Hey guys. Some things have came up in my life and I’m going to need some time to figure stuff out. I’ll be on hiatus for a while.
It’s always tragic to read about the death of indigenous languages. But what are people’s opinions on languages that are simply dying out due to irrelevance to a majority of the population? Scottish Gaelic was on the decline until fairly recently, but as languages go it’s fairly well documented - there’s a wealth of poetry, prose, and other literature in Gaelic, as well as information on Gaelic culture.
Does my country have a moral responsibility to keep Gaelic alive, or should we focus on documenting what we can on the language and instead of trying (and spending money) to keep it artificially alive (who the fuck watches bbc alba) we should allow it to continue it’s decline?
A couple of decades ago, Iàin Mac a’ Ghobhainn asked the same question in his long poem Am faigh a’ Ghàidhlig bàs, and put it into his essay “Real People in Real Places”. He quite poignantly states that the question ‘shall [we let] Gaelic die’, is the same as asking ‘shall we [let ourselves] die’, and I for one agree.
The idea that Gaelic as a language serves no purpose in a modern Scotland is to fall for the hugely exaggerated claims of our people’s ongoing extinction within the borders of Scotland. It wouldn’t be an understatement to claim that Gaelic has suffered centuries of linguistic and cultural oppression, but the lack of a large body of speakers today does not mean that Gaelic as such is fit for the morgue.
Tha sinne seo fhathast. Tha a’ Ghàidhlig seo fhathast.
We are still here. Gaelic is still here.
I personally find the suggestion to turn to literary bodies of work to in a distant future study the language like Latin of the dead masters, instead of promoting the continuous use of and production of new material in Gaelic to be both offensive and misguided. While it is a suggestion, stemming directly from an internalised view of Gaels through the majority’s five commodities of the minority, in this case the one where minorities are to be seen as long-gone, mythical museum artifacts, and consequently easily dismissed, it is frustrating to see it being so easily passed around by people who’s entire public, international as well as national image is based on a bastardised, tartanised version of Gaelic culture.
Scotland as a country represents itself through a veil of Gaelicisms, from the kilt to the whisky, ‘the tartan is a language’ and you cannot read it without the Gaelic, and to then ponder if it wouldn’t be best to just let Gaelic turn into a museum novelty, well that is just preposterous.
You ask if Scotland has a moral responsibility to keep Gaelic alive, and I would like to quote Iàin Mac a’ Ghobhainn in response;
It is not a witticism to say “Shall Gaelic die?” What that means is “Shall we die?” For on the day that I go home to the island and speak to my neighbour in English it is not only the language that has died but in a sense the two who no longer speak it. We would be elegies on the face of the earth, empty and without substance. We would not represent anything, and the world would be an orphan about us.
I imagine those who lose their language dying in the same way as the language dies, spiritless, without pride. One imagines the tourist then entering a world which would truly be inferior to his own. One imagines the beggars of the spirit, no longer real people in a real place. They will be shadows cast by an imperialistic language that is not their own. For if they speak a language that is not their own they are slaves in the very centre of themselves. They will have been colonised completely at the centre of the spirit, they will be dead, exiles, not abroad but in their own land, which will not reflect back the names they have given it. Such a people will be a race of shadows and in that final silence there will be no creativity. They will be superfluous, talking without alternative in a language that is not their own.
You use BBC Alba as a rhetoric device, but fail to mention that the Gaelic channel is being watched by a number of viewers, five times as big as the number of native speakers of Gaelic on a daily basis.
You fail to mention that Gaelic is seen as an integral part of the fabric that makes this nation Scotland; my Scotland, as much as your Scotland.
You fail to mention that the Gaelic language has state protection and that the survival of our language, coming in endless waves of words, descending like birds from the tongues of our elders, as well as our children yet to be born, isn’t so much a moral obligation, as a legal one.
People will continue to ask if Gaelic should be left to die for many years to come, but it will still be there, rooted in the land, until the sea swallows our shores and no longer withdraws.
As Aonghas MacNeacail said, “tha a’ Ghàidlig beò, a dh’aindeoin gach saighead" Gaelic is alive, despite all arrows;
and as Ruaraidh MacThòmais said, “ach bha craiteachan uaille air an cridhe/ga chumail fallain/is bheireadh cutag an teanga/slisinn á fanaid nan Gall”, but there was a sprinkling of pride on their heart/ keeping them sound/ and their tongues’ gutting-knife/ would tear a strip from the Lowlanders’ mockery;
Chan fhaigh sinne am bàs riamh.
We will never die.
That I might try to strive to—in ten years or so—make a Polytheist Community Center?
This is spawned out of how much crap I’ve gotten trying to go into “pagan” groups only to find out they’re NeoWiccans who think paganism is just The Goddess and God. (Nothing against NeoWiccans when they realize paganism is more than them.) So, I’ve been thinking, why not create my own space for people who are polytheists?
I am thinking it’d have workshops, a library, probably public shrines… Maybe a book club?
I don’t know. What do you all think? Would it be doable? Would you go to some place like this if it existed in your area?
That would be a fantastic idea!
Celtaboo: A Celtaboo is similar to that of a Weeabo, but focuses on Celtic cultures and Iron Age societies, with out ever bothering to learn about the cultures and history of the Celtic speaking peoples. Mostly made up of New Agers and eclectics, they will also believe anything from books published by Llewellyen Publishing. They dabble in Cultural Appropriation of many cultures and call it “Celtic”. See also Keltaboo.
Example: “I love Keltic magicks! My Celtic pantheon is Odin, the triple goddess Morrigan, and the Egyptian gods. I’m also oath bound to every version of Brighid and Lugh, the Sun god! I can’t wait to use this Cherokee smudge stick at the next full moon! )o( Love and light! Many blessings!”
Rome Touchers: An affectionate nick name given to Gaulish Polytheists since Gaul bordered on the Roman Empire and was eventually taken over by the Romans.