Standardising Gaelic Grammar: Perturbations from the Linguistic Survey of Scotland

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Geographic variation in Gaelic morphology has long been taken as remarkably uniform, especially for a language exhibiting such phonological diversity. Yet recent research on noun morphology data from the Linguistic Survey of Scotland (Gaelic) (LSS(G)) has detected significantly more diversity than noted in the past, with clear areal patterning (Iosad & Lamb, forthcoming). This is an important finding for Goidelic dialectology and it also has implications for standardisation and corpus planning in Scottish Gaelic. One of the key recommendations to Bòrd na Gàidhlig from Dlùth is Inneach (…) was to adopt a ‘retro-vernacular’ standardisation model. As defined in the report, this meant that our referential locus should be the usage of two generations prior, approximately the 1950s. However, when we consider the actual linguistic behaviour of speakers across the Gàidhealtachd during this time – as provided in the LSS(G) – we cannot avoid grappling with a number of important, interrelated questions. For example, given the geographic diversity of Gaelic morphology, which areas should have greater representation over others? Or, if a form found in nearly every grammar to date was scarcely used in the 1950s (e.g. Type IV gentives: cathair > cathrach), do we abandon them now on the principle of retro-vernacularism? This presentation will consider these and other questions, and examine various possible paradigms of noun morphology based upon the LSS(G) results.
Period31 Aug 2018
Event titleRannsachadh na Gaidhlig 2018
Event typeConference
Conference number10
LocationEdinburgh, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational