Shelta

Shelta (/ˈʃɛltə/;[3] Irish: Seiltis)[4] is a language spoken by Irish Travellers, particularly in Ireland and the United Kingdom.[5] It is widely known as the Cant, to its native speakers in Ireland as De Gammon, and to the linguistic community as Shelta.[6] It was often used as a cryptolect to exclude outsiders from comprehending conversations between Travellers,[5] although this aspect is frequently over-emphasised.[6] The exact number of native speakers is hard to determine due to sociolinguistic issues[6] but Ethnologue puts the number of speakers at 30,000 in UK, 6,000 in Ireland, and 50,000 in the US. The figure for at least the UK is dated to 1990; it is not clear if the other figures are from the same source.[1][7]

Linguistically Shelta is today seen as a mixed language that stems from a community of travelling people in Ireland that was originally predominantly Irish-speaking. The community later went through a period of widespread bilingualism that resulted in a language based heavily on Hiberno-English with heavy influences from Irish.[6] As different varieties of Shelta display different degrees of anglicisation (see below), it is hard to determine the extent of the Irish substratum. The Oxford Companion to the English Language puts it at 2,000–3,000 words.[5]

Shelta
The Seldru/De Gammon
Native toIreland, by Irish Travellers, also spoken by Irish Traveller diaspora
RegionSpoken by Irish Travellers
Native speakers
(90,000 cited 1992)[1]
Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3sth
Glottologshel1236[2]
Linguasphere50-ACA-a

Names and etymology

The language is known by various names. People outside the Irish Traveller community often refer to it as (the) Cant, the etymology of which is a matter of debate.[6] Speakers of the language refer to it as (the) Cant,[5] Gammon[5][6] or Tarri.[5] Amongst linguists, the name Shelta is the most commonly used term.[6]

Variants of the above names and additional names include Bog Latin,[5] Caintíotar, Gammon,[8] Sheldru,[5] Shelter,[5] Shelteroch,[5] the Ould Thing,[5] Tinker's Cant.[5]

Etymology

The word Shelta appears in print for the first time in 1882 in the book The Gypsies by the "gypsiologist" Charles Leland, who claimed to have discovered it as the "fifth Celtic tongue". The etymology of the word has long been a matter of debate: Modern Celticists are convinced that Irish siúl Irish pronunciation: [ʃuːlʲ] "to walk" is at the root, either via a term such as siúltóir Irish pronunciation: [ʃuːlˠt̪ˠoːrʲ] "a walker" or a form of the gerund siúladh (cf. an lucht siúlta [ənˠ lˠuxt̪ ʃuːlˠt̪ˠə], "the walking people" (lit. the people of walks),[9] the traditional Irish term for Travellers).[6] The Dictionary of Hiberno-English cites it as possibly a corruption of the word "Celt".[8] Since Shelta is a mixture of English and Irish grammar, the etymology is not straightforward. The language is made up mostly of Irish lexicon, being classified as a grammar-lexicon language with the grammar being English-based.[10]

Origins and history

Linguists have been documenting Shelta since at least the 1870s. The first works were published in 1880 and 1882 by Charles Leland.[6] Celtic language expert Kuno Meyer and Romani expert John Sampson both assert that Shelta existed as far back as the 13th century.[11]

In the earliest but undocumented period linguists surmise that the Traveller community was Irish-speaking until a period of widespread bilingualism in Irish and Hiberno-English (or Scots in Scotland) set in, leading to creolisation (possibly with a trilingual stage).[6] The resulting language is referred to as Old Shelta and it is suspected that this stage of the language displayed distinctive features, such as non-English syntactic and morphological features, no longer found in Shelta.[6]

Within the diaspora, various sub-branches of Shelta exist. English Shelta is increasingly undergoing anglicisation, while American Irish-Traveller's Cant, originally also synonymous with Shelta, has by now been almost fully anglicised.[5]

