Of­fended by call to scrap Gaelic signs

The Oban Times - - LETTERS - Arra Mac a’ Phear­sain Mac Gill’ Fheis­teir (Arra Fletcher), Seal­ladh na Beinne ( Hill View), An Seanbhaile (Old Town), North Bal­lachul­ish.

Sir, In re­sponse to John and Jackie Pad­di­son’s call to ‘Scrap Gaelic road signs’ (Letters, The Oban Times, Novem­ber 3), I’m sure they didn’t mean to cause any of­fence with their sug­ges­tion to ‘scrap Gaelic road signs and re­pair pot­holes in­stead’.

Gaelic is ob­vi­ously not their cul­ture, but it is ours. If you drive through Wales, Corn­wall, Ire­land etc and hit an­other pot­hole, would you ex­pect them to rip off their na­tive name signs and tell them to spend money on their pot­holes?

The Gaelic lan­guage has suf­fered ter­ri­bly dur­ing the pre­vi­ous cen­turies as it was lit­er­ally beaten out of my fa­ther’s gen­er­a­tion by teach­ers who told him that ‘ you won’t get a job or a ca­reer speak­ing Gaelic’ (even though bilin­gual­ism can greatly en­hance cog­ni­tive skills).

In the 19th cen­tury, Or­di­nance Sur­vey car­tog­ra­phers who were non- Gaelic speak­ers an­gli­cised the place names when map­ping Scot­land and Ire­land and changed the Gaelic and Ir­ish names.

Other, dev­as­tat­ing, his­tor­i­cal events such as the af­ter­math of Cul­lo­den, the High­land Clear­ances and the First World War hugely di­min­ished the num­bers of Gaelic speak­ers to such an ex­tent it has still not re­cov­ered, and maybe never will.

I can’t speak Gaelic be­cause of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions’ en­forced shame, but I’m proud to see these signs.

My un­der­stand­ing is that a bud­get of £2 mil­lion cov­ers roads signs over­all and that there’s isn’t a sig­nif­i­cant cost im­pli­ca­tion for adding the Gaelic.

Even the BBC has re­ported Gaelic con­trib­utes up to £148.5 mil­lion per an­num to the Scot­tish econ­omy.

Yes, our in­fra­struc­ture here des­per­ately needs im­prove­ment but, rather than scrap Gaelic road signs, let’s with­draw spend­ing on Tri­dent, HS2, the House of Lords and other fri­vol­i­ties.

I think we’re very lucky to have a unique lan­guage, cul­ture and iden­tity which should be cel­e­brated not vil­i­fied. These names have mean­ing – in Gaelic, if not in English.

As for strug­gling to get around, my Dutch wife, who has no Gaelic, gets around just fine sim­ply by read­ing the white English bits.

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