Responding Creatively to The Gaelic Crisis

Like many Gaelic speakers, this week I was left reeling with the title of the new book by Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and aghast at the spin put on it by the mainstream print and online media. The news even travelled so far as CNN. When have they shown any interest whatsoever in our minoritised community? Perhaps now the world is prepared to listen to Gaeldom. It is certainly watching.

For those of us on the inside, this has severe implications, as Ó Giollagáin’s article for the Herald spells out. But for the majority of this minority, this isn’t new news.  Misneachd’s radical plan detailed much of this is no uncertain terms already. A recent PhD thesis by Dr Joni Buchanan built on previous studies, such as the Bòrd na Gàidhlig-commissioned Soillse Siabost report, so we know the Bòrd know already.

The hope is that, finally, knowledge will be power. For many Hebridean Gaels, I understand this represents a long-hoped-for opportunity. It is perhaps the most extensive analysis to date, which, in the right hands, might compel and propel the rightful demands of Gaelic speakers in the region, seeking much needed redress for the dearth of provision and status offered by the regrettably weak Gaelic Language Act. In short, the study will be leverage and the first sign of its power is its ability to shock. It’s second will be in whether it is sufficient to make those that hold the reigns face facts. But it will be a bitter pill to swallow, not least for those who are tasked with drawing together an action plan. To this end, we the people now expect that community representatives and groups and academics will converge with ministers, Comhairle nan Eileanan Siar, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Gaelic-interest groups involved in community and language development in the region.

There is going to be a lot to digest and a lot to debate, but if we’re going to properly address the reasons why Gaelic development has had certain successes, but other failures, it will be pertinent to address the fact that the current infrastructure of organisations has, for years, been a merry-go-round for grey-haired straight men from the same background. Whilst steps have been made to be more inclusive of women, BAME and LGBTQ people, the same individuals have held held sway for a very long time. But it’s those from other minoritised communities who bring expertise and best practice to the movement. And whilst commitment to the cause must be acknowledged, reports suggest to me, in part, that we need to look keenly at efficacy. Whether the reversal of language shift, which is the ultimate aim of these paid roles, should become part of their appraisal, going forward. Interestingly, the majority of Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s former ceannards have been pretty silent on this new book.

With Gaeldom, it’s about concentric circles emanating from the Western and Inner Isles. In urban centres with Gaelic-speaking populations, despite not being the focus of this study, Ó Giollagáin’s volume has served to catalyse debate around Gaelic in general. But it has also trained our focus back on the Western Isles and this was not before time. It is absolutely imperative that we now understand Gaelic within a range of issues, which include and are not limited to land ownership, housing, local industry, social services, tourism and – for me, the most important of all these – young people, their needs and hopes for the future. Gaelic is not adjunct to all this. It is the seam that runs through it all and the basis for any debate around regeneration, must now be built on this. Gaelic is the foundation stone of the Western Isles. Gabh rithe.

We can’t deny that we’ve seen this debate around the publication extend even beyond the speech community, too, before the vast majority have even had chance to pick up a copy of the book. Here, and only here, the question remains, as ever, however, if the most vociferous of Gaeldom’s detractors will get past the paragraph, if they care to read? Perhaps it isn’t meant for them, anyway. But in many ways the explosive title and key beats, delivered without any of the nuance the analysis is hoped to contain, appears, to some, to have finally given convenient academic credence to the anti-Gaelic tropes that the maintream media have been peddling, in one form or another, for far too long. It was particularly reckless of Ó Giollagáin to cosy up to the xenophobic hacks who have no problem in stoking up prejudice against the subjects of his study. When has the Daily Mail ever demonstrate magnanimity to the Gael?

Indeed, the professors burgeoning media profile now serves to put their favourite ‘death narrative’ into further currency, something which has been evidenced on having direct, negative impact on speakers’ language use. It’s also a narrative which hampers Gaelic camapaigners and organisations’ fight for recognition and enhanced provision, facing the naysayers at the top. “Why should we fund something that’s dying?” they will say. Let me reiterate, it is time to play a different tune.

