Scottish Gaelic – it brings to mind green lands and rugged landscapes. Maybe a rough brogue with a beautiful lilt that speaks romance and history. Whatever the connotation, though this language is not commonly spoken today, there is always still a place for a Scottish Gaelic translator.

A History of Scottish Gaelic

We are going to look to for our history lesson on Scottish Gaelic today. This is an old, old language with a beautiful oral history:

It is thought that Scottish Gaelic developed from the Old Irish bought to Scotland in the 4th century AD by people known as Scotti from Ireland. They settled in what is now the west of Argyll and set up the Kingdom of Dál Riata. By the 9th century Scottish Gaelic had replaced the Pictish and Brythonic languages in much of Scotland, and by the early 11th century Gaelic was spoken throughtout Scotland, apart from in small areas in the southeast and northeast.

In the late 11th century, English of Northumbria, known as Inglis, and Norman-French began to replace our Scottish Gaelic. While the nobility spoke French, the common people spoke Inglis, and soon it was the official language of Scotland. There was a bit of a rise of Gaelic speakers in the second half of the 18th century, but then it was suppressed during the Jacobite uprising and the Highland Clearances. Since then, the number of Scottish Gaelic speakers has been in continual decline.


Around that time, in the later 1700s, Gaelic speakers began to emigrate to other parts of the world. Many of them were being evicted from their lands to make space for sheep farms, and they needed to find new homes. North America,  Australia, and New Zealand saw an influx of Gaelic speakers. Many of these people came to Canada, especially to Nova Scotia, mainly on Cape Breton Island and the northeast of the mainland of Nova Scotia. There were about 200,000 Gaelic speakers in Canada in 1850.

Though these groups brought the Scottish Gaelic language with them, before long, generations stopped passing the language down as English was more important to learn. Sadly, many schools, like those in Nova Scotia forbid children from speaking Scottish Gaelic.

This lovely language has seen a vast decline but luckily is kept alive in media, literature, and the small groups who still speak it.  You may even be lucky enough to hear it in some pubs throughout the Lowlands of Scotland. This rich heritage is too beautiful to die out.

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What Could a Scottish Gaelic Translator Do?

Clearly, there may not be as much work for a Scottish Gaelic translator as say, a Spanish translator, however, the work may surprise you. As mentioned, there are still regions where this language is common. Some of these communities are throughout the northwest coast of Scotland and in the Hebrides islands. Australia, the United States, and Canada (particularly Nova Scotia) are also home to Scots Gaelic communities. In some areas, there is a renewal of Scottish Gaelic in the schools, and where the language is prevalent,  you’ll also find translations and programs in media outlets.

So, yes, there is a clear need for Scottish Gaelic translators whether translating into the language or from it. With the ease of media transmission, in the way of social media, YouTube, video games, and film, translation is an important field. Translating any of these mediums into Scottish Gaelic would increase the audience and content engagement. Though this article covers more Irish-speaking translations, it still applies to the Scottish Gaelic language, too.

Localization is basically making content bound to the characteristics of a certain place. If we need audio content for a country in particular, it is best to use their own accent, for instance. The degree of localization usually depends on the specific content being created.

Some examples of things a Scottish Gaelic translator could do in terms of localization are:

  • Translating national media to local media
  • Translating video games into Scottish Gaelic (think how cool those Highlanders would sound in traditional Scottish Gaelic)
  • Working with a native Scottish Gaelic speaker at an appointment. Though most speakers speak another language as well, there is still a need for translators from Scottish Gaelic to other languages.


Here is a bit more on localization that we can relate to Scottish Gaelic translation.

Localizing the text for target language users of a text has taken many shapes and forms. The expansion of online services often makes it necessary for translators to be as specific for their end-users as possible. This would mean that sometimes they have to adjust their translation of the text into a language of a region, not only a specific country.

But in both cases, a translator needs to have a full command both of the original and the target language. And not only that, the knowledge of relevant facts, names, and cultural traits are very often essential.

Keeping the Integrity of the Language

The integrity of the language is key, especially with a language like this. The history, the utterances, the verbiage all need to remain intact for authenticity. Even if the translation covers a fictional piece, the integrity must be there.


Let’s take a look at the phenomenal series Outlander. This is a book series and a hit television series featuring time travel and a Scottish character from the past. Not only do readers see Scottish Gaelic terms in the book, but the actors on the show are using authentic Scottish Gaelic.

An interview from the show’s star, Sam Heughan, shares this

Fun fact: The actors in the show are being taught to speak Gaelic, a language that will figure prominently in the series, which mostly takes place in 18th-century Scotland. Heughan explains how it’ll be used:

“Gaelic is a really strong part of the show and I’ve been really passionate about it. The fans have all really embraced it – they are desperate for anything to do with Outlander.

“I’m playing a character whose first language is Gaelic and it is used as a tool in the show as Claire, who is an English character thrust into a Scottish world where they all speak a foreign language. It like an alien world for her, with a different time zone and Gaelic is used to separate her from this race of people.

“The viewer will have that as well as they won’t understand what is being said. A really large chunk of the show is in Gaelic and Ron (Moore, Outlander’s producer) has said that he doesn’t want to use subtitles, so Gaelic can be used as that tool.”

More than likely, a Scottish Gaelic translator helped to get it all right. And the fact of authenticity makes this show more appealing. Viewers will step into the world and become immersed. They may not want to leave.

scottish gaelic translator


Translating is a crucial part of not only making text and communication in all forms more accessible to the global population, but it also has the knack to make media more credible. What if Outlander didn’t have the Scottish Gaelic brogue we hear?  Would it be as captivating? What if there weren’t translators to keep the Scottish Gaelic language alive? That would be a beautiful and important piece of history gone.

Translating has a place in vital communication, the spread of information, and maintaining a global community with valuable history. Any translator is a steward in this mission. Some people may think of some translation as frivolous, like a video game. But it’s not. Sharing culture as long as it’s not appropriated can open new worlds and new appreciations. Translation brings new audiences into new worlds. And translation opens up the world in general. Translators do this.

Key Skills of Translators

A good translator, no matter the language, must have certain skills.

  • The translator must not take liberties with the material. They need to stay authentic and true to the original, no room for creative play here.
  • Translators and interpreters must have deep knowledge along with fluency in both languages. Scottish Gaelic translators and interpreters should know all of the subtleties of the language, including pronunciation, enunciation, and inflection. All of these are crucial in a translation.
  • A written translation must convey the exact meaning as the original.
  • They need an in-depth knowledge of the culture. Cultural knowledge will help the text be more authentic.
  • Another key skill of translation is strong attention to detail. Small things make a big difference. Each little nuance has a big effect, and a translator should be able to recognize all of these.

Translators often are skilled in more than one language and have a good feel for one each one beyond the vocabulary and syntax. That is not to say that translators can only translate from their home language. And the need for good translators is on the rise. This article from our own Bunny Studio library shares that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 19% growth in interpreter and translator jobs from 2018 to 2028. If you have a knack for learning new languages, this is the best time to grow a career in translation.

Do You Need a Scottish Gaelic Translator?

Are you looking for a Scottish Gaelic translator? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Our translators at Bunny Studio are all top-notch professionals. Whether you want to translate an old text, a beautiful piece of literature, or maybe what Jamie Fraser is saying, we can help. Just let us know what you need, and let’s get started. And now we’ll leave you with this…

“When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’—ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”  – Outlander