Language focus | 01.09.2010

Gateways to Gaelic

Two new bilingual websites dedicated to the linguistic, historical and cultural aspects of the Gaelic language were launched in August 2010.

Following ten years of research and collaboration, Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba (AÀA) (Gaelic place-names of Scotland) was unveiled to the public on 19 August. Through partnerships with local authorities and organizations such as Ordnance Survey, a database of Gaelic place-names has been compiled in order to ‘agree correct forms of Gaelic place-names for maps, signs and general use’. Described as a ‘treasure trove for Scotland’s historical, environmental and linguistic heritage’, The Translation People couldn’t wait to take a look at the language resources available – and we weren’t disappointed!

The database currently contains around 1,000 entries and offers a Gaelic / English glossary; the etymology of each name; typographical information; grid references that link to a map; and language notes offering further information. For example, Edinburgh is Dùn Èideann in Gaelic and means Eidyn’s fort; and Argyll is Earra-Ghàidheal and means coastland of the Glens. As it is a work in progress, further additions are anticipated including the insertion of sound files to help with pronunciation.

Also going live was the first bilingual website about the Scottish Isle of Iona. Offering a comprehensive insight into the island’s 4,000-year history in both Gaelic and English languages, it also boasts a series of bilingual educational resources, visitor information, and a timeline of the island’s history. ‘Iona has a long association with Gaelic. It was the spiritual heart of Gaelic-speaking Scotland in early mediaeval times, and many of its place names are still in Gaelic’.*

Both websites are bilingual and offer a linguistically and visually stunning panorama of the Gaelic language – they are sure to become a hit with linguists the world over!


Iona history site:

Gaelic place names database:;

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