START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Group Discussions
| track thread
« Back to topics
a' toiseachadh Gaidhlig--Beginning Scottish Gaelic
11 years ago
| Hot!
Cuir na ceistean, na freagairtean, agus na beachdan agaibh an seo. (Put your questions, answers, and opinions here.) An Toiseach (First): I don't think Gaidhlig is a difficult language to learn. It's complex, yes, but not that difficult. There are rules, just as in any language, but they're fairly striaght foreward. The hardest part of learning Gaidhlig--for me-- is remembering words. In any language, when we say a word or a phase, a picture emerges in our mind that relates directly to that word or phrase. That's what makes communication possible. If I say 'shoe,' then a picture comes into your mind of a shoe. If I say 'Brog,' does the same image come to mind? It should, if you're learning Gaidhlig. That's what has got me in a linguistic cul-de-sac. I hear the words, but the flashcard images inside my brain don't always go off fast enough for me to keep up, even though my vocabulary is becoming greater. Nevertheless, if I learn the words, and remember the rules, I'll be able to learn to speak and write Gaidhlig eventually. Of course, listening helps me in my pronounciation, and in strengthening the flashcard images that fire off in my brain. In this section, I want to start developing a learning approach that uses mental imagery. After all, that is where you and I communicate. So let's start with meeting each other. Imagine you and I are standing together, face to face, and I reach out to shake your hand. Me: Hallo, (or Hai) Is mise, Greig. Hi, my name is Gregg. You: Hallo/Hai, Is mise ________. Me: Ciamar a tha sibh? How are you ('you' here is the polite, or plural, form of 'you' used when addressing someone older, or of a higher rank, or when there are more than one, or when meeting for the first time.) You: Tha mi gu math, tapadh leibh, Ciamar a tha sibh fhein? I am fine, thank you, How are you yourself? Me: Tha mi gu math. Now, You know who I am and I know who you are, and we know that we are both fine. The conversation can go in any direction at this point. Let's say you see or feel something about me that makes you want to know more about me. (Hey, this is MY fantasy, right?) You might start out with wanting to know where I live, maybe where I am from, and what I do for a living. You: Cait' a bheil sibh a' fuireach? Where are you staying/living? Me: Tha mi a' fuireach ann an Chastro Valley, Californiia. You: Co as a tha sibh? Where are you from? (From where do you originate?) Me: Tha mi a Tennessee. I am from (out of) Tennessee. You: De an obair a th'agaibh? What work do you do? (literally, What the work that is at you?) Me: 'S e tidsear Ghaidhlig a th'annam. I am a Gaelic teacher. ( literally: It is a teacher Gaelic that is in me.)
Complexity ...
10 years ago
It doesn't seem so much the memorization that is difficult in Gaelic, but the pronunciations. When a name like Aoibheann gets pronounced as "EE-van" it seems almost like "fake the first, fake the last, and just ignore the middle," but not all of them are that simple.  Is there any sort of simple pronnunciation guide? 
10 years ago
I'd like to know is Scottish Gaelic the same as the Irish Gaelic?
10 years ago

Peri... I couldn't agree with you more. How we see the words and how we pronounce them can be two very different things.

I don't know about you, but, I wouldn't want to mis-pronounce something and call someone a horrible name...LOL

Michelle ~
10 years ago
Absolutely! LOL!As it is, back when I was young and foolish and beginning in the society, I was using Branwyn Cerridwen. WELL, did I ever learn better in my absence! wyn is a MALE ending, and it should have been wEn ... and there is no record of Branwen being used, in other than literary devices (and that's sketchy) as a feminine form of Bran before modern times. Same thing (and this REALLY surprised me!) for Cerridwen, or Kerriwen! No personal name usage til modern times. I guess it would make sense though ... not too many people running around named God or Goddess these days.

But the thought that a wrong inflection or a misplaced or omitted sound could have me calling a perfectly nice person something awful is a little ... daunting! Especially in a situation where at least SOME of the folks really know their stuff ... and some of the others that think they do may not, but are thinking SCA might stand for Society for Compulsive Authenticity!

Still, I'd like to get it as accurate as possible within our household as possible ... well, except for things like the Black Death ... there's a few "chosen miss" things.  But we do try to keep the cooking and all as accurate (or at least plausible) as we can within justifiable modern standards. We can JUSTIFY a hot tub (Nordic influence brought up from the lowlands), but a bad word is still naughty ... and in a situation where ignorance is not deemed a good excuse!