The dregs of social media responded in kind, the same articles resurrected from the annals, the same abuse framed as opinion, often targeted pointedly at individual speakers once again. To refute is to stoke, and many are once-bitten-twice-shy. Instead, the positive affirmations flourished. #DèAntAinmAThOrt went live as an #IsMiseGàidhlig reboot. We surfed on the crest of a wave, with online engagement grown in the last twelve months, thanks to Duolingo. Now the Gaelic-learning community outnumbers the Gaelic-speaking community, though how many will attain the holy grail is yet to be revealed. We’re thankful, though, to hear their positive, affirming, life-changing experiences in harmony with our own. Admiration and commonalities of experience were shared and Gaeldom once again showed it’s glowing heart, beating with creativity and generosity.

I was relieved at this. With so much media scrutiny on the young people who had been respondents to the study, it was extremely important that this nation-wide online groundwell might be visible to them via one of their primary means of communication. I listened to the soundbites from BBC Alba and Radio nan Gàidheal and gulped. For many, this will be their first engagement with academic research into their language and culture – something which will likely go on to be an intermittent feature of their lives to come. So where was the duty of care here from our media outlets?

Young people, who have opened up about their lives, now find those lives held up as emblematic of language death. I thought of young Gaelic-speakers under twenty-five that I know, some from the region, others not, but all so committed and enthusiastic and keen to contribute a diverse skillset and unique range of talents to the Gaelic linguistic and cultural landscape. To bring these forth for the future of their language.

If you’re a young person reading, my first question for you is “dè ur cor?” I listened and wondered if you might be sitting there wondering if all you do was enough. Maybe even if your lives are enough. Because, of course, behind each digit in the demographics is a face. We’ll, I want you to know someone was thinking about you and is willing to stick up for you:

Is leòr sibh, tha sibh sgoinneil. Tha gach rud a tha sibh a’ dèanamh ceart. Tha tuilleadh is aon dòigh Gàidhlig a chleachdadh. ’S e tha a dhìth dìreach beagan den leithid a bharrachd, is dòcha, mas urrainn, agus – an rud as cudromaiche – gun lean sibh oirbh. Cha sibhse bàs a’ chànain ach a dhòchas. Tha fios againn gur dleastanas mòr a tha seo, ach bha sinne ann roimhe.

For many Gaelic raconteurs, all this has delivered a mildly inconvenient chink in the armour, however. The upshot – and it is an extremely painful one to countenance – is that the good news story that is our heartland, is a little tarnished. This is where I wish, and I have said this to him personally, that Ó Giollagáin had taken a leaf out of Gaeldom’s creatives’ books, looked to a bit of PR, and set the academic on the hard-sell aside, before going into the bear pit. Because crises can be averted and Gaeldom’s commitment to doing so could have been communicated alongisde the other albeit necessary messages.

It is inaccurate and unfair to suppose that you, na Gàidheil Òga, there and the wider-we are prepared to succumb to the prophecy. And it cannot be overstated, that this is what it is. It may be evidenced by contemporary trends, read between lines of data, but the conclusions are only hypotheses. So the crisis bit may be accurate, but the death bit is not a foregone conclusion, by any stretch of the imagination. The cautionary tale for Ó Giollagáin from a fellow writer is as follows: don’t lie down with dogs, if you aren’t prepared to play a role in getting rid of the subsequent fleas, and sweeten bitter tea with a bit of honey. This will certainly make it palatable and easy to digest. We are still waiting for a statement condemning the bile and in the press and online that this has catalysed. Dall oirbh!

We categorically do not have to take any more nonsense from anti-Gaelic commentators. This is xenophobia. So many young people came out for Black Lives Matter and Pride, despite the lockdown, often having the gumption to stand up against inequalities for others in our communities. It’s time to look closely at these movements and select aspects of their models which work for us. The Bracadale Report suggested we might be protected by current equalities legislation, so whilst we enter into consultation surrounding this legislation and more, concerning Hate Crime. We must stand our ground on this. Chan eil e ceart agus chan fheumar bhith cleachdte ris.

