Word of the Day – Tuesday, August 6th



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GAEL (gayl)

A Gaelic-speaking Celt of Scotland, Ireland, or the Isle of Man.
Common clues: Highlander; Scottish Highlander; Celt; Isle of Man man; Certain Scot; Scotsman; Celtic speaker; Dumbarton denizen; Rob Roy, for one
Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year

Cha dèan ‘Tapadh leis an fhìdhlear’ am fìdhlear a phàigheadh.

A ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the fiddler.

~ Gaelic proverb

The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The Goidelic languages are one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic languages, the other being Brythonic.

The modern English term Gael derives ultimately from the Old Irish (Ancient Gaelic) word Goídel, which was spelled in various ways by Gaelic writers at different times. The modern Gaelic spellings are Gael (Irish) and Gàidheal (Scottish Gaelic).

Early Greek and Roman authors called the Irish Ιουερνοι and Iverni, respectively, both derived from the Proto-Irish ethnic name *Iwerni ("people of *Iweriū"). Later Greek and Latin variants of this name included Ίερνοι, Hierni, and Hiberni.

Scoti or Scotti was another generic Latin name for the Irish that came into use by the 4th century AD. It is not believed that any Gaelic groups called themselves Scot(t)i in ancient times, except when referring to themselves in Latin. It is also conjectured that the Latin term may mean "raider/pirate" as it is widely accepted that raiders from Ireland were attacking Britain's west coast during and following the Roman occupation.

Goidel is thought to have been borrowed sometime during the 7th century AD from Primitive Welsh Guoidel, "Irishman", (which is attested as a male personal name in the Book of Llandaff) and may ultimately be derived from an Proto-Indo-European *weidh-(e)l-o-, perhaps meaning "forest people," partially cognate with the Old Irish ethnic name Féni (from Proto-Indo-European *weidh-n-jo-, "forest people," later becoming simply "warriors" in Proto-Irish).

Since the disappearance of Gaelic as a community language in the south and east of Scotland in the late medieval period, and the popularity of the terms 'highland Scot' and 'lowland Scot', the term Gàidheal has been used in Gaelic language conversation not merely to denote Gaelic identity but also as an equivalent for the single English word 'highlander'.

Up until the late 15th century, the Gaelic language in Scotland was generally named Scottish, both in its Latin form and in Early Scots. For example, the usage in The Flyting of Dumbar and Kennedie at the start of the 16th century is Erse (= Irish) and Inglis (= English). After this time, the Gaelic language generally became called Erse (Irish) and the lowland tongue Scots (= Scottish).

Documentary evidence shows other subsequent alterations in general terminology, such as the appearance of the Latin term "Scotos Hibernicos" in 1521 and its English equivalent, "Scottish-Irish," by the English diplomat Ralph Sadler in 1558 to refer to Scottish Gaels.

In earliest surviving writings in the Lowland Scots tongue (which had hitherto been called Inglis), a form of the term Gaidheal appears to discriminate between Gaels from the Scottish Highlands and Gaels from Ireland. In 1596, it appears in James Dalrymple's translation from Latin into Lowland Scots of the Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, 1436–1565 as the main element within the word Gaelic, referring to the language in Scotland, rather than in Ireland.

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