Scottish Gaelic


A language of United Kingdom

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

25,100 in United Kingdom (2011 census). England and Wales 58, Scotland 25,000. Total users in all countries: 28,870.


Scotland, northwest Highland County; Isle of Skye and the islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides; Glasgow.

Language Status

4 (Educational). Statutory provincial language in Scotland (2005, Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act).


Biblical Gaelic is based on the 1801 Perthshire dialect, somewhat distant from today’s spoken dialects.


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). In bilingual areas Gaelic usually is the language of instruction for most primary subjects. Taught in primary schools. Gaelic secondary schools. Magazines. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1801–1992.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

Also spoken in:

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