Gaelic in Scotland (United Kingdom)
Research Centre of Wales
Version française
Gaelic in Scotland (United Kingdom)
  1. Introduction
  2. The language in the country
    1. General information on the language community
    2. Geographical and language background
    3. General history and history of the language
    4. Legal status and official policies
  3. The use of the language in various fields
    1. Education
    2. Judicial Authorities
    3. Public Authorities and services
    4. Mass media and Information technology
    5. The Arts
    6. The business world
    7. Family and social use of the language
    8. Transnational exchanges
  4. Conclusion

1. Introduction

There is no dat for this topic.

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2. The language in the country

2.1. General information on the language community

There is no dat for this topic.

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2.2. Geographical and language background

There were 65,978 residents returning themselves as Gaelic speakers at the 1991 Census. Of these 24,261 (or 36.8% of the total) lived in the predominantly Gaelic-speaking areas of Western Isles Islands Area and Skye & Lochalsh District.

Within the rest of the traditional Gaelic area 9,998 Gaelic speakers resided in the remainder of Highland Region, and 4,583 in Argyll & Bute District (comprising 14,581 Gaelic speakers or 22.1% of the total). The remaining 27,136 (41.6% of the total) lived in Lowland Scotland, chiefly in such main urban areas as the Central Clydeside Conurbation: 10,881 (16.5%), City of Edinburgh District: 3,231 (4.9%); Perth & Kinross District: 1.431 (2.2%); and City of Aberdeen District 1,185 (1.8% of total).

Gaelic speakers living in main urban areas thus comprised 16,728 (or 25.4% of total). Just over one Gael in three lived in a predominantly Gaelic area, one in five in a residual Gaelic area, and one in four in the main cities.

In occupational class terms, analysis of 1981census results indicated a significant bias towards manual occupations and away from non-manual occupations amongst Gaelic speakers in the Western Isles and Skye & Lochalsh. The reverse was true amongst Gaelic speakers in urban, Lowland areas, with a significant bias of Gaelic spakers towards professional and managerial occupations. The Highland area provided an intermediate case. In Inverness and surrounding districts the bias amongst Gaelic speakers was towards intermediate professional, managerialand skilled non-manual occupations. Census 1991 data are awaited.

Economic pressures continue to result in the movement of people from the more strongly Gaelic areas of the Hebrides and west coast to Highland growth areas in the Moray Firth and Lochaber areas, and more particularly to urban Lowland Scotland. Although the demographic decline in Gaelic speakers was arrested between 1961-71, with census increases of Gaelic speakers in Lowland Scotland, and between 1971-81 with some increases in core Gaelic areas and amongst young people where Gaelic had featured in local education, substantial decline again set in by 1991. The principal losses have been amongst young people in the Western Isles, and amongst migrant middle-aged and older urban Gaels. However, increases amongst young people did again register in areas with strong development of Gaelic-medium playgroup and primary education.

The 'Gaelic Economy' of Gaelic-related economic activity has recently been estimated as producing a gross output around £40m annually (of which a littleover half is attributable to the Gaelic media). The traditional occupations of the Gaelic heartlands have been crofting (small-scale subsistence agriculture) linked with fishing, handloom weaving and local service occupations. Attempts to diversify this economy have included the development of hydro-electricity and aluminium smelting from the end of the 19th century, and since the second world a 'growth-pole' policy in Caithness (nuclear power), Lochaber (pulp-milling, aluminium), and around the Moray Firth.
Oil-related developments in the past twenty-five years have established rig-fabrication yards in Gaelic areas such as Lewis and Wester Ross, which have attracted back young migrant Gaels. Others around the Moray Firth and elswhere have attracted them away. Offshore work on oilrigs has vied with traditional work at sea (fishing, merchant navy) for Hebrideans. Modern local small-scale industries, such as fish-farming have, helped to stabilise local employment patterns. Many of these developments have been precarious and relatively short-lived. The latest of these now mooted are uperquarries, as in Harris, which may produce a few local service jobs, but will bring in a larger numbers of skilled key-workers from elsewhere: a major threat to the local economy, ecology and culture.