This week,I’m one of many who has been self-examining, flicking through the mind’s diary. Whatever I’m told, I know these are, rich, valid experiences, worthy of respect from the non-Gaelic speaking majority. I did not benefit from a childhood at the Mòd, Gaelic-learner education in school or Gaelic-medium education, which my Scottish peers and subsequent generations have benefitted from. This is even more richness for young people, who are using Gaelic, whatever the study says. It is undeniable that opportunities have multiplied.

This is all part of digesting the revelations, but it has also catalysed retropection. Ó Giollagáin’s opus serves to make me re-examine that – dare I say it? – complacency.

Maybe young people – and others, I’m still young in someone’s esteem –  haven’t, or aren’t speaking it enough, or enough for the academics, who, like us, are hugely invested and just want the same result as the rest of us. Fine, I’ll fess up, I’m writing this in English. In Gaelic, let’s start asking those questions and badgering the ceannardan and cathraicheam and writing to ministers.

It’s here that, perhaps, the bar is set in a place that’s completely removed from contemporary youth experience. From working in schools, it makes me think this is the case and, if so, what are those who have the power doing to engage with our young people in helping them to refresh their own zeal for Gaelic development?

When we read this book together, lets ask about social media, if singing in the language scores less points than speaking it? How many completely natural codeswitches are admissable for an utterance to be purely Gaelic? The Corona-crisis has seen our young people come to the fore, with local Mòds moving online, sessions and sing-alongs recorded, curated and shared across borders. Young people have studied their Gaelic-medium and Gaelic-learner curriculum at home, many without Gaelic-speaking parents to support them. They have missed their exams, their proms, their graduations, but still looked to the future, applying for an ever-growing range of further education and career-entry opportunities across the islands, Highlands and urban centres.

This is your Gaelic life-world, a Ghàidheala Òga, so you need to ask what’s being done to bridge the gap between contemporary youth culture and the language. It looks pretty trendy to me in the mouths of the young, despite the myopic press being convinced it is ancient and cloaked in mist.

Let’s start reinvisaging that as a smoke machine. When we’re set free, we’ll have a cèilidh and then we can sit down with you and ask you what you need to facilitate you speaking your language. My opinion is if we’re going to expect our young people to do carry the burden of taking this language into the end of the twenty-first century and beyond, academics, policy-makers and minsters need to have a crystal-clear picture of what young people want for the language and what you need to make it happen. So I’m listening and, if Ó Giollagáin is reading this too, I’ll do my bit to make sure he and those that listen to him, will be listening too. This is a new day for Gaelic. What you have to say is important.

Seo mo ghealladh Gàidhlig, dè tha agaibhse?

Comments (33)

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  1. Floradh Laura Chamshron-Leòdhais says:

    Well said and beautifully written. As in Joni Buchanan’s research, there needs to be more policy focus an action taken to make it possible for young people to stay living in the Gàidhealtachd and for new Gaels, new speakers to come in and be a part of that… children being brought up in Gàidhlig. With investment in affordable housing, decentralising jobs to very ‘remote’ areas (GOOD jobs, some of the public sector jobs, not just seasonal work such as holiday cottage changeovers) and a massive part of that is creating new crofts (revitalising the purpose of crofting), who doesn’t want their own space to grow a life in? It would be absolutely transformative. Otherwise the Gàidhealtachd is going to turn into a holiday and retirement campus. Young speakers, new speakers, old speakers all speaking together and teaching each other – and it being the default community language, it’s not rude to talk in Gàidhlig in the presence of English monoglots, and is encouraging to would-be speakers here. The hardest thing is getting past the sticky point as a learner where you understand what’s going on but find it hard to string a conversation together, and that can only be surpassed if you talk, talk, talk. Living in the Hebrides and being a Gàidhlig speaker, it’s the centre of the universe to me and it’s very important that it is supported to flourish.

