Understanding the loss of Gaelic in your own family -
and how to reverse it
We know that this might be an uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, subject to discuss - but we feel that it is important to address it openly and honestly.
Before we delve into how to get Gaelic back into your family life, there are a few things we need to examine first of all:
How a language is 'lost'
What support network is available to you
How is a language 'lost'?
Unfortunately, Gaelic is not the only language to find itself in this very complex predicament, in which there has been a 'shift' from a systematically suppressed, indigenous language to an ever-encroaching majority language - a language which usually carries a great deal of perceived and/or real prestige and power:
'Language loss/death does not just happen, nor is it natural and/or inevitable. Rather it is always socially, culturally and politically situated within a wider nexus of (often highly unequal) power relations between, and within, language groups.'
[May, S. (2003) 'Rearticulating the case for minority language rights'. Current issues in language planning, 4, 2:119]
In the case of Gaelic, and indeed many other marginalised languages across the globe, we see the lasting damage done by those who should have known better, but abused their position of power to punish and humiliate children from the day they entered the school system, for doing nothing other than speaking the language of their family and community.
The consequence of this is that when a child is made to feel so deeply ashamed and apologetic about such an integral part of who they are, it detrimentally impacts their willingness and confidence to engage with their own language and culture. This in turn greatly reduces the likelihood that they will pass the language onto their own children. And so begins the shift from the traditional language (Gaelic) to the enforced language (English).