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Fertile language

We may have unearthed a new Gaelic education policy. The Scottish Office has told councils there is a "reasonable demand" for Gaelic schooling "where the parents of at least eight children so request".

It seems rather a high hurdle that parents must have eight children before they can exercise their entitlement. The letter was before education conveners at their regular meeting on Friday, which did not give the language an ecstatic ceud mile failte.

Edinburgh's Elizabeth Maginnis and Fife's Alec Thomson were particularly cool. They were joined by Doric champions Joan Orskov of Aberdeenshire and Margo Howe of Moray. Gaelic is a "non-event" in Shetland where they are struggling to save the Shetland dialect, said Bill Smith. It was left to Inverclyde's Yvonne Robertson to draw a distinction between a language and a dialect.

There was nothing for the hapless Western Isles representative, Roddy Mackay, to do but reassure the monoglots: "Gaelic shouldn't be forced on anyone. "

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