  2. Allan Dòmhnallach says:

    You say that its important to listen to young people. Everyone is in agreement with that. It is stating the obvious. But then – in your final words you say you will be addressing any thoughts to the author: “if Ó Giollagáin is reading this too,” and “those that listen to him'”

    No mention of anyone else that you’re going to be speaking to.

    Surely you should have put it there that you’ll speak to those who actually influence young people? You seem overly interested in this author.

    The government, with their funding; Bord na Gaidhlig; local authorities; the BBC; theatres; sports assocations; gaming companies; film production companies – these are some people who you should say you will be directing your comments too.

    Also young people don’t need to go through a mediator (if you are suggesting you are some kind of spokesperson?): we have a direct line through Insta and the rest! We would like to know what age you are before you become a spokesperson for teens. It is hard to discern from your photo.

    1. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

      I think there’s some wilful misunderstanding here, which seeks to have a pop at an ally as opposed to the ones that need to be addressed. You’ve had to put words in my mouth, as you can’t directly quote the part where I set myself us as a spokesperson for young people. My age isn’t actually that important, as the ethos of the piece, which you surely can’t have failed to notice, is about supporting young people and strengthening the channels with which they speak to power.

      This is just one way I’ve made my voice heard today and many others have explored their own ways of doing the same. Have you?

      Debate around the ideas here are welcome. Ad hominem, less so.

  3. Mags says:

    Tha mi sgìth. I’m so tired of older people telling me I should speak Gaelic.

    1. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

      Tha mi duilich sin a chluinntinn. B’ e adhbhar a’ phìos taic a chumail ribh agus an doras a bhrùthadh fosgailte dhuibh, beagan. Ma tha thu sgìth, is dòcha gur ann a-màireach gum bi de neart agad innse do chuid carson. Tha siud cudromach. Bhiodh e math faighinn a-mach dè chuireadh beagan spionnadh annaibh.

      1. Mags says:

        I can brùth fosgailte my own door, tapadh leat. You don’t need to push it for me.

        1. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

          Dall ort, ma-tà! Cuir do bhonn ri do bhathais!

          1. Mags says:

            Sorry, I’ve just seen this reply. You come across like one of these middle-aged angry white men, which is a shame. Droch chainnt! Chan e rud math tha sin. Tìoraidh.

  4. Iain MacKinnon says:

    Dear Bella, so far we’ve had a couple of Gaelic learners living in Edinburgh commenting on the language crisis in the vernacular community of native speakers in the islands. Neither of them appear to have lived in the islands for any length of time, and clearly cannot speak for them. Is there any chance of including some Hebridean Gaelic speaking voices in the debate, please, and soon so that they can help set the terms and not these voices from outside? There have been some great posts on FB etc that could be developed, and it would be great to get Fiona MacIsaac’s perspective at some point. The voices of these Gaels, young and old, are the ones we need hear from.

    1. Thanks Iain – yes point taken – we’ve got a range of voices lined up as we try and explore the issue and the way forward in a spirit of solidarity, best Mike

      1. Iain MacKinnon says:

        Thanks Mike, I look forward to reading more.

    2. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

      I agree with you. I’d personally be happy to read and share these perspectives. To correct you assumption though, both myself and Charles have lived for short, intermittent periods in the islands, so we’re not completely blind to experience there, though I acknowledge this is different to being born and bred there. Bella Caledonia is an open platform, welcomes everybody. Therefore, to see more Hebridean voices on here, more Hebridean need to write something. I’d be really interested to read your own perspectives.

    3. Mags says:

      Thanks for that Mr Mackinnon. It has encouraged me, especially after that aggressive almost obscene reply earlier from Mr Mac an Tuairneir. Tapadh leat.

    4. Fiona NicÌosaig says:

      Hi Iain, I’m currently putting my own thoughts on the research to paper and I’ll have something written up very soon. I was also on Aithris Na Maidne this morning if you had a chance to catch it?

