Scottish Journalists – an Endangered Species?

Scottish Journalists – an Endangered Species?

‘Leave endangered languages to die in peace’

This is a response to an article by a Roxanne Sorooshian in the Sunday Herald 19 September 2010

Those of us who don’t live around Glasgow have central belt dominated media rammed down our throats. Look no further than the Herald and Sunday Herald. Before I gave it up as a waste of paper and waste of my time, it served up the same diet of central belt news and arts again and again. Its journalists too lazy or indifferent to look for anything happening anywhere except their own backyards.

As for Gaelic, it is spoken by many in Glasgow because of the historical influx of West Highlanders into Glasgow for work and housing. It is a peculiar thing that some people are so ignorant of the history of the country they live in that they see what they don’t understand as a threat as well as irrelevance.

I am more offended by the thousands who flocked to Bellahouston to breath in the same air as the Pope than that railway signs are in Gaelic or that the Pope included one of Scotland’s languages in the nonsense he was talking. So the ‘pilgrims’ at Bellahouston might have been perplexed by the Pope’s Gaelic as Latin. What do you suggest, he speak parliamo Glesga?

By the way, it is not true to suggest Gaelic was only spoken in the Highlands. Again your ignorance of Scotland’s history is regrettable.

Schools are closing – and have been for years. They have also been very run down for years and years under Labour governments. Horrible places for children to learn in and for teachers and other staff to work in. The money spent on Gaelic education is not going to make any difference to the overall state of our schools, the problem of large class sizes or any of the countless problems which beset our schools and pupils.

It is a bizarre argument to complain that parents will send their kids to a Gaelic school to benefit from smaller class sizes. What do you think goes on in these schools? The kids do not just sit around speaking Gaelic. They are schools – have to stick to the same principles and regulations as other schools. Kids sit the same exams. Evidently logical thought isn’t one of your talents.

You chuck in a statement about preserving cultural heritage but that’s just tokenism – you don’t mean it. How can you? You’ve no idea what it means. What is all this about forcing everyone to speak Gaelic. I don’t. Equally I don’t mind the money spent on it. There are so many things that money is mis-spent on in this country, Gaelic is the least of them.

Garbage statements such as ‘Perhaps it’s healthier to leave well alone. After all, no-one ever forgot the dodo’ just sum up this silly piece of work. Where it is possible to preserve animals or languages or whatever then that should be done. It is amazing that anyone should think otherwise.

Where there are people in this country appreciate the language of their ancestors – a language which has a rich heritage in song and literature – should be encouraged. If we let our language slide, we will end up with accountants running every aspect of our lives. Perhaps you have missed your calling.

5 Comments to “Scottish Journalists – an Endangered Species?”

  1. Not sure what Vavatch is getting at, but, as far as I know, since the Herald dropped ‘Glasgow’ from its title it has made a pitch for more national sales.
    Perhaps Vavatch sees Gaelic as ‘alien’ to Glasgow. This is like saying that tourism is alien to Edinburgh. Glasgow has always had a large Gaelic speaking population – today its about 10000 (Edinburgh has 3000). It was said that until recently it was easier to hear Gaelic in Partick than in Stornoway. As Alastair MacIntosh observed – ‘ go to any Glasgow scheme and every second name on the doors will be Scots or Irish Gaelic.’

    A look at history will explain why.

    Whatever, with more than 300 kids in Bunsgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu, the parental demand is clearly there, for a variety of reasons.

    Of more pertinence to the Herald, is with 10k Gaels in its ‘target city’ and newspaper sales plummeting, can it afford to alienate these locals?

  2. Oh, Vavatch, You’re a sensitive soul. Of course I don’t buy The Herald, why would I?

    Interesting stereotype that anyone who doesn’t live in Glasgow is a rural type. You probably believe Glasgow is the capital of Scotland, too.

    Curious the way your mind wandered so quickly towards pornography. Ah well, it takes a’ kinds, as they say.

