Writing in Gaelic: Alternative Agendas
- Číslo 59 
PublisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta
SourceLitteraria Pragensia, 2020, 59, 93-107
KeywordsKeywords not found
The article outlines a series of considerations which matured in the course of my work as a writer in Gaelic over more than three decades. It draws on what Rilke wrote about an accusation of being “unpatriotic” because he chose not to live in a German-speaking community, whereas he finds that precisely not being surrounded by the language he is writing in creates nearly ideal circumstances for making poetry with it. The usefulness of replacing “minority” with “minoritized” as descriptive qualifier is discussed, citing the example of Marina Tsvetaeva in 1930s Paris. The “symptomatology” of a “majoritized” language is outlined, with certain deleterious effects this may have on both language use and the culture for which it is a vehicle. If self-translation is symptomatic of writing under “minoritized” conditions, the practice of “relay translation” may indicate an unhelpful isolation and even solipsism when writing from a “majoritized” position. The writer in a “minoritized” language displays an enviable degree of “linguistic permeability” which one would seek in vain for with many writers in the English-speaking world. Given my own situation in Glasgow of the 1960s and 1970s, Gaelic, rather than being a language in need of rescuing, presented an invaluable opportunity for the poetry I needed to write. Resisting its allure would have been senseless.