The Info List - Scottish Gaelic

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SCOTTISH GAELIC or SCOTS GAELIC, sometimes also referred to simply as GAELIC (_Gàidhlig_ ( listen )), is a Celtic language native to Scotland
. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx , developed out of Middle Irish . Most of modern Scotland
was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced especially by Gaelic-language placenames.

In the 2011 census of Scotland
, 57,375 people (1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old) reported as able to speak Gaelic, 1,275 fewer than in 2001. The highest percentages of Gaelic speakers were in the Outer Hebrides . Only about half of speakers were fully literate in the language. Nevertheless, there are revival efforts, and the number of speakers of the language under age 20 did not decrease between the 2001 and 2011 censuses.

Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
is neither an official language of the European Union nor of the United Kingdom. However, it is classed as an indigenous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages , which the British government has ratified, and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 established a language development body, _Bòrd na Gàidhlig _.

Outside Scotland, Canadian Gaelic is spoken, mainly in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
. In the 2011 census, there were 7,195 total speakers of "Gaelic languages" in Canada, with 1,365 in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
where the responses mainly refer to Scottish Gaelic.


* 1 Nomenclature

* 2 History

* 2.1 Origins to zenith * 2.2 Eclipse of Gaelic in Scotland
* 2.3 Modern era * 2.4 Defunct dialects

* 3 Status

* 3.1 Number of speakers * 3.2 Distribution in Scotland

* 4 Grammar

* 4.1 Noun inflection * 4.2 Verb inflection * 4.3 Word order

* 5 Lexicon

* 5.1 Loanwords into other languages

* 6 Phonology

* 7 Writing system

* 7.1 Alphabet * 7.2 Orthography

* 8 Official recognition

* 8.1 Scotland

* 8.1.1 Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
* 8.1.2 Qualifications in the language * 8.1.3 European Union
European Union
* 8.1.4 Media * 8.1.5 Signage

* 8.2 Canada

* 9 Education

* 9.1 Scotland
* 9.2 Canada

* 9.3 Higher and further education

* 9.3.1 University of the Highlands and Islands

* 10 Church * 11 Sport * 12 Personal names * 13 Surnames * 14 Common words and phrases with Irish and Manx equivalents * 15 See also * 16 References * 17 Resources * 18 External links


See also: Scotia
Anne Lorne Gillies speaking publicly in the Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic

Aside from "Scottish Gaelic", the language may also be referred to simply as "Gaelic". In Scotland, the word "Gaelic" in reference to Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
specifically is pronounced , while outside Scotland it is often pronounced /ˈɡeɪlᵻk/ . Outside Ireland and Great Britain, "Gaelic" may refer to the Irish language .

Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
should not be confused with Scots , the Middle English -derived language varieties which had come to be spoken in most of the Lowlands of Scotland
by the early modern era. Prior to the 15th century, these dialects were known as _Inglis_ ("English") by its own speakers, with Gaelic being called _Scottis_ ("Scottish"). From the late 15th century, however, it became increasingly common for such speakers to refer to Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
as _Erse_ ("Irish") and the Lowland vernacular as _Scottis_. Today, Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
is recognised as a separate language from Irish, so the word _Erse_ in reference to Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
is no longer used.


Main article: History of Scottish Gaelic _ Linguistic division in early 12th century Scotland. Gaelic speaking Norse-Gaelic zone, use of either or both languages English-speaking zone Cumbric may have survived in this zone; more realistically a mixture of Cumbric, Gaelic (west) and English (east) Coronation of King Alexander III on Moot Hill , Scone on 13 July 1249. He is being greeted by the ollamh rìgh_, the royal poet, who is addressing him with the proclamation "Benach De Re Albanne" (= _Beannachd Dè Rìgh Alban_, "God's Blessing on the King of Scotland"); the poet goes on to recite Alexander's genealogy.


Gaelic was brought to Scotland, probably in the 4th–5th centuries CE, by settlers from Ireland who founded the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata on Scotland's west coast in present-day Argyll
. Gaelic in Scotland
was mostly confined to Dál Riata until the 8th century, when it began expanding into Pictish areas north of the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. By 900, Pictish appears to have become extinct, completely replaced by Gaelic. An exception might be made for the Northern Isles , however, where Pictish was more likely supplanted by Norse rather than by Gaelic.

In southern Scotland
, place name analysis suggests dense usage of Gaelic in Galloway
and adjoining areas to the north and west, as well as in West Lothian and parts of western Midlothian . Less dense usage is suggested for north Ayrshire
, Renfrewshire
, the Clyde Valley and eastern Dumfriesshire . In south-eastern Scotland, there is no evidence that Gaelic was ever widely spoken: the area shifted from Cumbric to Old English during its long incorporation into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria .

