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Gaelic in Contemporary Scotland

The Revitalisation of an Endangered Language

Edited by Marsaili MacLeod, Cassie Smith-Christmas

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New perspectives on the use and acquisition of a minority language

The number of young people speaking Gaelic in Scotland is growing for the first time since Census records began but less than half of all Gaelic speakers use Gaelic in the home. This book sets out to explore why. Focusing on how people, communities and organisations are ‘doing’ Gaelic, this book explores the processes and patterns of Gaelic language acquisition, use and management across four key spaces of interaction: the family, the community, educational settings, and in organisations. The contributors adopt an experiential approach to give voice to speakers in a diverse range of communities, both geographically and socially, as the volume illustrates the ways in which the use of Gaelic is changing in the context of increasingly fragmented, networked communities.

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Prelims: List of figures, List of tables, Acknowledgements, List of abbreviations, Notes on contributors

Chapter 1: Introduction (Marsaili MacLeod, Cassie Smith-Christmas & Nicola Carty)

Chapter 2: The language of the playground: Activists building consensus on the language policy and ethos of a new Gaelic immersion school (Timothy C. Armstrong)

Chapter 3: Mismatches between national and local Gaelic development: Cròileagan Dùn Èideann and the promotion of Gaelic-medium education (Kirstie MacLeod)

Chapter 4: Gaelic amongst schoolchildren: Ideas on language change and linguistic choices in Gaelic (Sìleas L. NicLeòid)

Chapter 5: When school is over and done with: Linguistic practices and socio-demographic profiles of Gaelic-medium educated adults (Stuart Dunmore)

Chapter 6: New speakers of Gaelic: A historical and policy perspective (Wilson McLeod)

Chapter 7: Learning Gaelic in adulthood: Second language learning in minority language contexts (Marsaili MacLeod)

Chapter 8: Dlùth is Inneach: Charting language ideology in the contemporary Gaelic world (Susan Bell & Mark McConville)

Chapter 9: Gaelic language use in public domains (Ingeborg Birnie)

Chapter 10: Planning for growth: the professionalisation of the taskforce for Gaelic revitalisation (Michelle Macleod, Timothy C. Armstrong, Gillian Munro & Ian Taylor)

Chapter 11: Organisational language planning: Gaelic Language Plans in the public sector (Robert Dunbar)

Chapter 12: The future of Gaelic language revitalisation in Scotland (Marsaili MacLeod & Cassie Smith-Christmas)

About the Author

Marsaili MacLeod is a Lecturer in Gaelic Studies in the School of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen.

Research Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway


A milestone in the sociolinguistics of Gaelic and a major contribution to minority language studies more generally, this engaging volume brings together an impressive array of essays on issues such as Gaelic in the education system, adult learners, ‘new speakers’, language ideology, the public use of Gaelic and language revitalisation.

- Dr John Walsh, National University of Ireland, Galway

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