The Scottish Parliament’s think-tank Scotland’s Futures Forum held a conference about Gaelic on the 6th of December. It was entitled ‘Buaidh is piseach – Scotland 2030: Gaelic – what would success look like?’
The aim of the conference was to look forward at the position that Gaelic could and should have in 2030 and further on.
The presiding officer Ken Macintosh MSP was in the chair and we heard from panel of speakers: Professor Wilson McLeod (University of Edinburgh); broadcaster, journalist and musician Mary Ann Kennedy and Professor Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin (NUI Galway).
If you weren’t present, you can watch the lectures and the question and answer session which are now available online.
Video of the proceedings in the original languages (Gaelic and Irish):
Video of the proceedings with English interpretation:
This was followed by workshops and while these weren’t recorded, we will shortly be making a full written report of the conference containing all their views and recommendations.
Here are some of the main points made in the workshops:
- It’s good to get the chance to come together as a community both to meet up and to discuss issues affecting Gaelic – this doesn’t happen often enough.
- It is important that Gaelic is normalised in services, policy and strategy in Gaelic communities.
- There is a need for places where people can use Gaelic and it was heard that Gaelic hubs were necessary both in traditional Gaelic communities (e.g. Cnoc Soilleir in Uist) and also in cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.
- Economic development is hugely important for traditional Gaelic communities but it’s absolutely essential that Gaelic be placed at the heart of economic development initiatives . Economic development which doesn’t mainstream and prioritise Gaelic could well do more harm than good to the language.
- Communities are at the centre of language development but they require support, funding and guidance from outside too, from the Government, universities and other public, voluntary and private groups in order to succeed. Communities need to have more power to to help them in this.
- The family is crucial and nothing is as important for the language as inter-generational transmission.
- Gaelic education is hugely important and should be developed and expanded with further support and more teachers. We shouldn’t expect, however, that the situation of Gaelic will be improved through education alone. Opportunities outside the school are needed too.
- Identity is important for the language. The people of Scotland as a whole need to be more aware of the language and visibility and audibility is important for this. Action is needed to improve the confidence of Gaelic speakers by encouraging a strong linguistic identity – both for native Gaelic speakers and for pupils in Gaelic medium education to encourage use and inter-generational transmission.
This is only a quick summary – there will be much more in our final report which we will publicise here and on social media as soon as it is completed.
We have also made a short video with some of the main points raised. Here is the Gaelic version:
And here is the English version:
If you have any thoughts on anything raised at the conference, why not let us know on twitter with the hashtag #Alba2030.