Number of Gaelic speakers drops

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There are 1,000 fewer Gaelic speakers in Scotland than there were ten years ago.

According to the latest Census figures released today (Thursday), 1.1 per cent (58,000) of the Scottish population aged over three can speak Gaelic compared to 1.2 per cent (59,000) in 2001.

Although there have been decreases in most age groups, there has been a slight increase in the number of Gaelic speakers aged under 20 years.

The figures which are from the Census in 2011 found that 1.7 per cent of the population (87,000) could speak, read, write or understand Gaelic compared to 1.7 per cent in 2001 (92,000).

Despite the drop in figures many of those involved in teaching Gaelic believe there the actual number of Gaelic speakers is much higher and could be as much as double the census figure.

Many people may not tick the Gaelic speaker box due to a lack of confidence in speaking the language or to avoid receiving documents in Gaelic.

Pictured are primary pupils who took part in this year’s Lewis Mod which is a celebration of Gaelic language and culture.