Rannsachadh air Poileasaidh Cànain
agus Dealbhadh Cànain

Research on Language Policy and Planning





Wilson McLeod


October 2001


Roinn na Ceiltis agus Eòlas na h-Alba, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann

Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh









Rannsachadh air Poileasaidh Cànain agus Dealbhadh Cànain

Research on Language Policy and Planning


Roinn na Ceiltis agus Eòlas na h-Alba, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann

19-20 Ceàrnag Sheòrais, Dùn Èideann EH8 9LD

Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh

19-20 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD



Tha e ceadaichte an aithisg seo a chleachdadh ann an dòigh sam bith nach eil a chum prothaid, agus tha e ceadaichte lethbhric a chur saor ’s an asgaidh gu daoine eile, cho fad agus gu bheilear a’ cur an cèill cò às a thàinig i, nach tèid atharrachadh a dhèanamh oirre, agus gum fuirich an sanas seo an ceangal rithe. Chan fhaod i a bhith air a sgaoileadh ann an riochd eadar-dhealaichte sam bith no air a cur a-steach ann an bathar no làrach-lìn sam bith a tha a chum prothaid gun chead sgrìobhte. Is e a th'anns an aithisg seo ach beachdan an ùghdair a-mhàin, agus cha bu chòir an tuigsinn mar bheachdan Roinn Ceiltis agus Eòlas na h-Alba no mar bheachdan Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann.

This report may be used for any non-profit purposes, and copies may be passed free of charge to other people provided that the source is acknowledged, that the text remains unaltered, and that this notice remains attached. It may not be distributed in any amended format or included in any for-profit product or website without written permission. The views stated in this report are those of the author alone and should not be understood as the views of the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies or of the University of Edinburgh.


The first edition of Faclair na Pàrlamaid: Dictionary of Terms, published in May 2001, is an important tool for the Gaelic community and a significant step forward in the process of Gaelic development. Further editions are planned in the future. This report presents a detailed evaluation of the first edition of the Faclair and presents a range of recommendations for a revised version, which must be seen as an urgent priority. If the project is to be more than a mere paper exercise, however, the preparation of an expanded and improved Faclair must be accompanied by a significant policy initiative by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament to bring about the increased use of Gaelic in Scotland’s national political institutions.

Section I of the report deals with structural issues. The layout of the Faclair is clear, attractive and ‘user-friendly’, but would be improved by ensuring that whenever a headword has more than one potential meaning, illustrative examples aree given to show clearly the distinction between these meanings, or, preferably, that two or more headwords are supplied, using brackets to show the meaning in question.

Section II, the most important, tackles terminological issues. The following points are addressed in detail, with numerous examples:

Section III considers grammatical issues, focusing on the usage of the dative and genitive cases and on noun gender. The Faclair generally follows conservative, indeed ultra-conservative practices, but there are puzzling inconsistencies.

Section IV considers orthographic issues. The most important problem involves the use of hyphens. The Faclair’s operative principle is that hyphens (triggering lenition) are to be used in ‘closely bound compounds’ but not in ‘non-closely bound compounds’, but this principle is not applied in a coherent fashion. On a number of occasions the same word is spelled differently at different points in the Faclair, sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes without, while in others, highly similar compounds vary unpredictably in the use of hyphenation.

The report concludes that Faclair na Pàrlamaid requires careful revision, as a matter of urgency. The revision process must reflect an ongoing awareness of the evolving nature of the Gaelic language; decisions and practices must be open to re-examination, and there should be an ongoing debate about the growth of the language. Such a process is natural and healthy, and should be not only accepted but welcomed. At the same time, the preparation of an improved Faclair must be coupled with an intensified drive to ensure that Gaelic achieves official status and takes a significant role in Scottish public life.



The first edition of Faclair na Pàrlamaid: Dictionary of Terms was published in May 2001, under the auspices of Comunn na Gàidhlig, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament. Five thousand copies were printed and the text was made available on-line at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/dictionary. The Faclair was compiled by the European Language Initiative, ‘a non-political, non-profit body which specialises in producing dictionaries for public service’ (ix). Editor Clive Leo McNeir was aided by a production team consisting of Dolina MacLeod, Cassandra McNeir, Annie MacSween and Roy Wentworth; a consultants’ team consisting of Éamonn Ó hÓgáin, Ian MacDonald and Donald John MacLeod; and a Management Committee consisting of Hugh Dan MacLennan, Allan Campbell, Catrìona Dunn, Mary Anne MacDonald, Donald Morrison, Ailig O’Henley and Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh.

The Faclair is an important tool for the Gaelic community and a significant step forward in the process of Gaelic development. Further editions are planned in the future. This report presents a detailed evaluation of the first edition of the Faclair and presents a range of recommendations for a revised version, which must be seen as an urgent priority. For financial — that is, ultimately political — reasons, the Faclair was produced within a extraordinarily short space of time (ix), and the consequences of rapid preparation are apparent in numerous respects.

1. The Faclair in a language planning context

Gaelic corpus planning — the process of codifying, standardising and systematically expanding the language — remains seriously under-developed. The lack of official involvement in the process, both in past decades and during more recent years of significant public spending on Gaelic development, is both striking and distinctly unusual in an international context. As such, the official imprimatur on the Faclair project is extremely important; but the dearth of existing resources means that the challenge of producing a viable tool for using Gaelic in modern public life is an immense one.

The Faclair project implicates several different aspects of corpus planning: grammatical standardisation, orthographic standardisation, and, crucially, ‘elaboration’, the functional development of the language to cope with new fields of use, most obviously through the process of terminological modernisation and expansion (Kaplan & Baldauf 1997: 38-49). Fundamental work still remains to be done in all these areas.

Gaelic still lacks a comprehensive, authoritative dictionary of any kind, whether Gaelic-English, English-Gaelic or Gaelic-Gaelic. The principal tool remains Edward Dwelly’s Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary (Dwelly 2001), produced by a single amateur lexicographer on a subscription basis between 1902 and 1912. Although still a hugely useful work, Dwelly’s dictionary can by no means serve the needs of the Gaelic community in the 21st century, particularly if Gaelic is to be used successfully in high-prestige settings from which it has been excluded for centuries. More recent dictionaries, while all valuable in their own way, are much less than comprehensive: Derick Thomson’s New English-Gaelic Dictionary (Thomson 1996) contains only some 15,000 headwords and provides almost no illustrative examples, Richard Cox’s Gaelic-Gaelic primary school dictionary Brìgh nam Facal (Cox 1991) contains only 9,000 headwords, and Angus Watson’s recently published Essential Gaelic-English Dictionary (Watson 2001), although a clear and user-friendly handbook of the contemporary language, is of modest scope and is primarily designed for learners. Finally, it now appears all but certain that the projected Historical Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic, upon which work began in 1966, will never be completed in the form originally contemplated.

At the same time, standardisation of the language itself remains a good deal less than complete. Orthography is still not authoritatively settled; the Gaelic Orthographic Conventions of 1981 (Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board 1981) constituted a significant step, but left many grey areas; a number of important users of the language, including authors of language textbooks, have declined to follow GOC, usually for solid linguistic reasons (Black 1994). The Faclair project is intended to take the matter of orthographic standardisation forward: certain matters have been addressed in the preparation of the first edition, and additional recommendations are to be forthcoming.

