Offended by call to scrap Gaelic signs
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.