10 years ago

pronunciations ....

can be tricky...I try to develope my studies on internet sites but they too go to fast.

Lucky , thus year my daughters school is offering the students "Lunch hour Gaelic classes" I signed them up and I can ty to pick up from their studies..

Differences in types of Gaelic
10 years ago
I did a little scouting around and Gaelic DOES differ from one location to another.
Here's a TERRIFIC starting point that also includes (scroll down the page) links to recorded phrases, etc.
Sorry for the disappearance.
10 years ago

I am sorry for the disappearance. I suffer from depression and am more likely to be staying inside my cave, wrapped in dispair, than being outside blowing fire.

Anyway, to try and help:

Peri asks, "Is there any sort of simple pronnunciation guide?"

Ans: Yes. The URL you found is a start. Think of our own language--English/American. It, and every other language, is made up of phonemes--sounds. We have the consonants and we have the vowels. In English, the vowels would be: "ay, ey, iy, oh, yu, and sometimes wy." There is no "iy" ,or "wy" in Gaidhlig, so it would be:  "ah, ay, ey, oh."

Now, words will sometimes contain pairs of vowels, known as dipthongs, and sometimes three vowels together, known as tripthongs. (And I bet you thought those were things some women, and some men, wore to beaches.) Each of the vowels in a dipthong or tripthong is pronounced, but at such a high rate of speed they get blurred.

The best english example of a Gaidhlig-like word in my book is the word "neighbor." Here, you see the Gaidhlig long-A sound and the long-E sound, followed by the silent 'gh.'

Let's look at Aoibheann. To us English speakers, it looks like "Ah-oyb-hean," but that's because we don't know Gaidhlig. To the Gaidhlig speaker, it might look more like the Russian name "Ivan." There is no "I" in Gaidhlig, so the closes one can get when you try to pronounce an "I" that doesn't exist is: ah-uh-ee.

The "Bh" in Gaidhlig is pronounced as a "Va" sound. Gaidhlig has a spelling rule that states: "Broad to broad and narrow to narrow." Meaning, if the vowel on the left side of the bh is broad then the first vowel on the right side of the bh must be broad, if it is narrow, then the other must be narrow. So, the "e" (ay--long 'A') is thrown in because of this rule. The double "nn's" at the end of the word changes the 'a' from an 'ah sound' to an 'awn sound'--like in 'clown.' In the end, what comes out of the Gaidhlig speaker is a word that sounds more like Ivan, but not quite exactly.

If we look at 'neighbor again, following the rule "Broad to broad and narrow to narrow," we would have to put in a narrow vowel between the B and the O, giving us neighbeor. It would still be pronounced the same.

In answer to the question: Is there any differences between Irish Gaelic and the Scottish Gaidhlig? Yes, there is, or I should say, there are many differences. If you are going to learn a Gaelic language, then focus on one first and then try to learn the other. Personally, I think they are to different languages that stem from the same Mother language.

Okay, I'm going back into my cave, now. I've got to go fix my son some breakfast and try to figure out what it is I want to be when I grow up.

Thank you, Gregg!
10 years ago
What you've written is extremely helpful! And using the word "neighbor" to illustrate was a stroke of brilliance! It gives an easy handle to use when faced with incomprehensible letter combinations ... a bit more effective than my current "if they make no sense together, try leaving some out and blur the rest by saying it very fast!" approach.

Would you recommend learning one language first over another, or perhaps the mother-root first? I know that typically one chooses a Germanic to expand in the learning of more Germanic, one Romance language before expanding to learn more Romance languages ... and that these two broad divisions require almost completely seperate ways of mental construction to wrap around the pronunciations and meanings ... but the Gaelic languages seem a whole different division unto themselves!


As for your ansence, while I can't say you weren't missed, I think we all of us welcome the idea that even our erstwhile host is allowed a private life ... it excuses us, as well!  Really, Gregg ... think nothing of it. Glad you're back for a bit.
10 years ago

Thank you Gregg.Very helpful

I love when people try to pronounce my Mums name "SINE"..she has been called everything from "SIGN" to "SEENEE" but, it is "SHENA" in English. Tis my eldest daughters middle name(Jennifer Sine) ,she likes to go by that name in life just to confuse people. Many ask how we get Shena from these 4 letters.