In 1018 after the conquest of the Lothians by the Kingdom of Scotland , Gaelic reached its social, cultural, political, and geographic zenith in Scotland. Elites spoke Gaelic although some commoners in the Lothians retained Old English. Colloquial speech in Scotland
had been developing independently of that in Ireland at least as early as its crossing the Druim Alban into Pictland. In Latin, the entire country was for the first time called _Scotia_, and Gaelic was the _lingua Scotia_.


Many historians mark the reign of King Malcom Canmore (Malcolm III ) as the beginning of Gaelic's eclipse in Scotland, because his wife Margaret spoke no Gaelic, gave her children Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic names, and brought many English bishops, priests, and monastics to Scotland. When both Malcolm and Margaret died in 1093, the Gaelic aristocracy rejected their anglicised sons and instead backed Malcolm's brother Donald Bàn as the next King of Scots. Sometimes called the ‘last Celtic King of Scotland,’ Donald had spent 17 years in Gaelic Ireland and his power base was in the thoroughly Gaelic west of Scotland. He was the last Scottish monarch to be buried on Iona , the one-time centre of the Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
Church and the traditional burial place of the Gaelic Kings of Dàl Riada and the Kingdom of Alba.

During the reigns of the sons of Donald's nephew and successor, Malcolm Canmore (1097–1153), Anglo-Norman names and practices spread throughout Scotland
south of the Forth–Clyde line and along the northeastern coastal plain as far north as Moray. Norman French completely displaced Gaelic at court. The establishment of royal burghs throughout the same area, particularly under David I , attracted large numbers of foreigners speaking Old English. This was the beginning of Gaelic's status as a predominantly rural language in Scotland.

Clan chiefs in the northern and western parts of Scotland
continued to support Gaelic bards who remained a central feature of court life there. The semi-independent Lordship of the Isles in the Hebrides and western coastal mainland remained thoroughly Gaelic since the language's recovery there in the 12th century, providing a political foundation for cultural prestige down to the end of the 15th century.

By the mid-14th century what eventually came to be called Scots (at that time termed Inglis ) emerged as the official language of government and law. Scotland's emergent nationalism in the era following the conclusion of the Wars of Scottish Independence was organized using Scots as well. For example, the nation's great patriotic literature including John Barbour's _ The Brus _ (1375) and Blind Harry's _The Wallace _ (before 1488) was written in Scots, not Gaelic. By the end of the 15th century, English/Scots speakers referred to Gaelic instead as 'Yrisch' or 'Erse', i.e. Irish and their own language as 'Scottis'.


Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
has a rich oral (_beul-aithris_) and written tradition, having been the language of the bardic culture of the Highland clans for many years. The language preserves knowledge of and adherence to pre-feudal laws and customs , the salience of which was evident in the complaints and claims of the Highland Land League in the late 19th century, which elected MPs to the Parliament of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
. However, the language suffered under centralization efforts by the Scottish and later British states, especially after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, during the Highland Clearances , and by the exclusion of Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
from the educational system .

The first well-known translation of the Bible
into Scottish Gaelic was made in 1767 when Dr James Stuart of Killin and Dugald Buchanan of Rannoch
produced a translation of the New Testament. Very few European languages have made the transition to a modern literary language without an early modern translation of the Bible; the lack of a well-known translation may have contributed to the decline of Scottish Gaelic.

In the 21st century, Scottish Gaelic literature has seen development within the area of prose fiction publication, as well as challenges due to the continuing decline of the language. (see below)


Two interpretations of the linguistic divide in the middle ages. Left: the divide in 1400 after Loch, 1932; Right: the divide in 1500 after Nicholson, 1974. (both reproduced from Withers, 1984) Gaelic Scots Norn

All surviving dialects are Highland and/or Hebridean dialects. Dialects of LOWLAND GAELIC have become defunct since the demise of Galwegian Gaelic , originally spoken in Galloway
, which seems to have been the last Lowland dialect and which survived into the Modern Period . By the 18th century Lowland Gaelic had been largely replaced by Lowland Scots across much of Lowland Scotland. Gaelic in the Eastern and Southern Scottish Highlands, although alive in the mid-twentieth century, is now largely defunct. What is known as Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
is essentially the Gaelic spoken in the Outer Hebrides and on Skye. Generally speaking, the Gaelic spoken across the Western Isles is similar enough to be classed as one major dialect group, although there is still regional variation.

Dialects on both sides of the Straits of Moyle (the North Channel ) linking Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
with Irish are now extinct, though native speakers were still to be found on the Mull of Kintyre , Rathlin and in North East Ireland as late as the mid-20th century. Records of their speech show that Irish and Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
existed in a dialect chain with no clear language boundary.

