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The Gaelic Language

  Gaelic, a beautiful language, not often spoken except in the outer regions of Scotland, Ireland and
Wales. It is enjoying a revival. Today, many people are learning to speak this old Celtic language once
again, and here are just a few links to help you. Then please read below for a little information on Gaelic Languages.

All these links will open in a new window.

A Web of Online Dictionaries Gaelic
Gaelic learners' materials online
Gramadach Lexicon - English to Gaelic

Sabhal Mór Ostaig

  Irish, or Irish Gaelic:  Is the oldest of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages. Ancient written examples exist in the ogham inscriptions, on about 370 gravestones scattered through southwestern Ireland and Wales. Dating from the 5th to the 8th century, the inscriptions consist almost entirely of proper names. Irish can be grouped into four periods: Old (circa 1000), Early or Early Middle (1200-1500), Middle (1200-1500), and Modern (from 1500). Originally a highly inflected language, Irish retains essentially two noun cases, nominative and genitive, with the dative surviving in the singular of feminine nouns; the language has only two verb tenses in the indicative mood. It is chiefly spoken in the western and southwestern parts of the Republic of Ireland, where it is an official language, and to some extent in Northern Ireland. In the past century, the number of Irish-speaking persons has declined from 50 percent of the population of Ireland to less than 20 percent.
  Scottish Gaelic:  A form of Gaelic was brought to Scotland by Irish invaders about the 5th century, where it replaced an older Brythonic language. By the 15th century, with the accretion of Norse and English loanwords, the Scottish branch differed significantly enough from the Irish to warrant definition as a separate language. The alphabet of Irish and Scottish Gaelic is identical, consisting of 18 letters. Scottish Gaelic employs four cases of nouns: nominative, genitive, dative, and vocative. Like Irish, the accent is on the initial syllable. Scottish Gaelic exists in two main dialects, Northern and Southern, roughly geographically determined by a line up the Firth of Lorne to the town of Ballachulish and then across to the Grampian Mountains, which it follows. The Southern dialect is more akin to Irish than is the Northern, and is more inflected. The main difference is the change of the e sound, which is new in Northern dialect and in Southern. Thus, the word for grass is pronounced feur in Northern and fiar in Southern. Scottish Gaelic also has a few thousand speakers in Nova Scotia.
  Manx:  The language of the Isle of Man is classed as a dialect of Scottish Gaelic, with strong Norse influence. It began to decline in the 19th century, and in the early 20th century it became virtually extinct. The first written records are of the 17th century, and Manx literature, apart from ballads and carols, is negligible.
  Breton:  The Breton language is spoken today in various dialects in Brittany; most Breton speakers also speak French. Developed between the 4th and 6th centuries by Welsh and Cornish exiles fleeing invaders, it differs from the Welsh and Cornish of their homelands in its use of nasals and loanwords from the French.
  Cornish:  Once the language of Cornwall, Cornish has been extinct since the late 18th century, despite recent efforts to revive it. It survives only in a few proper names and certain words in the English dialect spoken in Cornwall.
  Welsh:  Welsh, called Cymraeg or Cymric by its speakers, is the native language of Wales and the most flourishing of the Celtic languages. It is spoken in Wales (where the majority of its users also speak English) and in some communities in the United States and Argentina. Organizations such as the Society for the Welsh Language have saved the language from dying out and are working to assure its official status along with English. Several schools in Wales now use Welsh as the medium of instruction, and television and radio broadcasts are made in the language.}\par{\f1\fs20\cf1 Like Breton, Welsh has discarded case endings for nouns; verbs, however, are elaborately inflected. The alternation of consonants, called mutation, plays a role, as in all Celtic languages. Welsh spelling is phonemic, representing unambiguously the pertinent sounds. In most cases Welsh speakers will know how to pronounce a word they have never seen before.


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