Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a Celtic language native to Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Old Irish.

The 2001 census of Scotland showed that a total of 58,652 (1.2% of the Scottish population aged over three years old) in Scotland could speak Gaelic at that time, with the Outer Hebrides being the main stronghold of the language. The census results indicate a decline of 7,300 Gaelic speakers from 1991. Despite this decline, revival efforts exist and the number of younger speakers of the language has increased.

Scottish Gaelic is not an official language of the European Union, nor of the United Kingdom. (The only language that is de jure official in any part of the UK is Welsh.) However, it is classed as an autochthonous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which the British government has ratified. In addition, the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 gave official recognition to the language and established an official language development body, Bòrd na Gàidhlig .

Scottish Gaelic is currently undergoing a similar trend to Irish, in that a standard dialect based on various regional dialects (the Mid-Minch dialect , aka BBC Gaelic) is beginning to spread in favour of local dialects. Like Irish, this is a linguistic trend which will be a key issue in the language in the coming years.

Outside of Scotland, dialects of the language known as Canadian Gaelic  exist in Canada on Cape Breton Island, Glengarry County in present-day Eastern Ontario and other isolated areas of the Nova Scotia mainland. In 2011, there were 2,320 in Canada in total (with the highest numbers in Ontario (940), British Columbia (535), Nova Scotia (300) and Alberta (250), 225 of which reported Gaelic as a language spoken at home.


Learning Sites




  • Put as much of your laptop as possible through Gaidhlig, it's a quick and easy way to learn. There are many programs with Gaidhlig options, including Windows 8, Google and Firefox, so have a look around. If Facebook has it, then that's the best place to start.
  • iGaidhlig A very handy list of software that has Gaidhlig language options. Basically, more no-effort Gaidhlig practice than you can shake a stick at.



Breton Cornish Irish Manx Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) Welsh
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