Linguistic features

Sociologist Sharon Gmelch describes the Irish Travellers' language as follows:[12]

Irish Travelers use a secret argot or cant known as Gammon. It is used primarily to conceal meaning from outsiders, especially during business transactions and in the presence of police. Most Gammon utterances are terse and spoken so quickly that a non-Traveler might conclude the words merely had been garbled. Most Gammon words were formed from Irish by applying four techniques: reversal, metathesis, affixing, and substitution. In the first, an Irish word is reversed to form a Gammon one – mac, or son, in Irish became kam in Gammon. In the second, consonants or consonant clusters were transposed. Thirdly, a sound or cluster of sounds were either prefixed or suffixed to an Irish word. Some of the more frequently prefixed sounds were s, gr, and g. For example, Obair, work or job, became gruber in Gammon. Lastly, many Gammon words were formed by substituting an arbitrary consonant or consonant cluster in an Irish word. In recent years, modern slang and Romani (the language of the gypsies) words have been incorporated. The grammar and syntax are English. The first vocabulary collected from Irish Travelers was published in 1808, indicating that Gammon dates at least back to the 1700s. But many early Celtic scholars who studied it, including the eminent Kuno Meyer, concluded it was much older.

Thus, it is not mutually intelligible with either English or Irish, out of design.

Shelta is a secret language. Travellers do not like to share the language with outsiders, named “Buffers”, or non-travellers. When speaking Shelta in front of Buffers, Travellers will disguise the structure so as to make it seem like they aren't speaking Shelta at all.[13]

Lexicon

While Shelta is influenced by English grammar, it is also a mixture of Gaelic and Irish words as well. The word order itself is altered, with syllables reversed and many of the original words are Irish that have been altered or reversed. Many Shelta words have been disguised using techniques such as back slang where sounds are transposed (for example gop "kiss" from Irish póg) or the addition of sounds (for example gather "father" from Irish athair).[5] Other examples include lackin or lakeen "girl" from Irish cailín, and the word rodas "door" from Irish doras. The word for “son” is changed from the Gaelic mac to the Shelta kam.[14]

It also contains a certain number of introduced lexical items from Romani such as the term gadje "non-Traveller" or "kushti" (from the Romanichal word for "good").

Grammar

Shelta shares its main syntactic features with Hiberno-English and the majority of its morphological features such as -s plurals and past tense markers.[6] Compare:

Shelta English
De Golya nacked de greid The child stole the money
Krosh into de lorch Get into the car
De Feen The man
De Byor The Woman
Sooblik Boy
Lackin Girl
Solk/Bug Take
Bug Go/Give/Get
Krosh Go/Come
Gloke/Gratch/Oagle/Dashe Look/See/Watch

Phonology

Shelta has 27 consonants and six vowels.

The consonants are /p, pʲ, b, bʲ, m, mʲ, w, t, tʲ, d, dʲ, n, nʲ, θ, ð, r, rʲ, l, ʎ, ʃ, t͡ʃ, y, k, kʲ, g, gʲ, χ/. Many words are complex by incorporating numerous consonants within, as in the word skraχo for “tree, bush’ with the consonant /χ/ being a hissing sound that is held in the back of the throat, and is held longer than other consonants.[15]

Incidentally, there is not as much importance put on gender in Shelta. Plurals are shown with the English suffix /–s/ or /-i/, such as gloχ for “man” becomes gloχi for “men”.[16]

Vowels

Front N.-front Central Back
Close i u
Near-close ɪ
Close-mid e o
Mid ə
Open-Mid ɛ ɔ
Near-open æ
Open ɑ ɒ

Loanwords

Some Shelta words have been borrowed by mainstream English speakers, such as the word "bloke" meaning "a man" in the mid-19th century.[17]

Orthography

There is no standard orthography. Broadly speaking, Shelta can either be written following an Irish-type orthography or an English-type orthography. For example, the word for "married" can either be spelled lósped or lohsped, a "woman" can either be spelled byohr or beoir.[6]

Comparison texts

Below are reproductions of the Lord's Prayer in Shelta as it occurred a century ago, current Shelta, and modern English and Irish versions for comparison. The 19th century Shelta version shows a high Shelta lexical content while the Cant version shows a much lower Shelta lexical content. Both versions are adapted from Hancock[18] who notes that the Cant reproduction is not exactly representative of actual speech in normal situations.

