Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr

Written by Aija in the Edinburgh Address Blog
Saturday, 28 September 2013 15:57
The headline translates to “one language is never enough”.

Today when I was walking to a meet in the city, I heard an older gentleman greeting another with “Feasgar math! Ciamar a tha thu?”. I am by no means a proper linguist, but that did not sound like any other greeting I had heard before. The two gentlemen continued their conversation in English, but that phrase stuck in my mind until I got home and got to make some research. After multiple attempts to write phonetically what I had heard, I found out that “feasgar math” is Scottish Gaelic for “good day” and “ciamar a tha thu” is “how are you”. Now, I couldn’t pronounce that to the life of me, but I find it fascinating that an ancient language such as Gaelic, abeit being a minority language, is still spoken and even educated in schools.

Scotland is one of the three countries that belong to Gaelic language group. The three Gaelic groups – Irish, Manx and Scottish – are distinct from each other and unfortunately a minority language that in places is facing extinction. A sad example is the Manx Gaelic, where the last native speaker, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974. On a positive note, though, Scotland and Ireland are still undertaking grand measures in keeping the rare language alive. Edinburgh being a wonderful example of this – with opening its first fully Gaelic school; Bun-sgoil Taobh na Páirce, or Parkside Primary School, has a roll of 211, 58 of whom are in Primary One. A further 79 children are in the nursery. There are 30 Gaelic-speaking staff and the curriculum will be taught entirely in the language. The Parkside Primary join other two fully Gaelic language schools in Scotland.

An indigenous language that might be in decline, but recent efforts to revive Gaelic in Scotland seem to be working. The previous Census results recorded an 11% drop in speakers, while the new figures suggest a 1.2% fall from 59,000 to 58,000. The latest results also show a 0.1% increase in Gaelic speakers aged under 20. This increase in interest towards Gaelic and in the numbers of people who regularly speak Scottish Gaelic is encouraging, and communities and the cities are providing more and more opportunities to enjoy events and entertainment in Gaelic. Edinburgh being an exhilarating and culturally very diverse city, with a steeped heritage in Gaelic, it is exciting to see the growth and trust in the origins of the Scottish culture.

Fascinating, don’t you think? Slàinte mhor a h-uile là a chi ‘s nach fhaic!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Chan eil aon chànan gu leòr

  1. Pingback: Publishing News From Scotland And Ireland | An Sionnach Fionn

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