This is the Scots Gaelic name for Scotland, and has been chosen by Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland for the Scottish National Party, as the name of his new party, set up in opposition to the SNP after his ‘disagreements’, to put it politely, with his former colleagues.
I have been very surprised to hear some of the BBC’s news presenters – although not all – use a pseudo-Gaelic pronunciation for the name. They appear to be trying to follow the pronunciation given by Wikipedia, which uses this IPA transcription for the Scots Gaelic: [ˈal̪ˠapə]. Such a pronunciation will be very hard for non-Gaelic speakers to get their tongues around. Wikipedia does also give the usual English pronunciation as [ˈælbə]. Most Scots – the vast majority of Scots in fact – do not speak a single word of Gaelic, and it has not been spoken natively by Scots in Edinburgh and points south for hundreds of years. It therefore seems to me perverse to want to inflict a pronunciation which is not intuitive to most of the listeners and viewers, who will simply wonder what is going on.
Is this a subtle way of trying to influence the audience in its attitude to the party?
Will pressure be put on the Pronunciation Unit to make the ‘Gaelic’ version its official recommendation?