If language planning is to have an impact on the state and use of Gaelic, those responsible for this work must understand the reality of what they are dealing with. They must also know whether their interventions are working as expected. And when a project or campaign is over, they have to know what impact it has actually had. If they don’t know, they could be spending time and money with little progress for the language to show for it. They could be missing new opportunities. They could even be doing harm, without realising it.
Those involved in language planning, such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig, obtain this knowledge through research and survey. And the Gaelic world has been fortunate that more and more interest in, and focus on, the language has come from researchers in Scotland and from around the world. This scrutiny began many years ago with the study of the language and its culture, but has expanded to include every aspect of the National Plan for Gaelic. This can be seen from the bibliography of Gaelic socio-linguisitics and policy which is maintained by the University of Edinburgh, and is available on the Bòrd’s website.
There is now a national Gaelic research network, Soillse, with initial funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the four involved universities. Soillse is building on the foundations already laid to increase the cooperation and capacity in research designed to inform public policy on Gaelic, and it will go a long way towards meeting the research needs of the Bòrd. But the Bòrd goes beyond Soillse to satisfy its need when necessary, and commissions other researchers, whether in the univeristies or independent, for surveys which are required for its work. If there is no particular reason not to publish the results, such as data protection, the reports go up on the Bòrd’s website for downloading at no cost.
The Bòrd cooperates with research bodies which can add to our knowledge on Gaelic and its language community. For example, the Bòrd has worked closely with the General Register Office for Scotland on questions in Scotland’s Census, in its delivery and in the presentation of its results. The Bòrd also supports the dissemination of knowledge through small grants to assist research, publication and debate.
Published reports of completed research and related publications are available below. Updated 16 May 2016.