Scottish Gaelic

Goidelic Celtic language of Scotland / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Scottish Gaelic (/ˈɡælɪk/, GAL-ick; endonym: Gàidhlig [ˈkaːlɪkʲ] ), also known as Scots Gaelic or simply Gaelic, is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family) native to the Gaels of Scotland. As a Goidelic language, Scottish Gaelic, as well as both Irish and Manx, developed out of Old Irish.[4] It became a distinct spoken language sometime in the 13th century in the Middle Irish period, although a common literary language was shared by the Gaels of both Ireland and Scotland until well into the 17th century.[5] Most of modern Scotland was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced especially by Gaelic-language place names.[6][7]

Quick facts: Scottish Gaelic, Pronunciation, Native t...
Scottish Gaelic
  • Scots Gaelic
  • Gaelic
Native toUnited Kingdom, Canada
RegionScotland; Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
EthnicityScottish Gaels
Speakers57,000 fluent L1 and L2 speakers in Scotland (2011)[1]
87,000 people in Scotland reported having some Gaelic language ability in 2011;[1] 1,300 fluent in Nova Scotia[2]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1gd
ISO 639-2gla
ISO 639-3gla
ELPScottish Gaelic
2011 distribution of Gaelic speakers in Scotland
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

In the 2011 census of Scotland, 57,375 people (1.1% of the Scottish population aged over three years old) reported being able to speak Gaelic, 1,275 fewer than in 2001. The highest percentages of Gaelic speakers were in the Outer Hebrides. Nevertheless, there is a language revival, and the number of speakers of the language under age 20 did not decrease between the 2001 and 2011 censuses.[8] Outside of Scotland, a dialect known as Canadian Gaelic has been spoken in Canada since the 18th century. In the 2021 census, 2,170 Canadian residents claimed knowledge of Scottish Gaelic, a decline from 3,980 speakers in the 2016 census.[9][10] There exists a particular concentration of speakers in Nova Scotia, with historic communities in other parts of Canada having largely disappeared.[11]

Scottish Gaelic is not an official language of the United Kingdom or Scotland.[12] However, it is classed as an indigenous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which the UK Government has ratified, and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 established a language-development body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig.[13]

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