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2.3. General history and history of the language

Gaelic originally came to Scotland circa 500 A.D. as the northern Irish kingdom of Dalriada expanded into the western Highlands and Islands of Scotland, subsequently absorbing the Pictish kingdom in Northern Scotland, the British kingdom of Strathclyde in southwestern Scotland and part of Anglian Northumbria in the southeast, forming a largely Gaelic-speaking Scottish kingdom roughly coterminous with present-day Scotland by the 11th century. From the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1054-96), Gaelic lost its pre-eminence at court, then amongst the aristocracy to Norman French, and subsequently in the Lowlands through the establishment of English-speaking burghs in eastern and central Scotland, to Scots. The Lordship of the Isles was the political focus of Gaeldom throughout most of the ensuing Middle Ages, until its defeat at Harlaw in 1411.

By the 17th century Gaelic had retreated to the Highlands and Hebrides, which still retained much of their political independence, Celtic culture and social structure. These differences came to be seen as inimical to the interests of the Scottish and the subsequent British state, and from the late 15th century into the 18th a number of acts of the Scottish and British Parliaments aimed at promoting English-language education first amongst the aristocracy and subsequently amongst the general population, at outlawing the native learned orders, and finally on disarming and breaking the clans and outlawing highland dress and music, after the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden in 1745.

In the 19th century, contemporaneously with the "clearances" of the crofting population, a popular and successful voluntary Gaelic Schools system developed. This was superseded after legislation in 1872 by a national English-medium school system in which Gaelic had little place. The Crofters' Act 1886, after the successful land agitation ('The Crofters' War'), gave security to the crofters, who remain the core bulwark of Gaeldom. Recognition of Gaelic was very slow and partial until well into the later 20th century. Gaelic communities are now thoroughly bilingual, and Gaelic usage is typically diglossic. Migration has taken many Gaelic speakers outwith the traditional 'Gaelic-speaking area' of the Highlands and Islands.
At the 1991 census the traditional Gaelic area of the mainland Highlands and Hebrides (- the Gaidhealtachd) was home to only 58% of Scotland's Gaelic speakers.

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2.4. Legal status and official policies

The legal position of Gaelic is indeterminate. Officially the Scottish Office regards a Gaelic language act on Welsh lines as unnecessary as Gaelic had never suffered outright legal prescription as had Welsh under the acts of 1536, 1542, etc. Some measure of legislative recognition of Gaelic is afforded in crofting legislation (1886) requiring a Gaelic-speaking member of the Crofters' Commission, Small Landowners' Act 1911 enabling Gaelic to be used in the Scottish Land Court, the 'Gaelic Clause' in the 1918 Education Act, as one of the three defining patrial languages in the 1981 Nationality Act, and in the 1990 Broadcasting Act. However as the result of the Welsh Language Acts of 1967 and 1993, Welsh is commonly (though erroneously) regarded as an 'official language' of Wales - and even the United Kingdom. Welsh thus enjoys some larger measure of practical recognition than Gaelic - although offficially Gaelic is supposed always to have enjoyed the kind of recognition now accorded to Welsh. In practice Gaelic does not, and an attempt to secure this by a parliamentary private member's bill in 1981 failed.

The government, through the Secretary of State for Scotland, has, however, made a number of official supportive statements regarding Gaelic (1985,1986,1993). A special grant scheme for Gaelic in education, and the Gaelic Television Fund have ensued. So far an overall national policy for Gaelic has not yet emerged. Comunn na Gadihlig (CNAG), which is largely publicly funded has produced local language-plans, and consultative documents 'Towards a National Policy for Gaelic'. Language-planning and normalisation on say Basque or Catalan lines has yet to be formulated - or even an 'Action Plan' on Irish lines.

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3. The use of the language in various fields

3.1. Education

Since 1918 education acts have provided for teaching Gaelic in Gaelic-speaking areas', but development was very slow until Gaelic became an initial teaching medium in the Gaelic areas of Inverness-shire and Ross-shire from 1958. In 1975 the newly-created Western Isles education authority introduced bilingual primary education shortly followed by Highland Region in Skye. Gaelic-medium primary education commenced with two schools in 1985, growing to 42 units by 1993/94.

