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Pounds 200,000 lifeline may rescue Scots language

In Wales there is just one language of heaven. But in Scotland there is growing support for Scots - one of several languages and dialects alongside Gaelic - to be taught more consistently in schools.

The SNP-led Scottish government has announced a Pounds 200,000 lifeline for the Scots language.

In one of her last acts as culture minister, Linda Fabiani said she would also consider a proposal to establish a national body to promote the widespread use of Scots in education and business.

At a conference in Edinburgh about a government-commissioned audit of provision for the language, she told delegates: "We are prepared to do what we can to support the language."

Later she said: "Scotland has diverse languages and they all have to be supported."

The writer and broadcaster Billy Kay, who chaired the conference at Stirling University, described the funding boost as "an historic day for the Scots' language - close to so many Scottish hearts".

Rhys Evans, of Integrate Consulting in Edinburgh, which undertook the audit, explained that he had based his research on the experiences of other regional or minority languages - including Welsh.

In the area of education, he found provision in Scotland to be patchy - much stronger in the primary and higher education sectors, but weaker in secondary schools and further education colleges.

In Wales, the coalition government is committed to creating a truly bilingual Wales, the aim set out in the policy document Iaith Pawb ("Everyone's Language").

Studying Welsh is compulsory up to the age of 16, and there is increasing demand for Welsh-medium education.

The Assembly government prompted national controversy last week when it proposed new Wales-only legislation which, if agreed, would place an obligation on businesses - including utility companies - to produce bilingual correspondence.

There is already a legal obligation to do this in the public sector, including in schools.

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