Will the Scottish Gaelic language survive?

The perspective from a language services provider as a response to the recent publication of The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community

Here, prompted by the recent flurry of comments and worry about Gaelic’s recently predicted lack of longevity, are the thoughts of a language services provider, translator and lexicographer.

1. Gaelic should be made compulsory at Primary School level in all of Scotland.

2. Gaelic classes should also continue through at least the first two years of secondary schooling.

3. The home of the Gaelic language is to be seen as the whole of Scotland.

4. The inhabitants of the Western Isles, where the 10-year demise is forecast, are, insofar as they are non-speakers, to commit to Gaelic language courses for at least 1 year.

5. Incomers to the Western Isles, where the 10-year period of decline is forecast, are, insofar as they intend to take up residence there, to commit to the study of Gaelic.

6. The target to be set for Gaelic language learners is, at least initially, to be some degree of familiarity with the language and not complete fluency in the language. The fact that people will want to continue to communicate in two languages is not to be seen as a bad thing but as a positive development.

7. It should be acknowledged that the creation of a learner base is a long-term undertaking and that long-term here means extending over at least two generations.

8. From this learner base there will emerge some who are fluent speakers, some who are able to read the language and some who have a greater or lesser degree of familiarity with the language.

9. It should be acknowledged that the implementation of these provisions cannot be left to voluntary take-up. This is the same basis that applies to the teaching of certain other subjects.

10. General aspirations are to be backed up by totally practical, everyday and inescapable applications.

Peter Terrell

Lexus Ltd

14th July 2020

French performances at Grange Primary in Bo’ness

Part of what we are about here at Lexus is increasing exposure to other languages, opening doors to other forms of self-expression. There was a great example of this the other day at a Lothian primary school.

P5 pupils at Grange Primary in Bo’ness came to watch a performance of our book called Mess on the Floor at their school last month as part of a series of readings and performances organized by bookshop owner Sally Pattle of Far From the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow. Peter Terrell and Elfreda Crehan from Lexus performed the wacky little story about the troubles of a cat, doing this in a mixture of English and French. The class were very vocal at calling Peter the Cat to come out from behind the screen onto which the book pages were projected and did this very convincingly and loudly in French, shouting out minet, minet! In the story in the book the cat is pelted with objects by a little toddler. So we put this into practice and the front row of the class were invited to pelt Peter the Cat with (fairly soft) objects, which they did with great gusto. Not too serious a language event, you see. It should also be said that, after the performance, when there were a few questions about the French, the pupils showed that quite a bit of the French which they had just heard had been taken on board. After this performance of Mess on the Floor there was a another reading, again with Elfreda’s artwork projected on a screen, but this time it was a traditional Scottish folk tale with a magical kind of theme. This folk tale also had snippets of French worked into it. The great thing was that here was a class of young children being entertained by a couple of enacted stories which were partly in a foreign language. Maybe there were some linguists here in the making.