Both Scottish and Irish Gaelic are still active and living languages; however, their importance relates more to their cultural and historical significance than on the number of people who speak them.
Linguistically, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are closely related, but speakers of one language are not likely to understand the language of the other. Additionally, there are distinct dialects spoken. For example, there are three dialects of Irish Gaelic:
Today, there are approximately 60,000 speakers of Scottish Gaelic and roughly the same number of Irish Gaelic speakers. Both languages are currently in decline, as every successive generation produces fewer fluent speakers. The active regions of Scottish Gaelic are primarily in the northern most regions of Scotland, whereas Irish Gaelic is mostly concentrated in the western parts of the republic.
Popular Gaelic Words
The following words are given in the Munster dialect:
- go raibh maith agat - thank you
- ta failte romhat - you are welcome
Online Resources for Gaelic Words
The online resources deal with various aspects of Gaelic words and, therefore, will be useful to varying people with diverse interests. Some sites are oriented towards Scottish Gaelic, while some are Irish Gaelic focused. Some have a linguistic aim, while others are geared towards the needs of the traveler.
Wherever your interest in Gaelic words stems from, you should be able to find information that is useful to you in the website references listed below
- A Beginner's Guide to Irish Gaelic Pronunciation – This site has detailed linguistic information on the language rules of Irish Gaelic. Divided into categories such as vowels, consonants, diphthongs, accent, double consonants, and exceptions, this well designed site covers a wide range of information in a clear, concise format.
- Words and Phrases in Irish Gaelic – This list of Gaelic words from Earth Family lists terms for seasons, family, phrases, color, numbers, and common phrases in Irish Gaelic.
- Pronouncing Gaelic Words - The Internet provides many lists of words in Gaelic for your reading, but learning how to pronounce the words accurately is important if you ever wish to communicate in Gaelic. This excellent website covers vowels, accents, and pronunciation.
- Irish Sayings – Irish Sayings is a fun website that provides audio clips of witty, irreverent Irish sayings. The sayings are available in three different dialects: Munster, Ulster, and Connacht. The site provides a handful of clips for free, but provides many more for people who pay a fee and become members of the site.
- Tattoo Ideas: Gaelic Words and Phrases – Gaelic words and phrases have become increasingly popular in the tattoo community. If you are interested in getting a Gaelic inspired tattoo, check out this site for information, suggestions, and photos.
- Irish Phrases - Ireland Information has an extensive list of Irish phrases that deal with days of the week, months, years, colors, numbers, everyday greetings, and much more. The site lists the phrase, how it is pronounced, and the meaning.
- Gaelic Words You Need to Know - This article on the Visit Ireland Guide website gives fun words for the tourist to learn and use. This website is clearly geared towards the tourist, and excellent information can be found here if you plan to see some of old Ireland in the near future.
- Ibiblio – This Gaelic homepage is dedicated to the culture and language of the Gales. Information of the Celts, Gaelic music, general Celtic language and much more is provided here.
Other Ways to Study the Gaelic Language
There are many resources available to study Gaelic. Libraries and museums whose collections pertain to Scotland and Ireland will sometimes feature manuscripts or other historical information on Gaelic words. Explore some of the cultural institutions in your area, including the colleges and universities, to see if you can uncover more resources with which to study the Gaelic languages.