Gàidhlig / Gaelic


 Gaelic (pron. Gay-lik) is the first language of Scottish Gaels (Highlanders). People in the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland will pronounce it as it is pronounced in the language, that is, Gàidhlig (Gah-leek).

After the Wars of Independence (14th century) there were only two languages spoken in great numbers in Scotland: Gaelic and Lowland Scots (which developed from Middle English). The Stewart kings, a shiny new dynasty, considered Scottish Gaels a terrible threat to the peace and unity of the kingdom; in this period Gaels are called 'wild Scots'. (Likewise Irish Gaels were called 'wild Irish'.)

After 1500 Scottish Gaels were called 'Highlanders' because the language was spoken in the mountainous regions of the north and west. The linguistic connotation of the word is more important than the geographical. Former professor of Celtic, Donald Meek, comes from the Island of Tiree and I don't think there is any part of that island which is more than 300 ft above sea level. Yet, when he first went to the Lowlands, he was asked if he were a Highlander and he said yes, meaning he was a a Scottish Gael.  

  © Sheila Currie  2018