In secondary education, Gaelic has long been taught as a subject - often through the medium of English, even to native speakers. A move towards bilingual secondary education in the Western Isles was frustrated by a change of government in 1979. Gaelic-medium secondary education has developed less satisfactorily. Gaelic-medium streams followed on from primary in Glasgow and Inverness -and there has been some experimentation in the Western Isles- but the sector isimpeded by acute teacher shortage, and an inpsectorate report of 1994 regards Gaelic-medium secondary education as divisive and inappropriate.

In further education the Gaelic-medium college Sabhal Mor Ostaig has since1984 run SCOTVEC diploma courses in business studies, computer studies, and now television training,. At university level there are Celtic Studies courses at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Some of these are taught through the medium of Gaelic - but there are no other university Gaelic-medium courses, as such. Teacher education for Gaelic is undertaken by Northern College, Aberdeen, and the Jordanhill campus of Strathclyde University (Glasgow).

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3.2. Judicial authorities

The court case of Taylor v Haughney (1982) involved the status of Gaelic, and on appeal the High Court ruled against a general right to use Gaelic in court proceedings. In theory anything said or written in Gaelic should have equal validity with English, according to official answers from the Scottish Office in 1969,1970. In the last century a libel in the form of satirical Gaelic verse was successfully upheld.

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3.3. Public authorities and services

Scots law has no objection to the bona fide use of any name. A few people have legally adopted the original or Gaelic form of their name for all official purposes. It is however very rare, but Gaelic first names are now frequently registered at birth. Since 1972 cheques can be written and signed in Gaelic.

Most public buildings, street, road and direction signs are in English only, except in Western Isles, Isle of Skye and a few other very limited areas. In Western isles the official policy is to use both languages with equal prominence, except for local road direction signs which are in Gaelic only. In the Isle of Skye, roads direction signage is bilingual Gaelic/English. Bilingual place names and street name signs elsewhere are generally in English/Gaelic format. There was a Gaelic road sign campaign in Skye and other mainland areas since 1981, and some local pressure for Gaelic street signs in Portree and Inverness. These have been forthcoming within English version dominant in blocks, Gaelic symbolically subordinated in uncials below.

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3.4. Mass media and information technology

There has been much recent development of the use of Gaelic in the mass-media. On radio this has occurred on British Broadcasting Corporation stations, and on television chiefly on Independent Authority channel 3 (Scottish Television, Grampian Television), and also on BBC2 Scotland.

On television 300 hours of Gaelic programming are now officially provided annually. Allowing for repeats and variations during the year, actual weekly hours may typically total nine hours weekly. This enables increasing range and improved quality of programmes. Much of the output is being produced by small Gaelic programme companies, located in the Gaidealtachd, and greatly supporting local Gaelic community and economy. The BBC's emphasis on children's programming was a priority developed about 1965, and has greatly helped the Gaelic play groups, and Gaelic-medium primary education.

The Broadcasting Act 1990 set up a Gaelic Television Fund, and a body to administer it. From January 1993 Gaelic output has increased from about 100 hours annually shared between BBC and independent television (Grampian and Scottish) to about 300, with the new output chiefly on channel 3 (independent) and sub-titled in English. On BBC the Gaelic output is chiefly on BBC2 with English sub-titles on CEEFAX, and children's programmes on BBC1. the BBC has a Gaelic advisory panel. The Gaelic Television Fund is administered by Comtaidh Telebhisean Gaidhlig (CTG) in Stornoway, and funding runs around 8-9 million pounds annually. Some funding is available for Gaelic on BBC. There is also a Gaelic schools series networked UK on Channel 4.

English subtitling has led to controversy. However, since Gaelic speakers increasingly live inmixed-language households, English subtitling is likely to increase Gaelic viewers. As much Gaelic programming is now broadcast at peak times on the independent channel 3, it is also necessary to ensure that non-Gaelic viewers continue to watch across advertising breaks to ensure viability.

There are also about 20 satellite channels which can be received in Scotland, and some cable networks (e.g. in Aberdeen). None carries any Gaelic.

