Word of the Day – Thursday, February 9th



Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

The Cruciverbalist


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ERSE (erss)

Any of several related languages of the Celts in Ireland and Scotland
Common clues:
Highland dialect; Gaelic; Irish language; Skye writing; Scottish Gaelic; Celtic language; Hebrides tongue; Language that gives us “whiskey”
Crossword puzzle frequency: 7 times a year
A Gaelic Blessing

Chan fhiach cuirm gun a còmhradh.

A feast is no use without good talk.

~ Gaelic Proverb

The Goidelic languages (also sometimes called the Gaelic languages or collectively Gaelic) are one of two major divisions of modern-day Insular Celtic languages (the other being the Brythonic languages). There are three attested Goidelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), and Manx (Gaelg). Shelta is sometimes mistakenly thought to be a Goidelic language when it is, in fact, a cant based on Irish and English, with a primarily English-based syntax.

Place names in their original Gaelic are becoming increasingly common on road signs throughout the Scottish Highlands.

Although Irish and Manx are often referred to as Irish Gaelic and Manx Gaelic (and they are Goidelic or Gaelic languages) the use of the word Gaelic is unnecessary because the words Irish and Manx only ever refer to these languages whereas Scots by itself refers to a Germanic language and Scottish can refer to things not at all Gaelic. The word Gaelic by itself is somewhat ambiguous, but most often refers to Scottish Gaelic and it is the word that Scottish Gaelic speakers themselves use when speaking English.

Furthermore, due to the peculiar politics of language and national identity, some Irish speakers are offended by the use of the word Gaelic by itself to refer to Irish.

Similarly, some Scottish Gaelic speakers also find offensive the use of the obsolete word Erse (from Erisch, "Irish") to refer to their language. This term was used in Scotland since at least the late 15th century to refer to Gaelic, which had previously been called Scottis.

The names used in languages themselves (Gaeilge in Irish, Gaelg in Manx, and Gàidhlig in Scottish Gaelic) are derived from Old Irish Goídeleg, which in itself is from the originally more-or-less derogative term Goídel meaning "pirate, raider" in Old Welsh. The Goidels called themselves various names according to their tribal/clan affiliations, but the most general seems to have been the name rendered in Latin as Scoti.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Goidelic Languages".