Highlands & Islands

Gaelic language use by families studied by university

Generations of families that speak Gaelic use the language in different ways, University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) research suggests.

Gaelic dominates the conversations of family members aged between 53 and 71.

Second and third generations, family aged 16-37 and three to seven, mostly use English.

But the research also found adults spoke Gaelic when talking to children, who in turn would reply in the language.

Cassie Smith-Christmas recorded 10 hours of interactions of Gaelic-English bilingual families on Skye and Harris.

She found first generation family members' conversations were Gaelic-dominant but they sometimes switched between Gaelic and English.

In a paper presented to a UHI conference in Inverness, Ms Smith-Christmas said the younger generations generally used English.

But she added: "The second generation members generally limit their Gaelic use to child-directed talk, and the third generation in turn use Gaelic to argue back with the adults."

A separate study by Jane Macleod, a PhD researcher at Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, Lewis, has suggested Gaels were "actively and altruistically" using social media to promote and revitalise the language.

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