Scotland

Study reveals Gaelic student shortfall

  • 1 November 2010
  • From the section Scotland
Gaelic Scottish government sign
Image caption The Scottish government invested £2.15m in its Gaelic Schools Fund last year

Up to 860 people would have to become bilingual in Gaelic each year if the decline of the language was to be halted, according to a study.

A Royal Society journal published the research which found the language was in danger of becoming extinct.

However the authors said it could be saved by copying initiatives which had succeeded in revitalising Welsh.

Census data used in the study showed there were 250,000 Gaelic speakers 100 years ago compared to about 65,000 now.

Less severe

The study said the decline was caused by people switching to English to open up social and economic opportunities.

However it said this process had been less severe in Wales - especially over the last 40 years - due to a range of initiatives to boost the language there.

The study said similar action was needed in Scotland to make it more advantageous to be a Gaelic speaker.

The authors said their mathematical formulae showed that between 440 and 860 Gaelic learners needed to become fully bilingual each year to stem the language's decline, depending on how successful Gaelic-speaking parents were at passing on the language to their children.

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