This is the sign at the railway station at Linlithgow, a royal burgh situated in West Lothian about twenty miles from Edinburgh. Linlithgow Palace was the residence and birthplace of Scottish royalty. Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James 6th/1st there.
I wrote here about a day trip I took there with my kids a few years ago and there are some photos of the ruined palace on that post.
It is one of the most historic places in Scotland and as such has many visitors, a good proportion of whom will be from other parts of the UK and abroad. Many will arrive by train. The visitors will I’m sure be comforted that Linlithgow’s motto is “St. Michael is kind to strangers”
However, if the sign above is typical of the signage at Linlithgow station, how on earth will ‘black bitches’ (the name for Linlithgow folk) have the opportunity to bestow their kindness? Strangers are confronted with a sign in some strange foreign sub dialect (Scots) and a pretty much deid foreign language (Gaelic) which, to my knowledge has never been spoken widely in Linlithgow. I would be surprised, nay amazed if even one resident of the place has the Gaelic as their first language and would be interested to know how many train passengers on seeing the sign think to themselves “Oh! Gleann Iucha! – my stop!”
Of course plenty of locals will refer to the place as “Lithgae” because it’s a coloquialism and that’s all fair and good, but they won’t need a sign to tell them where they are.
However visitors, be they Scots, English,Welsh, Irish or from overseas do actually do require to know where they are.
I wonder how many have looked at the above sign and missed their stop?
My friend Almax took this photo in Arrochar recently:
Notice how the Gaelic name for Helensburgh has prominence ABOVE the English name.
I have no idea how many fluent Gaelic speakers there are in Helensburgh but I’d guess somewhere around the square root of hee-haw. Having lived there for most of my life I don’t think I’ve ever heard it spoken in the town. Again, I wonder how many visitors to the area would know it by the name Baile Eilidh, or more to the point be able to pronounce it?
The people responsible should go and raffle their doughnut.