Cultural Decline

This is an English translation of the original post “Crìonadh Culturail”

Last Tuesday, the BBC broke the news that the final Gaelic magazine in publication, Cothrom, was to halt production soon because of a lack of funds.  It’s a terrible situation, with the progress that the language has made in general in recent times.  It is part of a cultural decline within Gaelic, and the country all round, that our language will be left without any full and regular publication at all.

Cothrom will enter the darkness along with other famous Gaelic magazines such as Gairm and Gath.  When I was in school, we would always read stories and other pieces drawn from these magazines as part of our “textbooks”.  They were of a great quality and they were an important part of our education.  I read an issue or two of Gairm while I was in academy.  I enjoyed being able to read different types of writing in Gaelic even though the pieces were rather old at the time.

It’s important for a language to have magazines as a resource that speakers of the language can use to promote interest and discussion.  This is especially true for learners.  Without anything to read in a language, why would anyone learn that skill?  So why, then, would anyone learn the language.

It’s the cost that is prohibiting the development of written Gaelic.  As things seem, it’s a lack of money that is at the heart of the troubles of Cothrom.  The magazine is published by Clì Gàidhlig, the Gaelic learners’ organisation, that receive funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, that is itself funded by the Scottish Government.  I know that it’s a difficult economic time, especially for the Scottish Government amidst budget cuts being handed down from the Westminster Government, but is it not obvious that some more of the money being spent on saving our language should be spent on the written word?  Education is a great aim for Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Government but, as I said, if there is nothing to read there is no reason for someone to learn the language at all.

In the same news piece where the BBC announced that Cothrom was ending, the UK Government said that BBC Alba’s funding would be safe from the big budget cuts introduced by Chancellor George Osborne.  As such, £1 million each year will be given to MG Alba from the UK Government, with more going to them from the BBC and Scottish Government.  BBC Alba has been exceptionally successful, and I hope that continues but it’s still a bit hard to take that all of that money will be going into broadcasting whilst magazines such as Cothrom are dying.  If MG Alba gave even £20 thousand to Clì Gàidhlig to publish their magazine four times a year, I’d assume it would still be in print.  I find it difficult to understand.

It would be nice to see a new magazine start soon for Gaelic as a whole; without any affiliations to groups, universities or anything apart from the people that publish it.  Speakers from across Scotland and the world, with different proficiencies of fluency, could enter articles, stories and such and they’d be published and spread throughout the Gaelic world.  It would be better than any Gaelic magazine that went before, and a great example of the spirit of the Gael.  Perhaps it would encourage more magazines to be published.  It’s a dream, I know, because it would take a lot of funding and effort (from people that are already busy) to publish – but wouldn’t it be great?

I must admit that I hadn’t ever read Cothrom myself before I heard it was going to end.  It’s a good symbol of the lack of marketing that Gaelic magazine were receiving whilst they were alive.  I hope a new wave of interest in Gaelic magazines will break now that they are extinct.  Like the language itself, hopefully Gaelic magazines can be reborn like a phoenix from the flames.  There needs to be a Cothrom for Gaelic speakers to read their language.

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