A certain number of features of Highland dialects moribund in Scotland
have been preserved in the Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Gaelic community. Those of particular note are the pronunciation of the broad or velarised l (l̪ˠ) as , as in the Lochaber dialect.


_ THIS SECTION NEEDS EXPANSION with: preservation and revitalization efforts; Canadian Gaelic stats. You can help by adding to it . (October 2015)_

The Endangered Languages Project lists Gaelic's status as "threatened," with "20,000 to 30,000 active users." UNESCO classifies Gaelic as "definitely endangered."


Gaelic speakers in Scotland

1755 1,265,380 Unknown


289,798 22.9%

1800 1,608,420 Unknown


297,823 18.5%

1881 3,735,573 Unknown


231,594 6.1%

1891 4,025,647 43,738 1.1% 210,677 5.2% 254,415 6.3%

1901 4,472,103 28,106 0.6% 202,700 4.5% 230,806 5.1%

1911 4,760,904 8,400 0.2% 183,998 3.9% 192,398 4.2%

1921 4,573,471 9,829 0.2% 148,950 3.3% 158,779 3.5%

1931 4,588,909 6,716 0.2% 129,419 2.8% 136,135 3.0%

1951 5,096,415 2,178 0.1% 93,269 1.8% 95,447 1.9%

1961 5,179,344 974 (PDF). Province of Nova Scotia. p. 131. Retrieved 5 January 2016. * ^ "Endangered Languages Project - Scottish Gaelic". _Endangered Languages Project_. Retrieved 14 June 2017. * ^ MacAulay, Donald (1992). _The Celtic Languages_. Cambridge University Press. p. 141. ISBN 0521231272 . – quoting census data. No data recorded for monolingual Gaelic speakers from 1981 * ^ 2011 Census of Scotland, Table QS211SC. Viewed 23 June 2014. * ^ Scotland\'s Census Results Online (SCROL), Table UV12. Viewed 23 June 2014. * ^ "Census shows decline in Gaelic speakers \'slowed\'". _BBC News Online _. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. * ^ "Census shows Gaelic declining in its heartlands". _BBC News Online _. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. * ^ "Pupil Census Supplementary Data". _The Scottish Government_. Retrieved 3 March 2015. * ^ O'Hanlon, Fiona (2012). _Lost in transition? Celtic language revitalization in Scotland
and Wales: the primary to secondary school stage_ (Thesis). The University of Edinburgh. * ^ Cox, Richard _Brìgh nam Facal_ (1991) Roinn nan Cànan Ceilteach ISBN 0-903204-21-5 * ^ "Gaelic Orthographic Conventions" (PDF). _sqa.org_. Bòrd na Gàidhlig. October 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2017. * ^ Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair. "Smeòrach Chlann Raghnaill". _www.moidart.org.uk_. Archaeology Archive Moidart History. Retrieved 24 April 2017. * ^ Macbain, Alexander (1896). _An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language_ (Digitized facsimile ed.). BiblioBazaar. ISBN 978-1-116-77321-7 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Gaelic Orthographic Conventions" (PDF). _sqa.org_. Bòrd na Gàidhlig. October 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2017. * ^ O'Rahilly, T F, _Irish Dialects Past and Present_. Brown and Nolan 1932, ISBN 0-901282-55-3 , p. 19 * ^ The Board of Celtic Studies Scotland
(1998) _Computer-Assisted Learning for Gaelic: Towards a Common Teaching Core_. The orthographic conventions were revised by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in 2005: "Gaelic Orthographic Conventions 2005" (PDF). SQA publication BB1532. Retrieved 2007-03-24. * ^ See Kenneth MacKinnon (1991) _Gaelic: A Past and Future Prospect_. Edinburgh: The Saltire Society. * ^ Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005. * ^ Williams, Colin H., Legislative Devolution and Language Regulation in the United Kingdom, Cardiff University * ^ "Latest News – SHRC". Scottish Human Rights Commission . 2008-10-12. Archived from the original on 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2013-11-13. * ^ "UK Ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Working Paper 10 – R.Dunbar, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-27. * ^ Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine . * ^ "Gàidhlig". _www.sqa.org.uk_. SQA. Retrieved 24 April 2017. first1= missing last1= in Authors list (help ) * ^ "Gaelic (learners)". _www.sqa.org.uk_. SQA. Retrieved 24 April 2017. first1= missing last1= in Authors list (help ) * ^ " An Comunn Gàidhealach - Royal National Mod : Royal National Mod". _www.ancomunn.co.uk_. Retrieved 24 April 2017. * ^ "EU green light for Scots Gaelic". _ BBC News Online _. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2009. * ^ BBC Reception advice – BBC Online * ^ _A_ _B_ About BBC Alba, from BBC Online * ^ "Caithness councillors harden resolve against Gaelic signs". _The Press and Journal _. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 22 December 2011.

