I SUPPOSE I should have expected it: the weekend saw the conclusion of the excellent and highly successful National Gaelic Mod (successful not least for Oban, where participants spent a lot of cash) and on Monday (October 19) you published a letter from David J Crawford complaining about Police Scotland spending money on signage in Gaelic.

Mr Crawford gets it wrong, of course: Gaelic signage costs Police Scotland nothing. Only new signage, for example on police cars, will include Gaelic and this will be covered by costs that have to be paid anyway.

Mr Crawford might want to bear in mind that the funding set aside for Gaelic in Scotland is to meet the needs of 57,000 native speakers and 90,000 learners, a lot of whom are taxpayers surely entitled to their share of the national budget. The Scottish Government also sets aside funding to encourage French, Spanish and German through their institutes. And the melas, Chinese New Year celebrations and the Scots Storytelling Centres all attract national and local funding.

Like Mr Crawford, I am in favour of independence, though I am not a nationalist. However, I think before we can move forward in Scotland we need to develop a tolerance gene: all languages are good because they all bring music, poetry and traditions with them. People who are of mixed Scots-Polish or Scots-Irish or Scots-Italian or Scots-Pakistani or Gaelic origins are blessed. They have an insight into another world. I’m sorry Mr Crawford by his own admission is locked out of such an experience. But I’m sure he will agree it can only be to the good, given the state the world is in right now.

Jean Nisbet,

Flat 35 Walton Court, Maryville Avenue, Glasgow.

DAVID J Crawford, like many Scots, appears to panic when faced with Gaelic words on “official” notice boards. This is seen as an attack on their personal comfort zones and they prefer that Gaelic should be hidden from public view. Mr Crawford ever refers to “chuntering” in Gaelic – much the same, I suppose, as I can “chunter” in German or English.

The public appearance of Gaelic is due to the Gaelic Language Act ,passed by the Labour-Liberal coalition which ran the Scottish Parliament before 2007. The Act provides legal force for equality of Gaelic and English and all public bodies are required to have a Gaelic language policy.

Mr Crawford makes the usual erroneous claim about the “cost” of printing Gaelic words. There will be no cost: nothing is ever altered – Gaelic only appears on new signs as they replace old ones and it will be likewise with new Police Scotland uniforms.

The appearance of “Poileas Alba” on uniforms will be most welcome. Indeed “Poileas”, as pronounced, is exactly the same as the “Polis” – the word many Scots use for “Police”. Welsh Police have bi-lingual uniforms and Ireland has the Garda.

Gaelic is a larger part of Scottish life and culture than Mr Crawford suggests – most of our place-names and personal names are Gaelic (both Scots and Irish). The “tartanry” he derides also has a huge following in the pipe band movement and elsewhere.

Mr Crawford declares: ”I am a nationalist and republican”. It has become chic in some circles to define independence almost exclusively in economic and social terms. The danger with playing down Scottish culture is that the British Establishment, like Madrid with the Catalans, might challenge the authenticity of the nationalist movement in Scotland. The constitutional right of five million people to some day walk off with one-third of UK territory is based entirely on cultural claims of nationhood.

Tom Johnston,

5 Burn View, Cumbernauld.

For the last four decades I have collected newspaper cuttings on a variety of topics, one of which is attitudes to Gaelic. I have noticed over the years that letters from correspondents who are unsympathetic to the promotion of Gaelic tend to argue from what could be described politely as “a limited knowledge base”. One who sticks in my mind believed that Gaelic has no real grammar, which took me aback, because, as a learner, I had struggled (and still do) with the genitive of the five noun declensions, the periphrastic pluperfect tense, and first and second comparative adjectives, to name but a few. On Monday’s Letters page Mr David J. Crawford provided another example of this phenomenon. According to him “Gaelic… never was the mother tongue of the majority of Scots and has its origins in Ireland.” His first assertion does not match the fact that Gaelic place-names occur over most of the land area of Scotland. Regarding his second assertion, the actual origins of Gaelic, English and all the other Indo-European languages are likely to lie in the Russian steppe, whilst the idea that Gaelic language and culture reached Scotland via Ireland is not supported by archaeological evidence. I note that this information is included in the learning resources of Curriculum for Excellence’s ‘Studying Scotland’, which gives us some hope that the younger generation will be better informed of their country’s cultural history than is Mr Crawford.

Iain Wilkie,

Craigeniver, Strachur, Argyll.

I LEFT school having studied Latin, French and German, but I did not realise fully how I had benefited from that learning. Later, I was present in a social group where one person was insisting that learning another language was a waste of time, as the rest of the world would shortly be able to speak English. An older English friend in this group said quietly that being able to speak a language wasn't the main reason for learning it. When asked to clarify, he said that the more important reason was to “crack the culture” of the people who speak the language. Even if you only learned a little, he said, you would have started the process. I then understood more clearly what precisely I had gained from my school language learning experience.

I also realised that my frustration in not being able to sing a Gaelic song, pronounce a Gaelic place name, or understand the topographical significance of a mountain name, was not simply that I could not do these things. The more significant problem was that I realised that I had zero access to a major and different culture, in the country that I was brought up in and love.

For the record, there is no Gaelic in my family history. I found an opportunity to start learning Gaelic only recently and it is one of the most rewarding learning experiences I have ever had.

Thomas GF Gray,

4A Auchinloch Road, Lenzie.