A small crack or hole where insects live?

By | Category: Travel news

How effective will a campaign be to attract tourists to Scotland if VisitScotland promotes a theme Scots don’t understand?

At this time of the year, tour operators in particular are issuing their hot tips for 2018. (As usual we’ll be bringing you some of them over the Christmas period) This year VisitScotland has also identified a top trend but it has run into a slight problem.

It says that “Còsagach” will be a top theme for 2018 and compares it to the Danish “Hygge.” (Why not Welsh “cwtch” which appears on many Welsh tourism souvenirs.) According to VisitScotland, “còsagach” means to feel snug, warm and comforted. I suppose it is a bit like Linus from the Peanuts cartoons and his security blanket. It provides that feeling of comfort that is hard to explain yet most people have an understanding of what it is.

Unfortunately for VisitScotland the word may not mean that at all. Some academics claim that the word actually means an insect nest or a whole in which they live. In an article in Bella Caledonia written by Calum Macleod, he pointed out that the was not in circulation amongst Gaelic speakers and others, like him, had to seek dictionary support to find out what it meant. It is unlikely therefore that “Còsagach” will be a top theme since very few understand the word. Other Gaelic speakers commented on Macleod’s article and, of the twelve comments at the time of writing, one (K.A.Mylchreest) “seasgair” as being more appropriate. The consensus seems to be that the word “Còsagach” means a little hole or crack where insects live.

Macleod says in his piece, “As a result many feel insecure about their Gaelic literacy skills. Trumpeting obscure terms like Còsagach could well compound that insecurity.”

Without getting into the argument but possible starting another, does this matter. Yes it does to Gaelic speakers and those championing the language, particularly since the word seems to have been misused. But in tourist terms it matters as well. It could suggest that VisitScotland doesn’t understand the country they are promoting. On the other hand it has given a shot of publicity to Scotland and might encourage more people to visit the country even if only to the Gaelic speaking areas where visitors can ask what “Còsagach” really means.

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