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’Nuair a chaidh a ghairm an-toiseach, chuir gach uile neach fàilte air a’ cho-dhùnadh gum biodh ionad-tadhail Bhlàr Chùil Lodair air ath-ùrachadh agus ath-leasachadh. Bha seo air fear de na pàirtean bu chudromaiche ann am Bliadhna Cultar na Gàidhealtachd 2007, cothrom ris an robh dùil o chionn fhada gus aithne agus tuigse dhaoine a bhrosnachadh, gu nàiseanta agus gu h-eadar-nàiseanta, mu cho cudromach ’s a bha Blàr Chùil Lodair do dh’ eachdraidh, cànan agus cultar na Gàidhlig agus na Gàidhealtachd, agus gu dearbh do dh’ eachdraidh na h-Alba air fad.

Bha an tabhartas de £3.75 muillean a thug Riaghaltas na h-Alba seachad do dh’ Urras Nàiseanta na h-Alba gus an leasachadh seo a mhaoineachadh ’na mheadhan air aithneachadh cho deatamach ’s a bha an taobh seo den phròiseact. Bha e ’na uallach air an Urras dèanamh cinnteach gum biodh an taisbeanadh anns an ionad ùr a’ dèanamh feum air leth den Ghàidhlig mar chànan lèirsinneach eadar-mhìneachaidh. As dèidh chòmhraidhean agus aontaichean le muinntir na sgìre, tràth ann an 2006 dh’ aontaich an t-Urras gum biodh a’ Ghàidhlig air a cleachdadh aig an aon ìre ris a’ Bheurla air feadh an taisbeanaidh. Fhuair iad £200,000 a bharrachd bho Bhòrd na Gàidhlig gus na cosgaisean eile a bha coicheangailte ri bhith a’ cruthachadh eadar-mhìneachaidhean agus fhoillseachaidhean làn dà-chànanach a phàigheadh.

A-nis, agus an t-ionad gu bhith crìochnaichte a’s t-fhoghar 2007, mean air mhean tha e a’ fàs soilleir nach bi Urras Nàiseanta na h-Alba a’ coilionadh nan dleasdanas aca, agus gu dearbh na dh’ aontaich iad mun eadar-mhìneachadh dhà-chànanach. Gu dearbh, tha e air a bhith gu math duilich dèanamh a-mach dìreach dè seòrsa ròl a bhios aig a’ Ghàidhlig anns an taisbeanadh ùr, air sgàth’s nach eil an t-Urras a’ freagairt cheisteannan mu mhion-fhiosrachaidh – ’s ann a tha iad direach ’gan leigeil seachad. A dh’ aindeoin iomairt dhàimh-phoblaich bhuapa a tha a’ cumail a-mach gum bi an t-ionad ùr ’na shùileachan air mar a thèid a’ Ghàidhlig ùisneachadh agus a chur air adhart mar phàirt chudromaich air leth de dhualchas na h-Alba’, tha e coltach nach bi an dòigh anns an tèid a’ Ghàidhlig ùisneachadh idir co-ionnan ri ùisneachadh na Beurla. Cha bhi ann den Ghàidhlig am broinn an taisbeanaidh ach aithrisean beaga ‘lèirsinneach’, beagan bhriathran-beòil, agus corra comharra dà-chànanach. Air an raon fhèin bidh eadar-theangachaidhean air na carraighean-cuimhne. Cha bhi an teacs eadar-mhìneachaidh anns an taisbeanadh – ’s e sin, na facail a bhios a’ toirt seachad an fhiosrachaidh as cudromaiche mun eachdraidh agus mun dualchas, na facail a bhios ag ìnnse agus a’ mìneachadh sgeulachd Chùil Lodair fhèin – ach sgrìobhte anns a’ Bheurla a-mhàin.

Chan e a-mhàin gur e fàilinn mhòr a tha seo, ’s iad a’ diùltadh aithneachadh na buannachdan mòra sòisealta agus cultarach a bhiodh ann nan gabhadh iad ris a’ Ghàidhlig le’n uile-chridhe mar chànan conaltraidh don mhòr-shluaigh. Tha e cuideachd calg-dhìreach an aghaidh poileasaidh Urras Nàiseanta na h-Alba fhèin mu chleachdadh na Gàidhlig, poileasaidh a chuireas an cèill: ‘far a bheil e air a mheas freagarrach eachdraidh Ghàidhealtachd na h-Alba eadar-mhìneachadh, thèid a’ Ghàidhlig a chleachdadh mar mheadhan conaltraidh gus àite cothromach a thoirt do shealladh eachdraidheil agus cultarach nan Gàidheal.’ Gu h-iongantach, tha am poileasaidh seo eadhan a’ toirt iomradh air Cùil Lodair fhèin mar fhear de na ‘suidheachaidhean a bha sònraichte cudromach ann an eachdraidh cultar nan Gàidheal’ far am biodh eadar-mhìneachadh dà-chànanach ’ga mheas freagarrach.

