Hebridean Hopscotch Holidays

Gaelic language in the Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides (Innse Gall) – otherwise known as the Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan Siar) is an area that was probably populated over 10,000 years ago , one of the earlier populations of of the British Isles.

A bi-lingual people

While the population of the Hebrides will have spoken a variety languages over time, Gaelic has been in regular use since its arrival from Ireland in the 6th century, it has survived declines during periods when it was educationally unfashionable to use regional languages in preference to English, and is now growing in popularity and is used by many Hebrideans as their first language, as would have been the case years ago.

The Outer Hebrides is often described as the last Gàidhlig-speaking stronghold in Scotland, but that may be an unfair description implying a dying language.

The increasing popularity means that it is a language that is heard in every day use, although virtually every Gaelic speaker is bi-lingual and perfectly happy to converse in English with no prejudice.  Most road signs have place names in Gaelic, with English names beneath, so they are easy to understand and should not cause any confusion.

At primary level today, schools offer the option to enter a Gaelic medium learning stream in which all subjects may be taught in Gaelic, with an emphasis on the language being used throughout primary and secondary level learning.  A fair number of higher education courses include Gaelic within their content.