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Irish and Scottish Gaelic

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This survey discusses the motives and consequences of the 13 June 2005 decision to include Irish among the EU’s official and working languages, and the 15 July 2008 decision to upgrade the status of languages recognised by law in the UK, such as Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. It also looks at the current state of Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Irish’s new EU status coincides with increased support at the top political level in Ireland. A tentative conclusion is that this happy coincidence could enhance the practical role of Irish, which in turn could exercise a knock-on positive effect on Scottish Gaelic. The continuing decrease in the use of Irish by young people in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking regions), due to the unrelenting pressure of English, is a matter for deep concern, as is the failure of the authorities over many years to appreciate that language use, and not just language learning, needs to be planned. This may now be changing: expanded use of Irish in the electronic media, the structures put in place by the Official Languages Act of 2003, and Irish Government work on a 20-year strategic plan for Irish, together with continuing progress at EU level, give grounds for hope. To sum up: much has been done, but much remains to be done.
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Keywords: Brussels; European; European Union; Irish; Scottish Gaelic; language planning; media; status planning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 27, 2009

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