While debates about Gaelic orthography have sometimes been intense, the matter of grammatical standardisation has generally attracted far less attention. The Faclair cites George Calder’s Gaelic Grammar (Calder 1980), first published in 1923, as the principal authority in grammatical matters. More recently, a handbook of Gaelic grammar has been produced for secondary school instruction under the auspices of the educational authorities (Byrne 2000). These steps are plainly insufficient to codify the grammar of the language in an authoritative fashion, however, particularly as it is recognised that the language is changing rapidly, most notably with regard to noun morphology. The Faclair’s treatment of grammatical matters is at once highly traditional and (particularly with regard to feminine nouns) distinctly innovative.

A different aspect of language planning that impinges upon the Faclair project is the use of Gaelic for official purposes, especially official documents. In language planning terms, this represents both a form of status planning and a form of corpus planning, both with regard to terminological development (i.e. the development of a suitable lexicon) and stylistic development (i.e. the development of an expressive idiom appropriate to the purpose) (Kaplan & Baldauf 1997: 30-38, 45-46). Since the mid-1980s, the government has been producing a range of documents in Gaelic form (albeit a tiny proportion of the government’s total publishing output), and this initiative will certainly continue in coming years. At the same time, no institutional structure has been put in place to underpin this work; in particular, there has been no mechanism established to train and employ qualified professional translators (McLeod 2000).

Disappointingly, the devolution process and the establishment of the Scottish Parliament have not resulted in significant positive changes in this area: no concrete policy has been put in place to institutionalise the use of Gaelic in the publications of Scotland’s new national political institutions. The general approach continues to be one of ‘ad hocery’. A forthcoming report in this series will set out concrete policy recommendations with regard to the use of ‘official Gaelic’.

The absence of any structure to promote and encourage the use of Gaelic in the Parliament means that the Faclair currently exists in something of a vacuum. The language is little used in the Parliament and there are neither plans nor manifest intentions among those in authority to bring about an increase in its use. If the project is to be more than a mere paper exercise, the preparation of an expanded and improved Faclair must be accompanied by a significant policy initiative by both the Executive and the Parliament to bring about the increased use of Gaelic in Scotland’s national political institutions.

2. The Faclair: general overview

The Faclair provides a brief foreword that describes the nature of the project and discusses certain specific grammatical and orthographic matters (addressed below). There is no general discussion of the principles that guided the decisions involving terminology, however; when and why particular terms were borrowed from English or Irish, for example, or when compound words were created in preference to periphrastic expressions and vice versa. Similarly, there is no explanation of the approach taken to nouns whose gender varies according to dialect or whose morphology does not follow traditional rules; the reader is left to attempt to deduce the operative principles.

The foreword does not explain in detail the purposes for which the Faclair is intended. The diversity of the items presented suggests that a range of possible uses is anticipated. As noted in the foreword (ix), much of the terminology provided relates to parliamentary structures and procedures, but a considerable amount involves political rhetoric and phraseology of a more general nature — words and expressions that might (in theory at least) be helpful to a member preparing a speech. In addition, a range of specialist vocabulary is provided, material that will primarily be of assistance to the Gaelic media and to translators of public documents.

A consequence of this diversity is that different approaches are needed for different kinds of terms, and here the Faclair seems insufficiently clear in its objectives. For some relatively simple words and phrases, the Faclair functions as a sort of thesaurus, providing ready equivalents and alternatives. Here, precision is not especially important, and providing various possibilities may well be helpful (e.g. both moit and pròis for ‘pride’). At the same time, the Faclair also supplies Gaelic forms for a range of technical vocabulary, most obviously legal terms, where precision of usage is critically important. As discussed below, the Faclair often fails to recognise the difference between the two functions, and either supplies multiple alternatives for specific technical terms or uses the same Gaelic word for two or more distinct technical words (e.g. both cìs-oighreachd and cìs-seilbhe for ‘inheritance tax’, casaid to mean at once ‘prosecution’, ‘accusation’ and ‘indictment’).

This report considers different aspects of the Faclair in turn. Part I considers structural issues involving the layout of the Faclair. Part II — the most important — looks at the terminology supplied by the Faclair. Part III discusses grammatical issues, and Part IV turns to orthographic matters.

Citations in this report are given to page numbers in the Faclair with the column in which an entry appears indicated by 1, 2 or 3 following a colon. In many instances, of course, items can be found simply by following alphabetical order, and usually a cited entry will have a parallel entry in the other part of the Faclair (Gaelic-English or English-Gaelic).

Where a new lexical item is proposed in this report, it is given in brackets with a question mark (e.g. ‘forfeit’ (? arfuntaich)). In some cases, the item in question may be familiar and uncontroversial, and in others more unusual; the use of the question mark is not necessarily intended as an expression of doubt or uncertainty.


The layout of the Faclair is clear and attractive. Three columns of text are given on each page, with Gaelic words in bold blue letters and English words in unbolded black letters. A range of useful illustrative examples are given to show the word in context and to provide important phrases.

The text is divided into two sections, a Gaelic-English section and an English-Gaelic section. The latter gives full morphology, indicating gender and supplying the genitive singular and the plural forms.

Where a headword has more than one shade of meaning, the Faclair often supplies two distinct entries to make the difference clear, using a bracketed word or phrase to show the meaning in question. This structure is most helpful and should be followed throughout.

Examples: the entry for ‘appropriate (funds)’ is followed by a separate entry for ‘appropriate (to take over ownership)’ (158:2), the entry for ‘balance (equilibrium)’ is followed by a separate entry for ‘balance (of money)’ (161:2), and the entry for ‘establishment (institution)’ is followed by a separate entry for ‘establishment (setting up)’.

In many instances, however, different shades of meaning are clumped together in a single entry and the distinction between them is not made clear. Sometimes illustrative examples clarify matters, but these are not always given and do not always illuminate. (Note that this structural issue is distinct from the provision of multiple terms to convey a single shade of meaning, an important matter addressed below).

Recommendation: where a headword has more than one potential meaning, illustrative examples should be given to show clearly the distinction between these meanings, or, preferably, two or more headwords should be supplied, using brackets to show the meaning in question.


151:1 Both dìobair and leig dhìot are given for ‘abdicate’, but the difference between these forms is not clear. The provision of alternative forms for ‘to abdicate responsibility’, dleastanas a dhìobradh and an t-uallach a leigeil dhìot, is confusing. A single term should be chosen, or the difference between these two forms clarified.

160:1 Both gabhail os làimh and barail are given for ‘assumption’. Two separate entries would be preferable, ‘assumption (taking up)’ (gabhail os làimh) and ‘assumption (presumption)’ (barail) (although note that this latter form is questionable as a substantive matter, as discussed below).

