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Gaelic in modern Scotland
Gaelic in modern Scotland

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5.3.3 Gaelic loanwords in English

All languages take words from each other. Gaelic borrows from English – after all, almost all Gaelic speakers also speak English – but English has also borrowed from Gaelic over the years. Examples include a number of words for geographical features associated with Scotland such as:

  • ben (beinn)
  • brae (bràigh)
  • corry (coire).
  • glen (gleann)
  • loch (loch).

Words of cultural origin include:

  • caber (from ‘cabar’ – a tree trunk).
  • ceilidh
  • clan (from ‘clann’ – children)
  • galore (‘gu leòr’ – enough)
  • slogan (probably from ‘sluagh-ghairm’ – a war cry)
  • sporran (‘sporan’ – a purse)
  • whisky (from ‘uisge’, short for ‘uisge-beatha’ – water of life)

More speculative suggestions of borrowings from Gaelic to English include:

  • grotty (from ‘grod’ – rotten)
  • smashing (from ‘’S math sin’ - that’s good)
  • shoot (from ‘siuthad’ – go on)
  • twig (from ‘tuig’ – understand)!