That puts me in the same boat as most Scots. The 2011 census showed only 1.7% of people in Scotland had some Scottish Gaelic skills. In a population of five million-plus, this amounts to 87,100. Of these, only 32,400 were able to understand, speak, read and write it. Which is why the Scottish government is investing millions in trying to save it – through broadcasting, cultural and education projects. This ranges from Gaelic groups for pre-schoolers to ensuring the police and ambulance services have Gaelic language policies in place.
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In Scotland, news of £2.5m of further public funding for a new Gaelic dictionary has stirred debate. Over the past four decades, successive governments of different political stripes have all supported the language. But critics say the policy is artificial and nostalgic and the cash should go to teaching modern world languages such as Spanish. “If Gaelic is dying does it deserve a financial kiss of life?” wrote columnist Brian Beacom in The Herald.