by Eilidh Bateman
Thirtieth of November – St Andrew’s Day in Scotland. I was on a train north, speeding towards the border and anxiously anticipating First Minister, Jack McConnell’s Saint’s Day speech. It was no disappointment – in fact it was a bold and fervent address of support and encouragement for the Scottish Arts.
McConnell endorsed ‘cultural rights for all’ and added that art and culture should be at the heart of Scottish life making it a potential ‘powerhouse of innovation’ recognised throughout the world.
Rightly so and about time too. Scotland has an unrecognised and unsupported linguistic diversity and richness that could provide the means to communicate this innovation and creativity to the world.
With the recent Gaelic Language Bill now underway in the Parliament, there is an opportunity to halt the current decline of the language, but as far as Scots is concerned – ‘it’s more difficult’ admitted a senior civil servant working in the Executive’s culture department.
In fact, its necessary to go right back to May to find a mention of language as a pivotal cultural issue, and even then there is no reference to Scots. The ‘Partnership Agreement for a Better Scotland’ outlined the need to legislate to provide ‘secure status for Gaelic through a Gaelic Language Bill’, and the commitment to ‘introduce a national language strategy to guide the development and support of Scotland's languages, including British Sign Language and ethnic community languages.’
However, no recent developments concerning the promised language strategy were mentioned by the First Minister last week.
Mr McConnell did make a plea for ‘imaginative and new proposals’ to come forward from all ministers in his Executive to ‘help create access to cultural activity and deliver social justice.’ This vision will undoubtedly be accepted by language groups and seen as an invite to keep pressing for more recognition and support for all of Scotland’s languages. (© eurolang)