Will Gaelic Become Only Girl Talk?

The following article appeared in The Scotsman for 24 June 1998.

Gillean tha cur an cśil ri 'cřnan nan caileag'
M┐IRI A NicCOINNICH

AIR FEADH na h-Alba, tha sgoilearan a' tilleadh gu slřinte as d╚idh m¤os de dhubh-chosnadh a' suidhe ├re Choitcheann, ├re Ard agus Teisteanas na Siathamh Bliadhna. Cruinne┌las, eachdraidh, matamataig, Beurla - chuir tagraichean sgoile peann gu připear, agus dh'fhoillsich iad na bhrśth iad dha'n cinn thairis air a' bhliadhna a chaidh seachad. Ach c█ mheud aca a rinn deuchainn na Gřidhlig?

Gl╚ bheag, a r╚ir choltais. Tha an řireamh de thagraichean a tha taghadh a' Ghřidhlig a leantainn mar chuspair ardsgoile air ¤sleachadh gu m┌r. Agus rud a tha a-cheart cho soilleir se gur e caileagan an ¤re mhath air fad a tha gabhail gnothaich ris a' Ghřidhlig mar chuspair sgoile, 's na balaich a' cur an cśil ris a' chřnain.

Chan eil e idir cho soilleir car son.

Tha Sgoil 'IcNeacail ann an Steornabhagh aig teis mheadhan cridhe na Gřidhlig, le m¤le sgoilear o air feadh choimhearsnachdan Eilean Le┌dhais ga frithealadh. Sann gu math lřidir a tha a' Ghřidhlig fhathast ann am m┌ran de na coimhearsnachdan sin, ach a dh'ainneoin sin cha robh ach 21 sgoilear ann an se┌mar nan deuchainnean air latha teisteanas na h-Ard ├re do dh'fhileantaich - 18 caileagan agus d¤reach triśir bhalach. Tha Ruaraidh MacIlleathain, a tha os cionn RoinnGhřidhlig na sgoile, e fh╚in mothachail gu bheil an řireamh de bhalaich a tha a' leantainn na Gřidhlig a' s¤or ¤sleachadh, agus chan eil fios aige car son.

"Chaidh rannsachadh a dh╦anamh bho chionn bhliadhnaichean a sheall gur d┌cha gu bheil caileagan a' cleachdadh na Gřidhlig nas tric' am broinn an taighe, am measg an teaghlaich, na tha balaich. Tha e duilich dearbhadh car son a tha cśisean mar sin. Ach dh'fhaodar a rřdh gu bheil caileagan nas d¤cheallaich' aig ¤re na h-ardsgoile na tha balaich."

Tha Alasdair Friseal, Ě Calanais ann an Le┌dhas, am measg na triśir bhalach a thagh ard-theisteanas a shireadh anns a' Ghřidhlig am-bliadhna. Tha iad uile d¤reach air cr¤och a chur air a' ch┌igeamh bliadhna dhen ardsgoil. Tha e ag rřdh: "Bha mi fh¤n 's an dithis eile anns a' bhunsgoil comhla. Chaidh ar togail ann an dachannan Gřidhlig, agus thagh sinn cumail oirnn leis a' chřnan, nuair a thřinig e gu bhith d╦anamh co-dhśnadh mu d╚ na cuspairean a leanadh sinn air son deuchainnean na h-Ard ├re." .

.. In plain English

GAELIC is entering a stage of crisis at secondary level. The number of candidates taking the language as a school subject has declined sharply, most of the remaining few being girls.

The two largest secondaries in the Gaelic-speaking area display a similar pattern. In the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, 21 pupils sat the fluent speakers' Higher in the language last month - 18 girls and three boys. And at Sgoil L¤onacleit in Uist, the total was 15 - four boys and 11 girls.

Why Gaelic is effectively becoming "girl talk" is unclear. Research suggests that girls may be using Gaelic more often than boys in the context of home and family. In general terms, girls work harder at secondary level than boys, and show greater interest in languages. Perhaps the so-called "Gaelic careers" - teaching, media, administration -- are more attractive to girls than to boys. Perhaps boys still look forward to employment in traditional male roles, and see no relevance in having an academic qualification in Gaelic.

Many teenage girls speak to each other in Gaelic, then switch to English to talk to the boys. That, at least, is what's "cool"; the way youth fashions change, things will probably be different in ten years' time. Who knows?

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