Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Government sets out bilingual bid

Scottish Government sign in English and Gaelic
The Scottish Government wants to encourage greater use of Gaelic

The Scottish Government has set out proposals to help it become a bilingual organisation through greater use of Gaelic.

Ministers believe recruiting more speakers, staff training and encouraging correspondence in Gaelic could help it achieve that goal.

Proposals also include holding public meetings and offering form filling in the language.

The government has published its Draft Gaelic Language Plan for consultation.

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani said the success of the BBC Alba digital channel, which launched last year, was an example of how Gaelic was getting a higher profile.

The draft plan is available on the Scottish Government's website.
Consultation runs until 29 April 2009.
The 1991 Census of population recorded 69,510 people aged three or over as being able to speak, read, or write Gaelic. This is 1.4% of the Scottish population.
There has been opposition from some Highland councillors in Caithness against the roll out of bilingual road signs. They argued Gaelic was not a language historically linked to the far north.
She said: "Gaelic belongs to Scotland.

"As well as being a unique and essential part of our rich cultural life, it is a national language and we must recognise it as such.

"Scottish ministers have made our position on Gaelic very clear.

"We are committed to a secure and sustainable future for the language, and publication of our Draft Gaelic Language Plan is further evidence of our dedication to increasing the use of Gaelic in public life."

Ms Fabiani said the draft plan aimed to encourage appreciation and use of the language.

Gaelic development body Bord na Gaidhlig (BnG) welcomed the publication of the plan.

Chairman Arthur Cormack said: "By taking this significant step, the Scottish Government has signalled that there is real benefit in sustaining and developing Gaelic.

"It is a meaningful plan that applies to its own operations, but also offers a lead to other organisations with a clear message that the Scottish Government wants to see a sustainable future for Gaelic, which can be followed through at all sorts of levels by public, private and voluntary bodies as well as individuals."

Community projects

Last September, it was announced community-based Gaelic projects were to be supported with the use of 150,000 of Scottish Government funding.

BnG plans to set up a Challenge Fund to support the preservation and promotion of the language.

The announcement was made at the first national Gaelic in the Community conference, held in Breasclete, Lewis.

The new Gaelic television channel - BBC Alba - launched last year.

The channel is available on satellite and eventually cable throughout the UK, with content also available online.

The channel is a partnership between BBC Scotland and the government-funded MG Alba, formerly the Gaelic Media Service.

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