Gaelic on radio is almost entirely carried on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal which currently transmits weekly approximately 23.5 hours of Gaelic programming in the Highlands and the Hebrides, and 11 hours throughout the rest of Scotland, typically totalling about 35 hours weekly. There are prposals to increase this output to the equivalent of an all-Scotland full time station. Gaelic schools boradcasting started in 1970 as the result of the initiative of education authorities.

There are no daily or weekly papers wholly in Gaelic. The Scotsman and Press and Journal dailies carry weekly Gaelic features. Local weeklies in the Gaelic areas also carry Gaelic features and columns, e.g. Stornoway Gazette, West Highland Free Press, Oban Times, Inverness Courier.

The all-Gaelic literary magazine Gairm has regularly appeared quarterly since 1952. There are also a few Gaelic or bilingual periodicals published by Gaelic organisations, and the children's comic 'SMATHSIN!'. CTG publishes quarterly mainly-Gaelic TV programme magazine SUAS. The Church of Scotland publishes a Gaelic supplement in its Monthly Record. Tocher the occasional folklore periodical of the School of Scottish Studies - prints much Gaelic material.

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3.5. The Arts

The state assists Gaelic publishing, through an annuals grant to the Gaelic Books Council (Glasgow University). Assistance to literary and performing arts is undertaken through the Scottish Arts Council (based in Edinburgh).

Gaelic publishing has dramatically increased in the last 25 years. the Gaelic Books Council enabled Garim Publications and Club Leabhar to increase their output in the 1970s. In 1977 Acair was set up to publish material arising from new educational initiatives. A few smaller publishers work in their own particular field of interest, whilst the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society publishes the works of major literary significance of the past. One of the greatest problems is actually reaching readers of Gaelic who live on islands and in sparsely populated areas without many bookshops. The Gaelic Books Council runs a travelling sales van for this purpose.

In recent years, new Gaelic titles have been estimated between 30 - 45 anually. There is a reasonable variety of types of books published, except for such categories as 'international best-selling novels', encyclopaedias and technical publications. Gaelic readers have been found to have a particular liking for local 'village poetry', local (auto)biography, and local history. There is some emphasis for schools publishing, dictionaries, etc.

There has been considerable development in Gaelic popular and traditional music. Such groups as Na h-Oganaich, winners of the first Mod folk groups competition in 1972, were innovative in adapting Gaelic traditional music to modern popular tastes -especially amongst young people. They have been followed by such groups as Run-Rig and Capercaillie, and more recently by Wolfstone (whose material is predominantly instrumental). In 1993 a group of Gaelic traditional performers came together as MacTalla (Echo). Other vocal music has been religious, featuring Gaelic hymnody and psalmody. Gaelic music programmes have been an inportant feature of Gaelic broadcasting output, and commercial recordings have been quite bouyant, and have included issues of traditional music rom School of Scottish Studies fieldwork archives.

'Ceilidh plays' were pioneered by the travelling 7.84 Theatre Company in the 1970's. These treated Highland/Gaelic themes and were partly Gaelic in language. A professional Gaelic theatre and performing arts group formed in the late 70's -Fir Chlis (Northern Lights/Merry Dancers) but folded in 1981. The National Gaelic Arts Project has recently initiated live Gaelic theatre again. There is a Gaelic schools theatre company Ordag is Sgealbag (Thumb and Finger), Gaelic puppetry, and in 1993 Craobh nan Ubhal/The Aipple Tree -a trilingual production in Gaelic, Doric and English. Amateur community Gaelic drama has long been important for many years- and there is an annual festival.

There have been very few all-Gaelic films. The first, 'The Hero' (based on Ossianic legend), was made by in 1982. Its spoken Gaelic was rather variable and poor. More recently, 'As an Eilean' (From the Island', 1992/93) although 'bilingual', is almost entirely in Gaelic, and better regarded as the first truly Gaelic film production. Critically it has been much more favourably received, and reflects contemporary Gaelic life.
Gleanntan Ecuador, (Valleys of Ecuador, 1993) won the top award at the 1994 Inter-Celtic Film and Television Festival. A film has recently been made on the life of Mary MacPherson, bardess of the 1880's land agitation, M iri Mh r.

