Méid an Téacs

Grassroots Gaelic

Bealtaine 17, 2013

Crawford Mackie’s letter about research into Gaelic language education (14 May) was redolent of the type of blustering train crash which generally occurs when prejudice comes up against scientific research.
After a scattergun ad hominem attack on the academics involved, Mr Mackie questioned the sample size of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, while indicating that if Bòrd na Gàidhlig had funded its own survey it would be, in his view, invalid.

It appears he would rather no research was carried out and that opinions, most likely his own, were given free sway. And to the 91 per cent majority of adult respondents who did not give a “satisfactory” answer to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, Mr Mackie can only give a patronising response.

We are told they “will not be considering the cost”, as if Mr Mackie himself was aware of their considerations as they ­responded to the survey. The letter descended from there into further absurdity.

I do have some sympathy with the rage such research must engender in those who would rather eradicate the language, proving as it does, that they too are a minority – in the case of Mr Mackie’s view on Gaelic- medium education, one of only 8 per cent, give or take the margin of error.

Gaelic-medium education is one of the great grassroots ­success stories of Scottish education of recent generations, being led at all times by parents ­demanding that their children too should be afforded the right to a bilingual education.

Mr Mackie may want to homogenise Scotland but I, and it would seem 91 per cent of others, disagree.

Aonghas Mac Leòid
Malloch Street


The debate about whether or not Gaelic should be taught in Scottish schools is becoming somewhat aggressive in tone.

Many of those who are against it argue that Gaelic is a pointless, inward-looking language that is of no use to anyone out there in the real world. It would be more useful, they say, for children to learn languages such as Spanish, French, German and even Chinese.

Some of those who are fighting for Gaelic in schools argue that it is a unique and important feature of Scottish culture and that funding should be preserved so that it can be taught to as many children as possible. Surely the truth and a workable solution are somewhere in between. Nobody reasonable should be arguing that being able to speak Gaelic will help anyone get a well-paid job or to do dazzling trade in other countries, but there is more to life than making money.

There are many skills and experiences that young people can gather which contribute to the richness of their character and society. Whether we are for independence or not, we have good reasons to be proud of our country, and preserving its language is a crucial part of that.

When languages die out, that’s that. They’re gone forever. We can’t let that happen.

Morag Gregory
Kersland Street