Gaelic dictionary project given £2.5m funding boost

Written by Tom Freeman on 24 April 2018 in News

Funding announced as MSPs debate the National Gaelic Language Plan

Bòrd na Gàidhlig - Holyrood

Work to compile a comprehensive online Gaelic dictionary has been awarded £2.5m funding from the Scottish Government.

Researchers working on Faclair na Gàidhlig, a project to document the development and history of the language as well as the words, say it will more resemble an online encyclopaedia than a dictionary once it is completed.

They estimate it could take 30 years to complete, and have already been working on it for a decade.

The new funding, announced during a debate on Scotland’s third national Gaelic language plan, will be managed by the Scottish Funding Council.

SFC interim chief executive John Kemp said: "The new dictionary will go beyond language and into Gaelic culture and heritage.

“It will fuel the growth and expansion of Gaelic education at all ages and stages. As well as its relevance to today's speakers and students of Gaelic, Faclair na Gàidhlig will be an important resource for many generations to come.”

The dictionary is a collaboration between researchers from the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Education secretary John Swinney told BBC Scotland: “Faclair na Gàidhlig is an excellent example of partnership working between academic institutions and other organisations.

“This kind of collaboration will support our commitment to the Gaelic language, and ensure it has a sustainable future in Scotland.”

Last week Highland Council has opened a new Gaelic school in Portree, while a third Gaelic school is planned in Glasgow due to demand.

Swinney told MSPs he wanted to speed up the expansion of Gaelic schools across Scotland.

Critics have said spending should be focused on communities which already speak Gaelic rather than attempt to spread the language elsewhere.

A former headteacher of Portree Primary School, where the new Highland Gaelic school has been established, said it would divide the community.

John Finlayson, now a councillor, said: “To offer a new £10 million school to some children in a small community, but not to others who last month were taught in the same school, is totally unacceptable and insensitive.”

But Bòrd na Gàidhlig chief executive Shona MacLennan said: “Like other Gaelic schools established over the years, the new facility in Portree came about because of the local parental demand and a concerted campaign.”

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