Gaelic speaking

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Orlaith17
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:50 pm

Gaelic speaking

Post by Orlaith17 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:11 pm

Hope someone will know the answer. I’m helping an acquaintance to try to trace her great grandmother’s family. The info she has given me is that her great grandmother left Invergordon sometime around 1870 aged about 18, and went to York to live, speaking only Gaelic.Would that be accurate, that she would be only a Gaelic speaker? She apparently found work in York so I assume she spoke or learned English too. Friend is also looking for great grandmother’s father info. I’m wondering about the Gaelic as if that was indeed the only language spoken there at that time, will local records pre- dating 1855 be in Gaelic?

Falkyrn
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Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by Falkyrn » Sat Dec 01, 2018 3:17 pm

Although Gaelic may have been her primary language I would be surprised if by that date she was not at least bilingual especially given the relocation for employment.
Re the pre 1855 documents - these will be primarily Church documents and could well be in both Gaelic and Scots although most likely in Scots

(according to most statisticians around 1800 Gaelic was spoken by around 20% of the population dropping to around 6 or 7% by the 1881 census - probably due to the Education Act of 1872 which banned the use of Gaelic in teaching)

Have a read at https://www.scotsman.com/news/the-first ... -1-4450018 which will give a little more background information.
~RJ Paton~

Orlaith17
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Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by Orlaith17 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:39 am

Thank you. It was always my understanding that Gaelic was only exclusively spoken in certain areas, eg the western isles. I was surprised to see it mentioned£ about someone from Invergordon. The information my friend has is word of mouth so not necessarily accurate.

WilmaM
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Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by WilmaM » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:10 pm

Some of the census returns give the language spoken - but I think it's just from 1891 onwards - too late for your friend.

Invergordon I would certainly have put as a gaelic speaking region. Isolated communities would have been more likely to stick to the original tongue - esp. the women folk who had little outside contact or formal schooling.

I recall in the 70's 'granny' up the stairs only spoke the gaelic and would shout at the kids in that tongue and they'd answer back then continue talking to us in Scots. Wiley ol' cratur probably understood more English than she'd ever let on!

I did have a quick look down the census returns I have, very few G & E speakers no G only. Their birth places range from the obvious Skye, Islay and Rossshire to Aberdeenshire and parts of Perthshire.

AndrewP
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Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by AndrewP » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:50 am

For an interesting read on this topic:

http://www.scottishhistory.com/articles ... page1.html
(and continuation on page 2)

http://www.scottishhistory.com/articles ... stics.html

All the best,

AndrewP

Falkyrn
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Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by Falkyrn » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:21 pm

Just reading Tom Devine's "The Scottish Clearances - A History of the Dispossessed" where he examines the theory previously put forward by, among others, Rev. Norman McLeod that mobility of the young in the Highlands and Islands was more pronounced in those who were well educated. Although there is no way to quantify this (or even prove it) it is a claim put forward by several Victorian "experts" - one is even quoted as saying "Highlanders when educated become migrants". It is to be presumed that these Victorians meant when they spoke of "Well Educated" & "Good Schools" were schools where English was used/taught. (again there is no evidence to support or even dispute this)
~RJ Paton~

Elwyn 1
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Location: Co. Antrim, Ireland

Re: Gaelic speaking

Post by Elwyn 1 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:58 pm

20 years ago I visited the island of Inish Turk, off the west coast of Ireland (population 70). It’s a small island with a tiny economy based on a few farms, a little inshore fishing and, today, a teashop and a few B & Bs.

Irish (ie Gaelic) is spoken but the predominant language is English. The islanders explained that for generations they have known that employment prospects on the island were very limited, and so most of their children would have to go to work in Dublin, London, New York or wherever. They also realised that if they arrived speaking only Irish, their employment prospects would be poor. So, since the mid 1800s, there had been a culture of ensuring that children had a reasonable command of English because that was seen as essential for their future. (No different to what parent might say today when discussing with their children what qualifications to get. A degree in Art? I don’t think so! Try Computing Sciences etc).

Would Gaelic speaking parents in Scotland in the mid to late 1800s not have had a similar bent, encouraging their children to have a good command of English to improve their prospects? So a child might have been brought up in Invergordon in a Gaelic speaking family but they were likely to leave home with some sort of command of English.

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