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Smith-Christmas, C
Language Culture And Curriculum
‘Is it really for talking?’: the implications of associating a minority language with the school
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This paper examines how caregivers in a bilingual family discursively link Gaelic to a school context when interacting with Maggie, an eight year-old who is currently enrolled in Gaelic Medium Education on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The paper argues that the caregivers achieve this discursive framing primarily through treating Gaelic as a performance language and through orienting to discourses that de-normatise Maggie’s use of her minority language. The paper argues that although the caregivers believe they are encouraging Maggie’s use of Gaelic, by framing the language in a school context, they link Gaelic to authority. It is further argued that this association of Gaelic with authority may be one of the many contributing factors to Maggie’s low use of the language overall. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of this argument in terms of language policy and planning.
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