>I say it again, there is more than language in culture. If
>you're going to continue suggesting that you can't be a 'proper'
>Celt if you don't speak Gaelic, I'm going to say that you
>can't be a proper Celt if you can't sing Bothy Songs, or
>play a strathspey/reel set.
I've spent years with Native Americans who try to understand
their culture without knowing the language -- and, quite frankly, it
doesn't work. I live with one of these people, my lovely and talented
wife who is learning Jicarilla Apache so that she can better
understand how her elders think.
This is not to say that you can't be an Apache without speaking
Apache; what I'm saying is that, from personal experience, I
know language to be an intergral part of culture. Of course,
knowing the language is no guarantee of belonging to an ethnic
group; food, music, art, lifestyle all play vital roles.
Language is another facet of a well-rounded member of a society.
Or let's put it another way: Eating a haggis does not make me
Scottish, but NEVER eating any Scottish food might keep me from
understanding the fullness of Scottish life (even if I learn
But what good are food and music when you lose the language
they are written in? If you cannot sing the songs or read the
recipe, it is lost, is it not? Language is a glue that holds
the elements of a culture together.
I can guarantee you this: some concepts CANNOT be translated
between languages and cultures, at least not without considerable
>I also repeat that there are more languages than Gaelic
>that make up the Celtic experience. English *as it is
>spoken/written in Scotland/Ireland* is one of them,
>Scots is another, Travellers' Shelta/Cant is another.
Actually, in terms of SCotland, there is more than one "Scottish"
culture. The Islands are different from the Highlands, and both
have substantial variances with the Lowlands. That's why I've put
an effort into learning Lallans, as well as Gaidhlig. Lallans is
a fascinating combination of odds and ends from a variety of tongues,
which says something about Scotland's history and her people.
I also find that Gaidhlig tells me a great deal about the thinking
of people to whom it is a Native tongue.
When you lose a language, you lose an irreplaceable and intimate
part of the culture; the songs can no longer be sung, and the poems
no longer read. The very philosophy that engenders a culture will
vanish along with its language, leaving a superficial veneer fit
for television shows and cute picture books from Time-Life.
To discount the importance of language in culture is simply