Is Scottish Gaelic a Language a Dialect or an Accent?

Is Scottish Gaelic a Language a Dialect or an Accent?

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Is Scottish Gaelic a Language, a Dialect, or an Accent? Picture of Scottish Band marching on a parade by Melody Ayres-Griffiths at Unsplash. Unsplash License.

When language enthusiasts talk about Scottish Gaelic, there are still controversies about whether it is a separate language, a dialect, or just an accent, given that it’s much closer to English than Gaelic. 

The linguistic landscape of Scotland is rich and varied, with a broad range of dialects and older language forms contributing to considerable diversity. As language localization specialists, we like sharing knowledge and clarifying aspects of this peculiar subject. 

Scottish Gaelic was developed from Old Irish and became a distinct language around the 1300s. But, nowadays, less than 100,000 people in Scotland claim to have some form of Gaelic language ability

Today is experiencing a revival resulting from a renewed sense of national identity. There are many initiatives to keep it alive in different media and entertainment areas, so localizing the Scottish Gaelic language is on the rise.

Is Scottish Gaelic still spoken?

Although some laws and Acts from the 17th century meant that English became the standard written language of Scotland, the history of spoken varieties is far more complex. 

In the same way the Celtic language exists alongside English in Wales, there is the Scottish Gaelic language in Scotland. Approximately 58,000 people in Scotland speak Gaelic; that’s 1.1% of the Scottish population.

Main languages spoken in Scotland:

Numerically, the densest Gaelic-speaking communities are now in the northwest Highlands and throughout the Islands, especially the Outer Hebrides, where approximately 60% of the population report that they can speak Gaelic. We can also find it in Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, and Argyll & The Isles. 

Expressive Scottish Gaelic communities around the world:

Scottish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, or Gaelic?

Scottish Gaelic is not to be confused with Irish Gaelic, from which it is derived. The Scots language is much closer in style to English, and it is still debated whether it’s a separate language or a dialect. So let’s take a closer look:


There are actually three Gaelic languages: Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic. It is the founding language of Scotland. Most people outside Ireland refer to it as just Gaelic or Irish Gaelic.

Scottish Gaelic

Locally known as Gàidhlig, is one of the national languages of Scotland and is most closely associated with the Scottish Highlands and Hebridean Islands. It was a widely spoken language of early Scotland, but today, they are a minority.


The present Scots language had a different name in 1288; it was known as English. It is a Germanic language related to English, and in Scotland, it is spoken by about 1.5 million people.

Scottish Gaelic Pronunciation

Despite not being as popular as English, still is spoken by many established people across multiple entertainment industries. Scottish Gaelic was brought to light again and now there is a renewed hope for its survival. Famous musicians, social media influencers, and TV shows have showcased the language too, making it an exciting time for companies to voice over it. 

In fact, the Scottish Gaelic activist himself, Calum McLean, even beat legendary musician Lewis Capaldi, being crowned “the most influential Scot on TikTok.” 

Some famous films had previously talked about this subject; such as Braveheart and Highlander, and later, for the new generations, it also appeared in animated movies. Julie Fowlis, a Scottish folk singer who primarily sings in Scottish Gaelic, is credited as the singing voice of the movie’s main character Merida, representing the Scottish princess in Disney’s Brave.

Gaelic Origin 

Scottish Gaelic is a Celtic language closely related to Irish. Later the Gaelic language migrated and today there are six Celtic languages left: Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Welsh, Breton, Cornish, and Manx

The Gaelic language is one of the two branches of the Celtic family of languages, known as the Goidelic branch. It developed out of Old Irish and became a distinct language around the 1300s. The other branch is Brythonic and includes Welsh (read about the Welsh English Accent), Cornish, and Breton. 

The Gaelic languages originated in Ireland and Dál Riata on the west coast of Scotland. During Medieval times, Gaelic culture spread throughout the rest of Scotland, becoming this rich new language.

Hire Translations and Voice Overs in Gaelic

Because of the growing popularity of Scottish Gaelic and Scottish English Accent in social media, you must consider professionally localizing your next project.

When translating a project for a specific audience, you have to decide which of all the different dialects will be the most appropriate; then, you will have to team up with the perfect Voice Over Agency with experienced Scottish voice over to help you reach the goal.

You have to consider the Gaelic-speaking communities all over the world to decide which language is the best fit for your project. The right localizing service is an essential tool for global communication, business, and social media projects.

This language differs considerably from its counterparts and must be correctly addressed if you want to thrive in this new market. One place where you can find the best professional translators, subtitlers, and voice actors in Gaelic is at GoLocalise.

GoLocalise will ensure you utilize a common language with your viewers, creating a unique opportunity to network, share experiences and establish bonds of community and solidarity with your brand and products. 

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