Shelta (old) Shelta (current) English Irish
Mwilsha's gater, swart a manyath, Our gathra, who cradgies in the manyak-norch, Our Father, who art in heaven, Ár n-Athair atá ar neamh,
Manyi graw a kradji dilsha's manik. We turry kerrath about your moniker. Hallowed be thy name. Go naofar d'ainm,
Graw bi greydid, sheydi laadu Let's turry to the norch where your jeel cradgies, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, Go dtaga do ríocht, Go ndéantar do thoil
Az aswart in manyath. And let your jeel shans get greydied nosher same as it is where you cradgie. On earth as it is in heaven. ar an talamh, mar a dhéantar ar neamh.
Bag mwilsha talosk minyart goshta dura. Bug us eynik to lush this thullis, Give us today our daily bread. Ár n-arán laethúil tabhair dúinn inniú,
Geychel aur shaaku areyk mwilsha And turri us you're nijesh sharrig for the eyniks we greydied And forgive us our trespasses, Agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha
Geychas needjas greydi gyamyath mwilsha. Just like we ain't sharrig at the needies that greydi the same to us. As we forgive those who trespass against us. Mar a mhaithimid ár bhfiachóirí féin
Nijesh solk mwil start gyamyath, Nijesh let us soonie eyniks that'll make us greydi gammy eyniks, And lead us not into temptation, Is ná lig sinn i gcathú
Bat bog mwilsha ahim gyamyath. But solk us away from the taddy. but deliver us from evil. ach saor sinn ó olc.
Diyil the sridag, taajirath an manyath Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory
Gradum a gradum. For ever and ever
Amen. Amen.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Shelta at Ethnologue (12th ed., 1992).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Shelta". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. ^ "tearma.ie - Dictionary of Irish Terms - Foclóir Téarmaíochta". tearma.ie. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n McArthur, T. (ed.) The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992) Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-214183-X
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kirk, J. & Ó Baoill (eds.), D. Travellers and their Language (2002) Queen's University Belfast ISBN 0-85389-832-4
  7. ^ "Shelta". Ethnologue. 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  8. ^ a b Dolan, Terence Patrick (ed.) A Dictionary of Hiberno-English (2004) Gill & MacMillan ISBN 0-7171-3535-7
  9. ^ Collins Irish Dictionary, HarperCollins 2006
  10. ^ Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 381. ISBN 978 90 272 5271 5.
  11. ^ Meyer, Kuno. 1909. The secret languages of Ireland. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, New Series, 2: 241–6.
  12. ^ Gmelch, Sharon (1986). Nan: The Life of an Irish Travelling Woman. London: Souvenir Press. p. 234. ISBN 0-285-62785-6.
  13. ^ Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 80. ISBN 978 90 272 5271 5.
  14. ^ Harper and Hudson, Jared and Charles (1971). "Irish Traveler Cant". Journal of English Linguistics. 5: 80.
  15. ^ Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 381. ISBN 978 90 272 5271 5.
  16. ^ Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 382. ISBN 978 90 272 5271 5.
  17. ^ Oxford Dictionary – etymology
  18. ^ Hancock, I. (1986). "The cryptolectal speech of the American roads: Traveller Cant and American Angloromani". American Speech. Duke University Press. 61 (3): 206–220 [pp. 207–208]. doi:10.2307/454664. JSTOR 454664.

