A while ago I announced on this blog that I was working on some Gaelic maps. Although the overwhelming response from readers was positive and enthusiastic, for my pains frothing Unionists on social media called me a fascist, a blood and soil nationalist, and insisted that Gaelic had never been spoken in X, Y or Z, where X Y Z invariably turned out to be towns or villages with decidedly Gaelic names. And one particular spittle flecked frother memorably claimed that promoting the Gaelic language as a national language of Scotland was indistinguishable in intent from inciting the Rwandan genocide. That’s just how hysterical and desperate to claim victimhood status that certain Scottish Unionists are, that they can, without any sense of their own ridiculously breathless hyperbole, liken English speakers in Scotland to victims of genocide.
Some took to Twitter to explain at great length how they, and everyone they knew, and the granny and the dug of everyone they knew, didn’t care about Gaelic, in the process spending so much time and energy that they were unwittingly doing an extremely good impression of someone who cared a great deal. Others ranted about the needless cost of it all, seemingly unaware or not caring that I’m doing these maps in my own time, and without any funding from them or the Scottish government. They’re not being asked to contribute in any shape or form. Others huffed and puffed about Gaelic names being imposed upon them, although they’re not being compelled to buy any of the maps when they’re published, and there is indeed no way that people who’re not interested can be made even to give the maps so much as a glance – nor would I want to anyway – which is a strange definition of forcing something on someone.
Frothing yoon extraordinaire Tom Gallagher took particular exception to the project and said that it was nothing more than Gaelic imperialism. So for no other reason than to annoy him, and to annoy all those people who know bugger all about the linguistic heritage of Scotland but are still confident enough in their ignorance to proclaim that Gaelic was never spoken in some particular place, I present you with a Gaelic map of Edinburgh.
For the avoidance of any doubt, Gaelic was once present in the Edinburgh area as a mother tongue. There are numerous Gaelic place names in Edinburgh and Midlothian which were created by local Gaelic speakers when Gaelic was spoken natively in the area. That doesn’t mean that Gaelic was once the only language of Edinburgh, the local variety of Northumbrian Middle English (which later gave rise to Scots) continued to be spoken in the district.
The Gaelic and other place names of Edinburgh and the surrounding area are detailed in a study of Midlothian place names by Norman Dixon in 1947 as a PhD thesis. This Gaelic map of Edinburgh draws heavily on his work. Click on the image to see the full sized map. The full sized image is a high quality high resolution image which can be fitted into an A4 sheet and printed out on glossy paper on your printer if you want a good quality copy of the map which you can frame and keep.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-20th-feb-2017
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