165:3 Both buannachd and calpa are given for ‘capital’. The illustrative example buannachd p[h]oiliteageach a dhèanamh à ‘to make political capital out of’ shows the meaning ‘benefit, advantage’; a separate example should show the meaning ‘financial assets’, or, preferably, two separate entries should be given. It would also be appropriate to add a third entry ‘capital (seat of government)’ (? ceannbhaile).

168:1 The two headwords for ‘charge’ are unclear. Three meanings of the English word are given in the Gaelic forms offered, ‘allegation’ and ‘penalty’ in the first entry and ‘attack’ in the second. No bracketed explanations are given for the two entries, although three illustrative examples show the distinctions fairly clearly. The structure would be clearer with three separate entries with appropriate bracketed explanations.

169:2 A slightly different problem arises with the entry for ‘civil’, where only catharra is given. It would be clearer to revise this entry and give two separate headwords ‘civil (civic)’ (catharra) and ‘civil (polite)’ (? modhail).

173:2 Co-rèitich, mill, and tarraing amharas air all given for the verb ‘compromise’. Two illustrative examples are given, but these both make use of the form tarraing amharas air. The distinction between mill and tarraing amharas air is not clear; tarraing amharas air might suffice for a revised entry ‘compromise (reduce credibility or value)’, with co-rèitich being supplied for ‘compromise (agree)’.

181:1 Both cliù and creideas are given for ‘credit’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘credit (praise, praiseworthiness)’ and ‘credit (financial)’ would make matters clearer.

181:2 Both riatanach and tàireil are given for ‘critical’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘critical (vital)’ and ‘critical (making criticism)’ would make matters clearer.

184:3 Both cuir dàil and gèill are given for ‘defer’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘defer (postpone)’ and ‘defer (yield)’ would make matters clearer.

193:2 The entries for ‘duty’ should be reorganised. Both dleastanas and cìs (cusbainn) are given for ‘duty (obligation)’, while cìs alone is given for ‘duty (tax)’. Cìs (cusbainn) properly belongs to the second entry; dleastanas should suffice for the meaning ‘duty (obligation)’. A more specific form is needed in place of the overworked and more generic cìs, which should be deleted; note, however, cìs cusbainn is already given for ‘customs duty’ (182:3).

198:2 Cuir aonta ri is given for ‘endorse (approve)’; no form is given to express ‘endorse (write on back)’. This should be added. On the other hand, both aonta and cùl-sgrìobhaidh are given for ‘endorsement’. Illustrative examples show these two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘endorsement (approve)’ and ‘endorsement (writing on back)’ would make matters clearer.

205:1 Four terms are given for ‘factor’ in the sense of ‘causative element’, while an illustrative example is given for ‘estate factor’ (bàillidh oighreachd). Two separate headwords would make matters clearer. As discussed below, a single term should be selected for ‘factor (causative element)’.

211:1 Both fosgarra and ri teachd are given for ‘forthcoming’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘forthcoming (candid)’ and ‘forthcoming (upcoming)’ would make matters clearer.

212:2 Both cruinneachadh sòisealta and gnìomh are given for ‘function’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but two separate headwords ‘function (event)’ and ‘function (task or operation)’ would make matters clearer.

218:2 Cùis, èisteachd and rannsachadh are all given for ‘hearing’. Two illustrative examples are given: cùis lagha ‘a court hearing’ and rannsachadh poblach ‘public hearing’. The distinctions between these terms are not at all clear, as discussed below; layout and substance should be revised.

219:2 A separate entry should be given for ‘High Court of Justiciary’, currently subsumed under ‘high court’. Such a revision would mean the inclusion of morphology for this important term, a useful aid.

238:3 A separate entry is given for ‘left-winger’, but ‘right-winger’ is subsumed into the entry for ‘right-wing’ (301:1). A separate entry would be better.

229:3 A separate headword for ‘Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments’ would be appropriate,

259:1 Both dèan eucoir and thoir oilbheum do are given for ‘offend’. The distinction between the two terms is not clear as only one illustrative example (somewhat confusingly based on gabh oilbheum do rather than thoir oilbheum do) is given. It would be clearer to revise this entry and give two separate headwords for ‘offend (break the law)’ (dèan eucoir) and ‘offend (cause offence)’ (thoir oilbheum do).

245:2 Both stiùir and dèan a’ chùis are given for ‘manage’. An illustrative example shows dèan a’ chùis in context, but it would be clearer to revise this entry and give separate headwords for ‘manage (supervise)’ (stiùir) and ‘manage (cope)’ (dèan a’ chùis).

256:3 Both norm and àbhaist are given for ‘norm’. While àbhaist is a common word in Gaelic with the meaning ‘customary situation’, norm is not familiar and appears to be simply an adoption of the English form with the meaning ‘required standard’. The entry should be clarified accordingly.

278:3 Rach dàn is given for ‘presume’, with the meaning ‘overstep bounds’; no form is given to mean ‘presume (assume)’. Such an entry should be added. On the other hand, both ladarnas and ro-bheachd are given for ‘presumption’, and no examples are given to show the different meanings. It would be clearer to revise this entry and give two separate headwords for ‘presumption (assumption)’ (ro-bheachd) and ‘presumption (overstepping bounds)’. It would also be helpful if the form supplied for ‘presumption (overstepping bounds)’ corresponded to that given for ‘presume (overstep bounds); perhaps dànadas rather than ladarnas.

282:2 Both craobh-sgaoil and thoir gu buil are given for ‘promulgate’. It would be clearer to revise this entry and give two separate headwords for ‘promulgate (make widely known)’ and ‘promulgate (put into effect)’.

283:3 Protocal, co-ghnàths and leas-chunnradh are all given for ‘protocol’. Illustrative examples give some clarification, but two separate headwords ‘protocol (accepted behaviour)’ (protocal / co-ghnàths) and ‘protocol (legal agreement)’ (leas-chunnradh) would make matters clearer. Moreover, as discussed below, it is not clear what difference exists between protocal and co-ghnàths and why two forms are appropriate.

294:1 Both clàraich and leig ris given for ‘register’. Two illustrative examples are provided, both using clàraich. The form leig ris would correspond to a more informal use of the term ‘register’, i.e. ‘indicate’, as in ‘the members registered their concern at this development’. Potentially two headwords should be given here, ‘register (enrol or inscribe)’ (clàraich) and ‘register (indicate)’ (leig ris).

302:2 A separate entry is appropriate for ‘Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland’, currently subsumed under ‘Royal Commission’.

304:1 A useful structure is given with regard to the entries under ‘sanction’. However, it is not clear whether there is indeed a distinction in English between ‘sanction (to allow)’ and ‘sanction (to approve)’; the first of these might be better deleted.

314:3 Given that a separate entry is given for ‘Social Services Inspectorate’, it would be appropriate to provide a separate entry for ‘Social Work Services Inspectorate’ (currently subsumed under ‘social work’) as well.

319:1 Three different forms are given for ‘standard’, ìre de mhathas, bun-tomhas and inbhe. The first form appears to correspond to the meaning ‘degree of quality’ while the second refers to the meaning ‘accepted benchmark’. Two separate headwords seem appropriate here.

