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Title: "Gàidhlig ga bruidhinn an seo?" : linguistic practices and Gaelic language management initiatives in Stornoway, the Western Isles of Scotland
Author: Birnie, Ingeborg A. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 7933
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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Gaelic in Scotland has been undergoing language shift, with both a decline in the number of speakers and domains in which the language is routinely used. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005 aimed to secure the status of the language and under its provision required public authorities based in Scotland to prepare Gaelic language plans. This thesis explored the interplay of these formal language management initiatives and linguistic practices in Stornoway, the largest settlement in the Western Isles, the last remaining heartland of the language in Scotland. Linguistic soundscape surveys collected data in real time and in situ in ten different public spaces, both with and without statutory Gaelic language plans, to assess how, when, and by whom, and for what purpose Gaelic was used. This data was supplemented by eleven language use diaries of bilingual Gaelic/English speakers residing in Stornoway. This quantitative data was used to evaluate individual linguistic practices and how these varied across the different domains of communication, including closed domains not covered by the linguistic soundscape surveys. The findings of this study indicate that Gaelic was not used as extensively as might statistically be expected, but that the language makes a significant contribution to the linguistic soundscape of the community, especially in interactions involving participants over the age of 60 and in private domain interactions. Bilingual Gaelic / English speakers use Gaelic in circumstances where they do not have to (re-)negotiate Gaelic as an accepted linguistic norm. This was especially the case in social networks and closed domains such as places of work or education. Gaelic was used to a lesser extent in public domain interactions, and only where members of staff used Gaelic in the linguistic soundscape of that particular space.
Supervisor: Macleod, Michelle ; MacLeod, Marsaili Sponsor: Soillse PhD Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Scottish Gaelic language ; Linguistic demography ; Language policy ; Language surveys