Bibliography

  • R. A. Stewart Macalister (1937) The Secret Languages of Ireland: with special reference to the origin and nature of the Shelta language, partly based upon collections and manuscripts of the late John Sampson. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Craobh Rua Books, Armagh, 1997)

External links

Alabama cave shrimp

The Alabama cave shrimp (Palaemonias alabamae) is a species of shrimp in the family Atyidae, found only in caves in the state of Alabama.

Cant

Cant, CANT, canting, or canted may refer to:

in languages:

Cant (language), a secret language

Scottish Cant, a language of the Scottish Lowland Travellers

Beurla Reagaird, a language of the Scottish Highland Travellers

Shelta, a language of the Irish Travellers

Thieves' cant, a language of criminals

Canting arms, heraldic puns on the bearer's name

Can't, meaning cannotin other uses:

Cant (surname), a family name and persons with it

Cant (road/rail), an angle of a road or track

Cant (architecture), part of a facade

Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear musician), a performer

Song of Songs, a section of the Old Testament

Cantieri Aeronautici e Navali Triestini, an aircraft manufacturer

A tool used in making batik

A log partially processed in a sawmill

In shooting, referring to the gun not being positioned in a well-levelled manner

University of Canterbury, a New Zealand university which uses Cantuar or Cant as an abbreviation for their name in post-nominal letters

Cant (language)

A cant (or cryptolect, or secret language) is the jargon or argot of a group, often employed to exclude or mislead people outside the group.

Celtic languages

The Celtic languages (usually , but sometimes ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European language family. The term "Celtic" was first used to describe this language group by Edward Lhuyd in 1707, following Paul-Yves Pezron, who made the explicit link between the Celts described by classical writers and the Welsh and Breton languages.During the 1st millennium BC, Celtic languages were spoken across much of Europe and in Asia Minor. Today, they are restricted to the northwestern fringe of Europe and a few diaspora communities. There are four living languages: Welsh, Breton, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. All are minority languages in their respective countries, though there are continuing efforts at revitalisation. Welsh is an official language in Wales and Irish is an official language of Ireland and of the European Union. Welsh is the only Celtic language not classified as endangered by UNESCO. The Cornish and Manx languages went extinct in modern times. They have been the object of revivals and now each has several hundred second-language speakers.

Irish and Scottish form the Goidelic languages, while Welsh and Breton are Brittonic. Beyond that there is no agreement on the subdivisions of the Celtic language family They may be divided into and Continental group and Insular group, or else into P-Celtic and Q-Celtic. All the living languages are Insular, since Breton, the only Celtic language spoken in continental Europe, is descended from the language of settlers from Britain. The Continental Celtic languages, such as Celtiberian, Galatian and Gaulish, are all extinct.

The Celtic languages have a rich literary tradition. The earliest specimens of written Celtic are Lepontic inscriptions from the 6th century BC in the Alps. Early Continental inscriptions used Italic and Paleohispanic scripts. Between the 4th and 8th centuries, Irish and Pictish were occasionally written in an original script, Ogham, but the Latin alphabet came to be used for all Celtic languages. Welsh has had a continuous literary tradition from the 6th century AD.

Gammon

Gammon may refer to:

Gammon (meat), a cut of quick-cured pork legGammon bomb, a British hand grenade used during World War II

Gammon Construction, a construction company in Hong Kong

Gammon India, civil engineering construction company in India

SA-5 Gammon, the NATO designation for the Russian Angara/Vega/Dubna surface-to-air missile system

Shelta, the language of the Irish Travellers

Gammon, a victory in backgammon achieved before the loser removed a single checker

Gammon, the rope lashing or iron hardware to attach a mast to a boat or ship

Reg Gammon (1894–1997), English painter

Steve Gammon, Welsh professional footballer

Gammon (insult), a pejorative term

Gammon is a term used in Australian Aboriginal English to describe conversation that is considered to be nonsense, joking or pretending

Irish Travellers

Irish Travellers (Irish: an lucht siúil, meaning 'the walking people') are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group who maintain a set of traditions. Although predominantly English-speaking, many also use Shelta. They live mostly in Ireland as well as comprising large communities in the United Kingdom and the United States. Traveller rights groups have long pushed for ethnic status from the Irish government, finally succeeding in 2017.As of 2016, there are 30,987 Travellers within Ireland, and this has led to them becoming recognized as a minority group in Ireland.

