Gaelic promotes Cultural Diversity


The inspiration of this blog has been a conversation with a friend who feels that the promotion of what he sees as a Scottish mono-culture as being incompatible with the multiculturalism.  His experience of regularly visiting London on work has persuaded him that we are inward and backward looking and, in contrast to London, much less ethnically diverse.  There are good economic reasons for this, however, I want to focus on the concept of multiculturalism and how the promotion of Gaelic encourages a more culturally diverse environment.

Gaelic is at the point of extinction because of a planned and sustained program of cultural assimilation going back to the Enlightenment. It is not a result of natural selection as some claim.  Here in Britain – in fact, you could say the British state was founded on this notion – we have adopted a French Jacobin model of the nation state in that we all have equality in the eyes of the law, but through the medium of English. There is no provision for different ethno-linguistic groups.  This is not a natural state of affairs. Most people in the world speak more than one language (most speakers of English speak it as a 2nd language), however, English is a currency of mutual exchange between speakers of different languages and, in that respect, plays a crucial function. The near eradication of Gaelic from out landscape was not necessary and neither would it be necessary for speakers of other languages to dispense of their culture for integration into a multi-cultural Scotland to be possible.

The Scottish Governments emphasis in their Gaelic Language Plan is on the development of bilingualism and children who are brought up bilingually go on to pick up other languages more easily, not to mention a better standard of English.  I’m not saying there are no tartan imperialists out there, but the promotion of Gaelic is not about creating some kind of Scottish mono-culture. On the contrary, it’s about creating cultural diversity.


7 thoughts on “Gaelic promotes Cultural Diversity

  1. “how the promotion of Gaelic encourages a more culturally diverse environment.” Absolute and utter BS come and speak to me about multiculturalism in Scotland ! That aside, if a child is bilingual, I totally agree it seems much easier for them to pick up other languages and I also believe in doing so they employ more of their brain across other subjects thus raising their grades !

  2. The promotion of Gaelic is an act of genuine social justice. Gaelic is not, and should never be seen as, just one of a number of linguistic communities and cultures existing(barely) within the borders of Scotland. The culture and language have a unique claim on the territory it occupies. The history of persecution of Gaelic language and culture by Scotland and the British state is also specific and unique.
    You cannot squirm out of the debt owed specifically to Gaelic by Scotland with a multicultural gloss.

    • I agree in that Gaelic is an indigenous language of Scotland and , as such, we have a duty to support and develop it in a different way from other minority languages (with the exception of Scots). That said, there is also a need to ensure that other ethno-linguistic communities – who are also tax payers – receive services appropriate to their cultural needs. I guess I’m arguing for a consideration of the bigger picture and how our efforts to support Gaelic fit into it.

    • English has become the means of exchange between speakers of different languages across Europe and as most Scots are now first language English speakers. The dream of restoring Gaelic to a place of ‘default culture’, whilst appealing is very extremely difficult to achieve. The isolated locations in which Gaelic is still spoken as a first language will not be protected by GME in the central belt. This is something the plan talks about, but doesn’t proscribe an adequate solution or allocate resources to it. We also have a body of people who would identify with Scots and who should be, I would argue, be included in this negotiation of what Scottishness is.

  3. The old ‘Gaelic is regressive parochialism, English is progressive cosmopolitanism’ chestnut. Tedious. Speaking your own lesser used language can mean solidarity with diverse cultural backgrounds. Speaking only English can mean … well how cosmopolitan are those people who speak English louder and get upset when the food is different when abroad. Neither English nor Gaelic is a guarantee of an open or a closed mind. Ní in aghaidh an Bhéarla ach ar son na Ghaeilge – not against English but for Gaelic

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