HUMZA Yousaf must appoint a Minister for Scottish Languages in order to develop and preserve the country’s “unique linguistic heritage”, campaigners have said.

Oor Vyce – which focuses on the Scots language – and Misneachd – which focuses on Gaelic – have jointly launched a petition calling for the creation of a new ministerial role amid a lack of clarity around who holds responsibility for Scotland’s minority languages.

The petition launched by the campaign groups reads: “We see no clear accountability for Scots or Gaelic, and this lack of clarity does not provide our communities with confidence that concerns around preserving and developing our unique linguistic heritage in Scotland will be sufficiently addressed.

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“While we heard some warm words around Scots and Gaelic and a lot about protecting minority rights during the SNP leadership campaign, we now need those words backed up with action and the rights of Scotland’s linguistic minorities advanced. Both languages require immediate action to prevent further decline.”

The Scottish Government has said that the remit for languages is still the Education Secretary’s, now Jenny Gilruth.

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But Iona Fyfe (above), who sits on the Oor Vyce executive committee, said that campaigners believe “that language and linguistics are such broad topics that they shouldn’t simply be confined to an education portfolio, but cover culture, tourism and perhaps even human rights”.

Fyfe further pointed to a Scottish Government consultation on a “Gaelic and Scots and Scottish Languages Bill” which led to four key commitments:

  • to establish a new strategic approach to Gaelic medium education (GME).
  • to explore the creation of a Gàidhealtachd (an area where Gaelic is prominent and supported).
  • to review the structure and functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig (BnG).
  • to take action on the Scots language.

The Oor Vyce committee member said that the commitments were “rather one sided” and that the consultation should have separated Scots and Gaelic.

“Both languages, albeit together an incredibly important part of our cultural landscape, face different issues and have different needs in terms of policy,” Fyfe said.

She added that she would like to see the creation of a Scots Language Board, similar to Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and the development of a Scots Language Act.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Education Secretary is the senior member of Government for languages – which includes Gaelic and Scots.

“Gaelic and Scots are significant elements of Scotland’s culture and we are committed to seeing them both thrive and grow across the country.”

You can sign the petition here.