Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 21 April 2005

Gaelic in Scotland - 'equal respect', but not 'equal validity'

The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Bill passed on Thursday by the Scottish Parliament seems, to me, to have struck the correct balance. Peter Peacock is not my favourite person (he was at one time my local councillor, when he called himself an 'Independent' and when I lived in Culloden), but his remarks on this matter seem very apt to me:

"This bill gives clear recognition to the language as an official language, commanding equal respect with the English language.

"There is a real danger that the interpretation by the courts could result in a meaning of the status that this parliament does not intend and could not be delivered.

"Using the phrase equal validity in the bill carries a significant risk that the court could rule that the bill should result in the right to demand the use of the language in a wider range of circumstances than is intended."

It is right to support the promotion of Gaelic as a living language, in my view, but it would be completely out of proportion to give it a legal status equivalent to English, given that only slightly over one per cent of the population of Scotland describe themselves as speakers of Gaelic.

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