So, What is Gàidhlig?

I should probably wait until tomorrow to write this, since tomorrow is Tuesday, after all, but I don’t have much else to blog about, so I might as well put this up. It’s really just the first page of my Research Project “Outcome”. I’ll put more of the RP Outcome up as I get it done, I suppose. I’ve already put part of it up, under “Words We Get From Gaelic”.

And anyway, it’s been raining all day, so maybe I’m just feeling particularly Scottish.

The “Leading Question” of my Research Project is “What efforts are being made to promote the Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) language, both in Scotland and around the world?”

The first bit is just clarifying what Gàidhlig actually is, because a surprising amount of people don’t know, exactly. I’ve done the titles in both languages – I hope I got the translations right!

The final Outcome is going to be in a PowerPoint or movie form, with a voiceover. This is just what I’ve got in written form so far (first draft).

So, here goes:

What Scottish Gaelic is:
Dè tha ‘n Gàidhlig:

-Gàidhlig is a Goidelic language. Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) and Manx (Gailck) are also Goidelic languages. All three are descended from Middle Irish and are (largely) mutually intelligible.

-Gàidhlig is an Insular Celtic language. There are two sorts of Insular Celtic languages: Goidelic (also known as Q-Celtic) and Brythonic (also known as P-Celtic). Modern Brythonic languages include Welsh, Breton, and Cornish.

-Gàidhlig is a native language of the British Isles. It developed from Middle Irish in Scotland, which makes it different from Irish and Manx, which developed from Middle Irish in Ireland and on the Isle of Mann, respectively.

What Scottish Gaelic isn’t:
Dè chan eil an Gàidhlig:

-Scottish Gaelic is not Scots. Gàidhlig is a Celtic language, and Scots is a Germanic language and the sister-language of English. The two are very different.

-Scottish Gaelic is not Scottish English. “Scottish English” is the name given to the variety of English spoken with a Scottish accent, much as the same “Australian English” is given to the variety of English spoken with an Australian accent. Scottish English and Scots are often considered to be separate languages.

-Scottish Gaelic is not Irish (or Manx). Whilst the language are mutually intelligible to fluent speakers (and even to some learners), several hundred years of separate development and an entirely different spelling system separate the languages. Many common phrases are different, and meanings of words may differ slightly.

-Scottish Gaelic is not Pictish. Pictish is a separate Celtic language of somewhat dubious origins (probably a variety of Old Brittonic, which makes it a Brythonic language rather than a Goidelic one), which was spoken in Scotland and the Orkneys prior to the invasions and/or settlements of the Irish, the Norse, and the Welsh. Few to no records of the language remain, and only a few mentions have been found in writings by Irish, Welsh, and Roman scholars. By the time the Normans invaded England, Pictish had completely disappeared, and been replaced by Gaelic (in the Highlands and Islands), a now-extinct dialect of Welsh known as “Cumbric”(in parts of the lowlands), and a dialect of Old Norse known as “Norn” (in the Shetlands and Orkneys, and parts of the Hebrides).

-Scottish Gaelic is not Klingon, despite what a study by Manchán Magan involving high school students and a list of mixed Irish Gaelic and Klingon words has shown.

-Scottish Gaelic is not Gaelic. (this statement only makes sense when you say it out loud). The Scottish variety is pronounced “GALL-ick”, whilst the Irish variety is pronounced “GAY-lick” (by English-speakers. Of course, they prefer to call it “Irish”, and in Irish, it’s actually pronounced “GAYL-ga”).

-Scottish Gaelic is not Celtic. “Celtic” isn’t a language. Or a culture. Rather, it is a broad term applied to a wide variety of languages and cultures, including the Insular Celtic languages previously discussed, as well as a number of long-extinct Continental Celtic languages such as Gaulish (France), Celtiberian (Spain), Noric (Germany), and Galatian (Turkey).

Well, that’s all for now. Tomorrow (barring something more interesting/exciting springing to mind) is: A Brief History of Scottish Gaelic.


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