Friday, 22 April 2016

Let's Abolish Football

Bella Caledonia is featuring screenshots of the kind of embarrassing ignorance displayed by Scottish people with keyboards when linguistic diversity takes them outside their wonted comfort zone. The occasion was Gaelic Twitter Day, or rather, the contribution to Gaelic Twitter Day made by the Scottish Football Association (SFA).

The complaints seemed to focus on three particular, and baseless, accusations: 1) that the use of Gaelic on Twitter cost money (if it did, it would have been something less than the price of a packet of Quavers); 2) that the initiative was a sop to Nationalist politics (speakers of Gaelic in Scotland are still generally of the traditional kind, and their politics comes in all forms); and 3) most bizarrely of all, that it was a deliberate slight to the Queen, who celebrated her 90th birthday on the same day (in fact, Gaelic Twitter Day is aligned to Frisian Twitter Day in the Netherlands, while the Queen counts many Gaelic-speaking Kings of Scots among her ancestors and during a recent visit to Ireland was herself heard to use a few words of its Irish sister-language; indeed, her son Prince Charles even read out a Gaelic translation of his children's book on television).

Clearly we have a long way to go in encouraging respect for Gaelic and Scots. Regarding those who made the comments, perhaps the Blether Region might be permitted the following observations:

1) The fact that Scotland has never been monolingual, and that the farther back in time one goes, the more multilingual it becomes, means that cultural nationalism is not what it is in Wales or even Ireland. Having more than one national language is a good thing, but we have to take the rough with the smooth.

2) Some of those commenting — certain of the Rangers fans — may have been doing so from a perspective of Northern Irish rather than Scottish politics (one was called "Thiepval Wood"). Indeed, they may even have been labouring under the impression that contemporary Scottish Gaelic is a "Catholic" language (it is overwhelmingly Protestant), or that the tongue being used was Irish. You see, there's really no beginning to their sophistication.

3) Although, in party-political terms, Scotland has a much better class of Unionist than Northern Ireland and is socially stable as a result, in recent months some of them, perhaps in desperation, have been furiously trying to link Gaelic with Nationalism. They should stop making plonkers of themselves.

4) Football is an embarrassment to Scotland. As well as being the last bastion of sectarianism (which in this case seems to have intersected with anti-Gaelic prejudice), it plays a major role in keeping our news services pish and succeeds in attracting far too many folk who are a bit thick. Let's ban it. Offended? Well, it's a good deal less offensive than trying to ban Gaelic.

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