Gaelic culture given a loud slàinte mhath from across Scotland

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A MAJORITY of Scots believe Gaelic traditions should not be lost and more should be done to promote the language.

New research published by the Scottish Government yesterday also shows that 70 per cent of people think there should be more opportunities to learn Gaelic and 53 per cent want to see it used in everyday life.

But some have still to be convinced, with half the 1,009 people interviewed saying nothing would encourage them to use Gaelic more or learn the language.

The report, Public Attitudes Towards the Gaelic Language, covers a variety of questions related to the language, including current usage, teaching and its heritage. The work also included a separate survey of 56 fluent Gaelic speakers.

Overall, 80 per cent of those interviewed were aware of Gaelic being used in Scotland, with most citing TV (39 per cent), music (14 per cent) and radio (10 per cent).

Just over one in ten claimed to be able to read, write or speak Gaelic at least a little, but only 2 per cent were fluent - although this rose to 34 per cent and 21 per cent in the Highlands and Islands.

The report says nore than half were in favour of Gaelic being used in Scotland and 9 per cent against it. However, a substantial 38 per cent had no opinion either way "suggesting a lack of engagement with this issue amongst a sizeable segment of the population".

The research reveals that 12 per cent of people would be encouraged to learn or use Gaelic more if more people spoke it, and 12 per cent would be encouraged if they had access to education or courses.

However, 50 per cent of the total sample said nothing would encourage them to use Gaelic more or to learn the language.

The role of Gaelic in Scotland's culture was recognised, with 81 per cent saying it is important that it is not lost, and about three-fifths saying they would like to see it encouraged or developed more.

In all 49 per cent said Gaelic makes a valuable contribution in promoting Scotland abroad and 57 per cent disagreed with the statement that Gaelic is not relevant to modern Scotland.

"The key challenge therefore is not so much to increase awareness of Gaelic generally, given that it is already high, or indeed to do more to relate Gaelic to traditions and culture, but rather to promote the relevance of Gaelic to Scotland - as whole - nowadays," say the authors.Alasdair Allan, the Gaelic minister, said: "Such a strong swell of support for Gaelic from across the country, not just in the Gaelic-speaking heartlands, is very encouraging and just reward for the efforts of those who are working hard to ensure it remains a part of modern Scotland."

Arthur Cormack, chairman of the Gaelic development agency Brd na Gidhlig, said local authorities and public bodies in Scotland have a key role to play in ensuring that Gaelic thrives in places where there is a desire to learn or use the language.