* ^ " Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba - Gaelic Place-Names of Scotland
- About Us". _www.ainmean-aite.org_. Retrieved 24 April 2017. * ^ Bumstead, J.M (2006). "Scots". _Multicultural Canada_. Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 2006-08-30. * ^ Newton, Michael (2015). _Seanchaidh na Coille / Memory-Keeper of the Forest: Anthology of Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
Literature of Canada_. Cape Breton University Press. ISBN 978-1-77206-016-4 . * ^ Dembling, Jonathan (2006). "Gaelic in Canada: New Evidence from an Old Census". _academia.edu_. Dunedin Academic Press Ltd. Retrieved 2 January 2017. * ^ "National Household Survey Profile, Nova Scotia, 2011". 2.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-08-15. * ^ "2011 Census of Canada: Topic-based tabulations, Detailed Mother Tongue, Nova Scotia". 2.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-08-15. * ^ Pupils in Scotland, 2006 from scot.gov.uk. Published February 2007, Scottish Government. * ^ Pupils in Scotland, 2008 from scot.gov.uk. Published February 2009, Scottish Government. * ^ Pupils in Scotland, 2009 from scotland.gov.uk. Published 27 November 2009, Scottish Government. * ^ "Scottish Government: Pupils Census, Supplementary Data". Scotland.gov.uk. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2014-03-27. * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2011 Spreadsheet published 3 February 2012 (Table 1.13) * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2012 Spreadsheet published 11 December 2012 (Table 1.13) * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2013 Spreadsheet (Table 1.13) * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2014 Spreadsheet (Table 1.13) * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2015 Spreadsheet (Table 1.13) * ^ Pupil Census, Supplementary data 2015 Spreadsheet (Table 1.13) * ^ Pagoeta, Mikel Morris (2001). _Europe Phrasebook_. Lonely Planet . p. 416. ISBN 1-86450-224-X . * ^ O'Hanlon, Fiona (2012). _Lost in transition? Celtic language revitalization in Scotland
and Wales: the primary to secondary school stage_ (Thesis). The University of Edinburgh. * ^ O'Hanlon, Fiona (2012). _Lost in transition? Celtic language revitalization in Scotland
and Wales: the primary to secondary school stage_ (Thesis). The University of Edinburgh. p. 48. * ^ "Gael-force wind of change in the classroom". _ The Scotsman _. 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2011-06-08. * ^ "Gaelic core class increasingly popular in Nova Scotia". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . 2015-01-26. Retrieved 2015-11-04. * ^ MacLeod, Murdo (6 January 2008). "Free Church plans to scrap Gaelic communion service". _ The Scotsman _. Edinburgh. * ^ "Gaelic added to Scotland
strips". _ BBC News Online _. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2010. * ^ "Scottish Rugby Union: "Put \'Alba\' on Scottish Ruby Shirt"". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-03-27. * ^ "Gàidhlig air lèintean rugbaidh na h-Alba" (in Scottish Gaelic). BBC Alba. * ^ " Alba
air Taghadh - beò à Inbhir Nis". _BBC Radio nan Gàidheal_. BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2017. * ^ "Catrìona Anna Nic a\' Phì". _BBC_ (in Scottish Gaelic). Retrieved 19 January 2017. * ^ Woulfe, Patrick. "Gaelic Surnames". _www.libraryireland.com_. Retrieved 24 April 2017. * ^ Dorian, Nancy C. _Language death: the life cycle of a Scottish Gaelic dialect_. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780812277852 . Retrieved 24 April 2017.


* Gillies, H. Cameron. (1896). _Elements of Gaelic Grammar_. Vancouver: Global Language Press (reprint 2006), ISBN 1-897367-02-3 (hardcover), ISBN 1-897367-00-7 (paperback) * Gillies, William. (1993). "Scottish Gaelic", in Ball, Martin J. and Fife, James (eds). _The Celtic Languages (Routledge Language Family Descriptions)_. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28080-X (paperback), p. 145–227 * Lamb, William. (2001). _Scottish Gaelic_. Munich: Lincom Europa, ISBN 3-89586-408-0 * MacAoidh, Garbhan. (2007). _Tasgaidh – A Gaelic Thesaurus_. Lulu Enterprises, N. Carolina * McLeod, Wilson (ed.). (2006). _Revitalising Gaelic in Scotland: Policy, Planning and Public Discourse_. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, ISBN 1-903765-59-5 * Robertson, Charles M. (1906–07). " Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
Dialects", _The Celtic Review_, vol 3 pp. 97–113, 223–39, 319–32. * Withers, Charles W. J. (1984). _Gaelic in Scotland, 1689–1984_. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-85976-097-9 .