Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Bother with Gaelic Roadsigns?

According to the Scotsman this morning a delegation from Bord na Gaidhlig, the national Gaelic agency, will today try to find a way forward with senior councillors from Caithness who oppose the introduction of bilingual road signs in the area. The councillors have consistently argued against Gaelic-English signs, despite their being part of Highland Council's Gaelic Action Plan.

All this occurs as Caithness prepares to host the Royal National Mod, Gaelic's premier arts and music event, next year. Arthur Cormack, Bord na Gaidhlig's chairman, who will head the delegation for the meeting in Inverness, said: "We are keen to meet the councillors to hear what they have to say. We have not had any direct contact with people who are apparently complaining, and we want to hear the issues first hand." Did he say this in Gaelic and then has someone translated it?

Two thoughts. With around 50,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland what is the point of road signs in both languages? If there was an independent Scotland how long before all signs across Scotland would go the same way? We already have a sign on the A1 saying 'Welcome to Scotland' in both languages. Given that the visitors to Scotland are almost to a man and woman unable to read Gaelic why is there a sign welcoming them in that language?


CrazyDaisy said...


Because it's part of our heritage, it's growing for under 25s across a fair part of Scotland, it's even taught in Glasgow primaries and they are over subscribed.

Why should signs be in English at all? They should be in Scots and Doric and Glaswegian etc, I don't give a bollox for my second language!

Christ my English wife has problems understanding what I say and in Billy Connolly style "madame I have an accent not a speech impediment" is the reply.

Oddly enough she has a girl in one of her classes who speaks Scots Gaelic and we're in London right now.


Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

I'm surprised you've not had more of a negative response Richard. I mentioned Gaelic once on a blog and was spammed relentlessly for some time after.

I agree with you, but to top that the train I was on on Tuesday this week (Edinburgh to Dunblane) had the signs in both English and Welsh.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I couldn't agree more.

Daisy is crazy!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

For the same reason as there are signs welcoming you to Wales in both English and Welsh, I suppose.

Grogipher said...

Why are you ashamed of your cultural heritage? Gaelic is small, but growing. I think it is quite important to have signs in a nation's indigenous language.

Bill said...

Whenever I've blogged about this I've had people telling me I was "ignoring my cultural heritage" or other similar nonsense, occasionally adding that if the commenter ever meets me I would get a 'hiding', etc

Coming from a part of the country (the Highlands) where bilingual roadsigns are spreading, I begin to feel like I live in a foreign country (lol - which I do for a part of the year and where I tend to feel more 'at home' than in the Highlands nowadays). I admire the Councillors from Caithness who are trying to stand up to the bull-dozing tactics of the Gaelic-mafiosi largely based in Inverness and for which we all pay through their publicly-funded non-jobs and campaigning groups.

As for cultural cringe, I don't suffer from it at all. Road-signs are there, in my view, to impart information about destination choices, not to give me a culture or history lesson. I happen to speak a number of languages other than English with moderate competency (one or two with near-native fluency), but I see no pressing need to learn a language spoken by only about 1 per cent of the population of Scotland and I certainly would not force any child of mine to do so except for recreation purposes which without active encouragement/coercion would, I submit, be an extremely unlikely choice of hobby.

CrazyDaisy said...

Not crazy, well maybe just a wee bit, but I support the right to reclaim that to which has been taken from us.

I'm not on a soap box, I widnae offer violence because others disagree with me, not my style unless you're AM2 - joking!

I do not support signs in polish/italian/french etc etc. Having just returned from a few years in Italy - I had to make the effort and everything was in Italian or Neapolitano! Sod em they'll still come and visit they cannae keep awa!


HighlandMist said...

I've just noticed that our village has had the signs replaced with ones in both English and Gaelic. I wonder how much that cost and what difference it makes.
What a load of nonsense.
P.S. I am a Highlander.

Richard Havers said...

Let's home these signs are manufactured in Scotland. Wouldn't it be dreadful if they are not even creating employment!

An Donas said...

What's the use in English roadsigns? Most of them are meangingless in English. Why not leave them in their original Gaelic?

I know lots of central belt kids in Gaelic medium education. Gaelic is our oldest spoken language and is still used daily throughout Scotland by tens of thousands of people. It should be seen and heard.

Suas leis a' GhĂ idhlig - tuath agus deas.

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