24 January 2007

I take part in a number of web forums where Gaelic is used, and to differing degrees all are visited by non-speakers seeking free translations from English to Gaelic.

I do not provide these translations -- very few do if you can't demonstrate that you are actually doing something to learn. Here's why:

One of the the greatest difficulties for any Gaelic speaker today is identifying other speakers. At the moment, there are very few ways to do this without asking outright. When I see Gaelic written on someone's chest, boat or house-plate, I want to be confident that I can go up to that person and speak in Gaelic; providing translations for non-speakers means that there are more people walking around "branded" in Gaelic that don't speak it. The more this happens, the less confidence Gaels will have in being able to address other people in Gaelic. This lack of confidence could be disastrous for the future of the language in public life.

This is why I never give translations to non-speakers here or on any other forum, and why the Gaelic T-shirts I sell in my spare time come without English translations.

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