Scottish Gaelic

September 30, 2019 11:00 am


Scottish Gaelic or Gàidhlig is spoken in Scotland (Alba), mainly in the Highlands (a’ Ghaidhealtachd) and in the Western Islands (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), but also in Glasgow (Glaschu), Edinburgh (Dùn Eideann) and Inverness (Inbhir Nis).

Scottish Gaelic enjoy the status of a semi-official (or co-official) language in the UK, which means that they can be officially used under an administrative arrangement between the Council of Europe and the requesting Member State. The body in charge of the development of the Scottish Gaelic in Scotland is Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which was set up in 2005.

In Scotland Gaelic is used in different radio stations and tv channels. It is also taught in some schools and it is possible to study  degrees through the language in the University of the Highlands and Islands on the Isle of Skye.

According to a UK census in 2011 there are an average of 87,000 people that have any sort of knowledge of the Scottish Gaelic.

Gàidhlig is a Goidelic language of the Celtic Indo-European language family. It has been developed from the Old Irish and was brought to Scotland in the 4th century AD by people known as Scotti from Ireland. By the 9th century Gaelic had replaced the spoken languages (like the Pictish and Brytanic languages) and by the 11th century the Scottish Gaelic was spoken all through Scotland.

The number of Scottish Gaelic speakers increased until around 1800 and ever since then has been a decline of Scottish Gaelic speakers. It was specifically in the 18th and 19th century that the Scottish Gaelic speakers started dropping as it was when many of them were evicted from their lands to make way for sheep farms in the Highlands (a’ Ghaidhealtachd). Many migrated to other parts of Scotland, but also to Canada -especially to Nova Scotia (Alba Nuadh) , Australia (Astràilia) and New Zealand(Sealainn Nuadh), where it can still be heard as there are communities that still keep it alive.

References: . Accessed August 18, 2019.

Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean. Accessed August 18, 2019.

A History of Writing in Scots. A History of Writing in Scots. Accessed August 18, 2019.

Help. Help | Scotland’s Census. Accessed August 18, 2019.

 Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig). Scottish Gaelic language, alphabet and pronunciation. Accessed August 18, 2019.

Text of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. European Charter for Regional or  Minority Languages. Accessed August 18, 2019.

VisitScotland. Scottish Gaelic: Explained. YouTube. Published June 7, 2019. Accessed August 18, 2019.

Voices – Multilingual Nation. BBC. Accessed August 18, 2019.

Written by Maria Blanca Escudero Fontan, trainee in the Direction of the Directorate B and in TermCoord. Holds a Degree in Translation and Interpretation ( Universidade de Vigo) and a MA in International Studies (USC).




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