Scots Gaelic – Past, Present and Future

Trevor Aitkens grew up in Brooke township, Lambton County, and lived with his grandmother who spoke Gaelic.  On March 15, 2023 he filled the Tait’s Corners School house with students interested in learning a few words.

Trevor shows us given names on the left and surnames on the left.

Given names, surnames and place names. DONNCHADH = Duncan. DOMHNALL = Donald. AONGHAS = Angus. DUGHLAS = Douglas.

Trevor, our teacher, took us on a flight across the globe’s Celtic lands. We only had a few life preservers (we were crossing the Atlantic). Costa is wearing one of the preservers while he holds a beautiful bouquet of lucky heather.

Gaelic originated in Scotland in 500 AD and was in common use up until the battle of Culloden in 1746. After this point, support waned for the language to the point where it was in danger of becoming extinct.  During the latter half of the 19th century, it was the 3rd most spoken language in Canada and actually had a bill tabled in the Senate to become an official language.

Surnames on the left and Epenectrics on the right. Epenectrics: adding a vowel for sound purposes.

Scots Gaelic doesn’t like a lot of consonants together. AINMEAN = Names. MACEACHARNA = McEachran (descendants of the horse lord). MACFHIONLAIGH = McKinlay. MACCRUIMEIN = McCrimmon ( pipers). MACILLIOSA = Gillies. MACILLEATHAN = MacLean.

Many thanks to Simba, the camera man, and Ayako, the Zoom engineer. The Glencoe & District Historical Society is committed to making its programs accessible.
The old Tait’s Corners School house is filled with students. We shared the lesson via Zoom too.

Trevor regrets now that he didn’t learn Gaelic when he had the chance. He studied a number of other languages but realized later that he needed to pay homage to his own heritage. Trevor stumbled upon a night school offering in Mississauga in 1998 and practices the language until this day. He attracted a big audience to the Tait’s school house.

There’s no written J, K, Q, V, X, Y, Z but some of those sounds exist. There’s no Z sound or X sound.

Recent trends point towards an increase in the number of Gaelic speakers. A number of people who have no connection with Scotland are interested in learning and preserving the language. People are waiting for the 2021 Scotland census to see if there in an increase in Gaelic learners and speakers.

Gaelic Bible
JoAnn Galbraith, our Middlemiss historian, clutches a volume of Gaelic Prayers
Harold Carruthers expresses our appreciation on behalf of the live and on-line audience.