Scottish Gaelic


A language of United Kingdom

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

57,400 in United Kingdom (2011 census). Over 87,000 people with any Gaelic language skills (2011 census). Total users in all countries: 60,130.


Highland county: northwest Scotland, Western Isles, islands of Colonsay, Lismore, Raasay, Skye, and Tiree; Edinburgh and Glasgow 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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