23 October 2006

Gàidhlig na h-Alba

I have a number of Scottish ancestors. MacGregor, MacLaren, and Harris (Campbell) are all in my background. As I became more interested in genealogy, so grew my interest in the languages of my ancestors. For the past few years, I've been slowly learning Gàidhlig na h-Alba (Scottish Gaelic, or "Gaelic of Scotland"). Gàidhlig's origins lie in the immigration of Gaelic speakers from Ireland around the time of the birth of Jesus. By A.D. 500, Gàidhlig was established in the Western Isles and parts of the mainland. It continued to spread until around A.D. 1200, when Middle English dialects began to displace it in the Lowlands. Within a couple of hundred years, Gàidhlig was confined to the Western Isles and Highlands. Today, it is even losing ground in those areas. The number of speakers has plummeted, though there is still hope for its survival. In 2005, Gàidhlig received official recognition as a language of Scotland. There is an increasing number of Scottish Gaelic resources, and a new generation of Scots (and emigrated Scots) with an interest in their ancestral language.

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