326:1 Both cuir à dreuchd rè ùine and cuir dheth are given for ‘suspend’. Illustrative examples show the two forms in context, but it would be clearer to provide two separate headwords ‘suspend (remove from office temporarily)’ and ‘suspend (make inoperative temporarily)’. The same is true for the following entry, ‘suspension’.

330:1 Four terms teirm, cumha, briathar and stèidh are given for term. Illustrative examples show these various forms in context, but it would be clearer to provide four separate headwords term (period) (teirm), term (parameter) (cumha), term (technical word) (briathar), and term (basis) (stèidh).1

340:2 Àite bàn, obair and dreuchd are all given for ‘vacancy’; no illustrative examples are given. These last two terms simply mean ‘job’ and are arguably insufficiently specific. If distinctions between these forms are indeed necessary, these should be explained.

341:1 Both carbad and seòl are given for ‘vehicle’. Two headwords, ‘vehicle (for transport)’ and ‘vehicle (means or method)" would make matters clearer.

341:2 Both cunntas and tionndadh are given for ‘version’. One illustrative example is given, but the distinction between the two forms should be made clearer, ideally through the use of separate headwords.

342:2 The entry for ‘virtue’ is unclear. The form subhailc is given; this has the meaning of ‘virtuousness’. However, two illustrative examples are given, neither of which make use of the word subhailc: àille a dhèanamh den èiginn ‘to make a virtue of necessity’ and mar thoradh air earrainn 1 san sgrìobhainn ‘by virtue of paragraph 1 of the document’. This entry would benefit from clarification.



1. General observations

The terminology given in the Faclair covers a wide range, some of it technical in nature, but much of it non-specialist. A number of issues arise, most notably matters relating to comprehensibility and specificity.

In several important places the Faclair gives forms different from those that have become dominant in media usage and other ‘new’ settings. For example, the word earrann is used to mean ‘sector’ (309:2), as in the common phrases ‘private sector’ (earrann phrìobhaideach) (279:3) and ‘public sector’ (earrann phoblach) (286:1). The word roinn has hitherto been used almost universally here. Similarly, cunnradh is used for ‘contract’ (177:3) rather than the more usual cùmhnant, which is used in the Faclair to mean ‘condition’; yet cùmhnant is also used to mean ‘convention’ (52:1), an international legal agreement and thus a form of contract, and the phrase leig a-mach air cùmhnant is given for ‘put out to contract’ (286:3).

Such changes can only confuse Gaelic users and complicate the process of language development. It is noteworthy that Radio nan Gaidheal news broadcasts since the publication of the Faclair continue consistently to use cùmhnant for ‘contract’ and the forms roinn phoblach and roinn phrìobhaideach for ‘public sector’ and ‘private sector’.

At the same time, it is surprising that the Faclair occasionally fails to use common neologisms that have gained currency in new forms of high-register Gaelic. The most significant example may be prìomhaich ‘prioritise’ and prìomhachas ‘priority’, where the Faclair uses instead the periphrastic cuir an òrdugh tàbhachd and àite air thoiseach / nì air thoiseach (279:2).

The Faclair contains a number of neologisms or new shades of meaning that seem eminently suitable: clear, specific and transparent.

Examples: bailteil ‘urban’; buntainneas ‘relevance’; co-dhealbhadh ‘joint planning’; co-iomairt ‘joint venture’; dearmadach ‘negligent’; dearmadachd ‘negligence’; ro-shampall ‘precedent’; tiomnadh ‘devolution’; tuilleadas ‘additionality’

In some instances, the Faclair makes imaginative use of traditional idioms or images, e.g. dotair-grèisidh ‘spin doctor’ (literally ‘embroidery doctor’) and various phrases with car (car math ‘upturn’, car tuathal ‘reversal’, car iomlan ‘U-turn’).

2. English borrowings

The Faclair makes very heavy use of direct borrowings from English in preference to locating or coining Gaelic forms. A general statement of principles in this regard would be most helpful. While some of these choices seem inevitable or at least unimpeachable, others appear distinctly unnecessary and inappropriate, e.g. àidseant agent (cf. Gaelic neach-ionaid), griod grid (cf. Gaelic cliath), haidhp hype (cf. Gaelic aibheiseachadh).

Some notable examples are given below. Where these forms cannot readily be located according to alphabetical order, references are given in brackets.

acranaim, actuaraidh (118:3, 215:1), àidseant, baileat, bhèato,2 bheasaiciular (143:2, 326:2), biurocrasaidh, biùrocrat, biurocratach, boycott, caibineat, caucus, cluba (202:3), coimisean, coimiseanar, concordait, consal, crèche,3 cuòram, cuota,4 dàs (dais), deamocrasaidh,5 dioplòmasach, dioplòmasaidh, dogma, encephalopathaidh, facsimile (139:3), faicsean, feadarail, fiosgail, fòram, formula, gileatain (guillotine), griod, guitear (gutter) (108:3), haidhp, dìùraidh, lègion (302:1),6 log (turn on or off a computer), leifteanant, mandat, manifesto, mèar (mayor),7 megafòn, miocrofon,8 modail, modarat, monarc / monarcach / monarcachd, monatar (128:3)

3. Irish: an underused resource

One of the more surprising aspects of the Faclair is its limited use of terminology developed in Irish. Parliamentary business has been carried out in Irish in Dáil Éireann since the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, and substantial public resources have been put into the development of appropriate terminology and registers (Ó Cearúil 1999). As a result of these corpus planning initiatives and decades of institutionalisation, including the systematic work of an official terminology authority (An Coiste Téarmaíochta) and the codification of a standard grammar and orthography more than forty years ago (Rannóg an Aistriúcháin 1958), Irish has become a supple medium for discussion of public business and intellectual matters in general (Ó Murchú 1982: 49). The same can by no means be said for Gaelic.

Although Irish and Scottish Gaelic have diverged substantially over the centuries, and much Irish vocabulary is plainly not suited to adoption in Scotland, the resources of Irish nevertheless provide a rich storehouse for corpus planning in Scottish Gaelic. Irish terminology could have provided a ready first port of call in the preparation of the Faclair. This, however, is clearly not the approach taken by the Faclairs editorial team. The apparent disfavour for terms established in Ireland is most obvious in the preference for literal translations of the major offices Prìomh Mhinistear First Minister and Leas-phrìomh Mhinistear Deputy Prime Minister in place of the more traditionally Gaelic toiseach (Irish taoiseach) and tànaiste (Irish tánaiste), but there are scores of instances where a suitably revised term taken from Irish would have been superior to the form ultimately chosen.

Only a scattering of apparent borrowings from Irish appear in the Faclair (several of them themselves loanwords into Irish):

anailis ‘analysis’, cainnich ‘quantify (technical)’, contrarrachd ‘contradiction’, corparaid ‘corporation’, eisgeachd ‘exception’,9 eitic ‘ethics’, fèicheanas ‘liability’, foirmle ‘formula’, imeachdan ‘proceedings’, ìos-mheud ‘minimum’, lìonra ‘network’, mionn-sgrìobhainn ‘affidavit’, pàitinn ‘patent’, pribhleid ‘privilege’, pròiseas ‘process’, rèabhlaid(each) ‘revolution(ary)’, stàitire ‘statesman’, tar-sgaoileadh ‘waiver’, uas-mheud ‘maximum’

Several of these terms are not immediately transparent to Scottish Gaelic speakers, however, and there may be problems of acceptance.