      1. Iain MacKinnon says:

        Thanks Fiona, I look forward to reading it.

    5. Teàrlach Wilson says:

      I’m sorry you feel this way, Iain. But, I think I was quite clear in my opinion piece that we needed to change the tone of the conversation, stop the negativity, and listen to the community. I have close connections to Gaelic and the islands. I have family from there and I have spent a lot of time there, having also lived there. I am also doing a PhD in Hebridean Gaelic, and therefore talk a lot to speakers about what the issues are. So, your dismissal is unfair and unhelpful.

      Furthermore, I made the effort to reach out to Bella Caledonia because I was sick of the anti Gaelic tropes in the media, and ignoring some serious issues. I do not say what should be done exactly, because, as you say, that’s up to the community. I also only touch on issues because, again, I want the community to lead that conversation. But nobody seemed to be listening to the issues around community or to islanders. My granny, though, has no inclination to contact the press or speak to authorities about her views and needs. So, I can only try to amplify her voice by trying to get people involved. And, I’m sorry if you didn’t see it, but I think I’m quite clear in my class for inclusion and sustainability.

      I’ve dedicated my life to teaching and researching Welsh and Gaelic, and if you care that much about whose voices are being heard, maybe you switch careers?

      1. Iain MacKinnon says:

        My comments were not addressed to you Tearlach, and I am sorry that they caused you personal offence. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the wider observation I made in the comment has not changed much since I wrote it; at this point, out of four contributions on Bella stimulated by the report on the Gaelic crisis in the vernacular community we have had commentary from three Gaelic learners who did not grow up in the Hebrides (and do not, as I understand it, live there currently). Given the focus of the crisis report, if any voices should be privileged in an inclusive debate, it is those of the island native speakers who are the subject of that debate. It’s for Bella’s Gaelic commissioning editor to ensure that this happens.

        Now that the report has been published, I’m also hoping that what seems to be its main argument – that the dominant approach to Gaelic language research and development in Scotland has served to reinforce the marginalisation of an already marginalised vernacular community – will become a focus for discussion.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    From science fiction, we have the most momentous historical conversation on communication with alien cultures. Any progression towards monolinguistic global culture severely jeopardizes future generations’ ability to negotiate peaceful terms. And of course we can talk to the animals (and plants) when we achieve such scientific and linguistic understanding here. My sometime travels through philosophical linguistics suggest that we need extra-linguistic capacity to take on new thought concepts (English, for example, lacks many key terms, possibly in ethical dimensions).

    But on this particular issue, I am left wondering what cultural treasures would be unlocked if I did spend time and effort learning Scottish Gaelic. What new stuff is being created? And, of what quality?

  6. Jane NicLeòid says:

    It might have been a better idea to have read the book before commenting on it. This opinion piece isn’t written from a Vernacular Community perspective but from that of the classic external gaze.

    O’Giollagain and his team have done us a service in undertaking this research on our behalf. No-one who has actually read the findings could disagree. It tallies absolutely with what we have long known empirically in the islands. The model framework that is set out as a starting point for our bigger debate is in keeping with the way our community functions at its best, as it did before development culture and its bureaucratic infastructure landed on us like a colonising spaceship.

    As the book testifies, top-down policy guided by socio-linguistic idealogues (who have never lived among us for any length of time) has done measurable and profound harm and left us caught in liminality. The researchers in the team, who as it happens do live among us and are of us, have gone deep into our communities and they have listened. They have been trusted with the honest truth and they have presented it fairly. I’m sorry if that has burst anyone else’s bubble or come as a surprise.

    For once, it would be nice to be the ones speaking on our own behalf. When we’re all done reviewing the text and reflecting on its implications we’ll have something to say and we will say it for ourselves. It will doubtless be a bit slow and a bit messy because that’s democracy for you, and no doubt some of it will be derided by others but at the end of the day it will be our own voices and our own intersectional concerns that will determine our next steps and how we decide to organise for the future. We don’t need anyone offering themselves up as conduit or mouth-piece especially not those who resort to dismissive and very personally targeted hectoring from afar. As a rooted cultural minority whose language is under threat we need to find our own voice and that will be easier to do if others stop shouting us down.

