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Info on Scots Gaelic accents

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Broadly speaking there are three major Gaelic dialects. One includes the Western Isles (except Lewis), Skye, Glenelg, Moidart and Western Lochaber "The Central Western Area". The next area lies around this area and includes Rossshire, Inverness, Badenoch, Fort Augustus, Laggan, North Argyll and Mull. The third area includes Lewis, Sutherland, Deeside, Perthshire, Mid-Argyll, Jura, Mull, Islay and Kintyre. There are of course variations within this, such as Islay's "go robh math agad", peculiar to there.

In Uist and Barra, deanamh and words ending in mh are pronounced with a "oo" sound at the end, whereas in many other places it's a "v". Lewis Gaelic is noticeably different in pronounciation and I know native Argyll and Sutherland Gaelic speakers who have trouble understanding Lewis Gaelic (however, the other way around is probably also true). In Lewis they have their own words, such as "bųrn" for drinking water. Elsewhere it is uisge. The variation between Lewis and Harris Gaelic is very noticable. As has been pointed out, the Scandanavian influence is very strong and it seems to me as if Lewis Gaelic speakers speak it with a Scandinavian accent - completely different to the rest of Scotland. Whilst it's true that Lewis Gaelic has its own vocabularly, the same is also true of many other areas.

However, there are similarities between Harris and Sutherland Gaelic (but both different to the rest of the Outer Isles). For instance, they both pronounce "adhart" as "ugurst" whereas the dh almost drops out in most other areas. This is despite Harris and Sutherland falling within different linguistic areas.

For more information on this, see Anthony Dilworth's essay "Central Western and Peripheral Gaelic". Tony Dilworth was a linguistic researcher (now retired) with the School of Scottish Studies. For thorough research on Gaelic and Scots dialects contact the school. The School is on-line at:

Perthshire Gaelic:
See Cothrom 6, published by the Gaelic Learners Association
P29-33. mailto:

Wester Ross:
Roy Wentworth, 25 Eārradal a Deas, Gairloch, Ross-shire IV21 2AU

More info in
Companion to Gaelic Scotland, edited by Derick S. Thomson

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