The Response to Cod
Sorry to borrow from the Berwickshire two days running but this is an interesting riposte to Mr Councillor Cook-see yesterdays post. about the new Gaelic greeting on the Scottish wild frontier
At the outset, I must say I do respect Councillor Cook and work with him in Ayton. However, on this occasion his comments on the signage at the Border are quite disrespectful.
Duns, Gordon, Traprain, Dunbar, Eildon, Kelso, Penmanshiel, Dunglass, and Edinburgh (Dun Edin) are just some examples of placeneames derived from earlier names given in Gaelic spoken at the Scottish Court or Brythonic (Old Welsh) spoken by the likes of the Gododdin kingdom that inhabited the Lothians and the Merse prior to invasion by the Angles.
Most pre-Angle placenames have gone, but it is wonderful to drive around Scotland and see non-anglicized versions of names and be able to translate from the Gaelic to English and understand how our predecessors saw a place. After all, “Glas-ghu”, ironically translating as a “dear green place”, is now home to Scotland’s largest conurbation, while the famous Schiehallion in Perthshire apparently translates as “The Fairy Hill of the Caledonians”.
Gaelic speaking declined from more than 260,000 people in 1891, at which time around 6.5% of Scotland's population spoke the language to just 1.2% now (59,000).
Scotland has finally joined other European nations in trying to archive cultural material and preserve its native languages (including ‘Lallans’ or ‘Scots’ used throughout the Borders) and encourage greater use.
This is a sign of a civilised and confident society that is able to respect its indigenous minorities and protect their culture. It is our duty to future generations to do what we can to see these cultures survive.
Why shouldn’t Gaelic speakers travelling home via the A1 be greeted by a sign in their native or preferred tongue? Moreover, Gaelic words are embedded in English today and I think it is smashing (is math sin or phonetically is-ma-shin, literally “that is great”) that we reflect one of Scotland’s native tongues.
It is important that Scotland maintains its distinctiveness as place to visit in a shrinking planet with an all-pervasive ‘western/US’ monoculture.
Councillor Cook does not have to use the language, but is it too much to ask that he might respect its use by others? More might wish to learn the language, if courses were available locally - some chance if Councillor Cook has his way. Ignorance is no defence for prejudice, given the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005, brought in with cross-party support.
So perhaps the signage should be in one or all of these ancient languages?
WELCOME TO GODODDIN would stir a heart or two (in Old Welsh of course)