In the light of recent correspondence about the Gaelic language, I would like to confirm that there are many native Gaelic speakers and learners alive and well in East Lothian.

If Scotland is one nation, then support should be given to our other main living language as it holds the key to so much of our history and culture. For example, the map of Scotland evidences the importance of Gaelic in understanding the meaning behind our place names and our geographical landscape. If we do not value our heritage, we could lose this rich living language and our culture would be diminished.

For those who would like the challenge of learning more about the language of Gaelic and its culture, the East Lothian U3A has a Gaelic group which has members at all stages of learning.

As a native Gaelic speaker, one member's memory is still strong of children aged five years old in her class being belted for speaking their native tongue in the playground. The children came from Gaelic speaking homes and lived in a Gaelic speaking community where the class teacher was also a native Gaelic speaker. Sadly, this has been the experience for so many older learners who, as a result, came to believe that their language was regarded as both inferior and irrelevant. As a result, many felt inhibited in speaking Gaelic to their own children.

Thankfully, attitudes have changed. The benefits of learning in one's native language in enhancing the learning of other languages and subjects are now acknowledged.

For further information, contact

Mary Alexander

Sidegate Mews