A new book The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community paints a very bleak picture of the state of Gaelic in its heartlands. Researchers found, “social use of Gaelic at the ‘point of collapse’ with around 11,000 vernacular speakers found largely among the over 50s with very low levels of the language now spoken in the home”. There is a wider implication, the report itself says. “The on-going rapid contraction of Gaelic-speaking in the islands evidenced in this report provides an opportunity to reappraise how official language policy corresponds to the realities of minority-language endangerment in Scotland and elsewhere”. The report does not jouk the political aspects either, “When we consider that the dominant culture had previously the capacity to bilingualise the dominated culture and to naturalise or depoliticise the process of language shift in the minority, the ethnopolitical and organisational challenges are immense. These challenges are even greater, given the unsuitability of current provision, the weakness of civic engagement and indifferent or only mildly-supportive public attitudes towards the role of Gaelic in Scottish society” Three options are explored; do nothing, enforce the mechanisms of the 2005 Gaelic Language Act and “Address the crisis through a radical new departure of encouraging, supporting and resourcing a community-development approach among those best placed to address the issue — the remaining vernacular group”.
A NEW campaign has been launched demanding official recognition for the Scots Language. Oor Vyce brings together entertainers, writers, academics and political campaigners who want the Scottish Parliament to pass a law similar to the 2005 Gaelic Language Act to promote Scots. They also want an official body, similar to Bord na Gaidhlig, to raise the status and profile of Scots. The campaign had its “soft launch” on social media yesterday, ahead of the main launch after lockdown is lifted.
NOTE Interesting that the Morning Star, the English left-wing paper that marched shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories and British nationalist fascists to oppose Scottish independence in 2014, chose to cover this campaign.
Reflectin on the effecks o the Covid an lockdoon, writer Thomas Clark minds us that, “Onything that threitens oor mithers an grandmithers threitens oor entire language … the lívin dictionars o oor leid ar no tae be fund on oor shelfs but in oor care hames, oor miners clubs, oor boolin greens. These deiths ar mair than juist personal tragedies — they’r naitional yins, losses no juist tae oor freends an oor faimilies an oor communities, but tae awthing we ever were or micht hae been”.
But Clark gangs on tae coonter the thocht that, “A language dees no whan we stap uisin it”. Raither, he says, ” it dees whan we stap uisin it tae talk aboot onything that maiters”. He conteena’s wi a braw thochtfu quote,
The existential threit tae Scots haes lang been the salty lap o the English tongue, erodin the grund aneath oor feet, shrinkin oor common launds an, thereby, the wirds we need tae describe them. In the same wey as the Dutch haes dredged new cíties frae their seas, sae haes oor language strauchelt tae reclaim its auld areas o discoorse frae the absentee landlairds o the sooth — politics, morality, the present, the future. An it wis happenin. But noo, at wan straik, Covid-19 haes driven us frae the leas, sent us back tae sílent spaces whaur we need nae mair Scots tae talk aboot oor lives than wad busk the front o a tea-towel. A sma haundfu o wirds — Hoose. Cauld. Fower. Waws.