Am Bratach No. 203
September 2008


Letter to the editor

English was never big in Caithness until Dounreay

I just want to thank you for publishing Dr Stiubhart’s article on the history of Gaelic as spoken in Caithness. I have to confess that my heart sinks when a fellow Galladh opens their uninformed mouths and puts their prejudicial foot in it. My grandparents were both Gaelic speakers but unfortunately they didn’t pass it on to their own bairns. This was through choice. In the 1920s and 30s if you wanted to “get on” you spoke English. But my point is that Caithness was never much of a place where English was ever spoken up until the arrival of Dounreay.The Caithness dialect of Scots is a rich language in its own right and is still strong in many districts. Caithness has a rich linguistic history and is that rare place in Scotland where the Gael and the Norse have melded. This we should celebrate not denegrate. I suppose this is a case of how important history actually is, in as much as it counters ignorance.

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