HAVING grown up with both Scots and Gaelic, I could connect with a lot of what Thomas Clark said in his article “Nobody actually talks like that” (November 29). In both cases we did all we could to hide our own languages, with my Mum using Scots at home, but never in official situations. My Dad and Gran talked Gaelic in the house or in the car and certainly never within earshot of an English monoglot (children didn’t count). When I learnt Gaelic as an adult and tried to speak it to my Dad on the street, he looked over his shoulder to check no-one had overheard me, then replied in English.

I spent seven years in Switzerland, a country with four official languages. Similar to the situation with Scots and English, they use many German dialects, some of them so different from high German that they are considered separate languages. In shops and business situations, people would switch between high German and Swiss German. Children in Kindergarten used Swiss German until the age of seven, when they began school and were introduced to high German as another language, alongside English or French. At the university, colleagues gave talks in high German, but always spoke Swiss German during coffee breaks. The professor I worked with told me that he encouraged students to discuss their projects in Swiss German as they were better able to express themselves in their native language.

Contrast this with the situation in Scotland, where I went through teacher training a few years ago and came across a video which told me that it wasn’t appropriate for teachers to speak Scots in the classroom as they would come across as uneducated and wouldn’t gain the respect of children and parents.

When I tried to explain the Scottish attitude to languages to a Swiss friend, I ended with: “Das ist eine Schade” (It’s a shame). He quickly retorted: “Dass ist eine Schande!” (It’s a scandal).

Faced with a situation where a part of ourselves is either denied or boxed into ever-dwindling opportunities to use the language, we can either give up, tell ourselves it wasn’t important anyway and hate our language, or choose the long, slow road of learning and using it, going against the tide and facing many disappointments.

I have learnt Gaelic and speak it to my children. At first, I was ashamed and kept my voice low when we were out in public, but now I am much less afraid. Sometimes my children reply in Gaelic or speak it to each other. It is a small step forward.

We need more opportunities to use Gaelic and Scots informally as well as in official situations. We also need customer-facing jobs in museums and other places where people are recruited for their ability to speak our native languages and paid more for it. I would also love to hear Scots on television and radio.

Come on, Scotland. Wake up. The Swiss are among the best linguists in the world, because they value their own languages before they start learning others.

June Graham/Ghreumach

READ MORE: ‘Nobody actually talks like that’ – Why is everyone terrified of Scots?

I AGREE with Alex Rollo to the extent that we could have more trees on the lower slopes of our hillsides (Letters, December 1) but would strongly oppose plastering all our hills in this way partly because we may disapprove of grouse shooting.

Blanketing hillsides with trees would lead to a serious loss of diversity and would destroy the habitat of moorland birds, other creatures and certain plants. Who would want to lose the beautiful call of the curlew, or not be able to find cloudberry or dwarf cornel?

The hills are very important places of recreation for many people, not just grouse shooters. There is a hill in Appin called Fraochaidh which has a complete moat of blanket conifers, so dense that one is reduced to all fours in places in order to reach the open slopes of the summit. In New Zealand they have “tramping trails” which have a world-wide reputation but have the severe limitation of requiring one to go through a green tunnel with no views for much of the way. “Bare” ground is worth retaining, and to say so does not mean championing grouse shooting.

Andrew M Fraser

READ MORE: Our bare hillsides could be put to much better use​

I WAS reflecting on the phone with an old skiing and steam railway pal down in Gloucestershire about the troubles of the Cairngorm Funicular as he had heard it had gone into liquidation (Caingorm’s railway firm in administration, November 30). We reminisced on a trip we had taken on the Snowdonia Heritage Railway a few years ago and how the Victorians had managed to build and open a rack-and-pinion railway to the summit of Snowdonia in 1896, and here we are 125 years later in 2018 and Snowdonia is still running and operating many of the original Swiss-built steam locomotives.

Yet it would appear that over 100 years later, with all our supposed advances in engineering techniques, we are incapable of manufacturing reinforced concrete beams that can last more than 17 years without cracking? Will the Cairngorm Funicular Railway still be operating in 2123 with much of the original equipment still performing?

Charlie Gallagher

READ MORE: Cairngorm’s railway firm in administration after 'unsustainable' issues​