Donald's Gaelic Pages
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Learning the Gaelic Language

Learn the culture, the language and the lore of the Hebrides and understand why the centuries have not dimmed the romance of roaming the Road to the Isles.

It is said that when God finished creating the universe He had a handful of jewels left over. Undecided what to do with them, He threw them into the sea around 8 degrees longitude and 58 degrees latitude and they became the string of islands we now call the the Hebrides, or just the Western Isles. And that was not all He did, for was it not Gaelic that was spoken in the Garden of Eden?

Why Learn Gaelic?

We're not sure how to get to the Garden of Eden or what language we'd expect to hear there now, or whether their culture has survived and prospered, but we do know that Gaelic is alive and well in the Western Isles and we'd like to encourage you to explore this wellspring of modern Highland culture to which Gaelic is the key.

When you learn Gaelic, you will not just be learning words and grammar, you'll be learning the ancient culture, the folklore and the music that is such an important part of the lifestyle of a people. You will be introduced to songs and stories that have been told since time began.


An Tràigh Mhòr
The big beach at Scarista, where a small boy could bang shut the house door and be up to his knees in the North Atlantic in a minute or two.

Tràigh mhòr Sgarastaigh, far am faodadh balach beag an dorus a dhùnadh, agus a bhi suas gu a' ghlùinean anns a Chuan Siar ann am mionaid no dhà.


It will be noticed that a small number of spellings vary from text to text, particularly in the songs. This is partly due to differences in the spoken Gaelic from region to region, and certain "modernizing" changes that have taken place.

You will also notice that much of the older text uses two accents, the grave and the acute. Both indicated the length of the vowel, but the acute accent also dictated sound. The Gaelic Orthographic Conventions (1981) dispensed with the acute accent, retaining only the grave accent that still lengthens the vowel.

The new Orthographic Conventions (2005) may be downloaded free from the Scottish Qualifications Authority. A considerable number of additions have been made. Downoad the document in PDF format here.

A Plea to Gaelic Speakers

If you are a Gaelic speaker, even if teaching Gaelic has been the farthest thing from your mind, with the same priority, perhaps, of booking the next flight to the moon, you can do something that is extremely valuable to the struggling Gaelic student. Help with pronunciation. That much has not changed.

Proper pronunciation is perhaps the hardest part of learning Gaelic, and even with the best recorded lessons available, some Gaelic sounds can be frustratingly elusive.

We desperately need a network of Gaelic speakers who can help beginners with simple pronunciation. Perhaps there are students next door to you now, or down the street, who would give their eye teeth to spend a half hour listening to you saying LAOGH, the hardest word in Gaelic, that means calf, as in baby cow. There is no sound in English to equal the L when followed by AO, or for GH.

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