Scottish Gaelic


A language of United Kingdom

Alternate Names
Gaelic, Scots Gaelic
Gàidhlig, Gàidhlig na h-Alba

57,400 (2011 census). Over 87,000 people with any Gaelic language skills (2011 census). Total users in all countries: 61,170.


Scotland, northwest Highland County, Western Isles, islands of Tiree, Raasay, Skye, Lismore, and Colonsay; Glasgow and Edinburgh cities.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial language in Scotland (2005, Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act).


VSO; prepositions; noun head initial; gender (masculine/feminine); definite article; case-marking (3 cases); verb affixes mark person, number; comparatives; 33 consonants, 18 vowels, 10 diphthongs; non-tonal; stress on first syllable.

Language Use

Resurgence of interest in Scottish Gaelic in 1990s. A number of children learn the language but there are serious problems in language maintenance even in the core areas (Salminen 2007). Home, church, community.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 50% (1971 census). Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a Gaelic college where students and faculty use only Scottish Gaelic. In bilingual areas Gaelic usually is the language of instruction for most primary subjects. Taught in primary schools. Gaelic secondary schools. Literature. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1801–2016.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Status rising since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1990s.

Also spoken in:

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