4. Neologisms and related difficulties

The Faclair necessary makes use of a considerable number of neologisms, new compounds and new shades of meaning, together with a number of established but relatively rare words. Such new terminology is a vital part of language elaboration. Nevertheless, there may be difficulties achieving understanding, acceptance and use of these forms in the wider Gaelic community, particularly in light of the limited use and circulation of high-register Gaelic.


agartachd ‘litigation’; airidheachd ‘merit’; creideas ‘credibility’; cùirt-eadraiginn ‘arbitration court’; dealas ‘commitment’; eàrlas ‘deposit’; earraid ‘sheriff officer’; eintiteas ‘entity’; ion-èigneachail ‘legally enforceable’; ion-roghnach ‘eligible’; ion-tràchdte ‘negotiable’; smachd-bhann ‘sanction’; reachdadaireachd ‘legislature’; sgiobachd ‘manpower’

In some instances, however, such forms may go beyond the bounds of reasonable transparency:

amalaichte ‘integrated’; faice ‘ancillary’; glasadh ‘stalemate’; iol-chalpa ‘capital intensive’; so-mhaoin ‘assets’; tùs-abairt ‘premise’;10 ùineach ‘periodical’

5. Unwieldy expressions

In several instances the Faclair offers forms that seem particularly awkward or unexpressive:

bi ri stuth gun bhrìgh ‘waffle’ (344:1); còir air a bhith air thoiseach ‘precedence’ (276:1); cuir an òrdugh tàbhachd ‘prioritise’ (279:2);11 nach gabh a chumail suas ‘unsustainable’ (339:1); neach a dh’fhulaing / a dh’fhulaingeas ‘victim’ (342:1); neach a tha airson dealachadh ‘separatist’; neach a tha ri spàirn ‘agitator’ (155:2); neach le lèirsinn ‘visionary’ (342:3); neach ri gràin-cinnidh ‘racist’ (77:2, 288:3); nì firinneach ‘fact’ (205:1); nì mionaideach ‘detail’ (187:3); siostam àireamh bhòtaichean as motha ‘first past the post election system’ (208:3).

Recommendation: This is a difficult problem that reflects the lack of suppleness in Gaelic owing to its under-development in a range of registers. However, these forms should be re-examined to see if more concise or vigorous alternatives can be found.

6. New prefixes

In a number of cases the Faclair gives forms with novel or unusual prefixes. While some of these seem acceptable, others merit a review.

5:2 air-loidhne ‘on-line’

5:2 air-teachdaireachd ‘on-message’12

43:1 contra-chasaid ‘counter-allegation’

43:1 contra-mholadh ‘counter-proposal’

46:2 cuasai-bhreitheach ‘quasi-judicial’

79:3, 80:1, 80:2 fourteen compounds with the prefix in-

108:2 òst-chraoladair ‘host broadcaster’

142:1 tele-cho-labhairt ‘teleconferencing’

142:1 tele-chonaltradh ‘telecommunications’

142:1 tele-theacsa ‘teletext’

7. Related terms and difficult distinctions

In a number of instances the Faclair makes use of different forms of particular words or of very closely related words to convey distinct meanings. Unless both meanings are already familiar, there are significant risks that these new terms will not be adequately understood and will not achieve acceptance among Gaelic speakers. Such an outcome would mean that the use of Gaelic to deal with public policy matters — in official documents for example — will be impeded.

55:3 Deamocrasaidh am measg an t-sluaigh is given for ‘grassroots democracy’; deamocrasaidh an t-sluaigh is given for ‘popular democracy’. At the same time, deamocrasaidh a’ phobaill is given for ‘people’s democracy’ (55:3). The distinction between these three terms is not entirely transparent in English, still less so in Gaelic.

57:1 Deimhinne is given for ‘categorical’; deimhinneach is given for ‘positive’ (with the sense of ‘favourable’, as two illustrative examples indicate); and deimhinnte is given for ‘definitive’. The first of these meanings is well established, the others rather less so, and confusion or uncertainty may arise here.

77:3 Greadhnachas is given for ‘pomp’; greadhnas is given for ‘trappings’. Note that Dwelly 2001 presents greadhnas simply as an alternative form of greadhnachas rather than a discrete word.

86:3 Leas-chunnradh is given for ‘protocol’; fo-chunnradh is given for ‘subcontract’ (70:2, 323:1).

87:3 Lèirsinne is given for ‘visual’; lèirsinneach is given for ‘visionary’.

97:2 Modhan-obrach is given for machinery (apparently in the figurative sense of mechanics, structure, as in the illustrative example modhan-obrach riaghaltais the machinery of government); modh-obrachaidh is given for process.13

106:1 Oifis chìs is given for fees office; oifis chìsean is given for tax office.14

115:3 Rèite is given for ‘understanding’, ‘accommodation’, ‘settlement’; rèiteach is given for ‘agreement’ or ‘settlement’; and rèiteachadh is given for ‘conciliation’, ‘reconciliation’ or ‘settlement’.

183:2 Ceann-latha is given for ‘date’; ceann-ama is given for ‘deadline’. The term ceann-latha is well-established, although it can be somewhat ambiguous, carrying the meanings of both ‘date’ and ‘deadline’ (see Cox 1991: 104). Ceann-ama, although probably readily understandable, appears to be a neologism.

190:3 Mì-onair is given for ‘dishonesty’; eas-onair is given for ‘dishonour’. At the same time, the form casaid eas-onair is given for ‘a charge of dishonesty’ (168:1). Dwelly 2001 makes no meaningful distinction between these two words. A careful re-examination is clearly required here.

211:3 Saorsa labhairt is given for ‘freedom of expression’; saorsa cainnte is given for ‘freedom of speech’.

230:1 Inntleachdail is given for ‘intellectual’ (adj.); inntleachdach is given for ‘intellectual’ (n.), and innleachdach is given for ‘tactical’ (327:2). Note that Dwelly 2001 presents inntleachd / inntleachdach simply as alternative forms of innleachd / innleachdach rather than discrete words.

238:1 The relationship between ceannas (‘presidency’, ‘rule’, ‘headship’, ‘hegemony’) and ceannardas (‘leadership (quality of a leader, position of a leader)’) is not entirely clear, particularly in the illustrative example ‘to show leadership’ where both buaidhean ceannais a nochdadh and ceannardas a nochdadh are given.

240:1 Discrete entries are given for ‘liability (financial obligations, commitments)’ (where fèicheanas is given) and ‘liability (financial, for payment)’, where the basic word fiach is given. The distinction between these two shades of meaning of the English word ‘liability’ is not entirely clear. In addition, the illustrative example offered for ‘assets and liabilities’, so-mhaoin agus do-mhaoin, does not clarify the matter. Reconsideration and reworking would be helpful here.

