoglot peers and ridicule in the press. This victimisation of speakers of the language makes the choice to use it a political act of defiance. When it should be no more than a natural and normal thing to speak your own language, Gael’s are faced with the pressure to conform, a concern they will be seen as rude for possessing and using a second language, punished for others’ lack of that ability.

We will do our utmost to embolden Gaels to use their language with pride and confidence, as is so evidently done by Welsh speakers, and to disregard the sneering hostility of some. For too long Gaelic speakers in Scotland have been overly accommodating and apologetic for speaking their native tongue, switching to English as soon as a non-Gaelic speaker enters the room, pointlessly transliterating Gaelic place names into meaningless English equivalents and relegating our language to second place or optional status on signs, at events and in publication across Gaeldom’s heartlands. Enough is enough.

If we are serious about reversing the oppression of our language bold and creative steps need to be taken. The Scottish Government, Highland, Argyle & Bute and Western Isles Councils must all reappraise their contribution to Gaelic’s vitality, accessibility and usability. If this is done perhaps Bòrd na Gàidhlig wouldn’t need to be commissioning studies into the language’s use, that should be a given for those with the ability. We hope the outcome of this study lays bare the constant pressure to speak and use English and serves as a wakeup call to politicians that primary schooling alone is not going to reverse the deliberate decimation of the language.

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Mar bhuidhean de luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig a tha an sàs anns an strì làitheil an lùib a bhith ga cleachdadh is ga brosnachadh, abair gur e briseadh-dùil a bh’ ann dhuinn dìmeas aineolach a leughadh air pròiseact deatamach gus cuid de na duilgheadasan ro luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig a shoillearachadh (Why don’t our Gaelic Speakers speak Gaelic?, Toby McDonald, The Scottish Mail on Sunday 27/05/18). Tha sinne ro eòlach air àrdachadh smachdail na Beurla a bhrùthas oirnn gu cunbhalach, ‘s neònach dhuinn an t-uabhas de ghearan air glè bheag de thaic a-nist air a thabhainn chun a’ chànain dùthchasail againn, cuideachas nach ionnan idir ris an uabhas de dh’airgead a chaidh a chosg a’ feuchainn ri a freumhan a spìonadh thar nan linn agus nach eil idir gu leòr gus am mì-cheartas eachdraidheil sin a shàsachadh.

Cha roghainnich pàighearan-cìse càit a choisgeas sinn airgead, cha mhinich impidhean buidseadaich, a tha gun teagamh ro Chomhairlean, mar a thèid a’ chòir an-còmhnaidh a chur air a’ Ghàidhlig airson gach rud ceàrr. Cuin a chaidh an Comh. Deirdre NicAoidh no Seumas Prìs bho, mas fhìor, “Caidreachas nam Pàighearan-cìse”, mu dheireadh dhan Opara, a’ Bhallet, am Ball-coise no a thadhal iad air gin de na Taighean-tasgaidh, Leabharlannan no Gailearaidhean Nàiseanta? A bheil clann aca anns na sgoiltean is an cleachd iad an t-SNS no an tèid iad ‘prìobhaideach’ mar a chanas iad, am bidh iad a’ draibheadh no an cleachd iad còmhdhail phoblach? Tha iomadh earrann ann a gheibh taic-airgid bho chìsean phoblach a chleachdas sinn no nach chleachd sinn air am faodadh tu a’ chòir a chur. Carson a tha Gàidhlig an-còmhnaidh na bun-roghainn, is nan sgriosadh tu i bhiodh na poit-thuill air an càradh is na raointean-cluiche air am fosgladh as ùr?

Cha dèan na beachdan mì-shealbhach is aineolach aig Deirdre NicAoidh, comhairliche freagrach do Dhùthaich MhicAoidh, sgìre far nach fheumar an gainnead de luchd-labhairt a mhìneachadh, is Fuadaichean Olc nan Gàidheal a bhrùth a-mach iad le làmh làidir, agus aig Seumas Prìs (air gach rud luach air dad?) ach na duilgheasan ro luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig a shoillearachadh, ‘s ann fada ro thric a thachras iad leis an t-seòrsa seo de nàimhdeas bho co-aoisean is magadh bho na pàipearan-naidheachd. ‘S e an droch-dhìol den leithid seo a nì an roghainn Gàidhlig a chleachdadh na gnìomh poileataigeach. Nuair nach bu chòir a bhith ann ach rud nàdurra àbhaisteach an cànan agad fhèin a bhruidhinn, ‘s iad na Gàidheil a tha fo impidh a bhith a’ dol leis an t-struth, a bhith mothachail air daoine a chanadh gur e mì-mhodh dàrna cànan a bhith agad, air peanasachadh air sàilleibh neo-chomas daoine eile.

Nì sinne ar dìcheall na Gàidheil a dhaingneachadh an cànan a chleachdadh le pròis is misneachd, mar ‘s lèir a nithear le luchd-labhairt na Cuimrise, agus gus dearmad a dhèanamh air an nàimhdeas fachainnteach aig cuid. Fada ro fhada tha na Gàidheil an Alba air a bhith ro gharach agus leisgeulach airson an cànan dùthchasach aca a bhruidhinn, ag atharrachadh chun na Beurla cho luath ‘s a thig cuideigin a-steach aig nach eil a’ Ghàidhlig, gun fheum a’ litreachadh ainmean-àite anns a’ Bheurla gun chiall agus a’ fògradh ar cànan dhan dàrna àite no fiù ‘s na tagh roghainneil air soidhnichean, aig tachartasan agus ann am foillseachaidhean air feadh na Gàidhealtachd. Foghnaidh na dh’fhoghnas.

Mas ann da-rìribh a tha sinn mun ath-ghluasad fòirneirt a dh’fhulaing ar cànan ‘s iad ceumannan dàna is cruthachail a tha a dhìth. Feumar Riaghaltas na h-Alba, na Comhairlean Gàidhealtachd, Earra-Ghàidheal ‘s Bhòid agus nan Eilean Siar an tabhartas do bheòthalachd, sho-ruigsinneachd is chleachdadh a dh’ath-bheachdachadh. Ma nithear sin ‘s mathaid nach biodh aig Bòrd na Gàidhlig sgrùdaidhean a bheir sùil air cleachdadh a’ chànain a chur air dòigh, bu chòir gum bi sinn an dùil ri cleachdadh bho dhaoine aig a bheil i. Tha sinne an dòchas gun seall toraidhean an sgrùdaidh seo am brùthadh cunbhalach air luchd-labhairt na Gàidhlig Beurla a bhruidhinn agus gun dùisg e luchd-poileataigs gu bhith mothachail nach dèan bun-sgoiltean a-mhàin ath-ghluasad cànain a chaidh a sgriosadh an aona-ghnothaich.