Linguistic Ideologies and Cultural Identities in Gaelic Scotland: Scots, Gaels, and New Speakers

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Stuart DUNMORE, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Researchers in the sociology of language have theorised that language ideologies can have an important influence on the ways in which bilingual speakers in minority language settings identify and engage with the linguistic varieties that are available to them (Fishman 1991, 2001; Boudreau & Dubois 2007; Makihara 2010; Cavanaugh 2013). My recent PhD research examined language use and ideologies among a purposive sample of adults who started in Gaelic-medium education (GME) during the first decade of its availability in Scotland, between 1985 and 1995. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 46 informants located throughout Scotland as well as further afield, whether in England or overseas. Four of these 46 informants may be described as ‘new speakers’ of Gaelic, having been raised without Gaelic at home and acquiring the language in school, and who actively make frequent use of it in the present day. Additionally, my postdoctoral research has examined linguistic practices and social profiles among the wider community of new Gaelic speakers in Scotland.  I draw attention in this paper to some of the language ideologies that these and other informants convey when describing their current engagements with Gaelic, in order to shed light on the cultural identities that Gaelic speakers profess in modern Scotland. I argue that whilst the language clearly plays an important role in the daily professional lives of new speakers, the language ideologies that they express seem to militate both against their greater use of the language socially, or an ethnolinguistic association with the Gaelic community. In particular, I will draw attention to new speakers’ negative perceptions of the traditionally defined Gaelic community and lack of identification as ‘Gaels’ - overtly indexed by some speakers as a category of social 'otherness' - in their expression of language ideologies.