Scottish Gaelic Language

Suas leis a Ghaidhlig!

By: Kathi Henessey,  Owner of Triskelt

A Boost for the Scottish Gaelic Language

In our modern world, the most common element that connects Celtic identity is a shared linguistic heritage. It is the existence of a Celtic language that defines the modern Celtic nation. And in a world dominated by mass media, the Internet, global commerce and national education systems, the Celtic languages around the world – including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Breton and Welsh – are struggling to survive. It’s always a shame to lose the rich cultural heritage that comes with a language, so it’s exciting when there’s a new spark of interest in keeping it alive or at least getting to know it better.

TV, Outlander, and Gaelic

The success of the American cable TV (STARZ) series Outlander, has given Scottish Gaelic, or more commonly just called Gaelic, an unexpected and delightful boost in popular interest. The Gaelic found in some of the show’s dialogue has captured the imagination of fans around the world, sparking, for example, a series of YouTube mini-lessons, “Speak Outlander”, produced by the show’s language coach, Gaelic expert Ãdhamh Ó Broin. He is accompanied in the clips by stars of the Outlander cast, to help viewers pronounce and understand such staples as Sassenach, dinna fash and mo nighean donn.

Ó Broin grew up on the western coast of Scotland, surrounded by Gaelic place names. Bitten by the Gaelic bug, he’s been intensely devoted to promoting and preserving the language for about the last 10 years. He wisely observes, “If you want to destroy a people, destroy their language. It contains their entire history and their way of looking at the world. It will be fantastic to have a whole new generation of people interested in Scotland, our language and our culture.” He hopes that exposing millions of people to the language will help save it. How wonderful it is that he now has a venue like Outlander to channel this energy.

Sam Heughan, the main male character of Outlander, states that, “Gaelic is a strong part of the show and I’m passionate about that.” He explains how Gaelic is his character’s first language and used to separate Claire from the people in the alien world she has fallen into.

Another Outlander star, Gary Lewis, launched a Gaelic learner’s interactive website in 2011 that’s especially popular with adults. He had to learn Gaelic for his part as Colum McKenzie, the Laird and Chief of Clan McKenzie, and said his role in Outlander allowed him to gain his own respect for the language. You can find this great resource at learngaelic.net.

Use Gaelic in your stamping

Here’s an easy way to add a bit of Scottish Gaelic to your own life and share it with others. Artist Kim Victoria has designed a collection of bilingual English/Gaelic word rubber stamps that are unique and fun for projects, from hand-made greeting cards to Outlander-themed party decor. These include Slainte Mhath (Good Health), La breith sona dhut (Happy birthday to you) and Alba Gu Brath (Scotland Forever).

Stamps are available as unmounted rubber from this site, Highlander Celtic Stamps, and as mounted stamps from Triskelt. Available, also, are the badge images associated with the clans, including Clans Fraser and McKenzie/MacKenzie. There are 88 clan badge designs available (and a few are available as custom order).

I hope this article inspires you to take a closer look at Scottish Gaelic, at the culture that comes with it, and to share what you learn with others.

Slainte Mhath
Good health to you!
Kathi

Footnote from Kim Victoria:

Suas leis a Ghaidhlig! means: Up with the Gealic!
If you only know a few words, which is all I know, you can still have fun with the language.  I’ve had several teachers get the Math the fhein (Well done) stamp for using on students’ homework. Kathi and I will be offering a few more Gaelic stamps soon.

Kim

 

Card art by Laurie Baker

Card art by Laurie B

Card art by Laurie Baker

Card art by Laurie B

Gaelic Health saying with Brigit's Cross card designGaelic Tapadh leaf with mini stamps card design