It’s a tough gig being a Scottish Unionist, constantly on the lookout for things to feel outraged about that can be laid at the door of the Scottish Government and the SNP, even if what they are complaining about is not actually the responsibility of the Scottish Government or the SNP. Parliament, both the Scottish and British ones are currently in recess for the summer, so it falls to British nationalist zoomers on social media to work themselves up into a pro-British froth of indignation in an attempt to salvage the Union.
Take “Linda”, who according to her Twitter bio is a Scot resident in Margaret Thatcher’s home town of Grantham who hates the SNP. Of course you just know that if you heard her say that rather than reading it on her social media account, she’d spit out “Thatessempee”, because folk like Linda always do. Anyway, Linda has decided to grace the land of her birth with a wee visit and while here took the opportunity to tweet her outrage about how she’d just seen her first Scottish ambulance with AMBAILEANS” written on the top of the cab and her first bilingual POLICE /POILEAS motor. Linda demanded to know what “cretin” thought that the front of an ambulance should have anything other than plain English written on the front of it.
Poor Linda, you can imagine her confusion and empathise with her puzzlement as she sits in her car in traffic and a big squarish van with yellow and green checker patterns and flashing blue lights with AMBAILEANS written on the side in big fluorescent lettering screeches at top speed through traffic lights while making a deafening nee-naw nee-naw noise as it wheechs past her car. Oh my god! “That must be an ice cream van, thinks Linda. And then she fumes at those nasty and exclusionary Scottish nationalists who’d deprive her of refreshments because she doesn’t know how to say “A ninety-nine and a strawberry Cornetto, please” in Gaelic. Just wait until she gets to a train station, her brain will melt.
Those bilingual signs on the roundabout in Fort William are actually part of a cunning plan to confuse the Lindas of this world and ensure that they remain trapped forever in a gyratory traffic flow system in a small West Highland town. That way they’ll never be able to share their hot takes about the Gaelic language with us on social media ever again.
I cannot stress this point enough. If a Gaelic roadsign confuses and upsets you to the point that you risk losing control of your car, this is indeed an extremely useful sign, one which serves a vital public service. It’s a sign that you should not be driving at all. It’s a sign that you’re a danger to other road users.
Social media was full of British nationalists, who neither speak Gaelic nor care for it, moaning that in any case the Scottish Gaelic word for ambulance is not “ambaileans” but rather “carbad-eiridinn” and complaining that “thatessempee” can’t even get its dastardly campaign to force Gaelic on us right. In fact “carbad-eiridinn” is a neologism, an invented word rarely used by native speakers, and generally confined to the most formal and puristic registers of the language. Native speakers invariably say “ambaileans” in everyday conversation. Yet when it comes to Scots, British nationalists get themselves worked up into a lather of indignation when neologisms are used in formal written registers, complaining that words like “wab-steid” are artificial and no one actually uses them in everyday conversation, where native Scots speakers invariably prefer the word website instead. However in Gaelic all of a sudden formal “artificial” vocabulary is the way to go, at least when it comes to finding some spurious reason to attack thatessempee. Maybe they can get themselves over to Google translate and find out how to say “hypocritical lack of consistency” in Gaelic.
Nowhere in the complaints of the British nationalists is there the slightest awareness of the crass arrogance of someone who neither speaks a language nor welcomes its presence in the public sphere having the unmitigated gall to lecture people who do actually speak, use and value the language on how it should be written “correctly.” Only English speaking monoglots have the arrogance and entitlement to insist that they know better than speakers of another language how that language should be written.
A more frequent complaint from the British nationalist language police is that no one is going to get lost due to the lack of a Gaelic town name in a train station or not be able to find an ambulance or a police car because it doesn’t have any Gaelic text on it. They are spectacularly and probably deliberately missing the point. The point of Gaelic signage in a train station or on a public service vehicle is not in order to lift the confusion of any Gaelic monoglot who happens to be passing. The only monoglots in Scotland are English speakers. Those would be the same monoglots who resent any reminders that Scotland has a rich and complex linguistic heritage quite apart from Scottish standard English.
The real purpose of Gaelic signage is to make a public declaration that the Gaelic language is valued and respected and that all of Scotland is the natural and proper territory of usage of the language. Gaelic signage exists both to raise the profile of the language and act as a visual reminder of its existence and importance and to raise the prestige of the language, demonstrating that it is accepted and appreciated in domains , such as official or governmental usage, from which it has been traditionally excluded. This is an invaluable means of boosting the confidence of speakers and demonstrating that the use of the language is welcomed and supported. This is vital in order to ensure that the language remains a living and vital part of the Scottish cultural landscape. It’s not because of the SNP that we see Gaelic on public signs, it’s because of commitments made by the British Government when it signed the European Charter for Minority and Regional languages. Those British governmental commitments with respect to Gaelic are implemented in Scotland by the Scottish Government acting on behalf of the British Government. I thought British nationalists liked it when the Scottish Government does what the British state expects of it – but not, apparently, when it comes to Gaelic.
But if you tell a rabid British nationalist that we only have Gaelic signage because of the international treaty obligations of the British government, they are likely to have a fit of apoplexy which might require them to call an ambaileans.
NEW MODERATION POLICY
In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.
Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.
If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.
This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.
Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.
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