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.