    While I wouldn’t argue with accusations that I am deluded over lots of things in life I have a certain expertise when it comes to education. I most certainly do not think all state schools are equally successful, unsuccessful or anything else and have never said anything of the sort, ever. I have been in the company of exam markers who roll their eyes when discussing another bundle of papers from certain schools in Glasgow cross their desks but let’s get back into stereotyping whole sections of people from one or two examples.

    Many parents will do anything to give their children advantages – whether it is seeking out schools which have a success track record but schools are not the complete picture. The role and example of parents is also vitally important even if that is not transferring negative messages to their children about education.

    Coming from the east of Scotland I don’t really get the catholic/protestant thing. We’re much more enlightened here.

    When you write ‘We really shouldn’t encourage children to speak dying languages’ what does this mean? It is not a case of forcing anyone so would you deprive people of choice? What is the point of actively preventing a language being used? Isn’t this a bizarre notion? The languages spoken at different times by people are not ‘nonsense’. What an ignorant attitude. Parents, I imagine, who want their kids to speak Gaelic or whatever do so for a variety of reasons, least of all, if at all, from insecurity.

    According to your argument the state should impose its current ideology and set of beliefs on everybody. Well, it’s a point of view shared by others that come to mind – Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong etc.

  3. If you don’t want central belt media “rammed” down your throat, don’t buy a central belt newspaper. Wasn’t that an easy solution??

    I just can’t work up any outrage over a Glasgow newspaper targeting the area it makes the great majority of it’s sales. Don’t like that fact, buy a more local paper that covers sheep farming or whatever it is that excites rural types.

    You clearly have a chip on your shoulder about being “forced” to read a Glaswegian newspaper – much like a nun watching pornography and vein outraged. Again and again.

    For Gaelic – it is certainly true that parents will send their kids to good schools in preference to bad ones. It is also true that the Gaelic schools in Glasgow are good – many times better than normal state schools. Perhaps this is due to the sort of parents that choose to send their kids there, and self selecting network effects. You must be deluded though if you think all state schools are of identical quality, and that parents don’t take advantage of this. There’s plenty pretend to be catholic for similar reasons.

    We really shouldn’t encourage children to speak dying languages, or dying religions come to that. We’re encumbering them with nonsense purely to tackle the cultural and religious insecurities of the parents. It may be something we have to put up with to some extent, but embracing linguistic and religious difference shouldn’t be encouraged by the state for it’s own sake.

  4. Hi Tocasaid,
    Sorry for the delay in responding. Thought I had but I’ve been messing around with my blog.
    Thanks for taking time to read the blog and for your kind words. It is frustrating to come across dull-witted columnists. They seem to take up space that once was given over to real journalism and news. Alas no more.
    Bloggers do the same except we don’t get paid for it and for small-time occasional bloggers like me – get very few reading their opinons.
    One of the reasons for the success of Gaelic schools might be that parents make a deliberate choice to send their children there, therefore they are already interested parents. That is one of the keys to successful schoolchildren. Amazing and regrettable how many parents have no or little interest in their children’s education. And I don’t mean pushing them into further or higher education – only achieving what is possible.
    Oops, off on a tangent.
    Language is fascinating. I love the sounds and rhythms of Doric and while it is not the dialect I grew up with find I enjoy using it when I write. Doric, however, is not a language like Gaelic. I did give it a go a few years back and found it very difficult. Let’s be honest, impossible, but I enjoy the softness of Gaelic and Gaelic speakers who use those same sounds in English.
    Language is not my thing, history is, and languages and history are very much tied up together which is why I reacted so strongly to the columnist. Can’t be bothered checking out her name again.

  5. Agree. I don’t really have the time to continually engage idiots and bigots in debate so its refreshing to hear some sense.

    In my experience, Gaelic schools/units in Glasgow and Edinburgh are oversubscribed due to parental demand and thus classes are full. In other areas such as Stirling or Condorrat (middle-class??!!!), classes may be smaller but children are very local and probably mostly working class.

    Most languages do not just ‘die’ – they are actively and aggressively killed off. I’d say that Gaelic medium is excellent value for money – it improves cognitive abilities plus produces kids who are bilingual, and ironically speak better English.

    S trom an t-uallach aineolas – ignorance is a heavy burden.

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