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Celtic society responds to Aberdeen University’s Gaelic Plan

Frederic Bayer, President of the Celtic Society, at Aberdeen University, at the Regent Walk entrance to the university where the sign is by-lingual English and Gaelic.     
Picture by Kami Thomson.
Frederic Bayer, President of the Celtic Society, at Aberdeen University, at the Regent Walk entrance to the university where the sign is by-lingual English and Gaelic. Picture by Kami Thomson.

A Celtic society believes a city university’s plans to boost the numbers of Gaelic speakers is “lacking in ambition”.

Aberdeen University’s Gaelic Language Plan Advisory Group is currently consulting with the wider community on how it can help preserve the traditional Scottish language.

How relevant is Gaelic to modern Scotland today?

The body was set up in 2011 to help advise the university on its legal obligations to promote Gaelic language and culture.

The first plan was developed in 2013. Now a second plan has been drawn up outlining key priorities for the next five years.

Included in the proposals is a pledge to increase the number of students learning the language by encouraging course applicants to consider a course as part of their studies.

Staff have also proposed increasing the number of Gaelic events.

However, the Celtic society believes more work still needs to be done.

Fañch Bihan-Gallic, the society’s Gaelic officer, said: “In our minds, the upcoming Gaelic plan is still lacking in ambition.

“Aberdeen University has previously introduced a Gaelic logo. We believe that, compared to other schools, it is not enough in terms of visibility.

“We know that signage has little influence on promoting active use of Gaelic, but visibility is an important step to making the community aware of its presence.

“Currently the university has no dedicated Gaelic officer so tasks related to promoting the Gaelic language have been delegated to other staff members.

“The University of Glasgow has a full-time Gaelic officer, and the University of Edinburgh a part-time one, which puts us at a serious disadvantage when it comes to attracting Gaelic students.

“We will continue to support all efforts by Aberdeen University to promote Gaelic, and we hope that the university will fulfill its stated aims in this regard.”

Members of the public have been urged to take part in the consultation which closes tomorrow.

An Aberdeen University spokeswoman said the focus had been on coming up with ways to support the Scottish Government’s national plan to promote Gaelic.

She said: “That includes actions related to our Gaelic language courses, which provide learners and native speakers alike with the chance to improve their skills in the language.

“The other main focus of this second plan has been to develop commitments that map directly onto the university’s vision and key activities over the next five years.

“This is to further support integration of Gaelic policy throughout the organisation to ensure that Gaelic is embedded within all of our primary processes and procedures and our plan is sustainably delivered.”

More information can be found by visiting www.abdn.ac.uk/gaelicplan.

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