Irish language

Irish (Gaeilge) is a member of the Goidelic (Gaelic) language branch of the Celtic languages originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.Irish has been the predominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, and they brought it with them to other regions, notably Scotland and the Isle of Man, where Middle Irish gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and Manx respectively. It has the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe.

Irish has constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland and is an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland. It is also among the official languages of the European Union. The public body Foras na Gaeilge is responsible for the promotion of the language throughout the island of Ireland.

Irish language (disambiguation)

The Irish language is a modern Goidelic language spoken in Ireland, also known as Irish Gaelic. Irish language may also refer to:

Hiberno-English, the dialect of English written and spoken in Ireland

Languages of Ireland, an overview of languages spoken in Ireland, including Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Languages of Northern Ireland, an overview of languages spoken in Northern Ireland

Shelta, a mixed English/Irish cant spoken by Irish Travellers

Languages of Ireland

There are a number of languages used in Ireland. Since the late eighteenth century, English has been the predominant first language, displacing Irish. A large minority claims some ability to use Irish, and it is the first language for a small percentage of the population.

In the Republic of Ireland, under the Constitution of Ireland, both languages have official status, with Irish being the national and first official language. Northern Ireland has no official language, but English is the de facto official language of the United Kingdom and Irish and Ulster-Scots are recognised regional languages.

Languages of Northern Ireland

English is the most spoken language in Northern Ireland. There are also two recognised regional languages in Northern Ireland: the Irish language (see Irish language in Northern Ireland) and the local variety of Scots known as Ulster Scots. Northern Ireland Sign Language and Irish Sign Language have been recognised since 29 March 2004.

English is spoken as a first language by almost all of the Northern Ireland population. It is the de facto official language and the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) 1737 prohibits the use of languages other than English in legal proceedings.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, Irish and Ulster Scots (an Ulster dialect of the Scots language, sometimes known as Ullans), are recognised as "part of the cultural wealth of Northern Ireland". Two all-island bodies for the promotion of these were created under the Agreement: Foras na Gaeilge, which promotes the Irish language, and the Ulster Scots Agency, which promotes the Ulster Scots dialect and culture. These operate separately under the aegis of the North/South Language Body, which reports to the North/South Ministerial Council.

The British government in 2001 ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Irish (in Northern Ireland) was specified under Part III of the Charter, with a range of specific undertakings in relation to education, translation of statutes, interaction with public authorities, the use of placenames, media access, support for cultural activities and other matters. A lower level of recognition was accorded to Ulster Scots, under Part II of the Charter.The earliest linguistic records from what is now Northern Ireland are of Primitive Irish, from about the 5th century AD. Languages spoken in Iron Age Ireland before then are now irretrievable, although there are some claims of traces in toponymy, including in Northern Ireland.Shelta, a mixed language spoken by Irish Travellers, is also native to Ireland.

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There are seven National Natural Landmarks in the U.S. state of Alabama.

List of expatriate Irish populations

An expatriate Irish population in any country other than Ireland or Northern Ireland is generally considered to be Irish emigrants and their descendants, at least to the extent that the people involved are aware of their Irish heritage and willing to acknowledge it. This definition applies to over 80 million people, considerably more than the 3 million of Irish nationality who reside in other countries. This smaller group is defined by the government of Ireland in legal terms as those of Irish nationality who habitually reside outside of the island of Ireland. It includes Irish citizens who have emigrated abroad and their children, who are Irish citizens by descent under Irish law. It also includes their grandchildren in cases where they were registered as Irish citizens in the Foreign Births Register held in every Irish diplomatic mission.The main article Irish diaspora contains details of most expatriate Irish populations, and provides links to main articles about many of them. This article presents those links, and some others, in tabular form arranged alphabetically by country.