The principal festival is the National M d, organised annually by An Comunn Gaidhealach since 1892. It is chiefly competitive and was originally established on the lines of the Welsh National Eisteddfod. There are also local Mods which are becoming eclipsed by local F isean, which are non-competitive, and emphasise speaking and learning Gaelic and its associated performing arts. Local traditional music festivals - often in association with the Traditional Music and Song Association (TMSA) - feature Gaelic music and performers. There is not an actual professional Gaelic cultural festival as such - although the idea has often been mooted. The Inter-Celtic Film and Television Festival is administered in Scotland (Inverness), and visits the six Celtic countries annually in turn.

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3.6. The business world

Although Gaelic has never been much utilised in business and commerce, the number of posts both in the public and private sectors for which Gaelic is an advantage is increasing especially in the Western Isles, Isle of Skye and West Highlands. There has been a dramatic increase in media-related employment specifying Gaelic-speakers, both in television and radio broadcasting, and in performing arts. The aggregate impact is around 300 jobs. There have been increases also in education. Gaelic language competence is now emerging as a distinct advantage - although not always a strict requirement - in local government, development and other agencies. As 'cultural tourism' is a growing element in tourism as a whole, Gaelic language competence is an advantage too in that sector, with some expansion too in arts and environment sectors.

There has never been very much on-street advertising in Gaelic, apart from the occasional events poster or shop-front. The language has hardly ever been used in radio and television advertising. English is the language of television commercials even in breaks with Gaelic programming. The fact that many viewers are non-Gaelic speaking has been a determining factor in this. On radio, Gaelic is used for community announcements (e.g. on Radio nan Gaidheal) - but these are not strictly commercial. Over the past ten years the use of Gaelic in media advertising could have greatly increased. So far uptake has been lacking.

There are no legal restrictions on use of Gaelic on commercial labelling, but there are no official requirements to do so either. Apart from two brands of whisky it has never been undertaken by any commercial company. The highly integrated production and distribution system in retailing results in few if any products being locally produced and sold, resulting in exclusive use of English.

Initiatives to extend the use of Gaelic in the commercial sphere are planned by CNAG. So far there have been few others. The case will need to be made and won with the business community - but only if it can be convinced that the use of Gaelic will give any competitive advantage. There have recently been some research initiative sin this field. A recent major study commissioned by CNAG from Scottish Foundation for Economic Research identified a 'Gaelic economy' and produced and evaluation of it analogous to Gross Domestic Product.

There is an active Gaelic business club Club Gnimhachas nan Gaidheal (1985).

State funding for Gaelic has largely been in education, arts and the media. However, the establishment of Local Enterprise Companies has provided sources of local funding which have helped Gaelic-related enterprises. The HIDB as predecessor of the HIB/LEC network developed highly supportive aid policies for commercial initiatives in the 'Gaelic West', including the establishment and initial funding of co-cohmainn (community producer cooperatives) in Gaelic areas. Local authorities may similarly give assistance to commercial enterprises.

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3.7. Family and social use of the language

Surveys of schoolchildren in the typical Gaelic community of Harris in 1956-59 reported 356 (93.7%) Gaelic-speaking children out of a total of 380. A similar study in 1972-73 reported 190 Gaelic speakers (66.7%) out of a total of 285. In a decade and a half totals and proportions speaking Gaelic had both declined.

Subsequent surveys in Harris and Barra 1976-78 studied patterns of family and community language use, and compared these with social factors and individual identities. Respondents' reported language-use were compared in original and present-day families. The domains of greatest weakness and intergenerational decline of of Gaelic usage were: helping children with homework, children between themselves, at public events, in worship and between parents and children.

