Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Minister for Scots

The Scots Language Centre has reported on the appointment of Dr. Alasdair Allan MSP as Minister for Scots. Back in 1998, Allan made history by being awarded a PhD  for a thesis — New founs fae auld larachs: leid-plannin for Scots — written not only about the language, but in it. What's more, the new Minister — born in Selkirk, in the Southern Scots dialect region of Hugh MacDiarmid — is, like the great poet before him, also an enthusiastic supporter of Scottish Gaelic.

Allan represents Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the Scottish Parliament and previously worked as a Gaelic journalist. No surprise, then, that his portfolio also includes responsibility for that language.

It is clear that the new Scottish Government, no longer constrained by minority rule, means business with regard to the nation's autochthonous languages.

All this forms a marked contrast to the stasis currently affecting the Ulster dialect of Scots, while, until the recent departure of Nelson McCausland, the development of Irish seemed to have been put into reverse.

Regardless of what the future holds with regard to Scotland's indigenous languages, the Blether Region is willing to bet that, even with the same Minister in charge of both Scots and Gaelic, he will not introduce exactly the same policies for them, nor aim to keep their budgets equal, nor attempt to undo the progress made by one until the other catches up. In short, he will act pragmatically rather than ideologically — and achieve more for both in the process.

Another good-news story with regard to Gaelic is that BBC Alba, the TV station formerly limited to satellite and cable, is to go live on Freeview channel 8 in Scotland from 8 June. How long must we wait for TG4 to be made available on Freeview in Northern Ireland?

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