Wednesday, 1 April 2015


The Herald has an interesting article about anti-Gaelic sentiment in Scotland with the provocative title "Insular, Parochial and Narrowly Nationalistic".

Readers will be asking themselves which nationalism is being referred to, but those acquainted with Scotland know that the answer is irrelevant, since grass-roots prejudice is well represented on both sides of the constitutional divide — and, for the most part, not shared by the leadership of any political party.

One could go as far as to say that it is the very fact that Scottish national identity is not based on ethnicity that allows such ignorant bluster to continue to be spouted. Thus many people view Gaelic as a regional rather than a national language. They may be profoundly ignorant or in denial concerning the geographical extent to which it was previously spoken. Indeed, they may even view Gaelic-speakers in the Lowlands as incomers seeking to foist their culture on others and derive unfair economic advantage in the process — imaginary pheonomena summed up in the expression "Gaelic mafia".

Yet, when one considers the situation in Scotland, one can hardly avoid the conclusion that it is much healthier than that in Northern Ireland, where prejudice is very much associated with a single constitutional viewpoint and the core motivation of those who wish to promote the language is routinely misconstrued — even by self-styled non-sectarians — as seeking to offend the other.

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