By any measure the public funding of Gaelic is very modest and it attracts a disproportionate level of scrutiny. People, like Crawford Mackie (Letters, 21
November), who are against public expenditure on Gaelic need not resort to inflammatory language such as “discrimination” in relation to Gaelic jobs.
Someone without the skills needed to treat animals would not be given a job as a vet. Someone without the skills to fix cars would not be employed as a mechanic. So why on earth would a teacher without Gaelic be employed to teach it?
People often have to acquire extra skills before they qualify for certain jobs. If Gaelic skills are required to fulfil the remit, then Gaelic should be treated like any other skill and anyone can “skill up” by learning Gaelic. No discrimination there.
The Gaelic Language Act calls for equal respect for Gaelic with English. Surely, the respect required by law should allow organisations to decide if Gaelic skills are essential for a job, and to recruit appropriately.
Given the current condition of Gaelic and the neglect it has suffered, there surely must be a case, in a civilised country, for positive discrimination and steps to promote the use of Gaelic in Scotland.
Isle of Skye
I would agree with Alasdair H Macinnes’s assertion (Letters, 22 November) that “knowledge of languages other than English is essential in the modern world”.
But it is questionable whether learning Gaelic would help anyone. To promote communication, business opportunities and better relationships with the outside world, “would-be students”, would be far better advised to study German, French, Spanish or even Mandarin (notwithstanding this, Gaelic should always be there for those who want it).
When it comes to spending on Gaelic, Mr Macinnes should be reminded that Gaelic is only one of Scotland’s indigenous languages. Others included “Welsh”, “Nordic” etc, and much more commonly “Scots”.
The Scottish Government, however, has made Gaelic the sacred cow to the exclusion of all other tongues. This is despite the fact that many more of us would be more at home with Scots, which, though dying out now, has been spoken alongside English over many, many years by many more Scottish people.
It is high time the Bord na Gaidhlig at Holyrood was abolished, and a broader “Commission for Indigenous Scottish Languages” was established. We don’t need any further confusing Gaelic signage on our roads and railways.
The prejudice which presently unfairly supports only Gaelic should be ended and Scots must be afforded the same privileged status, including funding.
Gullane, East Lothian
David Wragg (Letters, 23 November) thinks the best way to promote Gaelic is to ban it. This policy has been tried already.
My study of the language recently attracted the surprise and interest of a fellow train passenger. He told me that he grew up in a Gaelic-speaking community, but when he went to school, any child caught speaking the native tongue was given the belt.