What Is Gaelic?
Gaelic is a Celtic language, also known as Scottish Gaelic or Gàidhlig.
Gaelic is most closely related to Irish (Gaeilge) and Manx Gaelic (Gaelg). Gaelic is also less closely related to the other Celtic languages in current use: Breton (Brezhoneg), Cornish (Kernewek), and Welsh (Cymraeg). Scottish Gaelic is an entirely different language from Scots and Scottish English. Forms of Gaelic has been spoken in Scotland since the 4th or 5th century CE, and in Canada since the 18th century CE. English-speaking government and religious authorities have tried to eliminate Gaelic through military conquest, religious and secular education, discrimination, and intimidation.
What Is Revitalization?
Revitalization is renewing, strengthening, and expanding the use of Gaelic.
Scottish Gaelic has been erased from history to the extent that most people with Gaelic ancestry are unaware of their own linguistic and cultural heritage. Gaelic revitalization is about overcoming the damage done through miseducation, discrimination, and stereotypes, and passing the language and culture on in homes, communities and classrooms to ensure its future use. People are revitalizing Gaelic today in Scotland, Canada, and around the world. Education, design, media, literature, songs, food, religion, celebrations, policy, and scholarship are all different areas of Gaelic revitalization.
About the Author
Dr. Emily McEwan is a linguistic anthropologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been involved with Gaelic in Scotland and Nova Scotia for over 25 years. She specializes in linguistic and cultural revitalization of Scottish Gaelic and other minority languages. Dr. McEwan is the author of journal articles and book chapters on Gaelic revitalization as well as a number of popular magazine articles on aspects of Gaelic language and culture.