Gaelic signs serve very lit­tle pur­pose

The Oban Times - - Letters -

Sir, I was pleased to note some in­ter­est in my re­cent let­ter on the sub­ject of Gaelic bilin­gual trunk road signs.

D MacKen­zie of An Gear­as­dan ap­pears un­will­ing to ac­cept that the sole pur­pose of road signs is to pro­vide clear di­rec­tion to road users. Given that just 0.5 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion claim Gaelic lit­er­acy, ob­struct­ing es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion need­lessly and de­plet­ing the trunk road re­pair bud­get by mil­lions of pounds re­mains, in my view, an ab­so­lute dis­grace.

John Carmichael, com­ment­ing on the length of some Gaelic place name ver­sions, has my sym­pa­thy. One nearby road sign in­creased in size by 500 per cent so I am only too well aware of the mas­sive hoard­ings now with us.

An of­fi­cial sur­vey into at­ti­tudes to­wards Gaelic con­cluded: ‘The key chal­lenge is not so much to in­crease aware­ness of Gaelic gen­er­ally, given that it is al­ready high, or in­deed to do more to re­late Gaelic to tra­di­tions and cul­ture, but rather to pro­mote the rel­e­vance of Gaelic to Scot­land as a whole.’

The new road signs failed mis­er­ably to en­hance the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence and rais­ing aware­ness of Gaelic in this man­ner has now been con­firmed as serv­ing lit­tle prac­ti­cal pur­pose.

I fer­vently hope Gaelic can sur­vive as a work­ing lan­guage in these trou­bling times but much more must be done ur­gently to en­cour­age and en­gage in the spo­ken word, no mat­ter how lit­tle or gram­mat­i­cally adrift ‘Gaelic Smat­ters Mat­ter’. Lewis Mor­ri­son, Bere­go­nium, Ben­der­loch. MORE than half a cen­tury ago the Ir­ish tack­led the prob­lem of road signs head- on, with an ob­vi­ous – and per­fect – so­lu­tion. Sim­ply use a clearly dif­fer­ent font for each lan­guage.

First, though, it’s best to de­cide which lan­guage is to ap­pear first on the sign­board – and stick to this.

The reader soon be­comes ac­cus­tomed to quickly spot­ting the lan­guage they want to see.

Visit Ire­land to see for your­self how ef­fec­tive this is.

I can un­der­stand why no­body has thought of do­ing this in Scot­land be­cause we suf­fer from the same prob­lem here in North Wales. Geoffrey Tyson, Capel Gar­mon, North Wales.

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