PUTTING up signs in Gaelic could be good for business and help accelerate a revival of the endangered language, a leading campaigner said yesterday.
• John Macleod, head of An Commun Gàidhealach, praises plans for provision of Gaelic services and signage by businesses and public services
• Mr Macleod also warns of the need for the Gaelic-speaking community to play its part in keeping the language alive
• The Mod brings in between £3m and £5m to the local economy each year
John Macleod, president of An Comunn Gàidhealach – the body which represents the Gaelic language – said he was pleased to see a growing number of companies using signs in Gaelic and English, including some that were not legally obliged to.
“It is encouraging that many public organisations including councils, enterprise agencies, health boards, government, parliament, national agencies and national parks now have plans in place for the provision of their services in Gaelic, but much still needs to be done to ensure that the availability of such services is actively communicated to the public so that they can make use of them,” said Mr Macleod.
“More recently, several commercial organisations in Scotland have taken to exhibiting bilingual signage in their premises, without being legally required to do so. Could this be an indication of the start of a recognition, similar to what is seen in Wales, that Gaelic in Scotland has value and is here to stay?”
Speaking at the opening of this year’s Royal National Mod in Dunoon yesterday, Mr MacLeod said that Gaelic – spoken by less than 60,000 Scots – was under threat and had lost its strength in places like Argyll.
He argued there were good signs of recovery – not least of all among bodies and businesses. “Do these companies now recognise that Gaelic speakers deserve to have services available in their own language, working towards the ‘equal respect’ the law has given us, but has yet to be fully implemented to the extent it ought to be,” he asked.
“These developments reinforce the very personal responsibility that rests on us all as Gaelic speakers to support the promotion of our language as one that is appropriate for daily use in all situations.
“The value of bilingualism is constantly highlighted in research reports, and this is undoubtedly leading to an increased uptake of both Gaelic-medium education and Gaelic learning at school and adult levels.”
Mr MacLeod said he believed it was important for the Mod, an eight-day celebration of Gaelic culture, to act as a springboard for new developments in the language.
“We hope the presence of the Mod here will see a resurgence of Gaelic learning in the town and in the surrounding area. We have to be optimistic about the future, use our language with confidence and encourage our fellow Gaels to have the confidence to use it,” he said.
The Mod attracts participants and visitors from around the world and benefits the local economy by up to £5 million.
Dunoon has hosted the event six times before, most recently in 2006.
In addition to the adult competitions, there will also be children’s contests.
The final concert takes place next Friday, with the grand finale – a parade of the massed choirs through Dunoon town centre, led by local pipe bands – the following day.
The Royal National Mod is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the world’s oldest Gaelic organisation.