Over on Twitter the low oxygen level up yon munros has clearly got to Muriel Gray.
I like Muriel Gray. I bought her books.
Can I refer all involved in the resultant furore to this evidential work.
Back in the very early eighties, following Varsity, I worked as a Field Researcher and Analyst for a very similar and indeed the first National Opinion Survey on Scots Gaelic under the auspices of An Comunn Gaidhealach. I can only say read the research and findings there.
I also found this article to sum up what needs saying.
Am I a native Gaelic speaker? Chan eil.
Do I speak Gaelic? Tha, beagan.
But back to the hyperventilation over at Twitter.
- Many countries have bilingual road signs where there is a significant linguistic rationale for doing so. Off the top of my head I recall Magyar script on Eastern Austrian road/village signs. This pleases me because my family name is Hungarian, although admittedly our lot emigrated back circa early 18th century and well before UKIP!
- Gaelic was, and indeed is, spoken well past (i.e. south) Inbhir Nis agus An Gearasdan for the information of a few so called intelligenti of the SNPout coven.
- My recollection and the stats confirmed that the attitude to Gaelic was surprisingly favourable even in the most unlikely spots such as Kirkcaldy and East Kilbride!
- The comments on Muriel's tweet, and the significant follow up blog by Paul Kavanagh, have now become a political football with #SNPbad and rabid nationalism attributes being flung about in relation to the well intentioned actions to reverse the decline in the language due to the linguistic colonialism of English. This is all the more disappointing as it was George Younger, aye him, Thatcher's Secretary of State for Scotland, that was at the forefront of pushing Gaelic to the forefront as he had a deep affinity to, and what I like described as, the Gaelic Community. (Jen Topping was deceptively close with her assertion that it was The Iron Lady herself that was the promoter of Gaelic back in the early eighties). Language has no direct political hue.
- My forebears on three sides were undoubtedly Gaelic speakers (from Rothes, Strathdon and Scalpay, Harris), the late MiL was a downtrodden native speaker and I have a significant past supporting what I liked to jokingly call the Gaelic mafia. My view was simply that the language, and the cultural strings attached, were being trampled on by the Beurla stampede and some significant positive discrimination was needed.
Finally, the author of our 1981 survey had this to say to the Leveson Enquiry about Gaelic. If you've ever heard Ken speak in depth about Gaelic, his Rayleigh accent knocks you right off your stot! More fun even than that was myself and his loon (nepotism alert!), whilst surveying in Castlebay, entering a local hostelry and abidy hearing our accents (mine is a Heinz 57 mix of mainly Buckinghamshire and a few other RAF airbase twangs coupled with couthy Doric and his; piercing Essex) and the patrons yapping to each other in Gaelic clearly believing we hadn't a scooby what they were saying. Like I say, I speak a little Gaelic, but wasn't letting on. My cohort, however, despite the foregoing is fluent. He timed the reveal to perfection. Oh and we both have a particularly appropriate first name for that particular island. Mine is the standard English spelling. Unsurprisingly, Ken's loon is the Gaelic version. The jungle drums went feel thereafter........
UPDATE: Auntie and the PnJ have now had their say too.
BTW - Trident renewal is an anachronistic and abhorrent aberration.
Feel free to spread the joy by joining the SNP today.
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