Monday, August 27, 2007


For the past year or so I have been driving past the half-built Homebase next door to Robroyston Asda every day on my way to work in Bishopbriggs. I am not a great fan of Homebase to be honest, I tend to find B&Q has a much better selection, however the fact that it is next door to a large supermarket, that I often frequent means I am going to find it useful for the odd pack of screws or piece of sandpaper even if I do stick to B&Q's larger selection for paint or beading or whatever. It opened finally on Friday and on Saturday during our DIY bonanza Thomas found we needed panel pins - an obvious thing to acquire in the new Homebase. I toddled out alone, leaving Thomas to paint the bathroom. On entering I saw two things that were going to appeal much more to Thomas than any B&Q - the first area you enter after the front door has a sign above it proclaiming 'cookshop' - Thomas is a kitchen utensil and gadget nerd (I mean he has a tool that slices fresh pineapples into rings and takes out the core simultaneously and the likes!) so he will be over the moon to check every shelf here to make sure he isn't missing anything obscure. But the second thing that will appeal to the language nerd but which I found utterly bizarre was the Gaelic signposting! Now we were in Oban over the summer, where the odd bank's name or street name appears in Gaelic under the English but that is 100 miles north of Glasgow and is probably only done to appeal to the tourists looking for that shortbread-tin Scotland that doesn't actually exist. They have the same in Irish in Dublin airport - signs like Welcome and Exit translated into Irish to appeal to the tourists but the real information signs are actually conspicuously only in English. So here I was standing in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow in a DIY store where not just entrance and exit were displayed in Gaelic, but absolutely everything - every department, every information sign - nothing was left out. But who is it for? It isn't there to fool the tourists - tourists don't go DIY shopping in the northern suburbs of Glasgow, it isn't there for Bishopbriggs' native Gaelic speaking community because there isn't a native Gaelic speaker within 200 miles of the place, it isn't even for the non-native Gaelic speaker because the chances of even one of them crossing their threshold per day is zero. So why? It must have cost money to have it all translated, it must also have cost to hang all these signs. It is truly bewildering. If it was to be useful to people using the store Polish would have been a more obvious choice with many Polish tradesmen in Glasgow at the moment. It isn't far from Sighthill either with its large foreign community so they could have tried French for the African refugees, or Arabic or even the more usual Urdu, Punjabi or Chinese but Gaelic?...weird, weird,weird!

After work today we stopped in for 5 minutes so I could show Thomas this linguistically phenomenal DIY store...his first impression? Predictably, they've spelled 'furniture' wrong! I should have guessed!

1 comment:

The Scudder said...

So didn't you ASK someone in the shop ,.,. WHY the Gaelic ??