Scottish Gaelic is worth learning says our Scotsman readers and here are 21 reasons why

Scotland’s endangered Celtic tongue has struggled against critics discounting its worth time and again. So, we took the national debate to our Scotsman readers who confirm that Gaelic is worth learning and here’s why.

When crossing the Scottish border, we’re greeted with a sign that reads “Fàilte gu Alba” and to the average driver it may mean nothing but others will know it’s Scottish Gaelic for “Welcome to Scotland”. No different to “Fáilte go hÉirinn” signs in Irish or “Croeso i Gymru” equivalents for Welsh at their borders, immediately we’re made aware that we’ve entered a nation of rich Celtic culture; yet this heritage has been minoritised.

As written by Paul Kavanagh in Scotland’s Language Myths: “A minoritised language is a language which was once the language of the majority of a given country or large geographical region, but due to political and other factors became socially marginalised.” The Gaelic-speaking tradition predates even the reign of medieval Scottish Kings following Irish Gaelic’s arrival to Scotland around 500 AD.

Sadly, since then historical events like the Battle of Culloden and the ensuing Highland Clearances, education acts that banned Gaelic in schools, and the emergence of English-speaking dominance in society have seen Scots Gaelic wilt away. Of course, this plight is not exclusive to Gaels as many minority languages worldwide are in the same battle to exist in their own heartlands.

Bilingualism is the rule and not the exception in many countries, so why should Scotland differ? However, the next argument tends to be “well, be bilingual with a useful language!” That’s where our Scotsman readers come in. With over 1.5 million learners signed onto Gaelic on Duolingo, popular TV shows like Outlander featuring Gaelic, and new businesses opening like the Gaelic Cafe in Stornoway (which will hopefully inspire others), there is clearly a drive to use the endangered tongue.

So, to help us articulate that best we created an engagement post that read “Scottish Gaelic is worth learning because…” and our Scotsman readers offered hundreds of insightful answers that we have condensed into this well-meaning list of twenty-one reasons to learn Gaelic.

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