254:2 Nàiseantachas is given for ‘nationalism’; nàiseantachd is given for ‘nationality’; nàiseanachas is given for ‘nationhood’. Counterpart adjectival forms are also potentially confusing: nàiseantach is given for ‘nationalist’ and nàiseantachail for ‘nationalistic’. Of these five forms, only nàiseantach could be said to be well-established and readily familiar in Gaelic at present; the form nàiseantachd, meanwhile, has been widely used to mean ‘nationalism’ rather than ‘nationality’.

296:1 Ais-ghairm is given for ‘repeal’; cùl-ghairm is given for ‘revoke’ (300:2).

327:1 Innleachd is given for ‘tactic’; but ro-innleachd is given for ‘strategy’ (322:2). The latter form is well-established in media usage and other ‘new’ high registers, but the meaning of ‘tactic’ for innleachd (also identified with the meanings ‘expedient’, ‘plot’, ‘resort’, ‘conspiracy’, ‘scheme’ and ‘wile’ (79:2)) appears to be new.

330:2 Teisteanas is given for ‘testimonial’ (n.); teisteas is given for ‘testimony’.

8. Asymmetry

One persistent feature of the Faclair is the use of quite different words for related terms, where it would be easier and more logical to work with variations of the same word or root. Using properly paired terms would be particularly useful in the case of neologisms, so that new forms can be readily understood, remembered and assimilated.

152:1 ruigsinneachd is given for ‘accessibility’, so-ruigsinn for ‘accessible’, and the phrase cothrom ruigheachd don mhòr-shluagh15 is given for ‘accessibility to the public’. Ruigsinneachd / ruigsinneach / ruigsinneachd don mhòr-shluagh or so-ruigsinneach / so-ruigsinn / so-ruigsinn don mhòr-shluagh would seem clearer and more helpful.

158:1 ath-thagradh is given for ‘appeal’ (n.), cùirt nan ath-thagraidhean is given for ‘appeal court’, britheamh ath-thagraidhean is given for ‘appeal judge’, and ath-thagraiche is given for ‘appellant’; but tagair is given for ‘appeal’ (v.). The inappropriateness of tagair here is compounded by the use of tagradh to mean ‘plea’ (270:2); a plea being a pre-trial procedure and an appeal being a post-decision procedure, mixing terminology in this way is clearly inappropriate. It is recommended that ath-thagair be used for ‘appeal’ (v.).

335:3 aon-ghuthach is given for ‘unanimous’; but aon-inntinn is given for ‘unanimity’. A paired structure based on aon-ghuthach / aon-ghuthachd or aon-inntinneach / aon-inntinn would seem clearer and more helpful.

167:2 The neologism meadhanachadh is given for ‘centralisation’; but gluasad bhon mheadhan is given for ‘decentralisation’ (with forms thereof also being used for three related terms) (184:1). A matched pair would be more appropriate, such as dì-mheadhanachadh for ‘decentralisation’.

173:2 gèilleadh is given for ‘compliance’; but cum ri is given for ‘comply’. Either gèilleadh / gèill or cumail ri / cum ri would seem preferable.

198:1 dèan lagh de is given for ‘enact’; but achdachadh is given for ‘enactment’, ath-achdaich is given for ‘re-enact’, and ath-achdachadh is given for ‘re-enactment’ (292:2). Achdaich would thus seem to be the logical and preferable form for ‘enact’.

198:2 A slightly different issue arises with regard to the forms given for ‘energy efficiency’ (lùth-èifeachdas) and ‘energy conservation’ (caomhnadh lùtha). It is not clear why a compound word with lùth was created in the first instance but not in the second; the alternative forms èifeachdas lùtha and lùth-chaomhnadh would seem equally valid. A general statement of principles for the choice of terms in the foreword to a revised edition would be most helpful. In addition, the use of the term lùth here may be questioned; this word generally conveys ‘energy’ in the sense of physical movement, while the word cumhachd for ‘energy’ in the sense of ‘powering resource’ seems more normal in general and media usage, as in Ùghdarras Eadar-nàiseanta a’ Chumhachd Atomaich ‘International Atomic Energy Authority’ (148:2).

216:2 barrantas is given for ‘guarantee’ (n.), and le barrantas is given for ‘guaranteed’; but rach an urras is given for ‘guarantee’ (v.). In the interest of symmetry and clarity, a form based on barrantas, such as thoir barrantas, would seem preferable for ‘guarantee’ (v.).

228:1 Both tionnsgail and ùr-ghnàthaich are given for ‘innovate’, ùr-ghnàthachadh is given for ‘innovation’, ùr-ghnàthach is given for ‘innovative’; but nuadhasair is given for ‘innovator’ and nuadhasach for ‘innovatory’. It is not clear whether different terms are really necessary for ‘innovative’ and ‘innovatory’, a very fine distinction; more important, a form based on ùr-ghnàthaich would seem preferable for ‘innovator’ (although it has to be said that all the forms here are somewhat less than euphonious).

233:1 nach buin don ghnothach is given for ‘irrelevant’; but buntainneas is given for ‘relevance’ and buntainneach for ‘relevant’ (295:1). The pair buntainneach / neo-bhuntainneach would be more helpful.

278:3 rach dàn is given for ‘presume’, and dàn is given for ‘presumptuous’; but ladarnas is given for ‘presumption’. It would seem preferable to give dànadas for ‘presumption’, or to use forms based on ladarna for ‘presume’ and ‘presumptuous’.

278:3 Both pròis and moit are given for ‘pride’; only moiteil given for ‘proud’ (284:1). Logically, pròiseil should be given as an alternative form here. (Of course, these are both very common words and the Faclair is hardly needed to supply them).

295:3 ath-eagrachadh is given for ‘reorganisation’; but cuir rian ùr air is given for ‘reorganise’. It would seem preferable to give ath-eagraich for ‘reorganise’; this form would also match the term given for ‘restructure’, ath-structaraich (298:3).

326:2 seasmhach is given for ‘sustainable’; but nach gabh a chumail suas is given for ‘unsustainable’ (339:1). It would seem preferable to give neo-sheasmhach for ‘unsustainable’.

342:3 (neach, nì) sa bheil sealladh is given for ‘visionary’ (adj.); but neach le lèirsinn is given for ‘visionary’ (n.). Parallel terms seem appropriate here, with lèirsinn probably the better root.

344:2 cuir an dàrna taobh is given for ‘waive’ (v.); but tar-sgaoileadh is given for ‘waiver’ (n.). The form tar-sgaoil for ‘waive’ (v.) would be clearer.

9. Other inconsistencies

In addition to inconsistencies involving paired terms, there are various other terminological inconsistencies in the Faclair:

22:3 Buidheann-rianachd Leasachaidh Chèin is given for ‘Overseas Development Administration’. The basic term buidheann-rianachd is not given either under buidheann or for ‘administration’, however, only the simpler form rianachd (154:1). Terminology should be clarified here.