My youngest is Jessica Skye. needed to add a dash of Scotland to their names.

take care of yourself...

9 years ago

If you would somehow break the words down those of us you might love to learn the Scottish Gaelic could perhaps have a better time pronouncing the words like this german word for instance

gu ten ta g  (guten tag --- hello or formally good (guten) day (tag)

I'd love to speak Scottish but am not a linguist

Are there any "live" study groups around?
8 years ago

Are there any "live" study groups around that one can converse with the other group members?  It is much easier for me to learn if I'm actually using the new language skills in actual conversations.

If there aren't any around do you think one could be started either here in this group or begin another group?  Maybe a group could get "together" on the internet and have a virtual study group on a designated night once per month or every other week or something like that. 

Or, if you have any other ideas I'd sure like to hear them.

Feasgar math!

8 years ago

My southern drw wont let me say it.


Gaidhlig - dialects ........
7 years ago

Scottish and Irish Gaelic has some differences but basically if you speak one you'll pretty much understand the other - a bit like spanish and italian - they are very close.  There are loads of different dialects in Scottish Gaelic (pronouced Garlic) and I  think there is possible so in Irish Gaelic (pronouced Gaylic).  

7 years ago

Merry - I, too, have a Southern drawl, but believe I  could pronounce the words if I could take lessons in person from someone.  There are lots of Scots in Birmingham.  It is just a matter of finding one who speaks and could teach the language to me.

learning Gąidhlig
6 years ago

if you are looking for a study group I would take a look at the listing we have on our site.

We have a copy of conversation groups going too, using Skype software.

le meas,


6 years ago

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that the Gaelic language movie , Seachd  the Inaccessable Pinnacle is available on DVD! Seachd is a great learning tool for Gàidhlig learners as well as being an entertaining movie! Subtitles are available in English, Gaelic and Welsh just to name a few. I bought my copy from : Comhairle nan Leabhraichean (online) it was here in a week and it cost the same  as an American DVD. It's formatted for Region 2 but there are codes for most DVD players to switch to Region 0. YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! It opens up the world of legends, myths, language and history of the Highlands of Scotland in a way that is breathtaking and unforgettable!

Another nice film is : Faire Chaluim Mhic Leòid . This is a short Gaelic language film from Nova Scotia. Another MUST SEE for the Gàidhlig learner! Subtitles in English and Gàidhlig.

I am so happy to hear this.....
6 years ago

I have been checking for Seachd at my local video store, which incurs me odd looks from the young, gothish-wanna-be clerks.

There's a post of Scottish Gaelic phrases, and how to pronounce them in the language and communication group from one of my buddies from  the Scotland the Brave group.  Unfortuantely, there's also alot without pronunciation keys - and with the letters in gaelic changing pronunciation according to combination and place in the word, pronunciation is confounding.  I had hoped to learn a little before travelling there this coming summer.

6 years ago

 I went to my local video rental stores as well. I don't think they've released Seachd in the U.S. I had to order my copy online. If you go to Comhairle nan Leabhraichean you can order it there. Shipping was only $5.00. Not bad considering that it came from Glasgow!  The total cost was about $25.00 with shipping. Also, a trip to your local used- bookstore may have Gaelic treasures as well. I found a great Gaelic dictionary for less than $10.00!

6 years ago

My copy of Seachd - which I feel like I have been waiting forever to see - and hear - arrived today. Unfortunately, I can't play it here in the U.S. Anyone know how to change the region of a DVD player????

6 years ago

Hey Janet!

Did you have any luck with your player???

Hi, Donna!
6 years ago

Didn't spot your post until now - generally don't check in often with this group because it's usually so quiet.


No, I couldn't find the instructions on the site you gave me, and work has been a bear lately so couldn't invest much time.  I've decided to take it with me when I go over there, hoping that the cottage we are renting will have a DVD player.

6 years ago

So what did you think of the movie? I hope you had a chance to see it while you were on holiday anns s a Alba !

6 years ago

I forgot to take it with me!!!!!!  I think I need to make the time to read that site you sent me again (of course, my dvd player is on the fritz right now, so it's sort of a moot point until I get it repaired.)

6 years ago

It's well worth the effort , there's lots of extras on the video as well. I was just watching the Gaelic interviews on this movie yesterday. I love listening to the actors speak the Gaelic.  Good Luck Janet! I know you'll love the film when you get to see it.



5 years ago

Omg I am never going to learn this