Classical Gaelic

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Classical Gaelic
Native to Scotland

13th to 18th century

Archaic literary language based on 12th century Irish, formerly used by professional classes in Ireland until the 17th century, and Scotland until the 18th century.
Early forms
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ghc
Glottolog hibe1235[1]

Classical Gaelic (Scottish Gaelic: Gàidhlig Chlasaigeach; Irish: Gaeilge Chlasaiceach) is the term used in Scotland for the shared literary form that was in use in Scotland and Ireland from the 13th to the 18th centuries.[2] The language is that of Early Modern Irish (also known as Classical Irish but not to be confused with Classical Old Irish). Although the first written signs of Scottish Gaelic having diverged from Early Modern Irish appear as far back as the 12th century annotations of the Book of Deer, Scottish Gaelic did not appear in writing or print on a significant scale until the 1767 translation of the New Testament into Scottish Gaelic.[3]


Ethnologue gives the name "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic" (and the ISO 639-3 code ghc) as a cover term for Classical Gaelic and Early Modern Irish.


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Ó Maolalaigh, R. Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks (2008) Birlinn ISBN 978-1-84158-643-4
  3. ^ Thomson, D. (ed.) The Companion to Gaelic Scotland (1994) Gairm ISBN 1-871901-31-6