Scottish Gaelic language
Celtic language of northern Scotland, a descendant of the Irish speech introduced into northern Britain by invaders in the 4th–5th centuries. Gaelic gradually supplanted Pictish (see Picts) as well as the British Celtic Lowlands dialects, and by the Middle Ages it was the language of all of the Scottish Highlands and part of the Lowlands. Until the 17th century, Classical Modern Irish (see Irish language) was the literary medium of Gaeldom, and only after its collapse did writers regularly begin to use features that distinguish Scottish Gaelic dialects from Irish dialects. Increasing Anglicization, suppression of traditional culture after the Battle of Culloden, and the 19th-century land clearances precipitated a marked decline; today it is probably a true community language for fewer than 80,000 people, most of whom live on the northwestern coast and the Hebrides.
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