A survey of Western Isles and Isle of Skye in 1986-88 found similar patterning continuing. Greatest weakness and intergenerational decline in Gaelic language use was reported for: children with friends, helping child with homework, respondent's inner speech, between siblings, explanations to children, between parents and children. The Western Isles sample totalled 270, of whom 225 (83.3%) were Gaelic speaking, and 204 (75.6%) were or had been married, of whom 195 (95.6%) reported a native Gaelic-speaking spouse. All 225 Gaelic-speakers in the sample reported marriage to another native Gaelic-speaker arguing for high language-group endogamy in strongly
Gaelic-speaking communities. Of the 167 respondents with children, 64.1% reported a fully fluent Gaelic-speaking eldest child. Of the 137 Gaelic-speaking respondents with children, 101 (73.7%) reported a fully-fluent Gaelic-speaking eldest child. Of the 24 non-Gaelic-speaking parents, 4 (16.7%) reported a fully-fluent Gaelic-speaking eldest child.

The corresponding results in the Isle of Skye survey were: total sample 145, of whom there were 81 Gaelic-speakers (55.9%). Of the total, 105 (72.4%) were or had been married. Of these 93 (88.6%) reported children. Amongst all married repondents, 61 (58.1%) reported a native Gaelic-speaking spouse, and 30 (28.6%) a Gaelic-speaking eldest child. Amongst the 57 Gaelic-speaking parents 45 (78.9%) reported a Gaelic-speaking spouse, and 28 (49.1%) reported a native Gaelic-speaking eldest child. (Of the 36 non-Gaelic-speaking parents in the sample, 2 (5.6%) reported a fully-fluent Gaelic-speaking eldest child.) Gaelic language-group endogamy was lower than in the Western Isles sample, and the intergenerational transmission of Gaelic was considerably weaker.

Census data from 1971, 1981 amd 1991 reported comparable data on age-distribution of Gaelic speakers by area, enabling analysis of changes amongst young people to be undertaken. Amongst preschool and school-aged children (3 - 15) in the Western Isles, numbers and proportions speaking Gaelic remained constant from 1971 (4,396 - 67.4%) to 1981 (4,384 - 67.8%). In 1991 the number had collapsed to 2,573 - 49.5% of the age-group. The 1986-88 survey in the Western Isles had begun to pick this up, in advance of the census. The situation in Highland Region (including Skye and the northern mainland) was very strongly contrasted. Numbers and proportions of Gaelic speakers aged 3-15 increased from 1971 (1,593- 4.2%), to 1981 (1,813 - 4.8%), and to 1991 (1,988 - 5.6%). Some of this may bedue to migration of Gaelic speakers from the Western Isles, but more likely the greater development of Gaelic-medium primary education, nursery schools and playgroups in Highland Region compared with the Western Isles.

Analysis of the above studies suggest that the younger women aged under 45 significantly tended to report the lowest mean scores on family and community Gaelic usage levels, and language loyalty. Amongst occupational and related categories the highest mean scores on these measures were noted amongst Gaelic-speaking professional/managerial, semi-skilled and crofting occupational groups (and corresponding qualification and educational categories.) Skilled manual and non-manual (and coresponding qualification and educational categories) tended to score lowest on these measures.

Estimates based on 1991 Census data suggest that around 24,900 families in Scotland had a Gaelic-speaking adult: 8,490 (34.1%) were couple families where both spouses spoke Gaelic; 6,730 were of couples where only the husband spoke Gaelic (27.0%), 6,520 were of couples where only the wife spoke Gaelic (26.2%), and 3,160 were Gaelic-speaking single parents (12.7%). An estimated 31.4% of amilies with Gaelic-speaking members were entirely Gaelic-speaking, and of an estimated 40,600 Gaelic-speakers
living in families, approximately 20,300 (50.1%) may have been living in entirely Gaelic-speaking families. Full details are likely shortly to indicate the great extent of language-group exogamy.

There is a strong feeling for the economic stablity of the family in the more strongly-Gaelic areas. It is linked to a strongly patriarchal culture powerfully sanctioned by local religious practice. Historically, the folk-memory of the 'Highland Clearances' and the 19th. century land agitation which finally gained security of tenure for crofting in the Crofting Act 1886 is still a strong inlfluence even if largely unrecognised as such. This means tht 'headship of family' is still an important social role. Succession to the croft and the share in a family business, such as fishing, may be marked out for the eldest male child. Males, especially the eldest males, tend to remain behind in the community as they grow up. Females tend to migrate for further and higher education or work elsewhere. Occupations such as teaching, nursing, hotel and catering work, police and other services have been popular career paths for young Hebridean and West Highland women. Although intended as a means of securing family stability, it has often had a counter-productive effect, especially for the language and culture.

