Gaelic Word of the Week blog – mapaichean – mapa


Each week we publish the text of our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast here with added facts, figures and photos for Gaelic learners who want to learn a little about the language and about the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. This week our word is mapaichean – maps.

Every school– sgoil – in Scotland – Alba has recently received a copy of our new Scottish Parliament 2021 election map.

For this reason, this week’s Word of the Week is mapaichean – maps.

Our map – mapa – shows the makeup of the new session of the Parliament, showing all the MSPs, which constituency or region they represent and which party, if any, they belong to.

The map – mapa – is available in both English – Beurla – and Gaelic – Gàidhlig on our website.

Amongst other things, the mapa features the names of every parliamentary constituency and region.

We often use Gaelic placenames here at Pàrlamaid na h-Alba not only for the map but also because the Parliament works with communities throughout Scotland – Alba and we use the Gaelic for these areas for our Gaelic publications, social media and more.

But how do we know the Gaelic placenames?

Good question!

All Gaelic speakers know the Gaelic names for the main towns, cities and islands in Scotland – Alba – and probably many more in their local area too. However, when we’re talking about a small area which isn’t often discussed or perhaps about an area which hasn’t been a Gaelic speaking community for a long time, it can be difficult to know what the correct Gaelic form is – even when it is clear that it is a name which originated in Gaelic!

So, when we are looking for a Gaelic name to put mapaichean or in a publication, we turn to a group called Ainmean-àite na h-Alba – Gaelic Placenames of Scotland – the national expert group on Gaelic placenames. These are the people who conduct academic research on the correct forms of Gaelic placenames for such things as railway station signs, road signs and indeed maps – mapaichean so the chances are that you’ll have seen some of their work!

It was also Ainmean-àite na h-Alba who researched the Gaelic versions of the Scottish Parliament constituencies and regions for us.

Placenames sometimes even appear in the titles of legislation such as the Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Act 2019 – or in Gaelic Achd Coimisean Drèanaidh Pholl Aifrinn (Alba) 2019; and the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine Railway and Linked Improvements Act 2004 – Achd Rathad-iarainn Shruighlea, Almhagh is Cheann Chàrdainn agus Leasachadh Ceangailte 2004.

If you want to look up some Gaelic placenames for yourself, check out the Ainmean-àite na h-Alba website and database of placenames.

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week is mapa.

If you would like a free copy of our map, drop us a line at the email address below.

Alasdair MacCaluim

Gaelic Development Officer

alasdair.maccaluim@parliament.scot