Gaelic Word of the Week – Census #cleachdi #gàidlhig


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 Census – Cunntas sluaigh.

You may recently have received a letter through the post abut Scotland’s Census.

You may have  noticed that the census logo also contains a bilingual strapline: Shaping our future/ A’ dealbhadh ar n-àm ri teachd.

The Gaelic for census is Cunntas-sluaigh. This comes from the words cunntas meaning a count or calculation and the word sluagh meaning people or population. Coming from the word cunntas also is the word cunntasachd – accountancy.

The Cunntas-sluaigh has a parliamentary connection. Under the Census Act 1920, each census – cunntas-sluaigh, requires further legislation to set matters such as the date it will take place, who must answer it and what the questions will be.

This happened through subordinate legislation – the Census (Scotland) Order which was considered in detail in Committee and then agreed by the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – on 4 March 2020.

Census day – latha a’ chunntas-sluaigh – will be 20th March but the questionnaire can be filled in by people as soon as the Census letter is received.

The Census – cunntas-sluaigh – is an important way of counting how many Gaelic speakers there and where they live. A question about Gaelic was first asked in 1881 and has continued to this day. The question currently asks four different things – if people can speak, read, write and understand Gaelic. The census may also be completed in Gaelic.

More recently, this has been joined by questions about Scots and BSL. 

Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the national Gaelic development agency are currently undertaking a publicity campaign to encourage those with Gaelic skills to make sure they enter this in the census. You can find out more by checking out Bòrd na Gàidhlig’s Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig advise:

“Question 14 asks you to tick boxes according to whether you can understand, speak, read or write Gaelic. Tick every box that applies to you and do the same for everyone else in your household.

  • Have you spoken Gaelic all your life? Tick the box!
  • Did you go through Gaelic medium education? Tick the box!
  • Did you start learning Gaelic over Lockdown? Tick the box!
  • Do you listen to Radio nan Gàidheal or watch BBC Alba every day? Tick the box!

It’s up to every member of the Gaelic community to represent that in our Census answers, so tick the box!”

Question 16 asks for your main language – if your main language is Gaelic, it’s important that you answer accordingly. If you speak Gaelic at home, at work, with family and friends – it may be your main language. Consider how much of your day is spent talking/listening/reading/writing in Gaelic.”

This week’s Gaelic word of the week is census: Cunntas-sluaigh.

Let’s practice: Cunntas-sluaigh.

This week’s Gaelic Word of the Week has been written and read by Alasdair MacCaluim, Gaelic Development Officer who has just filled in his census form in Gaelic!

Alasdair MacCaluim

gaidhlig@parliament.scot