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Scottish Gaelic language facts for kids

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Scottish Gaelic
Scots Gaelic
Native to United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand
Region Scotland, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Glengarry County, Canada
Native speakers 58,552 in Scotland. 92,400 people aged three and over in Scotland had some Scottish Gaelic ability in 2001 with estimates of additional 500–2000 in Nova Scotia, 1,610 speakers in the United States in 2000, 822 in Australia in 2001 and 669 in New Zealand in 2006.  (date missing)
Language family
Writing system Gaelic alphabet (Roman alphabet)
Official status
Official language in  Scotland
Linguasphere 50-AAA

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig, pronounced "Gah-lick") is a Celtic language. It is commonly called just Scots Gaelic in English. It is a sister language of Irish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic; all three are Goidelic languages. These are related to the Welsh language, Cornish language and the Breton language (these three are Brittonic or Brythonic languages).


In past times, the Scottish Gaelic language was spoken across all of Scotland except for the Northern Islands (Orkney and Shetland). In the later part of the Middle Ages, the kings of Scotland began to speak English and looked down on the Scottish Gaelic. After the union of England and Scotland, the Scottish Gaelic language was snubbed and looked down on even more, and English took over.

Scottish Gaelic today

Scottish Gaelic today is basically that of the Scottish Gaelic language spoken in the Outer Hebrides and on Skye. Generally speaking, the Scottish Gaelic language spoken across the Western Isles is similar enough to be classed as one major dialect group, but there is some regional variation.

A census in the United Kingdom in 2001 showed that a total of 58,652 (1.2% of the Scottish population aged over three years old) in Scotland could speak some amount of Scottish Gaelic at that time. Only the Western Isles of Scotland have more people who can speak the Scottish Gaelic language than not (61% of the people here speak Scottish Gaelic). The place in Scotland with the biggest percentage of Scottish Gaelic speakers is a village called Barvas on the Isle of Lewis. There, 74.7% of the people there speak the Scottish Gaelic language.

Children in Scotland do not have to learn the Scottish Gaelic language in schools, though it is becoming a more popular subject as Scottish Gaelic language is an important part of their Scottish culture.

Scottish Gaelic is also used overseas. It is estimated that 1,000–2,000 in Nova Scotia, Canada can speak some Scottish Gaelic.

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