Monday 20 February 2023

Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week)

 World Gaelic Week runs from 20-26 February this year and offers an opportunity to explore and celebrate the Scottish Gaelic language. The language is spoken in parts of Scotland, primarily the Western Isles and also in Nova Scotia. It has been considered an endangered language but is seeing a resurgence with young people from the islands making big commitments to learning it and over a million people learning Gaelic on Duolingo. However, a million online learners do not a fully living language make! The young learners who live in the islands are much more important from that point of view, as they're enabling the language to continue to be used in everyday situations in communities.

I started learning Scottish Gaelic a few weeks ago. I'm particularly interested in the Gaelic place names that are found across Scotland, even in areas where the language has not been spoken for generations. This Wikipedia page gives Gaelic place names across Scotland. There are also Gaelic phrases embedded in landscape descriptions across the country, you can find out more about that in this article on the website of the John Muir Trust. There's an interesting article about Gaelic in the landscape around Callander on the Callander's Landscape website here.

As a lifelong birdwatcher, I am particularly interested in From the Bird's Mouth, a website devoted to Gaelic names for birds and other animals. As a poet, I'm particularly interested in the Gaelic archives of the Scottish Poetry Library's website.

If you're interested in learning Gaelic, you have the following options:

Join me and the million or more other learners of Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo.

Join a local Gaelic class (there are evening classes across Scotland, you can find classes run by the City of Edinburgh Council here). I've been attending classes for the past few weeks and it's great to have face to face contact with other learners and a tutor. The class complements what you learn on Duolingo too. 

Explore the Learn Gaelic website

Watch the Speak Gaelic programme! You can view all the episodes on Youtube. You can also study with Speak Gaelic on their website.

If you're in the UK, you can find many interesting programmes on BBC Alba, the BBC's Scottish Gaelic channel. You can browse past programmes on the BBC iPlayer here.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

A few years ago, when on the Isle of Skye, I attended a Gaelic worship service. While I didn't understand much, it was glad to have the opportunity.