Monday, August 11, 2014

Language Profile: Scottish Gaelic

Today we're taking a look at Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language that is thought to have evolved from Old Irish. It is primarily spoken in Scotland, specifically in the Outer Hebrides, a group of islands off the coast of mainland Scotland. There is also a small number of speakers of the language in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which means "New Scotland" in Latin.

Scottish Gaelic is not an official language of the United Kingdom, but it is a recognized regional language of both Scotland and the UK. It is spoken by approximately 57,000 people in Scotland, which amounts to just over 1% of the country's population. It is sometimes referred to as "Gaelic" by speakers. However, this can lead to confusion, as Gaelic is also a name used to refer to the Irish language. It should also not be confused with Scots, a Germanic language related to the English language.

Rest and Be Thankful, a scenic overlook in Scotland
The lexicon of Scottish Gaelic is primarily of Celtic origin, though it does also contain some loanwords from Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French. It is written in a Latin-based alphabet that contains 18 of the letters used to write the English language. In addition, it uses grave and acute accents on vowels.

In recent years, the Scottish Parliament has acted in order to promote the use of Scottish Gaelic throughout the country for official purposes. In recent years, it has made an agreement so that Scottish Gaelic can be used as a formal means of communication within European Union institutions despite it not having official EU language status.

While Scottish Gaelic is not widely used in Scotland, the language does benefit from some public exposure. The BBC has both a television channel and a radio station that broadcast in the language, and the ITV network also produces programming in the language for its Scottish stations. The language can also seen on bilingual road signs and advertisements throughout the country, primarily in regions with large numbers of Scottish Gaelic speakers.