Gaelic research

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It is always difficult communicating with academics in Gaelic language research, since it is nearly always partially or fully funded by the Gaelic Board, and difficult to assess critically.

Your headline, “Half of Scots back right to send child to Gaelic school” (13 May) looks tendentious, although it does mean the other half don’t, or couldn’t care less.

This is assuming that the “analysis” (carried out by a group with a Gaelic name which your reporter miss-spells) is sound, and that the original fact gathering is up to the job (Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, with what seems a tiny survey of 1,229).

Those who back “the right to send a child to a Gaelic school” will also not be considering the cost of backing that right, met by the taxpayer, or the morality of imposing a moribund language on unsuspecting children, who thankfully will communicate in English as soon as they hit the playground. Questions of that sort will not have been asked in the survey.

Then again, respondents may be thinking beneficently of so-called “Gaelic areas”, although it can fairly be maintained that nowhere in the British Isles is there an area whose language is not predominately English, as one would expect in a globalised world.

In India, land of many languages, the only lingua franca is also English, so much so that desperately poor people will take private lessons in English in order to get a job. The Gaelic Board here, however, would 
prefer the bill for Gaelic medium to be picked up by the taxpayer, based on “research”.

Crawford Mackie