Gaelic Scotland
Gaelic Scotland
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History

HISTORY
Gaelic has been spoken in Scotland for over 1500 years having been brought over from Ireland by migrants who settled in Dalriada, an area roughly equivalent to modern-day Argyllshire. From this foothold Gaelic spread throughout most of the mainland and onto the Inner and Outer Hebrides, displacing the Picts and other Celtic tribes who were already in Scotland. Only Caithness, the far south-east of the country and the northern Isles remained outside "Gaelic" Scotland. As a result, Gaelic will have been spoken in most areas of the country at one time or another and it has left an enduring legacy of place names throughout Scotland.

During the 9th century AD, the Gaelic leader Kenneth MacAlpin united the Picts and the Gaels and became the first ruler of Alba, an area comprising most of Scotland north of the rivers Forth and Clyde. Alba remains the Gaelic name for Scotland as a whole.

Gaelic's zenith was reached between the 12th and 13th centuries but having been replaced as the language of king's court around that time it began a gradual retreat northwards and westwards as the Scots and English language pushed in from the south. This movement was exacerbated by official persecution of the language, commercial disadvantages and later by waves of emigration.

Around this period, time and distance were splitting what was once a common Gaelic language into two with Scottish Gaelic diverging gradually from its close Irish relation.

The National Census of 1891, the first properly enumerated Gaelic speakers, recorded that 210,000 in Scotland could do so. But continuing emigration from Gaelic strongholds, universal education through the medium of English and the growing influence of a non-Gaelic mass media meant that the language remained in decline throughout the 20th century. The 1991 census recorded 65,000 Gaelic speakers, just one-third of the number there had been one hundred years before.

King James IV (1473-1513) was the last Scottish king who spoke Gaelic
Pictish Stones
Celtic Cross, Iona Abbey
Historic Document

EACHDRAIDH
Tha a’ Ghàidhlig air a bhi ga bruidhinn ann an Alba airson còrr ‘s 1500 bliadhna, bhon a thugar a-nall à Eirinn i le na fògarraich a thathaich ann an Dail Riata, mòrthir cuimsach coltach ri mar a tha Earra Ghàidheal an-diugh. Bhon an toiseachadh seo, sgaoil a’ Ghàidhlig a-mach troimh’n a’ mhor chuid dhen dùthaich agus gu Innse Gall, ag gabhail àite nan Cruithneach agus na treubhan Ceilteach eile a bha san tìr. Cha do dh’ fhuirich taobh a-muigh “Alba Ghàidhealach” seo ach a-mhàin Gallaibh, fìor earra dheas na dùthcha, agus na h-eileanan aig tuath. Leis a sin, bi a’ Ghàidhlig air a bhi air a bruidhinn, aig àm air choireagain, sa mhor chuid dhen dùthaich agus tha i air dìleab fhàgail ann an ainmeanan na dùthcha.

Sa naoidheamh linn roimh bhreith Chrìosda, bha ceannard nan Gàidheal, Coinneach Mac Ailpein air na Crithinich agus na Gàidheil a thoirt còmhla agus bha e mar a’ chiad riaghladair air Alba, mor-raon a bha a’ gabhail a-steach a’ mhor chuid de dh’ Alba tuath air aibhnichean Fhurtha agus Chluaidh. Tha Alba chun an latha an-diugh ga chleachdadh mar ainm airson na dùthcha air fad.

Bha a’ Ghàidhlig aig a h-àrd ìre san dara linn deug agus san treas linn deug, ach air dhi a bhi air a’ cuir an dàrna taobh mar chànain Chùirt an Rìgh mun àm sin, thoisich i a’ crìonadh gu tuath agus chun an iar mar a ghluais Albais agus Beurla a-steach bho dheas. Bha cuisean air an deanamh nas miosa leis a’ gheur-leanmhainn a rinneadh air a Ghàidhlig, le mì-leasan malairteach agus le na bha a’ tighinn a-staigh do dhaoine as ùr.

Caran mun àm seo, bha ùine agus astar a’ sgaradh an aon chànain seo gu bhi na dhà, le Gàidhlig na h-Alba, mean air mhean, a’ gluasad air falbh bho chànan na h-Eirinn.

B’e cùnntas-sluaigh 1891 a’ chiad fhear a chunntais àireamh luchd-bruidhinn na Gàidhlig, agus bha 210,000 air an clàradh ann an Alba aig an àm sin. Ach, bha imrich air falbh bhon Ghàidhealtachd, foghlam sa Bheurla agus buaidh na meadhainean Ghallda a’ ciallachadh gu robh a’ Ghàidhlig a’ sìor chrìonadh troimh’n fhicheadamh linn. Sa chunntais-sluaigh ann an 1991, cha robh ach 65,000 air an clàradh mar luchd-bruidhinn na Gàidhlig, an treas cuid dhe na bha air a bhi ann ceud bliadhna roimh’n a sin.


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