Saturday, 20 September 2014

So Scotland won't be an "independent"

country. It is however full of very independent people and "independence" may yet come. Certainly the United Kingdom is going to change. It will have to.
I have mixed feelings about the result, particularly as I know people who fought for a "yes" and I respect their views and understanding of the situation in the country.
There were implications for Downunder that few people were even aware of. As they won't be happening I won't go into them here but, on balance, I think I am relieved they will not be happening.
A columnist here wrote an article asking what would happen if this state tried to declare independence. It is an interesting thought, especially given our geographical location - the middle of the country.
The state to the west of us has sometimes threatened to secede. The state to the north-east of us has sometimes threatened to secede - or break into a northern and southern state. A late friend of mine actually wrote his honours thesis on the issue. It, rightly, did not come to any conclusion but much of what he said there was reflected in the debate over Scottish independence.
There is one issue that he did not need to consider and that was language. Downunder has only one official language - English.
Scotland of course, and quite rightly, uses two - English and Scots Gaelic.
It is language which, more than anything else, makes a nation. Language is power. It is why so many regimes will try to stamp out the use of minority languages.
When I was at law school I submitted a proposal to write my final paper in Jurisprudence on language planning. It was a proposal which was hesitantly received - and had finally to be approved by the Professor as the lecturer in question felt it was an unsuitable topic. There was not thought to be enough in it. (If I may boast - the paper gained top marks.)
So, one of the things I hope will come out of the vote in Scotland is a renewed determination to keep what, for many, is a dying language. Gaelic does not have to be a dying language. It is a rich language and it has a magnificent literary heritage. It is also the language of my ancestors and, as the saying goes, 
       "Cha bhi fios aire math an tobair gus an trĂ igh e."
(The value of the well is not known until it runs dry.)
Don't let the well of language run dry. Revive that language because, without it, you will lose your identity.


Vanessa said...

The problem with Gaelic is that it was only ever spoken originally in the Hebrides. In the lowlands/central belt Scots was most common (although the jury's out on whether that's a dialect or a language and where the boundary is) and round Aberdenshire they speak Doric. And yet Gaelic seems to be the adopted language and forced on us everywhere, even in places where it would never have been spoken. That's why it's dying - if you have to legislate to force people to use it and be aware of it then it loses its vitality and becomes a chore. And don't even get people started on the amount of money spent keeping this dying language on life support...

catdownunder said...

My understanding is that it was also widely spoken in north-west Scotland - certainly my great-grandparents spoke it and so did the community around them.
If we lose languages then we lose ways of thinking - so ALL languages are worth saving.