    For anyone with an ounce of common sense a quick google search would have brought them to this research digest link:

    1. Floradh Laura Chamshron-Leòdhais says:

      You’re absolutely right, Jane. Would you be up for writing something on this? Someone should.
      I read it that Marcus was trying to answer some of the anti-Gaelic criticism that is coming out of this situation and stem against some of the hatred – it’s refreshing to have a range of people standing up against this and you’re right there needs to be a community voice. Given the news cycles responding quickly, surely this is better than nothing at all? I’m sure they’re looking for other views at Bella Caledonia, as Mike says he is. It’s a hard ask to turn around quickly though, as I think it is harder to respond to this from deep within the community context as the issues and the findings are so complex and intertwined, as you say it needs time to digest and respond to.
      I certainly wouldn’t be putting myself forward to do it! Even if I did have a PhD in it and had lived here for generations, I wouldn’t be brave enough to do it, it’s a hard ask to stick your head above the parapet and get pelted with arrows from all angles, especially the anti-Gaelic lobby.

      1. We’d be very open to further contributions. We envisage this as a series of articles responding to and discussing this research in its complexity and to hear from people from different parts of the country. We understand there are different views and analysis and until such time as I have the resources to appoint a Gaelic editor will do my best to listen and to be guided. I’m aware this isn’t an ideal situation.

        1. Peairt gu Hiort says:

          The tone of this article and these comments isn’t exactly conducive to inviting in further comment from people, especially from those voices we don’t hear as much.

    2. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

      Lovely to hear from you Jane, and to see that you are at least consistent in your remarks towards learners and ‘outsiders’. Characteristically, welcome and supportive and of course extending that warm Gaelic welcome to all, as a gatekeeper of the community. Mòran taing.

      Strange characterisation of the article really, in that it clearly acknowledges that the book is yet to be read by most, and critiques its reception in the media and the modus operandi of said individual dealing with the media. Whether you like my opinions or not, you don’t need to be from the Western Isles to comment on that. If you’re glad of COG’s finding, that’s super. I did say in the article that for many in thag region it would be of profound use. To say that ‘no one’ disagrees though is incorrect. Many do, and many across academia will be writing back over the coming months, so do keep an eye out.

      As you’ll see in all the comments here, there has been an active offer extended to you all to write, not just ad hominem in the comments, but full length responses. Notice that published by Pàdruig Moireasdan today. With your PhD, I’m sure you have plenty to say on the matter, which would be a nuanced and inspirational piece of writing, as opposed to attacking an ally in the comments. But I can read what’s going on here, clear as a bell. Native speaker > learner, Hebrides > city and the promotion of a hegemony within our own community which seeks to other and silence those who don’t fit the paradigm.

      Unfortunately for you, I, and everyone else COG’s engagement with the press affects us all, as it stokes up the anti-Gaelic culture in the press and society which we all face. That was the root of the criticism and that alone. Sorry that was not clear to you.

      1. Coire Dubh says:

        That’s the second time you’ve called out ‘ad hominem’ responses to an article chalk full of ad hominem attacks on one of the book’s authors; pot – coire – dubh.

        1. Marcas Mac an Tuairneir says:

          No. The article calls out a specific modus operandi, as evidenced in an individual’s actions. Is there some reason you haven’t put your name to your comments?

  7. Flora says:

    Gaidhlig language should be promoted at all levels and everyone in Scotland should be able to speak it as it is the language of the Picts.
    I myself was born and bread in south Uist. I am a fluent speaker, I can read some and write a little but my spelling lets me down.

