This is an English translation of the original post “Latha Twitter na Gàidhlig Soirbheachail“
Yesterday saw the first ever Gaelic Day on the social network Twitter, where speakers of the language were encouraged to use the language whilst sending messages or tweets. It was very successful, with over a thousand people taking part in it, and showed that the language is lively and modern rather than dead and historic as some would portray it. It’s a great example for the whole language of the sort of initiative that its’ speakers can organise to develop and grow it.
The Twitter Gaelic Day was an idea that was started by the @ScotsGaelic and @SocialMediaAlba pages. They wanted to make sure that Gaelic was used more often on social networks so that people would be more inclined to use it on a more regular basis both online and offline.
The Day was very successful in spreading Gaelic across people’s Twitter feeds, with over 1.7 million people seeing some of the language yesterday. Mine was chock-full of tweets in the language for the first time, instead of perhaps one or two coming through each day. Major pages such as the SFA and the councils of Glasgow and the Western Isles were changed to be in Gaelic only. The hashtag #Gàidhlig trended in places like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and even Fayetteville in North Carolina, USA. It shows that enough people are willing to use the language from around the world.
The thinking behind the Gaelic Twitter Day is that if you see the language more often you will be more likely to use it yourself, and that’s true for Gaelic in many ways. That’s the reason why councils still put Gaelic translations on road signs even though people complain regularly about them.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook are so easy to use for sending messages that it is a great way to show a little more Gaelic to people and perhaps someone will develop a new interest in the language and it’ll find a new speaker. I need to admit I was wrong when I said before that there should be a dedicated social network for Gaelic alone. That wouldn’t bring in new people and it would downplay Gaelic’s important role in our wider culture. Even though I still think Gaelic’s a little fragmented on social networks, I hope that the Gaelic Twitter Day can promote a stronger and more innovative community.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig could do a lot more with the language and I’m of the opinion that it’s perhaps the best way of developing the language culturally in this new digital age. They welcomed the Gaelic Twitter Day initiative, and took a big role in it, but I’m left with the feeling that they should have been spearheading it, rather than smaller groups. The organisers of the Gaelic Twitter Day did a fantastic job, but I think it could have been even better with some help from the language’s most important organisation.
I’m delighted to say that the first Gaelic Twitter Day was a success. Save the date of Beltane, 1st of May, in your calendar for next year then for the next Gaelic Twitter Day – I’m sure we’ll do it again!