Mother tongue

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Hugh Reilly’s article (Perspective, 28 October) is one I struggle to respond to. “Gaelic is dying, so don’t spend money on it, because Scots is dying due to lack of funding and I can’t understand Burns because I’m educated”, isn’t really an argument.

One point I think I understand is Mr Reilly’s calls for funding for Scots. As someone who has suffered bigotry and prejudice on account of speaking it, I wholeheartedly agree.

However, his erroneous assertion of how most educated people “find the mother tongue almost unintelligible” reveals he is as guilty of this prejudice as anyone. Is he really saying that of the 1.5 million people claiming to speak Scots in the latest census, few have an education? No, he simply hears their Scots, and assumes so.

As Scots-speaking children are still humiliated daily in school in such backward places as Cumnock while Gaelic schools flourish, it is perhaps more of a pressing concern with regards to recognition and status to prevent another generation being indoctrinated with the self-hatred and shame prevalent in minority communities from the Andes to Indochina.

It is not, however, a competition with Gaelic.

Mr Reilly’s purported respect for Scots is disingenuous, using my mother tongue to beat the language I learned. In truth, his ilk have a love for neither, and merely wish to put down anything in this country which reflects and respects our two wonderful languages and their place in the nation.

Daibhidh Rothach

Dalmahoy Way

Kilwinning, Ayrshire

With reference to Hugh Reilly’s column about Gaelic, I wonder if he recognises the old-fashioned teacher’s phrase, “wilful ignorance”, as being applicable to himself. He admits not knowing the meaning of “a daimen icker i a thrave” in Burns, which is “an occasional ear of corn in every two stooks”.

This quality is also found in the Fact Finders’ Crossword of last Saturday where the translation of The Aeneid by Gavin Douglas is described as “English” though the translator himself describes the language as “Scottis”.

Iain WD Forde

Main Street

Scotlandwell, Kinross-shire

Aonghas MacNeacail (Letters, 30 October) highlights apparent conflicts in maintaining Gaelic. A central issue some feel is that the supportive public money would be better spent on other community-related activities.

Rather than setting up “Gaelic schools”, that fraction of the education budgets could be used instead to finance a network of peripatetic teachers who would offer evening classes after normal school hours to children and their parents – and to anyone else who was interested. Would this proposal work?

Gaelic indeed needs positive public backing (Scots could do with it too!). Gaelic schools are said to lead to truly bilingual pupils, yet their catchment areas are much wider than for most state schools, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money are reportedly spent annually on expensive taxi transport to and from and not on the language itself.

Should parents then pay more? Does Gaelic lock out teaching other somewhat more global languages?

English will remain the common tongue for most Scottish residents, yet historically and indeed currently, important Gaelic and Doric should be sustained, but are expensive formal schools, difficult to staff, the best way?

Joe Darby

Dingwall

Ross-shire

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