On and around January 25 many of us will be celebrating Burns night with wining and dining and enjoying poems and songs in celebrating our nationhood, all spoken in our traditional indigenous Scots tongue or simply Scots.
Celebrating the Bard's life and times is a quintessentially Scottish custom.
Despite the fact Gaelic is virtually a superfluous language spoken by only an estimated 2% of the population, largely in north-west Scotland, the Scottish Government is bankrolling Gaelic to the tune of £25 million in 2012/13. During the same period it is spending a measly £270,000 on protecting the Scots tongue, ie almost 100th of the former spend. Patently they are not concerned with protecting the Scots tongue.
Notwithstanding this, many will agree there is little to be gained by anyone learning Gaelic, either to promote communication, business opportunities or to foster relationships with other countries. (Much better with German, French, Spanish or Mandarin.) Perhaps it is studied for sentimental or romantic reasons.
The big question we should be asking the Scottish Parliament is this: who wants the introduction of Gaelic? I have never been asked, nor do I believe there is popular support for this. Additionally, there has been no serious public debate on this important issue, nor open public support, but despite this Gaelic appears surreptitiously on our railway signs, timetables and town names. Just how far will it go?
The massive £25m spent supports BBC Alba television and radio (£11.9m); Bord na Gaidhlig, a quango tasked with persuading us all to speak Gaelic (£4.46m); and dedicated Gaelic education (£6.41m). Unbelievably, we're even having to thole Gaelic commentary on SPL football and rugby broadcasts on BBC Alba. Just who can understand a word of this, I ask? I have heard fans now chose to mute the sound while watching their favourite teams playing.
At a time when clinical waiting times are escalating, hospitals are being fully stretched and universities are suffering cutbacks, Alex Salmond is still able to spend £25m in pacifying the Gaelic community.
I contend that the majority of Scottish people are much more familiar with the indigenous Scots tongue, which evolved from old British/English/Welsh and preceded the coming of Gaelic, into what is now Scotland. It was spoken throughout much of Scotland alongside English when I was young, and has been for many centuries. The works of many of our writers and poets were recorded, quite naturally, in the Scots tongue. Now, however, since our Parliament is spending nearly 100 times more on promoting Gaelic than Scots, it is highly probable the Scots tongue will die out completely.
When devouring their haggis, Mr Salmond and his MSPs should reflect on the fact they have spurned the memory of Robert Burns in their preference for Gaelic. Burns was a champion of the Scots tongue and all his works gave testament to that.
They should hang their heads in shame for their betrayal.
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