New Gaelic speakers, new Gaels? Ideologies and ethnolinguistic continuity in contemporary Scotland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Gaelic-medium education (henceforward ‘GME’) occupies an increasingly prominent position in contemporary language policy in Scotland. The system – whereby the majority of classroom instruction is delivered through Gaelic – is regarded by policy-makers as one of the principal mechanisms for the generation of new Gaelic speakers, who (it is hoped) will subsequently take the language forward as an important aspect of their adolescent and adult lives. Nevertheless, a variety of leading scholars have theorised on the basis of research from the international context that the potential impact of (bilingual) education on language revitalisation initiatives may be undermined by a complex array of linguistic and psychological factors. The late Joshua Fishman, for instance, stated famously that minoritised languages at which RLS (‘reversing language shift’) efforts are directed require spaces for their informal use in the home-community sphere ‘before school begins, outside of school, during the years of schooling and afterwards, when formal schooling is over and done with’ (Fishman, 2001b, p. 471). Romaine (2000, p. 54) has stated that it is ‘[the] inability of minorities to maintain the home as an intact domain for the use of their language’ that has often proved a fundamental (and deciding) factor in instances of language shift.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Speakers of Minority Languages
Subtitle of host publicationLinguistic Ideologies and Practices
EditorsCassie Smith-Christmas, Noel P. Ó Murchadha, Michael Hornsby, Máiréad Moriarty
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137575586
ISBN (Print)9781137575579
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • language ideologies
  • sociolinguistics
  • Gaelic-medium education
  • bilingualism


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