I WAS interested to read Alistair Munro’s article (22 February) on Highland Council’s decision to provide entry-level Gaelic classes for councillors.
This is a very welcome step, and for a paltry (to use Mr Munro’s terminology) £350, is hardly going to break the council’s coffers. I have sat through a number of meetings with councillors and their staff and have heard some horrendous mispronunciations of Gaelic place names, which, to many of us, are akin to the scratching of nails down a blackboard.
Gaelic is found everywhere in the Highlands. Despite the assertions of some of Highland Council’s anti-Gaelic councillors, even in Caithness, it remains a valid and viable language and part of everyday life for many of us.
May I suggest, however, that rather than limiting the lessons to councillors, the council extends these to its staff, a great many of whom seem wholly unable to pronounce “loch” correctly, let alone the rich variety of Gaelic names which are by far and above the most common and most dominant place names found in the Highlands.
I might also suggest that Mr Munro, despite his good Gaelic name, perhaps attends one of these courses, as tarbh, “bull” in English, is not spelled “tarph” and the Gaelic word for horns, in its plural, is adharcan and not “cabars”. “Cabar” means antlers, and in any case, the plural for this is cabraichean.