By Liam Alastair Crouse
The future of any language is in its people. The degree to which they identify with it, use it, cherish it and pass it on determines a language’s vitality.
On Friday morning before work, I posted an abridged-for-twitter thread, detailing how I had come to the Gaelic language, as an American new speaker, now living in a Gaelic-speaking community in the Western Isles of Scotland.
I was incised not only by the article that had appeared in the Herald last week (which I’ll admit I didn’t read – I didn’t need too), but by the other recent attacks on the language and its speakers. How a Gaelic school in Skye might be seen as divisive… I can only lament.
How to write an anti #Gaelic article for the Herald.
1. Write an angry letter to your ex.
2. Replace his/her name with “Gaelic”.
3. Blend the letter.
4. Stick it back together in any random order.
5. Phone the Herald. Enjoi yah dollaz.
— The Daily Gael (@DailyGael) April 29, 2018
#IsMiseGàidhlig (#IamGaelic) sought to humanise a minority which is relentlessly downtrodden by the media. For every one positive news story, there are two negative ones. I’ve been a Gaelic speaker now for a decade – a third of my life – and I have experienced first-hand how the constant diatribe runs you down. It’s the same technique used to deter and supress other minorities through the centuries. I take strength from many Gaels I have known who endured much worse, for much longer.
#IsMiseGàidhlig I was raised with Gaelic (despite my grandmother actively discouraging my mother as thought it would hold me back, her opinion changed though), live in a Gaelic speaking community, freelance for @bbcalba, on @bordnagaidhlig1 What would I be doing without Gaelic?
— Domhnall Macsween (@sweenyness) April 28, 2018
#IsMiseGàidhlig I took Gaelic as an 'extra', part of a wider Modern Languages curriculum at @aberdeenuni. It soon took over. Three degrees later, I have three Gaelic books in print. I live in #Edinburgh where I now teach the language. Learning it was the best choice I ever made.
— Marcas Mac an T (@Marcas_Mac) April 28, 2018
In the UK, where other minority characteristics have received protection in legislation – race, religion, sex, sexual orientation – language has not. The idea, I suppose, is that I could just choose tomorrow to drop Gaelic and go back to being an expat American, and all would be fine. Language isn’t an inflexible characteristic like race is, right? I think the readers may disagree.
It's more than a language It's our heritage; our culture; our spirit; our heart and our soul. As we bring the curtain down on our time bearing the torch, other bands and artists must take on the mantle. And they will – the future of the Gael is in safe hands. #IsMiseGàidhlig
— Runrig (@Runrig1973) April 28, 2018
In my tread, I called on politicians to include language as a protected characteristic in equality and hate-speech legislation. I sought to evidence why a move is necessary. It soon caught on, trending throughout Scotland, with other speakers – from native speakers to the GME parent to MSPs – joining into the profound dialogue.
Singapore-born Cantonese Chinese. I started learning Gàidhlig in 2012. The experiences it has given me both here and in Scotland have enriched my view of the world and made me who I am. Now awaiting the day to head back to the heartland to put this gift to use. #IsmiseGàidhlig
— law.chiyan (@law_chiyan) April 28, 2018
My mum is a native Gaelic speaker – I took my oath in the Scottish Parliament in Gaelic so that she could be there, even though she couldn’t. I only have a wee bit of Gaelic but I have plenty commands, endearments (& swears – tha mi duilich mum ?) #IsMiseGàidhlig
— Maree Todd MSP (@MareeToddMSP) April 28, 2018
#IsMiseGàidhlig celebrates the diversity and strength of a modern, indigenous language in Scotland. There were participants from all over the globe and more than once it caused my eyes to well with pride. I can only hope that speakers are fortified by the campaign. If the future of a language is its people – if we are the future of Gaelic, then let us be emboldened for the coming task.
Cuimhnichibh gur sluagh sibh; is cumaibh suas ur còir.
A Scots speaker growin up on the heilan line, ma Scots dialect's affae heich in Gaelic lanewirds an grammar, an nearhaun aw wir place names is fae the Gaelic. Tho a lairner stull, iss B'nuil man says #ismisegàidhlig
— Michael Dempster (@DrMDempster) April 28, 2018
I started learning Gaelic at Glasgow University in 1994. Gaelic is a beautiful, dynamic, modern language with an incredible richness of expression. In my spare time I am also a sheep. #IsMiseGaidhlig pic.twitter.com/cEZsoykypH
— The Daily Gael (@DailyGael) April 28, 2018
— Kirsteen MacKenzie (@kirsteenMM) April 28, 2018
Raised in South Uist in a Gaelic speaking family that has been Gaelic for many centuries, (never English speaking) so although our kids are Edinburgh-born, they are Gaelic native speakers and I don't want to be responsible for ending Gaelic at my generation! #IsMiseGàidhlig
— Kenny Beaton (@coinneachpeutan) April 28, 2018
French is a tongue I got from my mother, but Gaelic is a gift from my kids. #IsMiseGàidhlig
— buidheag (@ABhuidheag) April 28, 2018