Tuesday 20 February 2024

World Gaelic Week

It's World Gaelic Week (Seachdain na Gàidhlig) which aims to raise the profile of Gaelic through community initiatives, projects and events. 

Scottish Gaelic is familiar to many people living in Scotland through place names, particularly in the Highlands. It is also a living language for people in parts of Western Scotland, particularly the Western Isles (the only part of the country where televised election results are read out in Gaelic as well as English). 

I've been learning Gaelic for about a year now, and it's an interesting language, very different to English in spelling and grammar so it feels tricky to learn (though it is no more intrinsically difficult than any other language). 

I'm particularly interested in Gaelic words relating to the natural world, not just place names, but also Gaelic names for plants and animals. 

Here's a nice article on the NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage) website about the Gaelic names of birds. I particularly like the fact that one of the Gaelic names for the Dunlin is gille-feadaig, meaning ‘servant of the plover' as the smaller wader will often be found hanging out with plovers. 

NatureScot also has a useful looking dictionary of Gaelic words relating to nature

And National Theatre of Scotland have produced a short film about language based on the play Somersaults by playwright Iain Finlay Macleod. A poetic exploration of language and how it defines who we are, captured on the Isle of Lewis. You can watch it here.

If you're still on Twitter, if you search for World Gaelic Week you'll find a good number of nature organisations sharing nature words from Gaelic.

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