Scottish Dialect and Gaelic: A Visitor’s Guide
A thick Scottish accent may seem a bit bewildering to our foreign visitors, and if you’re not a Scottish native you might find the accent or some of the dialect a little baffling. If you’re travelling to Scotland, here’s a list of some fun Scottish words you might come across on your travels!
Of course, some people in Scotland speak a different language altogether! In 2011 it was estimated that there were around 57,375 people in Scotland who could speak Gaelic, although monolingual Gaelic speakers haven’t been around since about 1971. Today, you’ll have to travel north to hear native Gaelic as there are very few in the South and East of Scotland. Most native speakers can be found in the Outer Hebrides, the collection of islands in the country’s North-Western corner, where around half of the inhabitants can speak Gaelic.
Although Gaelic is only spoken by around 1% of the Scottish population, you might notice some Celtic influence on the names of places and people across the country. For example, many places as far south as Edinburgh have Gaelic words in their names, such as “achadh” meaning field, “baile” meaning farm, and “beinn” meaning hill.
If that’s confusing enough, there are a number of strangely spelt Gaelic names which are still very much in use all around Scotland today, such as Eilidh (which is pronounced Ailie!). Edinburgh natives usually have a fairly simple dialectic, but if you’re heading to more remote parts of this beautiful country then come prepared!