Traditional enmity towards Gaelic speakers is still remembered as 'mi-r n m r nan Gall', the great ill-will of the Lowlanders. Pejorative expressions for Gaelic-speakers like teuchtar are still used. However, a national public opinion poll in 1980 on attitudes towards Gaelic found that 49% of the 1,117 sample thought that Gaelic language was important for the Scottish people as a whole, and 67% that Gaelic should be officially recognised, and 82% supported its availablity in schools.

Churchgoing is still very strong in Gaelic communities, and most people attend church regularly. Congregations are large. The predominant churches in Skye and the Western Isles are Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, and Free Presbyterian (decreasing in size, and increasing in Calvinism, and Gaelic character). The Free Church broke away from the Church of Scotland in 1843. Free Presbyterians split from the Free Church in 1893, and divided again in 1989, with the formation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches. In South Uist and Barra, Roman Catholicism predominates (other Catholic areas include Moidart and Morar, Small Isles, central Great Glen, and Strathglass.) Episcopalians (in communion with Anglicanism) are strong in Lochaber and Glencoe. There are Baptists in Tiree and adjacent islands.

In the Church of Scotland 'Gaelic necessary' charges are now essentially Hebridean parishes, and 'Gaelic desirable' only in other West Highland areas. There are two urban Gaelic churches (Edinburgh, Glasgow). Although there may be sufficient Gaelic-speaking ministers they are often in non-Gaelic appointments. The Free Church is said to be more successful in securing Gaelic-speaking ministers. Free Presbyterians have recently observed a dearth of Gaelic-speakers coming forward to the ministry. The Catholic diocese of Argyll and the Isles is efficient in supplying Gaelic-speaking priests for its congregations. Regular Episcopalian Gaelic services were held up to about 1960. In the Western Isles almost all clergy of all denominations are Gaelic-speaking, and well over half of all services are in Gaelic. There are still regular Gaelic services in Skye -but elsewhere on the West Coast they are sporadic.

A Scottish Gaelic bible adapted from Irish was published in 1690, the metrical psalter in 1984, a Scottish Gaelic New Testament in 1767, and the Old testament between 1783-1801. A Catholic translation of the Vulgate New Testament was published in 1875. In 1980 a 'Good News' version of St. Mark's Gospel in present-day Gaelic was published, and versions of Paul's Letters from Prison in 1986. A revision of the entire bible conforming with modern orthography was published in 1992. The Gaelic translation of John Knox's Book of Common Order in was published in 1567 and was the first printed Gaelic book. The Gaelic version of Calvin's Catechismwas published in 1630. An Episcopalian Gaelic translation of the Church of England Book of Common Prayer was published in 1881. A revision of the Episcopalian service book is about to be published, with a recording of the Gaelic service. A Catholic prayer book was published in 1963.

In the 1986-88 survey in Skye and Western Isles there were questions on the local extent of the language ten years previously and ten years hence. Results were realistic. In the Western Isles sample 66.7% believed less Gaelic was then spoken locally than ten years previously, 29.2% believed the same amount, and 2.2% believed there was more. Ideas on the extent of Gaelic likely to be spoken ten years hence produced 58.9% believing less would be spoken, 27.3% the same amount, and 9.3% more. In Skye 76.2% believed less Gaelic was spoken then than ten years previously, 12.5% the same amount, and 6.3% more, 70.5% belived less Gaelic would be spoken in ten years' time, 10.3% the same amount, and 12.8% more. Beliefs about the future were thus marginally more optimistic.

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3.8. Transnational exchanges

No data for this topic.

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4. Conclusion

The principal recommendations were: (1) official and legal recognition of Gaelic in public administration, language-planning and normalisation); (2) initiatives in the use of Gaelic in business, commerce and public services (especially in labelling, signing and public notices); (3) a multidisciplinary research initiative (following analysis of census and earlier survey data) into Gaelic amongst young people and in family life; (4) a feasibilty study on establishing new Gaelic communities.

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