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Difference Between Gaelic and Irish

Gaelic vs Irish

These two languages are but part of the bigger Goidelic branch. Scottish Gaelic is a dialect indigenous to Scotland while the Irish dialect obviously originated from Ireland. The first is part of Europe’s minority languages and is not classified under the European Union’s roster of official languages. The latter (Irish), although just considered as a minority language in Northern Ireland, is still regarded as an official European Union language. Only a small fraction of the entire Irish population uses it on a daily basis.

Both languages have some orthographic (writing) differences. Their respective accents are written differently. For Scottish Gaelic, having a grave accent, the word “welcome” is nonetheless written as “fàilte.” Its Irish counterpart writes it as “fáilte” thereby showing the acute accent nature of the Irish dialect. Nevertheless, some Scottish Gaelic words have acute accents.

Another disparity is the use of suffixes, particularly that which involves prepositional pronouns. The suffix “sa” is used to add emphasis to the word. In the Scottish Gaelic notation, the suffix would have to be hyphenated to the word while in traditional Irish it isn’t the case. An example is the sentence: “I’ve got money!” wherein the typical Irish notation will just combine the suffix to the rest of the word as in “Tá airgead agamsa.” In Scottish Gaelic it must be hyphenated, and so the end result is: “Tha airgead agam-sa.”

Between these two dialects, some words end up as having different spellings because of the difference in letter combinations. Some words may sound the same for both, but in reality their spelling notations are quite unique from each dialect. For example, Irish is fond of “bhf” and “ae.” This dialect is also noted to prefer the letter combinations “cht” over “chd,” “st” over “sd,” and “sc” over “sg.” Scottish Gaelic is commonly using the latter as its alternatives. Most of the letter combinations in one dialect cannot be utilized in the other dialect.

The complexity of these dialects intensifies because some Irish spellings were once using the same exact spelling for some of the present-day Scottish Gaelic words. Like the word “night” is “oidhche’”in Scottish Gaelic while it is “oíche” in Irish. Ironically, the acceptable Irish translation of this same word during the pre-1950s is also “oidhche.”


1.Scottish Gaelic is an indigenous dialect of Scotland while Irish is a minority language that comes from Ireland.
2.Scottish Gaelic is not part of the European Union’s official languages unlike the Irish dialect.
3.Scottish Gaelic has a grave accent (also has an acute accent at times) while Irish is mostly acute.
4.Scottish Gaelic writing hyphenates their suffix “sa” when connecting to prepositional pronouns unlike in the Irish notation wherein there’s no hyphen used.
5.Scottish Gaelic and Irish dialects also differ in terms of spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

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