The Linguist

The Linguist 51,6

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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Page 21 of 35

FEATURES In 7 years, the linguistic environment in Scotland has changed dramatically. Georgina Collins and Fiona Dunn look at the implications for linguists rossing the border from England into Scotland, you notice a slowly changing landscape, but you also become aware that you are moving into a new and very distinct linguistic environment. F��ilte gu Alba (���Welcome to Scotland���) is clearly written on the image of the Saltire (Saint Andrew���s Cross) ��� the first of many reminders of Scotland���s unique cultural and linguistic heritage, as you travel across the country. Many of these reminders are remarkably new. The linguistic environment in Scotland today is very different to that of just a few years ago, demonstrating how quickly cultural change can be generated. In 2005, the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act sparked an exciting period of philological transformation, giving official recognition to a language that has been an integral part of its history for centuries but was banished, in favour of English, in the School Establishment Act of 1616. This renewed focus on Gaelic has had a huge impact on society, including business and education. Led by B��rd na G��idhlig (the national development agency for Gaelic), the plan to develop awareness and use of Gaelic in Scottish society has led to an increasing demand for Gaelic translators, as more and more texts need to be translated into the local language. The implications for Scottish linguists are significant, and serve as a reminder that skills in a local language, such as Gaelic, can provide the translator with a unique and desirable portfolio. But what is Scottish Gaelic? Unlike English, which is Germanic, it is a Celtic language and therefore on a different branch of the protoindo-European family. Although it has C 22 The Linguist developed its own unique identity and linguistic features, it shares its roots with Irish Gaelic and Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man). In the 2001 census, more than 90,000 people in Scotland were shown to have some Gaelic language ability, with 60,000 able to speak it. This figure is much higher worldwide. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 made Gaelic an official language of Scotland, granting it ���equal respect��� with English. Since then, the presence of Gaelic has been increasingly visible throughout Scotland. It is used to debate some issues in the Scottish Parliament and is gradually becoming an integral part of Scottish public life through the development and implementation of Gaelic Language Plans in public bodies. OUTER HEBRIDES Calanais Standing Stones (top) and the reconstructed Blackhouse village (inset) on the Isle of Lewis, where around 70% of the population said they spoke Gaelic in 2001 Cultural significance So why spend so much time and money on promoting a language that is currently spoken by only a small proportion of the population? The primary reasons must be culture and identity: it is a language unique to the Scots and therefore an integral part of Scottish heritage. Speaking Gaelic is about embracing your Scottish roots. Through the language you can gain a deeper understanding of traditional Gaelic tales, such as Diarmad and Gr��inne, as well as music and other forms of literature. Gaelic is also very rich in vocabulary to describe Scotland���s diverse landscape, with more than 80 words for hills and mountains, where English would need more extensive explanations. Gaelic words have become part of the English language and infiltrate everyday conversations within and beyond Scotland. DECEMBER/JANUARY Note, the words ���trousers��� (from triubhas via trews), ���gob��� (meaning ���beak/bill���) and ���shindig��� (s��nteag, meaning ���to skip/jump around���). The increased focus on Scottish Gaelic is now about normalising the use of Gaelic within a contemporary setting, rather than returning to a Gaelic of the past. This improved awareness of the language can be seen in the media, with the launch of BBC Alba in 2008; a proliferation of new websites and online learning environments, such as; and Gaelic language publications, including bilingual Gaelic learners��� magazine Cothrom. This renewed appreciation for the language has seen a surge in demand for native and non-native Gaelic speakers, translators and teachers. PICTURES: VISITSCOTLAND/SCOTTISHVIEWPOINT Gaelic renaissance

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