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.

New to the blog? Start at the main blog page. New to Gaelic? Start with some of the most popular posts:

Nova Scotia Gaelic

Learn a bit about the North American Gaelic diaspora with this two-part series on the top ten differences between Gaelic in Scotland and Nova Scotia.

For Gaelic Learners

If you are learning Scottish Gaelic already, or you’re interested and don’t know where to start, check out these posts!

Gaelic Tattoos

If you’re thinking about getting a Scottish Gaelic tattoo, check out my 2-part series on Gaelic tattoo mistakes, and how to plan a good Gaelic tattoo.

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.

Free Resources

Academic Research

Read and follow Emily’s academic work at Academia.edu. Many publications can be downloaded as free PDFs.


Watch Emily’s videos about Gaelic revitalization on her YouTube channel, including videos illustrating her article about Gaelic in the Disney/Pixar film “Brave.”