List of years in Ireland

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Lower Brittany

Lower Brittany (Breton: Breizh-Izel; French: Basse-Bretagne) denotes the parts of Brittany west of Ploërmel, where the Breton language has been traditionally spoken, and where the culture associated with this language is most prolific. The name is in distinction to Upper Brittany, the eastern part of Brittany, which is of a predominantly Romance culture.

North/South Ministerial Council

The North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) (Irish: An Chomhairle Aireachta Thuaidh-Theas, Ulster-Scots: North South Meinisterlie Council) is a body established under the Good Friday Agreement to co-ordinate activity and exercise certain governmental powers across the whole island of Ireland.

The Council takes the form of meetings between ministers from both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is responsible for twelve policy areas. Six of these areas are the responsibility of corresponding North/South Implementation Bodies. The body is based in the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland.

The North/South Ministerial Council and the Northern Ireland Assembly are "mutually inter-dependent" institutions: one cannot exist without the other. When the Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended, responsibility for areas of co-operation fall to the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

Polari

Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, Palari; from Italian parlare, meaning 'to talk') is a form of cant slang used in Britain by some actors, circus and fairground showmen, professional wrestlers, merchant navy sailors, criminals, prostitutes, and the gay subculture. There is some debate about its origins, but it can be traced back to at least the 19th century and possibly the 16th century. There is a long-standing connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers, who traditionally used Polari to converse.

Shelta Cave

Shelta Cave is a 2,500-foot-long (760 m) cave and lake located in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, United States. It is described as one of the most bio-diverse caves within the Appalachian Mountains. The cave is currently owned and managed as a nature preserve by the National Speleological Society, with their main offices directly above the cave. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in October 1972.

Stygofauna

Stygofauna are any fauna that live in groundwater systems or aquifers, such as caves, fissures and vugs. Stygofauna and troglofauna are the two types of subterranean fauna (based on life-history). Both are associated with subterranean environments – stygofauna are associated with water and troglofauna with caves and spaces above the water table. Stygofauna can live within freshwater aquifers and within the pore spaces of limestone, calcrete or laterite, whilst larger animals can be found in cave waters and wells. Stygofaunal animals, like troglofauna, are divided into three groups based on their life history - stygophiles, stygoxenes, and stygobites.

Stygophiles inhabit both surface and subterranean aquatic environments, but are not necessarily restricted to either.

Stygoxenes are like stygophiles, except they are defined as accidental or occasional presence in subterranean waters. Stygophiles and stygoxenes may live for part of their lives in caves, but don't complete their life cycle in them.

Stygobites are obligate, or strictly subterranean, aquatic animals and complete their entire life in this environment.Extensive research has been done into the stygofauna of numerous other European countries (namely France and Slovenia), the US and more recently in Australia, due to easy accessibility of caves and wells in these regions, as well as the high diversity and numbers of animals present here. Many species of stygofauna, especially the obligate stygobites, are endemic to particular regions or even particular caves. This makes them focal points for conservation of groundwater systems.

The North/South Language Body

The North/South Language Body (Irish: An Foras Teanga Thuaidh/Theas; Ulster-Scots: Tha Noarth/Sooth Boord o Leid or The Language Curn) is an implementation body, provided for by the Belfast Agreement, that exists to implement policies agreed by Ministers in the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with regard to the Irish and Ulster-Scots (or "Ullans") languages on a cross border all Island basis.

It is a single body reporting to the North/South Ministerial Council, but composed of two separate and largely autonomous agencies: Foras na Gaeilge, the Irish language agency, and Tha Boord o Ulstèr-Scotch, the Ulster-Scots Agency.

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