Skip to main content
  • Bras d'Or Lake
  • , Living Culture

Celtic Hearts : Why Does Gaelic Matter in 2020?

Story by: Amber Buchanan

Carson a tha a’ Ghàidhlig Cudthromach ann an 2020? 

7 Reasons Why Gàidhlig Matters in 2020 

Gàidhlig’s roots date back thousands of years making it worthy of both praise and celebration! The fact that Gàidhlig language and culture still live in our small corner of the world is nothing short of astonishing, especially given the long story of outside (and eventually inside) pressures to eradicate the language, culture and people.

Celtic Hearts : Why Does Gaelic Matter in 2020?

A’ Chraobh Ghàidhlig | The Gàidhlig Tree

If culture were a tree, the solid trunk would be language. On the branches you would see things like song, story, kinship connections, music, and dance. Gàidhlig provides a path straight to the source of these traditions. As for the roots, they are the people who bring voice to these practices. Without a strong healthy trunk and roots the branches eventually fade away.

Celtic Hearts : Dé tha thu 'g ràdhainn? | What are you saying? 5

Alba Nuadh | New Scotland

About one-third of Nova Scotians have Gàidhlig ancestry and the traditions I mentioned above hold a space in the core of their identity. When we know and understand who we are we are better able to understand our communities as well as the various issues and challenges we face, making it easier to dream up appropriate and sustainable solutions.

Celtic Hearts : Dé tha thu 'g ràdhainn? | What are you saying? 4

Is treasa dithis a’ dol thar na fad’ o chéile |  Connection is Key

Our connection to one another is essential for survival. It is largely our shared language that makes human connection meaningful. With our ancestral language we are able to connect to ourselves, friends, relatives, neighbours and neighbouring cultures as well as to our ancestors. In this way, language feels like a complete resource.

Celtic Hearts : Dé tha thu 'g ràdhainn? | What are you saying? 6

Feallsanchd nan Gàidheal | Wide Worldview

In Gàidhlig we usually describe possessions as being agad (at you). In English they are ‘yours,’ showing little degree of separation between you and your things. Family, relationships, and body parts are usually the only things described as being ‘mine’ in Gàidhlig. Gaels everyday speech is a constant reminder of what’s important. This matters particularly in a world that’s choosing consumerism over connection at an unsustainable rate.

Celtic Hearts : Why Does Gaelic Matter in 2020? 1

A’ Leigeil leis | Letting Go

Another interesting frame in Gàidhlig is that difficult emotions like anger or sadness, as well as illnesses, are often described as being ort | on you. In an individualized world with no shortage of suffering this framing within the language can help put those emotions which can easily become overwhelming into perspective because we are reminded they are temporarily on us, not a part of us.

Celtic Hearts : 'S e Ceap Breatainn Tìr mo Ghràidh | Cape Breton is the Land of my Heart - Some History of Gàidhlig Culture on Cape Breton 4

Dachaigh | Home

Gàidhlig provides a number of Nova Scotians with a focus for employment; here at Baile nan Gàidheal, Colaisde na Gàidhlig, Comhairle na Gàidhlig, teaching Gàidhlig in schools or universities, and more. Not only is Gàidhlig keeping some Nova Scotians home, it’s keeping us connected and bringing new folks to our area, all of which is good for local economy and thriving communities.

Celtic Hearts : Carson a tha a' Ghàidhlig Cudthromach ann an 2020? Why Does Gaelic Matter in 2020? 1

Anns na h-aosta tha Gliocas | In the Aged there is Wisdom

Nova Scotia is home to many cultures of strong roots with deep wells of collective wisdom. Understanding our own culture helps us understand others. It makes sense to draw upon the diversity of our ancient wisdom as no one person has all the answers. This seems especially relevant as today’s problems are becoming increasingly complex. Look back…it just may help you see forward.

Amber Buchanan

Amber Buchanan has been working as a Ban-chleasaiche | Cultural Animator at Baile nan Gàidheal since 2013. Her ancestors are from the North Shore of Cape Breton Island and before that the Isles of Lewis, Harris and North Uist. Name: Amber Buchanan Social Handle Links- Facebook: Highland Village Museum Instagram: Highland Village Twitter: Highland Village

Locals Know Blog