ANDREW Turnbull (Letters, May 10) made some pertinent points about the importance of preserving Scotland’s languages and dialects, and I’m sorry to see that Celia Judge (Letters, May 11) profoundly disagrees.

We in the West protest about China’s treatment of the Uighurs and her efforts to impose a Han Chinese monoculture in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. But that’s exactly what Britain did in its imperial glory days, and traces of that remain. One aspect of that policy was the renaming of places and people to make them sound more British. The most famous example is probably Nelson Mandela, who became Nelson only after he was given that fine British name on his first day at school.

In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela remarks in the first paragraph that his given first name is Rolihlahla, which in Xhosa has a colloquial meaning of “troublemaker”. As he observes wrily, that wasn’t necessarily an example of predestination. By chance, Mr Turnbull’s letter was printed on the 27th anniversary of Mandela’s inauguration as president of South Africa, a great day for the whole world.

It wasn’t only future presidents who were renamed. British Airways used to have bases for locally-recruited cabin crew in many parts of the world, and the recruits would adopt British names; so there was an Indian Cindy and a Chinese Rose. I’m pleased to see that practice is slowly dying out. Similarly, Mount Everest should perhaps revert to being Nepali Sagarmatha or Tibetan Chomolungma. We have no right to disrespect other cultures by disregarding their languages and names, pretending lazily they’re “too difficult”.

The same goes for our own languages and dialects. It was that great Englishman Dr Samuel Johnson who observed that language is the pedigree of a nation. If we don’t use Gaelic and our dialects, they will die out or become museum pieces, we will end up with a monoculture, and daily life will be less varied and less interesting.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


I AM not a Gaelic speaker, but do not agree with the assertion by Celia Judge that Gaelic was not spoken in Auchinleck – true today but not in the past. The anglicised name of Auchinleck is derived from the Gaelic Achadh nan Leac (field of the flagstones) and a scan of any ancient map will show numerous place names all over Scotland starting with Auch from the Gaelic achadh (field). In the 12th century most if not all of Scotland spoke Gaelic, to be replaced over time with Scots, Lallans and others.

The Daily Review of 1876 published a letter by D. Murray-Lyon of Ayr of which the following is a short extract: “Gaelic was to some extent spoken in Ayrshire in the early part of 1700s…. Margaret McMurray who died at a very advanced age about the year 1760, was long talked about as being the last Gaelic-speaking native of Carrick.”

By way of supporting her case, Ms Judge says Robert Burns would have written his poems in Gaelic, but it had long died out in Ayrshire by Burns’s time and also ignores the difficulty of doing so in these troubled times. Westminster introduced the Act of Proscription of 1747 which applied to "that part of Great Briton called Scotland” and included among a long list of other things, a ban on all forms of Highland clothes under penalty of imprisonment for a first offence and transportation to one of His Majesty’s plantations for seven years for a second offence. Although Gaelic was not banned as such, parents could only send their children to schools registered under the above act where Gaelic was not taught, was discouraged and those who spoke it were frequently punished with the tawse. As a government exciseman, any attempt by Burns to compose his poetry in Gaelic would have faced severe retribution.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.

* CELIA Judge is mistaken. During the 10th and 11th centuries Gaelic was spoken throughout mainland Scotland. Research by Professor WFH Nicolaisen of the School of Scottish Studies (1956-1969) at the University of Edinburgh in his book Scottish Place-names, demonstrates this. Burns wrote in the language of his time.

John Fleming, Glasgow.


I AM please to see Martha Vaughan writing on the subject of growing your own fruit and veg ("Blooming of enthusiasm for growing your own fruit and veg", The Herald, May 11). She is correct in emphasising the dire lack of adequate growing spaces for this.

Under the recently-adopted Scottish Government's Community Empowerment Act, Section 9, Allotments, every local authority must take all reasonable steps to provide allotments where there is a demand; that is, where there is a long waiting list, which is the case throughout Scotland.

One way in which this could be tackled would be through the planning system. Planning permission for new housing, both social and private, would only be granted with a condition to provide growing space.

With the demand for new housing so high in Scotland, I doubt if most developers would be put off by such a condition.

Rose Harvie, Dumbarton.


THANKS to Uzma Mir ("I can’t wait to hug my family again but spare me the hugs from everyone else", The Herald, May 11), I am reassured that I am not alone in finding the constant media calls to relax lockdown rules on hugging draining and tedious. A hug is just for Christmas and birthdays.

Will there be no end to this exuberance?

I rejoice that one benefit of Brexit may be the demise of extravagant Continental cheek-cheek, kiss-kiss nonsense.

R Russell Smith, Largs.