IT started with an innocuous visit to Auchinleck, and ended in an argument.

No, this isn’t one of those archetypal Ayrshire junior football stories, but a tale of a letter that led us down an unexpected byway. It began on Monday with a plea from reader Andrew Turnbull for Gaelic to be brought back into public life. He added: “Why should Gaelic speakers have to anglicise their names?”. I decided to illustrate the point with a picture from our files of a bilingual road sign. As fate would have it, I chose Auchinleck, or Achadh nan Leac. And that’s where the trouble began.

On Tuesday, Celia Judge retorted that the widespread use of Gaelic was a politically correct gesture, adding that Auchinleck is “a town in the west of Scotland where Gaelic was not spoken and is as foreign a tongue to the locals as Romanian or Chinese”. On Wednesday, we had a slew of responses affirming that Gaelic was once widely spoken in the area, with evidence going back as far as the 10th century. Doug Maughan wrote: “If we don’t use Gaelic and our dialects, they will die out or become museum pieces.”

There are areas of reporting where we do use the Gaelic. We wouldn’t dream of translating Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is now widely used; it is becoming almost as familiar as Western Isles Council. Why not, then, say Na h-Eileanan for the area the local authority represents? After all, we have no qualms when it comes to munros: Aonach Mòr and Buachaille Etive Mòr, for example, may not trip off the tongue, but they’re familiar to many. And The Herald reported last September on the growing campaign to change Fort William to An Gearasdan.

That chimes with a theme in Mr Maughan’s letter: “We have no right to disrespect other cultures by disregarding their languages and names,” he wrote, giving as an example Mount Everest: should it revert to being Nepali Sagarmatha or Tibetan Chomolungma?

He actually raises a fair point. There are many place names that we no longer anglicise as a matter of course. I used to harbour an ambition to visit Ayers Rock, now it’s Uluru.We don’t talk about Bombay any more, it’s Mumbai. Beijing, not Peking.

But how far should we go? It’s one thing to abandon colonial names that were used because we wanted them to sound British. That is as it should be. But sometimes, for a while at least, new usages cause confusion. For example, Czechia might cause some readers to stumble before realising that we are talking about the Czech Republic (although it’s been an official name since 2016).

Our style guide is unhelpfully silent on the issue. I can find no advice on changing place names, Gaelic or otherwise. So let us know what you think. Readers from Achadh nan Leac included.