Scottish Gaelic

The kids have started watching cartoons in Scottish Gaelic and I’ve been encouraging this because watching cartoons is a nice way to learn a new language. Gaelic is the original language of Scotland after the original original language, Pictish, became extinct. I’m not sure what came before Pictish. Gaelic is one of three official languages recognised in Scotland. The other two are English and Scots. Scots, from my understanding, is similar to English whereas Gaelic is an ancient Celtic language. In the 18th Century the language was discouraged. I’ve even read that children were punished at school if they were heard speaking it. It’s now spoken by about 1% of the population. Why aren’t they doing more to revive this language?

In New Zealand the Maori language faced a similar downward spiral when Victorian colonists settled there and forced everyone to speak English. However today the country is addressing the problem in effective ways. Even if you have no desire to learn Maori it’s hard not to pick up words and phrases when you visit or live there. News readers say Maori greetings at the start of every show. School teachers and politicians also speak basic phrases regularly. All kindy and school children learn Maori songs and words. Even if it’s just a simple, “Kia ora“, everyone hears it so frequently that it’s no longer a foreign phrase and it somehow infiltrates the corners of your brain without you realising.

I’m not sure how much Maori is taught in schools in New Zealand but I would bet it’s significantly more than the amount of Gaelic taught in schools here which is zilch so far. Yes, some schools offer Gaelic as a subject (not the one my kids go to) but it should be something every class teacher uses. They don’t have to be fluent in it – just know some greetings and frequently used phrases and then use it daily. It’s a slow process to bring a language back from near extinction and it requires effort. Every school teacher needs to use it along with politicians, and journalists.

On that note. Beannachd leat!