How can Scotland do this to its language heritage?

15th October 2010 at 01:00

I am dismayed to hear that the Scottish Government has decided to cease all funding for the wonderful programmes that TAICCSNA have developed for Gaelic language revitalisation.

As a scholar and language advocate who has worked for more than 40 years for the survival of endangered languages, I have been following TAIC's innovative programmes for early childhood, adult and family language learning with great interest. These programmes are popular and effective in Scotland and its sister speech communities in Nova Scotia and, furthermore, are a great model for the rest of the world.

Language revitalisation is a strong and growing movement around the world, and Scotland's new approach to bringing the language back into the family and community for daily communication is one of the best. TAIC's family language programme is one of the few in the world designed specifically to help families regain Gaelic as their home language.

TAIC's programmes have been successful and broadly praised, taking Gaelic language revitalisation in a more positive direction than school programmes have been able to do. How can Scotland give such a blow to its heritage language? Funding should be restored.

Leanne Hinton, professor emerita, department of linguistics, University of California, Berkeley.

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