The Linguist

The Linguist 58-1 Feb-Mar2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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32 The Linguist Vol/58 No/1 2019 Gaelic is a Celtic language, with close affinities to its sister, Irish Gaelic, having arrived from Ireland before Christianity. Unsurprisingly, the highest concentration of Gaelic toponyms in Scotland can be found in Argyllshire, on the west coast closest to Ireland. Gaelic was also the language of the foundation of the Kingdom of Scotland under Kenneth McAlpin in 843AD and one of the first vernacular tongues to be written down. The language has inhabited a shared space with Scots, a Germanic language, for several hundred years. As a result, a sprachbund has arisen, with Gaelic and Scots adopting common features, such as the preference for the present continuous where English and Irish would opt for a simple present. For centuries, the language was sustained by political, economic and social structures, such as the lordship of the isles, the clan system and, later, crofting, the church and fishing communities. When these structures were broken down and interrupted, the language was eroded. People were moved off the land as patterns of land-holding changed, For contact details for CIOL's membership networks (divisions, societies and associations), visit To view the calendar of events, see andrew O'Halloran gives an overview of the work being done to promote and protect gaelic in Scotland, based on his talk for the Scottish Society language revival Scotland map showing the proportion of Gaelic speakers by region (above); and the Scottish Parliament (top) passed the Gaelic Language Act MEMBERSHIP NETWORKS 0-1% 1-5% 5-10% 10-25% 25-50% >50% INSTITUTE MATTERS than a one-size-fits-all approach for the whole of Scotland. Local authorities often find that their Gaelic plan becomes a political football, attracting considerable press coverage for even very modest interventions. Gaelic-medium education (GME) is also overseen by the board. English-speaking pupils in GME tend to have higher attainment in many subjects than similar pupils in English-medium schools. There are still great difficulties in terms of teacher recruitment, as well as a perception that GME has become the preserve of the middle classes. For more Scottish Society events, see Supporting Gaelic new political structures replaced the old, and people flooded into the new industrial cities. Replacing the spaces that once sustained the language is key to its revitalisation, as Joseph LoBianco of Melbourne University has shown. His COD (Creation Opportunity Desire) model has been applied all over Asia and lies at the heart of the current 20-year plan for Irish. It is not enough to open schools: new speakers need spaces where the use of the minoritised language is the norm. For the language to survive, the tight-knit, rural Gaelic-speaking communities of the past must find their 21st-century equivalents in contemporary Scotland. The Gaelic Language Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2005. It seeks to ensure equal respect but not parity with English; to promote Gaelic in all spheres of public life and education; and to increase the number of speakers. Under the act, a newly established statutory body, Bòrd na Gàidhig, must roll out a new national Gaelic language plan every five years. The board also monitors Gaelic language plans produced by public bodies across Scotland. A typical local authority plan may include organising Gaelic classes for employees, an annual Gaelic day or bilingual email idents for Council staff. The board's efforts are focused on areas where there are sizable Gaelic-speaking communities, rather © SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

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