Royal Celtic Society ArmsThe Royal Celtic Society

For nearly 200 years, the Royal Celtic Society has been at the cutting edge of activity to support the language, literature, music and culture of the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland. The Society holds regular events for members, awards medals for excellence in music and literature and sponsors a wide range of organisations dedicated to the traditions, language and arts of the Highlands and Islands.

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New research from Dr Claire Nance is showing that there is now a distinctive Glasgow brand of Gaelic. Glasgow accounts for 10% of Scotland's 65000 Gaelic speakers - the highest concentration of speakers of the language outside the Western Isles.

Glasgows George SquareDr Nance - originally from Stockport in England and now teaching at Lancaster University, and who also speaks French, Greek, German and Breton - says the distinction between Glasgow and Hebridean Gaelic takes the form of an accent rather than a dialect, which might take generations to evolve. However, it does indicate that Gaelic is truly a living language, evolving to suit the requirements of different places, contexts and circumstances.

The distinctive Glasgow influence is particularly evident among people who have learned Gaelic as a second language, or where there is only one Gaelic speaking parent in the home.

It was also reported this month that, although census returns show the number of Gaelic speakers to be declining with the deaths of older, native speakers, the number of Gaelic speakers under the age of 20 is rising. There are now over 3000 children in Gaelic medium education compared with only 24 in 1985, testifying to the success of campaigning organisations like the Royal Celtic Society in reawakening interest in our cultural heritage.

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