Statement – 02.07.2020

Mairi MacInnes, Chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig said:

Bòrd na Gàidhlig welcomes any research which contributes to our understanding of Gaelic in Scotland today. We have not had an opportunity to read the book, but we have had helpful discussions with the research team ahead of publication.

Our understanding is that one of the key messages from the research is that for the older generation of Gaelic speakers in the islands, Gaelic was and remains the default language of the community. For most younger people, the default language is now English. This finding will come as no surprise to anyone who lives in the islands or anywhere else and is a pattern that you will find in minoritised language communities across the globe.

Education policy in the Western Isles recognises the challenges for an indigenous minority language and now all children enter Gaelic medium education unless they choose to opt out. It has also been the success of Gaelic medium education that has led to the growth in numbers of speakers outwith the Western Isles, with, for example, the Glasgow Gaelic school is regularly one of the top performing schools in Scotland.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig and our partners in the public sector are listening and willing to discuss with island communities what else they want to happen, in addition to the many positive things which are already in place, to encourage greater use of Gaelic in the islands and elsewhere.

The primary aim of the current National Gaelic Language Plan is that Gaelic is used more often, by more people and in a wider range of situations. The Plan was prepared based on wide consultation with many communities and organisations, and the findings of the book would appear to confirm that this remains a reasonable and necessary aim.

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