Scottish Gaelic dictionary gets £2m boost

Book The new dictionary aims to increase understanding of the Gaelic language

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The Scottish government has given £2m funding for an online Gaelic dictionary that could take 30 years to complete.

Work has already begun collecting source material for a digital archive containing 30 million words.

The project is a partnership of Skye's Gaelic language centre Sabhal Mor Ostaig UHI and Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities.

It is thought there are about 60,000 speakers of Gaelic - one of Europe's ancient languages.

Gaelic has fewer letters than the English alphabet - 18 against 26.

The aim of the project is to produce a historical dictionary of Gaelic that will be comparable in value and status to dictionaries already available for Scots and English.

Compilers expect it to have more than 100,000 entries.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) said the dictionary would provide a new understanding of the structure, variations and development of Gaelic through its use in speech, literature, song and place names.

The SFC's funding package will help to accelerate the project with the recruitment of more staff and to buy software to support their work.

Preparatory research has been going on for a decade while work on the actual dictionary will begin five years from now.

Other organisations are also providing financial support to the project.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council is providing £100,000 and £50,000 is coming from the Economic and Social Research Council.

Gaelic national body Bord na Gaidhlig has supported the work since 2004 and contributes £75,000 a year.

Sabhal Mor Ostaig UHI is managing the project called Faclair na Gaidhlig.

'Secure future'

First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed the new funding package.

He said: "We're committed to working with a range of other public bodies to create a secure future for the Gaelic language.

"The dictionary initiative will play an important part in that work and I'm delighted that this extra funding has been identified to drive forward the project."

SFC chairman John McClelland said the Faclair na Gaidhlig project was vital to securing the future of the Gaelic language.

Prof Boyd Robertson, principal of Sabhal Mor Ostaig, added: "The award will expedite preparatory work for the dictionary which will, in time, give Gaelic a resource comparable to the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue and the Oxford English Dictionary."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    It really gets me wild this useless government is wasting even more money on gaelic. Gaelic has never been the language of all of Scotland. It is a dead language and should be allowed to stay dead. Not a penny of my taxes should be wasted on this pointless project. They should also remove all of those idiotic road signs with gaelic rubbish on them. English is the only language we need

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    153"....thus ensuring making a split in the Union MORE LIKELY...."
    I'm a Scotland-loving Brit and would like to see independence. The Scots are well able to go it alone, and it would stop stingy Brits bellyaching all the time.
    As for the dictionary, it's a no-brainer. Every language needs a dictionary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    £2 million is not such a lot in the great scheme of things. It's important to preserve and support minority languages such as this, and prevent Gaelic from going the same way as its sibling languages Manx and Cornish. Irish too is under threat of extinction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    If you check out famous Scottish distiller Glenmorangie's current Cask Masters campaign - - you'll see Stage 2 offers people the chance to name a whisky in English before it's translated into Gaelic. All Glenmorangie whisky's name have a Gaelic name. It will be interesting to see what little beauties are suggested by the public. It's the start of a resurgence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Are you doing crystal meth??? Or just pulling random numbers out of the air? Most of the countries (Combined Wales Scot etc) revenue goes to the south east England . If you ever visit the NW, you will see like the NE, it has been abandoned by govts for decades

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    What, nothing for a Doric dictionary, typical !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    I grew up in south-west Scotland and it seems utterly ridiculous of the Scottish government to fund a project that affects c.5% of the population. I'm not saying it's unnecessary to produce the dictionary but surely some passionate Gaelic language enthusiast could do this and make a quick £40 on publishing/retailing it. I think English does just fine, is progressive and is globally recognised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    165.Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
    Over one fifth of the population speak Welsh in Wales and there are many Welsh speaking communities overseas, including in USA, Australia and Patagonia is a prime example.

    Every child in Wales learn Welsh and increasing numbers are being taught entirely through the medium of Welsh.
    There are also thousand of people who are learning Welsh.
    So wrong LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Excellent, this will speed up business in the EU post Scottish independence if they add Gaelic to the list of languages everything has to be written and spoken in chamber.
    Seriously, I am all for preserving heritage, but would question the time and cost in a time of internet and technology. Academics need to move with the times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    163. The Cat
    @160 " funny that I was under the impression that the whole of the UK pay taxes to Westminster??? "

    Sure. It's just that some areas take out more than their fair share, resulting in a net subsidy.
    You mean the North West of England? The SE gets 30% of its taxes back in public spending, Scotland gets 50%, the NW of England & Northern Ireland more like 90%

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Good luck to them as long as the English tax payer is not subdising this as per

    the kind of attitude that fuels the pro-independance argument, cultural promotion of English gets UK funding, why shouldn't the other native languages of the UK

    in linguistics, language death is officially defined as when there are "no native or fluent speakers" , not the case for gaelic

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    What as waste. Seems like a good reason to reduce the Scottish 'grant' by £2M next year........

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    . . . there is a great irony here . . . if people spoke the language in large enough numbers, there would be no need ofr public funding of a dictionary . . . it is only because there are so few people speaking it that there is any requirement to subsidise it . . . take Welsh as an example . . . every year, fewer and fewer speak it . . . but still we publish every govt document in both languages!

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Why not. Id rather see money going to preserve heritage like this. Rather than getting blown on a tawdry london olympics. To which the beeb and govt are still lying about. See today most thought it was worth it. Who did they ask? The olympics commitee??

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    @160 " funny that I was under the impression that the whole of the UK pay taxes to Westminster??? "

    Sure. It's just that some areas take out more than their fair share, resulting in a net subsidy.

    @157 "they probably mean British"


  • Comment number 162.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    154 JHW
    You forgot Rab C.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    The Cat - english picking up a tab; funny that I was under the impression that the whole of the UK pay taxes to Westminster???
    Your right - roll on independence

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    "....oh how the rejection hurts - I mean, imagine having to accept your country is not great anymore!"

    Imagine living in a country that never was great!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Chris - What about Manx Gaelic - virtually the same as Scottish Gaelic. My partner (from the Outer Hebrides) had a conversation in Gaelic with someone from the Isle of Man a couple of years ago!


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