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Scottish Highlands and Outer Hebrides

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Sep 5th, 2013, 11:05 AM
  #1
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Scottish Highlands and Outer Hebrides

My friend and I are taking a three week trip through the Outer and Inner Hebrides as well as some of the Scottish Highlands. I know that those areas are the outposts of Scottish Gaelic culture and language but I just wanted to be sure the people there also speak English.
airillusion is offline  
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Sep 5th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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Yes. English is very much spoken there. You'll see signs in Gaelic an English and that might make you think everyone speaks Gaelic, but that's not really the case. Occasionally you'll hear locals speaking Gaelic but everyone does speak English.
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Sep 6th, 2013, 10:12 AM
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After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, England broke the clan system and forbade the speaking of Gaelic, playing of the pipes, and wearing of clan tartans. English has been the first language there for centuries. But it's pretty cool that Gaelic is making a comeback!
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Sep 6th, 2013, 03:13 PM
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You might want to read Boswell's account of his travels in Scotland with Dr Johnson...

English is indeed spoken but you'll find it a bit different. A brother in law once had to ask directions from 3 people before he found one he could understand. It took him a while to get used to the accent...
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Sep 6th, 2013, 07:44 PM
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Don't forget that the locals may have trouble understanding your strange English accent too

Yodababe - next time you're in Scotland, visit the excellent National Trust for Scotland visitor centre at the Culloden battlefield site. You'll learn that the protagonists did not fall simplistically into "English" versus "Scots", but rather the rebellious supporters of one claimant to the throne versus those of the "sitting tenant".
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Sep 8th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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You're right Gordon_R, the visitors center is very nice.

Since the OP's question was about whether Gaelic is the only language spoken in the Scottish highlands and islands, I limited my reply to what was historically pertinent. The larger topic of the line of succession to the throne of England at the end of the Tudor dynasty, the House of Stuart being deposed from the line of succession, the eventual Jacobite uprising, and the religious/political forces that shaped events--not really what's being discussed here. It is a fascinating bit of history though.
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Sep 8th, 2013, 11:52 AM
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In the Outer Hebrides road signs are in Gaelic only, so Castlebay is given as Bàgh a' Chaisteil, but this should only cause a little head scratching, you won't get lost.
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Sep 8th, 2013, 12:48 PM
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In the Outer Hebrides road signs are in Gaelic only,

Ummm, no. Isle of Lewis has signs in English and Gaelic.
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Sep 8th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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I realize that Ullapool isn't Isle of Lewis so I'll nip that one in the bud.

I have a bunch of pics of signs on Lewis and the Highlands but I can't find them right now. :/
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Sep 9th, 2013, 04:07 AM
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You might also be surprised by the number of lowland Scots and English people you'll come across running B&B's, cafes, gift shops etc. Many of these are former city dwellers who've swapped the rat race for a slower, more peaceful lifestyle in the Hebrides.
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Sep 9th, 2013, 04:57 AM
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Agreed. I've noticed that as well.
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Sep 9th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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As ParisAmsterdam recommends, read Boswell's account (Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides), but also read Johnson's own account (A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland). Johnson wrote about Scotland, and Boswell wrote about Johnson. It would be neat to read what it was like 250 years ago or so while touring it today.
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