Community at the Centre of Gaelic Language Development

At a recent meeting, the Language Advisory Committee (Comataidh Comhairleachaidh Cànain), a working group established by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA, welcomed a number of progress reports from LEACAG, an inter-university project developing new online resources for the Gaelic language. These resources are aimed at promoting the use of natural, idiomatic Gaelic, in such fields as education, media and formal publications. The committee heard about the next stage of a grammar project which will see LEACAG taking advice from communities on usage by traditional Gaelic speakers.

The committee, chaired by Jo MacDonald, originally from Ness in Lewis, was set up last year.  Other members include Allan Campbell (Skye), Catriona Campbell (South Uist), Ian MacDonald (Grimsay), Duncan MacQuarrie (Mull), Ruairidh Maclean (Applecross), Donald Morrison (Lewis) and Catriona Murray (Harris).  Members of the group were all nominated on the basis of their traditional knowledge and breadth of experience.

Jo MacDonald said, “It is clear that there is good work being done to ensure that Gaelic can continue to grow.  Research carried out in 2014 identified gaps and highlighted how the community wished to proceed in addressing these.  The committee exists to ensure that a range of skills and viewpoints are included as part of the project, whilst ensuring that the resources produced satisfy the identified needs and ultimately enhance the confident use of Gaelic now, and in the future.”

The initial stages of the development include a grammar reference and also the creation of a clear mechanism for assessing and disseminating new terminology.

Both developments have been identified as priorities by the Gaelic community in research carried out for Bòrd na Gàidhlig. The research clearly highlighted the desire from different communities that first-language Gaelic speakers be an integral part of the language development agenda.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Director of Language Planning and Community Developments, David Boag, said, “The Gaelic language continues to develop rapidly, reflecting its place in a modern Scotland.  Through this research we asked the Gaelic community to identify their current needs and, crucially, how we should proceed in developing new resources that reflect the needs of Gaelic speakers across the generations and at different levels of fluency.”

Iseabail Mactaggart, MG ALBA’s Director of Strategy and Partnership said: “We’re delighted to be contributing to practical help for Gaelic users, in grammar and in new terminology. This work is both practical and useful, and, importantly, it also has the authority of traditional speakers and academia.”