Support for Gaelic?

A survey of public attitudes to Gaelic suggests that there is public support for the Scottish government’s decision to spend £24m a year on the language. Some 45% thought the sum was about right; 16% said it was too little; but 33% thought it too much. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey also show support for the use of Gaelic on road signs in areas in which Gaelic is spoken. Indeed, around half of the people surveyed thought the signs should be available throughout Scotland.

Gaelic Road SignsOther findings include many Scots believing that parents should have the right to send their children to a Gaelic school. There was widespread support for the idea of young people being taught in Gaelic, with English as a secondary language. Some 91 per cent agreed when asked if parents in Gaelic-speaking areas should have that right. It fell to 48 per cent in other parts of the country, but still a significant minority. However, that would take considerable investment since under 2,500 children are currently taught in Gaelic schools.

Despite this apparent support for the language and indeed the millions spent on trying to save it, more than half of those surveyed thought the future for Gaelic in Scotland was bleak. At present, it’s spoken by fewer than 60,000 Scots and less than half of those surveyed thought that things would get better over the coming 50 years. However, when asked if learning Gaelic was pointless for people of today, 44 per cent disagreed and only 22 per cent agreed.

The project director, Professor Lindsay Paterson of Edinburgh University, said: “These results from the highly-respected Scottish Social Attitudes Survey show widespread support for Gaelic – probably much more extensively than is often supposed.”

And a Scottish government spokesman described Gaelic language and culture as “an integral part of Scotland’s identity. This research shows the very positive attitudes to Gaelic from across Scotland. The continued increase in demand for Gaelic Medium Education clearly demonstrates that parents are not only recognising the impressive learning benefits that come with a bilingual education, but that we are securing a sustainable and vibrant future for the language in future generations.”

  • Abulhaq

    Without independence the future for our national languages is certain to be bleak. The anglo-american cultural dynamic is predatory. Its vehicle is the propagation of the English/American language and the particular linguistic worldview it embodies. The fantasy, superficial bling of the anything goes “American Dreamscape” is attractive to the young and immature giving it a subversive presence in the cultural nest. Any future administration will have to deal with this tsunami of anglo-culture in a reasoned, critical and discriminating manner if our national patrimony is to re-establish itself following the 300 years of “captivity”. Our languages, as expressions of our unique identity, must be promoted as part of an educational system that actually values our heritage. Not in a chauvinistic way but as part of our ancient links with the sophisticated European cultural domain.

    • One would hope so. Unfortunately, ‘Yes Scotland’ have yet to publish anything in the native language of the Scots. Pretty shameful for a group of people who apparently have Scotland’s interests at heart. Compare this to the attitudes of Welsh and Basque nationalists. Nàr orra.

      Saor Alba.

      • HumfreyJoppa

        Trouble is: what is that native language of the Scots? My name is derived from Pictish/Brithonic not Gaelic

        • You’ve answered your own question. The language of the Scots was Scots/Scottish. The language of the Britons was Brythonnic. Recent research shows that the Picts live in the Gaels of today. Nos da.

          • Alistair Robert Thompson

            My surname varies in origin, but the tradition in my particular family is that our particular line of Thomsons came from Shetland, & before that Norway. I do not believe there to be one native language of Scotland. Gaelic, Brythonnic, Norse and the Anglic languages of English and Scots would all fit into that category. Of these, two, Gaelic and English, came to dominate, and of late English has superseded Gaelic as the most dominant language in Scotland. I value Gaelic as a language of Scotland, but I would not say it is the only native language of our country.

          • yenic

            Kind of. The Scots came from Ireland, and Gaelic is/was their language. That’s the language of the original Scots that founded Scotland after bringing the Picts into their fold.

            The Picts were probably Brythonic. I wouldn’t say the language of the Scots was Scots/Scottish, that was a later introduction by influence from those already conquered in the south by AngloSaxon elites.
            Yet those people that also speak English, aren’t AngloSaxon origin either. It was a cultural elite that took over, rather than population displacement.

            The oldest known native language of Scotland that still has living ancestors today would be Gaelic. Pictish was likely Brythonic so Welsh would be the closest living ancestor.

        • Seumas Ion Irwyn


          Trouble is: what is that
          native language of the Scots? My name is derived from Pictish/Brithonic not

          Hello Humfrey,
          How do you know your name is Pictish or determine it since the Picts had no written language (from my understanding)?

          As an ignorant American, I’ve been researching part of my ancestory which has been traced to Aberdeen on my ‘Scot’ side (the other side is native American – Winnabego) and my understanding is ‘Picts’ were actually more Gàidhlig
          than Brithonic being from the north country.

          As I study the Gàidhlig language, and not being born in Scotland I see the deliema of languages.
          We have the same in America, between multiple native Americans tribes. I live in Montana and the Blackfeet nation is close and the language differes from the Winnabego is pronounced, but all are native to the land as is the
          general term Scot, in that land am I correct?

          I think it is fantastic that many are attempting to keep the Gàidhlig language alive as we are the Ho-Chuck (Winnabego).


          James J Irwin (Irvine clann)

        • yenic

          How would you know this? It’s almost impossible to know, with only a handful of Pictish names even being known (which there are many Gaelic equivalents) and about as much known about their language. The chances you have a veritably Pictish name is slim to none. Most Scots and Welsh didn’t select surnames until the 1600’s or later. If you think you have a name that links you with the Pictish tribes, that’s most likely not true. There’s no way of knowing as they willingly joined the Gaelic elite in 850CE.

          If you want to find out if you’re Brythonic/Pictish or Goidelic, do a DNA test. Even there I bet you’ll just find ‘garden variety Celt’ as your best answer, with many connections to Ireland and Scotland as I have.

          And there’s a good chance you aren’t of Celtic origin at all.