Observations of Cymraeg and Gaelic

I’m up on the Isle of Lewis for Hebcelt Music Festival and I spotted the photo included at Stornoway Airport and thought we need posters like that for Welsh. However I was talking to one of the festival people today who as it happened had done Gaelic Studies at University. She was saying that she has opportunity to speak Gaelic in this area but she also meets people who feel there is a nationalist feel to the language use as if she herself gets regular phonecall from Nicolas Sturgeon. I mentioned the million speaker plan and she said there would be uproar in Scotland if the government announced the same plan and that actually the Tories did more for the language because they could get away with it rather than SNP doing anything. She also said that she knows of companies who look at Welsh models for language to figure out how it could be done in Scotland.


Very interesting. I toured the Outer Hebrides (Barra >> Stornoway) a few years ago and had a lot of pleasure discussing our Celtic languages with local Gaelic speakers who were happily fairly thick on the ground. I was especially intrigued to hear in Barra that the person I was chatting with found it easier to understand the Irish of Donegal than the Gaelic of Lewis.

I’m retracing my steps in September accompanied this time with my wife and am looking forward to seeing if there is any change (positive or negative) in the use of Gaelic. :slight_smile:


Unlike in Ireland where the language is symbolic of Ireland’s differentness to Britain, and Wales where there is still significant and community use of the native language, the Gaelic in Scotland has been marginalised to the extent that it is no longer symbolic of anything but a fringe culture, geographically and culturally on the margin. There have been efforts recently both by the state (introducing bilingual signage, for example, and introducing the option of bilingual education to the big cities and the University of the Highlands and Islands) and by nationalist groups (in an attempt to echo the Irish situation), but these are still of minority interest.
The situation in Scotland is also complicated, of course, the existence of Norse traditions in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, and Northumbrian/Scots traditions in the lowlands, both of which might feel threatened by too big an emphasis on the Gaelic.


I live in mid Argyll. Our MSP is very keen on Gaelic culture and happily signed the petition I started for fair funding for S4C. I presume BBC Alba is financed by the Scottish Government, but I’m not sure. As our MSP is SNP he was unlikely to tell me that Ruth Davidson was a better bet for support! All I know is that all our directional road signs are now bilingual, but my house-mate, who has lived here from childhood - well since it was converted from a POW camp to a Forestry Commission housing scheme, has never learned Gaelic or wanted to or felt any lack. Friend who moved here from Dundee learned some Gaelic purely out of interest, but didn’t keep it up. Signs in the Co-op are bilingual… I have heard Cymraeg in there once, but never Gaelic! it is seen as Islands only!
I should explain that this IS the Dalriada, the site of Irish arrival, the home of the footprint of stone where the Kings were crowned! Our vet is Dalriada Vets’, there is a hardware store caalled Dalriada! Sad that it is not also a hotbed of Gaelic. I do not know if it is taught in the schools in Lochgilphead.
It seems to be included in the Curriculum for Excellence, ‘where available’ and a tree represents the letter L!! Ardrishaig represents A, etc.

1 Like

I’ve just moved this from another thread, as it seems to fit here.
Just something I noticed from the Irish Times. OK, Anglo-Hibernian, not Welsh but I noticed some similarities. For instance: Dwylo (hands) and Cwpan (cup). It’s to do with words that are at risk of disappearing.