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The modern Gaelic word for a tattoo was borrowed from the modern English word, first used in 1769. But what if the medieval Gaels had practiced tattooing 1000 years earlier? What would it have been called then? I interview Gaelic scholar Dr. Sharon Arbuthot to find out.


Ealasaid loaned her expensive espresso machine to Ailig’s girlfriend Una… but she now needs it back. Unfortunately, Ailig and Una broke up, so Ealasaid must get them back together or never get a taste of that heavenly coffee again. I interview Iain MacLeod, former writer on the “Trailer Park Boys” and director of the new Gaelic short film “An t-Inneal Espresso” (The Espresso Machine), made in Nova Scotia.

Bradan Press, a publisher in the Canadian Maritimes, is raising money in June 2019 to commission, edit, and publish the first-ever translation of Anne of Green Gables into Scottish Gaelic in June 2020.

Continuing on from last month, brings you more advice for authors on how to use Gaelic in a novel, with guest writer Iona Datt Sharma! A Gaelic learner and published science fiction author currently working on a new novel, Iona provides an example of one way to incorporate Gaelic into English-language fiction writing.

In this post, I discuss what an author should do if they wish to incorporate elements of Scottish Gaelic language into an English-language work of fiction such as a historical or fantasy novel.

Let’s talk about love. Specifically, one of the most well-known Scottish Gaelic proverbs: “Thig crìoch air an t-saoghal, ach mairidh gaol is ceòl” (The world will end, but love and music will endure). We’ll explore its context, how it’s been used in Gaelic art, how to hear the poetry in it, and how to pronounce it.

Start Here

New to Scottish Gaelic? Start with some of the most popular 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.

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!

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.

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  The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook and numerous academic research articles on Gaelic revitalization.

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.

Free Resources


Read and follow Dr. McEwan’s academic work at Many publications can be downloaded as free PDFs.


Watch Dr. McEwan’s videos about Gaelic revitalization on her YouTube channel.

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