Typesetting Gaelic in Gaelic type

Gaelic in Gadelica.
Gaelic in Gadelica.
In Ireland, Gaelic type is widely used for writing Irish (although mainly for decorative purposes these days, if I’m not mistaken). On the other hand, it’s hardly ever used in Scotland, although Irish and Scottish Gaelic are very closely related.

However, I thought it’d be nice to be able to typeset Gaelic in Gaelic type using TeX/LaTeX/XeLaTeX.

After a big of googling, I found a very nice font called Gadelica.

This is a beautiful OpenType font (and it supports the grave accents used in Scottish Gaelic, not just the acute ones used in Irish), but there is a slight problem: It assumes that the dotted letters (e.g., ‘?’ instead of ‘ch’) have been coded in Unicode rather than using the normal digraphs.

To solve this, I created a TECkit mapping (see below for the complete mapping file). Once you’ve compiled it, you can now easily create a XeLaTeX document and select font and mapping with \setromanfont[Mapping=gadelica]{Gadelica}, and you can now input the normal ligatures. For instance, the second line in the illustration above is simply given as Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear a’ bhàta in the source file.

Here’s the complete mapping file, gadelica.map (compile with teckit_compile gadelica.map):

LHSName "Gadelica"


U+0062 U+0068 <> U+1E03 ;bh
U+0063 U+0068 <> U+010B ;ch
U+0064 U+0068 <> U+1E0B ;dh
U+0066 U+0068 <> U+1E1F ;fh
U+0067 U+0068 <> U+0121 ;gh
U+006D U+0068 <> U+1E41 ;mh
U+0070 U+0068 <> U+1E57 ;ph
U+0073 U+0068 <> U+1E61 ;sh
U+0074 U+0068 <> U+1E6B ;th
U+0042 U+0048 <> U+1E02 ;BH
U+0043 U+0048 <> U+010A ;CH
U+0044 U+0048 <> U+1E0A ;DH
U+0046 U+0048 <> U+1E1E ;FH
U+0047 U+0048 <> U+0120 ;GH
U+004D U+0048 <> U+1E40 ;MH
U+0050 U+0048 <> U+1E56 ;PH
U+0053 U+0048 <> U+1E60 ;SH
U+0054 U+0048 <> U+1E6A ;TH
U+0053 U+0048 <> U+1E60 ;SH
U+0054 U+0048 <> U+1E6A ;TH
U+0042 U+0068 <> U+1E02 ;Bh
U+0043 U+0068 <> U+010A ;Ch
U+0044 U+0068 <> U+1E0A ;Dh
U+0046 U+0068 <> U+1E1E ;Fh
U+0047 U+0068 <> U+0120 ;Gh
U+004D U+0068 <> U+1E40 ;Mh
U+0050 U+0068 <> U+1E56 ;Ph
U+0053 U+0068 <> U+1E60 ;Sh
U+0054 U+0068 <> U+1E6A ;Th

; Some stuff from tex-text.map:
U+002D U+002D <> U+2013 ; -- -> en dash
U+002D U+002D U+002D <> U+2014 ; --- -> em dash

U+0027 <> U+2019 ; ' -> right single quote
U+0027 U+0027 <> U+201D ; '' -> right double quote
U+0022 > U+201D ; " -> right double quote

U+0060 <> U+2018 ; ` -> left single quote
U+0060 U+0060 <> U+201C ; `` -> left double quote

Am bu chòir do dh’Alba a bhith na dùthaich neo-eisimeilich?

Should Scotland be an independent country?
Should Scotland be an independent country?
I’ve been wondering for a wee while how to express the official referendum question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”, in Scottish Gaelic. A few enquiries on Twitter didn’t get me anywhere.

I had this idea that the way to express “should” would be through some obscure verb form, but when I finally looked it up in my copy of “Scottish Gaelic in Three Months” today, I learnt that it’s expressed as bu chòir do “it’s proper for”.

With that information in hand, it didn’t take me long to find a BBC blog page which gives the question as Am bu chòir do dh’Alba a bhith na dùthaich neo-eisimeilich?