  8. Maglocanus says:

    1. Gaelic died as a community language in the Hebrides in the 1970s.
    2. Sociolinguists and policymakers have known this since at least 2010.
    3. Gaelic is not even close to being a political priority in Scotland. Especially now.
    4. Gaelic development is constrained, not just by money, but also by a severe shortage of proficient speakers.
    5. Once Gaelic activists have come to terms with all this, we can maybe start to discuss what are the *possible* futures for Gaelic in Scotland?

    1. Floradh Laura Chamshron-Leòdhais says:

      1. Gaelic is certainly not dead as a community language, I hear it ever day and speak it every day in my community on Lewis.
      2. Can you evidence that? Because whoever thinks that is no specialist and clearly hasn’t looked or asked.
      3. Who are you to decide political priorities? Priorities are decided by those that it affects and for those of us that speak Gaelic and care about Gaelic do prioritise it and there is clear cross party support for it. All the languages of Scotland are important.
      4. As Jane NicLeòid says more eloquently than I could, it is precisely down to the *kind* of development, and some of that is can be effective and much of it is problematic. Money isn’t the answer to everything. Development at a policy level costs nothing, the civil servants are already being paid and an awareness and focus on the people living in our communities costs nothing either.
      5. Who are the ‘we’ that are going to discuss ‘the *possible* futures for Gaelic in Scotland?’ after swallowing whole the blatant falsehoods that you put forward. That’s colonialist thinking – fall in line with a way of thinking that does not reflect reality and do as ‘we’ say. I should think that it is Gaelic speakers that should be able to discuss what they think is needed to support the onward development of their communities. I do think new speakers are part of that, but not people who have no interest in either the language, its community, or in facts themselves.

      The research does not say Gaelic is dead or will be dead in ten years. What it is focusing on is about vernacular usage – majority language usage. I daresay the same is true for Scots, and listening to the issues and routes to resolution would be good learning for other socio-linguistic groups. Loosing speakers is complex, it’s about depopulation and community cohesiveness not simply the numbers of speakers. There will continue to be speakers, the issue is about the factors that affect the strength of the language in the community setting.

      1. Maglocanus says:

        1. There are no longer any communities in the Hebrides where Gaelic is the common language. These are now English-speaking communities where some people also speak Gaelic.
        2. I remember the Siabost research being published in 2010, and have had countless discussions about it with academics and policymakers over the years.
        3. I’m not *deciding* the priorities. I’m simply *describing* what the attitude surveys and focus groups are telling the politicians and civil servants. Very few voters are even mildly linguacentric.
        4. The main thing holding back expansion of GME is not money but teacher recruitment.
        5. The ‘we’ simply refers to all of us with some kind of stake and/or interest in Gaelic language and culture. Gaelic development is being held back by a fundamental lack of realism and focus amongst language activists. The politicians and civil servants in Edinburgh know this, and have been waiting patiently for the last 15 years for saoghal na Gàidhlig to get its act together.

        Gaelic certainly has a future, but not as a ‘community language’ in the strict sense of the term. Let’s focus on what we *can* do with the language, and reconcile ourselves honestly with what has been lost.

  9. Dìreach Duine says:

    Conal Ó Giollagáin has done a Stirling piece of work. By your own admission echoing Misneachd.

    And yet you vaguely but harshly criticise him.

    I would suggest that this sort of self-righteous snobbery – yes snobbery – is actually a hindrance to Gaelic.

    Stop your infighting.

  10. Dìreach duine says:

    Also want to say: why all the *sycophancy* amongst the young gaelic metropolitans for Kate Forbes MSP? If not here then generally. A Gaelic-speaking MSP isn’t automatically a good MSP. Not sure it does much for your self-ascribed radical credentials. Consider for example how she treated the abused hotel workers in Agadh Mòr at the start of Lockdown. Sympathetic tweets – that’s really moving heaven and earth for a finance secretary of the government!

  11. Daithi Mac Carthaigh says:

    When the Western Isles Council was founded with English as its working language, the Scottish (Gaelic) community was undermined. The language of the local government will determine the language of the Isles.
    Teastaíonn misneach.

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