28:3 Ceistean a’ Phrìomh Mhinisteir is given for ‘First Minister’s Questions’; but Ceistean don Phrìomhaire is given for ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’. As these are questions directed to rather than belonging to these officials, a prepositional rather than genitive form seems more suitable; Ceistean don Phrìomh Mhinisteir should be substituted for ‘First Minister’s Questions’

52:1 cunnart bho theine is given for ‘fire risk’; but cunnart teine is given for ‘fire hazard’. A single form should be used here.

57:2 a’ chulaidh-bhacaidh dheireannach is given for ‘the ultimate deterrent’; but seòl bacaidh is given for ‘deterrent’ (188:1) and an seòl bacaidh deireannach is given for ‘the ultimate deterrent’ (188:1). A single form should be used for ‘deterrent’ in all instances.

62:2 dùnadh sòisealta is given for ‘social exclusion’; but the form às-dùnadh sòisealta is given in the English-Gaelic section (314:2). The latter form is more specific and seems preferable.

79:1 inbheach is given with a single meaning, ‘mature’. Although this is correct, there is a potential for confusion as the principal meaning of this common word is ‘adult’ (adj. and n.).

87:1 leibideach is given with a single meaning, ‘unfortunate’. Although this is not incorrect, there is a potential for confusion as this common adjective can often carry much stronger meanings, e.g. ‘worthless’, ‘contemptible’, ‘shabby’, ‘vile’.

89:1 Liosta Urraim Latha-breith na Bànrighe is given for ‘Queen’s Birthday Honours List’; but Liosta Urraman na Bliadhna Ùire is given for ‘New Year’s Honours List’. The plural form urraman seems preferable for ‘list of honours’ as opposed to ‘honourable list’.

108:3, 278:1 pàipearan-naidheachd a’ ghuiteir is given for ‘the gutter press’ (i.e. low-status newspapers); but luchd-naidheachd an t-sàibheir is given for ‘gutter press’ (i.e. the staff of such newspapers) (217:1).

145:3 trèanaig is given for ‘train’ (v.), but neither of the illustrative examples provided uses this form: air a thrèanadh ‘trained’ and neach a tha ga thrèanadh ‘trainee’.

146:1 Tribiunal airson Ath-thagraidhean Meidigeach is given for ‘Medical Appeal Tribunal’; but Tribiunal-tagraidh Cosnaidh is given for ‘Employment Appeal Tribunal’. A single structure is preferable here.

209:3 caochlaideach is given for ‘fluctuating’, and caochlaideachd for ‘fluctuation’; but airgead luaisgeach is given for ‘fluctuating currency’.

239:2 reachdadaireachd is given for ‘legislature’; but reachdachadh dà-sheòmarach is given for ‘bicameral legislature’ (162:2).

248:3 lùghdaich is given for ‘minimise’; but the illustrative example fìor lùghdachadh a dhèanamh air cumhachdan na Roinne is given for ‘to minimise the powers of the Department’. In addition, the word lùghdaich means simply ‘decrease’ or ‘diminish’ and is insufficiently strong to convey the meaning ‘minimise’.

267:1 peanas is given for ‘penalty’; but clàsa èirig ann an cunnradh is given for ‘penalty clause in a contract’.

311:3 While all the entries relating to ‘opposition’ are based on the element dùbhlain / dùbhlanach (e.g. pàrtaidh dùbhlanach ‘opposition party’ (261:2), forms based on ‘shadow’ show variability between dùbhlain and cùil, e.g. an labhraiche dùbhlain / cùil ‘the shadow spokesman’ (311:3)). It would be clearer and more consistent to use dùbhlain / dùbhlanach in all these contexts; and ideally a choice should be made between the genitive form dùbhlain and the adjectival form dùbhlanach.

340:3 Oifigeach Luachaidh is given for ‘Valuation Officer’; but oifigear is given for ‘officer’ (259:3).

10. Non-distinctions and ‘semantic overload’

One of the most important issues that arises in the Faclair is that of ‘semantic overload’, the use of the same words with too many distinct meanings. Donald MacAulay drew attention to this problem with his famous example dh’iarr a’ chomhairle comhairle air a’ chomhairle chomhairleachaidh ‘the committee sought advice from the consultative council’ (MacAulay 1986: 123). Semantic overload is a natural consequence of inadequate register development and insufficient corpus planning, and there can be no quick solution.

It is vital, however, that clear distinctions are drawn to the greatest extent possible, particularly so that Gaelic can serve as an unambiguous means of expression in official documents.


10:2 ar-a-mach is given as meaning both ‘rebellion’ and ‘revolution’. These terms are by definition quite distinct, a rebellion being unsuccessful (or at least provisional) and a revolution successful or complete. In this instance, the problem can be overcome by deleting the meaning ‘revolution’ here and confining ar-a-mach to the meaning ‘rebellion’, with the Irish-derived form rèabhlaid alone used for ‘revolution’ (300:2).

15:1 barail is given as meaning ‘assumption’, ‘conjecture’, ‘estimation’ and ‘point of view’. The last meaning is unobjectionable, but the first three terms refer to quite specific intellectual steps or processes and require specific and discrete Gaelic counterparts.

25:3 casaid is given as meaning ‘prosecution’, ‘protest’, ‘charge’, ‘accusation’ (and also ‘indictment’ (225:3)). The general word ‘protest’ raises no problems, but these other terms are specific legal terms of art and it is essential that specific and discrete terms be used.

27:2 ceannas is given as meaning ‘presidency’, ‘rule’, ‘headship’ and ‘hegemony’. At the very least, distinct forms are required for ‘presidency’ (perhaps a term to match ceann-suidhe ‘president’) and ‘hegemony’, which typically connotes a degree of alien or questionably legitimate authority.

29:3 cìs is given as meaning ‘charge’, ‘duty’, ‘fee’, ‘levy’, ‘tariff’, ‘tax’ and ‘taxation’. This array of diverse meanings is quite plainly unacceptable. The risk of ambiguity is especially serious here because financial matters are involved. It would be unthinkable to prepare tax regulations, for example, with such linguistic uncertainty.

44:1 cosnadh is given as meaning both ‘earnings’ and ‘employment’. The term tuarastal is clearer for the first of these, and would seem preferable (both here and at 193:3).

49:2 cuir dheth is given as meaning ‘postpone’, ‘suspend’ and ‘cancel’. This common phrase is simply a calque on the English phrase ‘put off’, but where the English phrase denotes a temporary postponement, the Gaelic is ambiguous between the meaning ‘postpone temporarily’ and the meaning ‘cancel altogether’. The illustrative example given, coinneamh a chur dheth, it would be impossible (without additional context) to know if the meeting had been abandoned or simply rescheduled. A specific term is clearly needed for ‘cancel altogether’.

Note that an alternative form meaning ‘postpone’, cuir an dàil, is given under ‘adjourn’ (153:3).

56:1 A remarkable thirteen different meanings are given for dearbh: attest, ‘carry’, ‘certify’, ‘convince’, ‘declare’, ‘determine’, ‘establish’, ‘insist’, ‘prove’, ‘substantiate’, ‘underline’, ‘validate’ and ‘verify’. Such heavy semantic overload clearly creates great dangers of ambiguity and confusion. Re-examination and re-working is certainly required here.