Aon de na freagairtean a thathas a’ faighinn bhon Urras, ’s e sin gu bheil iad a’ dèanamh an dleasdanais a-thaobh eadar-mhìneachadh dà-chànanach gun a bhith a’ toirt seachad sìon ach leth-bhreac Ghàidhlig den aithris a chluinnear air na cluaisean-fòn a bhios an luchd-tadhail a’ toirt leo tron taisbeanadh. Tha e follaiseach bhon fhreagairt seo nach eil an t-Urras a’ tuigsinn direach cho mòr ’s a tha an call nach eil iad ag ùisneachadh na Gàidhlig mar chànan-mìneachaidh co-ionnan ris a’ Bheurla, an dà chuid do na Gàidheil fhèin agus do luchd-turais aig nach robh fios roimhe, ’s dòcha, cho cudromach ’s a bha an cànan, no gu dearbh gu robh i idir ann. Cuideachd, chan eil iad a’ gabhail ris cho fìor chudromach ’s a tha a’ Ghàidhlig don taisbeanadh àraidh seo anns an àite àraidh seo. Cha bhi anns a’ Ghàidhlig ach cànan coltach ri cànan coimheach eile: an Fhraingis, no Siapànais, no as bith dè. Tha an t-Urras cuideachd a’ cumail a-mach gum biodh coltas eadar-mhìneachaidh dhà-chànanaich ro dhuilich a thuigsinn. Tha an fhreagairt seo a’ leigeil seachad cho cumanta ’s a tha e ann an dùthchannan eile dòighean-dealbhaidh soifisticeach a chur ri chèile far a bheilear ag ùisneachadh barrachd air aon chànan. An dùil dè chanadh luchd-stiùiridh thaighean-tasgaidh anns a’ Chuimrigh, Cataluinia, no a’ Bheilg nan cluinneadh iad an leithid seo de dh’ àrgamaid?

Nach toir thu taic dhuinn ann a bhith a’ cur ìmpidh air Urras Nàiseanta na h-Alba làn bhrath a ghabhail den chothrom air leth a tha seo gus àite ceart cothromach a thoirt air ais don Ghàidhlig ann a bhith a’ mìneachadh Bhlàr Chùil Lodair agus na thachair as a dhèidh. Tha tìde againn fhathast dèanamh cinnteach gum bi an t-ionad ùr làn dà-chànanach. Ach ’s e cothachadh bhuainne, luchd-tadhail an ama ri teachd, a bhios a’ toirt air an Urras an dleasdanas aca a ghabhail os làimh ann a bhith a’ glèidheadh agus a’ brosnachadh gach uile taobh de chultar agus dualchas na h-Alba – Gàidhealach cho math ri Gallda, a’ Ghàidhlig cho math ris a’ Bheurla, agus a’ Bheurla Ghallda.

The decision to renew and redevelop the visitor centre at the Culloden battlefield was welcomed across the board at its announcement. One of the key components of 2007’s Year of Highland Culture, it represented a long-awaited opportunity to promote national and international recognition and understanding of the Battle of Culloden’s significance for Gaelic and Highland history, language and culture, as well as for the history of Scotland.

The £3.75 million grant made by the Scottish Executive to the National Trust for Scotland to fund the redevelopment recognised the significance of this aspect of the project by requiring the Trust to ensure that the exhibition at the new centre would make substantial use of Gaelic as a visible language of interpretation. After consultation and agreement with the local community, early in 2006 the Trust committed to the use of Gaelic on an equal basis with English throughout the exhibition, and were granted a further £200,000 from Bòrd na Gàidhlig to defray any additional costs associated with the creation of fully bilingual interpretation and displays.

As the centre moves towards completion in the autumn of 2007, it is becoming increasingly clear that the National Trust for Scotland will not be honouring either their obligations or their own commitment to bilingual interpretation. It has been difficult to establish with certainty the precise rôle that Gaelic will play in the new exhibition, as requests for detailed information from the Trust have been left unanswered or met with stonewalling. Despite a PR campaign presenting the new centre as an ‘exemplar of how Gaelic can be used and promoted as an important and distinctive component of Scotland’s cultural heritage,’ it appears that the use of Gaelic will be substantially less than the use of English, confined to ‘illustrative’ quotations and audio clips within the exhibition, some bilingual signage, and translation of the clan marker stones on the battlefield itself. The interpretative text within the exhibition – the text which communicates the most significant historical and cultural information, the text which tells and explains the story of Culloden itself – will be in English alone.

This situation represents more just than a failure to recognise the enormous social and cultural benefits to be gained from embracing and promoting Gaelic as a language of communication and public expression. It is also in direct contravention of the National Trust for Scotland’s own policy on the use of Gaelic, which states that ‘where it is appropriate to interpret the history of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd, Gaelic will be prominently used as a medium of communication in order to give proper expression to a Gaelic historical and cultural perspective.’ The policy even cites Culloden as one of the ‘settings for events key to the history of Gaelic culture’ for which bilingual interpretation is considered appropriate.

One of the few responses which has been received from the Trust is its claim that the requirement for bilingual interpretation will be met by the provision of a Gaelic version of the commentary available on audio headsets which visitors may use as a guide through the exhibition. This answer fails to acknowledge just how significant the loss of the enormous impact of using Gaelic as a language of interpretation equal to English will be, both for the Gaelic community itself and for visitors who may not previously have been aware of its importance – or indeed its very existence. It also ignores the profound importance of Gaelic to this particular exhibition in this particular location, reducing it to the status of French, Japanese, or any of the other foreign languages in which the audio guides will be made available. Another claim heard more than once from the Trust has been that the provision of bilingual interpretation would be too complicated visually. This disregards the availability of sophisticated layout and design strategies developed in other countries in which more than one language is in common use. One wonders how museum directors in Wales, Catalunya, or Belgium would respond to such an argument?

Please join us in urging the National Trust for Scotland to take full advantage of a unique opportunity to return Gaelic to its rightful place in the interpretation of the events and aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. There is still time to ensure that the exhibition at the new centre is made fully bilingual, but pressure from its future visitors will be vital in convincing the Trust to meet its responsibility to preserve and promote all aspects of Scotland’s culture and heritage – Highland as well as Lowland, Gaelic as well as English and Scots.

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