Guardian confuses readers by claiming Gaelic thriving – in Wales

Scottish Gaelic signage on the A861, near Salen in the Scottish Highlands. Picture by Alison (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The Guardian newspaper has left readers confused after claiming that Gaelic is thriving in Wales.

The article entitled ‘Scots Gaelic could die out within a decade, study finds’ incorrectly claimed that Gaelic was widely spoken in Wales and indeed was doing better in Wales than in Scotland.

“Gaelic is in a stronger position in Wales,” the article says, “where about half of the 500,000 people who can speak Welsh do so routinely.”

The online version of the article was later amended to remove any reference to Gaelic in Wales.

“This article was amended on 2 July 2020 because an earlier version incorrectly referred to Welsh as a Gaelic language,” the article said.

 

Sign

According to the 2011 census, there were some 57,000 fluent Scots Gaelic speakers in Scotland, and a further 1,300 in Nova Scotia. There were 528,000 Welsh speakers in Wales at the time.

Welsh and Scottish Gaelic are both Celtic languages descended from Proto-Celtic but belong to two different branches, with Welsh, Breton, and Cornish on one branch and Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic on the other.

Reacting to the Guardian article on social media, Colin Williams said: “I’ve only just learnt Welsh, I just haven’t got time for Gaelic as well.”

However, Michael Pattison noted, in Gaelic, that he “can and do speak Gaelic every day in Wales. You?”

The Guardian aren’t the first to confuse the Welsh and Gaelic languages. In 2014 supermarket Asda used Scottish Gaelic instead of Welsh for a bilingual sign at a store in Swansea.

The “parking” sign for drivers arriving at Asda’s store in Morriston has used the Scottish Gaelic term “parcadh” instead of the Welsh word “parcio”.

Asda said: “Thanks to the eagle-eyed shopper who spotted the mistake. New signs will be up shortly.”

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