Although I have no way to verify it, this looks correct to me. The structure is as follows:

Am bu chòir do dh’ Alba a bhith na dùthaich neo-eisimeilich
Q is proper for Scotland to be country independent

(I’m not entirely sure about the na. I believe it means “in her” here — “in his” would lenite the following word, and the genitive form of the definitely article would require the genitive form of dùthaich — and I suspect it’s here to bind together the infinitive with the rest, but I must admit I don’t remember the details.)

If the government provided ballot papers in Gaelic, too, they would presumably then look as follows:

Am bu chòir do dh’Alba a bhith na dùthaich neo-eisimeilich?

  • Bu chòir
  • Cha bu chòir

I wonder whether it would change the number of Yes and No votes if the question in English had been “Is it proper for Scotland to be an independent country?” too…

Твердый с твердым и мягкий с мягким — swapping the orthographies for Gaelic and Russian

Originally uploaded by IrenicRhonda

Scottish Gaelic has a lot in common with Russian on a phonological level: Most consonants have two variants: a plain (or perhaps somewhat velarised) one and a palatalised one.

However, their orthographies handle this situation in different ways: In Gaelic, any consonant is palatalised (“slender”) if it is next to ‘e’ or ‘i’, and it’s plain (“broad”) otherwise (in Gaelic, this is expressed as “caol ri caol is leathann ri leathann”, which means “broad with broad and slender with slender”). In Russian, a consonant is palatalised (“soft”) if followed by ‘?’ (‘ye’), ‘?’ (‘i’), ‘?’ (‘ya’), ‘?’ (‘yu’), or ‘?’ (the “soft sign”).

This means that if we look at a word with consists of a slender/soft consonant, a back vowel and another slender/soft consonant, Gaelic will insert extra front vowels (e.g., ciùil /k?u?l?/ “of music”), while Russian will use one of the vowels listed above and a soft sign at the end (e.g., ???? /p?at?/ “five”).

Now, there’s nothing preventing Gaelic from using the Russian system, or Russian from using the Gaelic one (“??????? ? ??????? ? ?????? ? ??????”). That is, the Gaelic word above could in theory be written as ????, and the Russian one as piait.

I’m not sure there are many Gaelic speakers who would like to switch to Cyrillic, but in theory this Gaelic-style orthography for Russian could replace the current transliteration schemes — piait arguably looks neater that pjat’, which is how it’s normally handled at the moment.

Dyrø, Skid, Bredvig og andre skotske stednavne

Originally uploaded by flickrbug

De norske vikinger har haft en meget stor indflydelse i det vestlige Skotland.

Det kan bl.a. ses på, at mange stednavne går tilbage til oldnordisk.

Tag fx den lille skotske ø Jura.

Dens navn kommer fra oldnordisk Dýr-ey “Dyreø” (med den østnordiske sideform Djúr-ey), hvilket blev lånt til gælisk som Diùra, og det ord blev så til engelsk Jura (på gælisk udtales ‘di’ foran vokal ca. som engelsk ‘j’).

Det samme gør sig gældende for hundredevis af andre stednavne, som fx Skye (< An t-Eilean Sgitheanach < Skíð [lånt fra et tidligere sprog i området], hvilket på dansk ville være blevet til “Skid”).

Eller byen Brodick på Arran, der på gælisk hedder Breadhaig, hvilket tydeligt kommer fra oldnordisk Breiðvík “Bredvig”.

Desværre kender jeg ikke nogen pålidelige bøger eller websites, der omremser alle oldnordiske stednavne i Skotland.

De oldnordiske former er ofte nævnt i Wikipedia, men ofte med tydelige ortografiske fejl, der gør dem svære at stole på.

Our address in Gaelic

The house we’re buying
Originally uploaded by viralbus

I was trying to figure out what our address is in Gaelic.

“Glasgow” is of course Glaschu, and according to Wikipedia, “Newton Mearns” is Baile Ùr na Maoirne.

According to the same source, “Kinloch” is normally Ceann Loch (“head of the loch”).

However, I’m not certain what “Kinloch Road” would be. “Road” is of course rathad, but what about the genitive? “Kinloch Castle” is Caisteal Cheann Locha (although some sources add the article and don’t aspirate: Caisteal Ceann an Locha), so that is probably the best pattern to follow.

Our address is thus:

27 Rathad Cheann Locha (or 27 Rathad Ceann an Locha)
Baile Ùr na Maoirne
Glaschu G77 6LY