61:1 dreuchd is given as meaning ‘occupation’, ‘office (position)’, ‘profession’, ‘career’, ‘capacity’ and ‘designation’. These meanings are quite distinct from each other, perhaps most clearly that of ‘career’. Greater specificity is required here.

79:2 innleachd is given as meaning ‘expedient’, ‘plot’, ‘resort’, ‘conspiracy’, ‘scheme’, ‘wile’ and ‘tactic’. This constellation of meaning carries great risk of ambiguity and confusion, particularly with regard to the difference between strongly negative terms like ‘conspiracy’ and neutral ones like ‘tactic’. Greater specificity is required here.

102:2 neo-eisimileachd is given as meaning ‘independence’, ‘objectivity’ and ‘non-alignment’. The first meaning is well-established in Gaelic political discourse, but the other meanings seem quite distinct. ‘Objectivity’ is a more general and non-political term, whereas ‘non-alignment’ tends to be used in the context of international politics, particularly with regard to non-aligned states, which are by definition ‘independent’. Given the ready recognition of the meaning ‘independence’, new terms should be found for the meanings ‘objectivity’ and ‘non-alignment’.

127:1 sgaoileadh is given as meaning ‘adjournment’, ‘disclosure’, ‘dissemination’, ‘dissolution’, and ‘liquidation’. An illustrative example translates sgaoileadh na Pàrlamaid as both ‘adjournment of Parliament’ and ‘dissolution of Parliament’ — two palpably different things. Clarity is required here.

132:2 sòisealachd is given as meaning both ‘socialism’ and ‘social work’. The yoking of such widely different senses is problematic. It might be better to give obair shòisealta for ‘social work’; although sòisealachas might be better for ‘socialism’ if –as forms are to be used more generally for abstract terms of this kind.

184:2 mì-chliùiteach is given as meaning ‘defamatory’, but later with the meaning ‘disreputable’ (191:2). The ambiguity here is problematic given that ‘defamatory’ has legal ramifications.

194:3 èifeachdas is given for both ‘effectiveness’ and ‘efficiency’, two distinct and important concepts. At the same time, the highly similar word èifeachd is given as meaning both ‘efficacy’ (194:3) and ‘validity’ (340:3). These ambiguities are serious and should be clarified.

224:1 do-dhèanta is given as meaning both ‘impracticable’ and ‘impractical’. These two meanings are slightly but significantly different, and the use of one term for both is unacceptably imprecise.

294:2 The various meanings associated with riaghail, riaghladh, riaghlaich and riaghailt are unduly ambiguous. Riaghail is given for ‘govern’ (215:1); riaghladh is given for both ‘governing’ (215:3) and ‘regulation (control)’ (294:3); riaghlaich is given for both ‘regulate’ (294:2) and ‘rule’ (303:2); riaghailt is given for both ‘regulation (a rule)’ (294:3) and ‘directive’ (189:3). The overlap between these terms creates excessive confusion; distinct lines should be drawn to make them clearer.

334:2 cunnradh is given as meaning both ‘contract’ and ‘treaty’. Although a treaty can be understood as a special kind of contract, one between states, it would be advisable to use two distinct terms for these fundamental legal concepts.

11. Oversupply of terms

Perhaps the most significant defect in the Faclair is its tendency to give more than one Gaelic form for a single term or concept in English. This can only have the effect of confusing users of the language and reinforcing the powerful tendency to fall back on clear and unambiguous English words.

Note that this problem is distinct from the structural matter of grouping terms with multiple meanings under a single entry (see above).

Recommendation: whenever possible, a single Gaelic form should be offered for each English term in the Faclair. Such clarification is of the utmost importance if the basic project underpinning the Faclair — the successful use of Gaelic in Scottish public life — is to succeed.

28:3 ceist èiginneach is given for ‘emergency question’ in the Gaelic-English section but ceist-èiginn in the English-Gaelic section (197:1). As all other entries in the Faclair use èiginn rather than èiginneach for terms involving ‘emergency’, the latter form seems preferable; although note that there is significant confusion regarding the hyphenation of compounds with èiginn, as discussed below.

30:1 Both cìs-oighreachd and cìs-seilbhe are given for ‘inheritance tax’. Of the two, cìs-oighreachd seems more specific, with cìs-seilbhe better suited to ‘property tax’. Of course, developing specific and unambiguous terms for tax matters is crucial, as taxpayers and their lawyers can be counted on to exploit all interpretive possibilities.

36:1 Both coirbeachd and coirbteachd are given, in two separate entries, for ‘corruption’. Coirbteachd appears to be a mere variant of coirbeachd, and the latter form is used in the English-Gaelic section (179:3). Here, both coirbeachd and truaillidheachd are given for ‘corruption’, with different forms of these two words also given for ‘corrupt’ (adj.), ‘corrupt’ (v.) and ‘corruptor’(179:3). The distinction between the two is not clear, and it would be more helpful to choose a single term. For the basic political meaning ‘financially dishonest’, as opposed to the more general ‘impure, polluted’, coirbeachd would seem preferable.

45:1 cìs-chreideas is given for ‘tax credit’ singular, while creideasan cìse is given for ‘tax credits’ plural. Creideasan cìse is also given for ‘tax credits’ in the English-Gaelic section (328:1), but there is no entry for ‘tax credit’. As noted above, precision of usage with regard to tax terminology is especially important.

46:2 Two forms are offered for ‘quasi-judicial’, cuasai-bhreitheach (46:2) and leth-lagh-chleachdach (88:2). Only the former form is given in the English-Gaelic section (287:2). Here, the mixed form leth-bhreitheach seems clearly superior to either of the forms offered; the term lagh-chleachdach, which is not given under ‘judicial’ (234:3), is less than transparent while, as discussed above, there is no clear need to import the prefix ‘quasi-’ into Gaelic.

49:3 Two different phrases are given for ‘to put down an amendment’, atharrachadh a chur sìos and leasachadh a chur sìos. Only atharrachadh is given for ‘amendment’ (157:1), and ‘amendment’ is not among the meanings ascribed to leasachadh. The illustrative example with leasachadh a chur sìos should be deleted.

64:3 Eastwood is given as the Gaelic form for the Eastwood parliamentary constituency; but Coille an Ear is given in the English-Gaelic section (193:3). A single form for this and all constituency names is clearly necessary.

66:1 Both sòn an euro and ceàrn an euro are given for ‘the euro zone’, while bloc an euro and tìr an euro are given for the alternative phrases ‘the euro block’ (66:1) and ‘euroland’ (143:3). Adding to the confusion, the forms Sòn an Euro and Ceàrn an Euro are given capital letters in a subsequent entry (350:3). A single form should be chosen here; ceàrn an euro, while not ideal, seems the best option, as the words bloc and sòn do not really exist in Gaelic.

66:3 Both ùine-fhada and fad-ùine are given for ‘long-term’. As only geàrr-ùine is given for ‘short term’, the second form would seem more appropriate.

105:2 Both oifigear clàraidh an taghaidh and oifigear clàraidh nan taghaidhean are given for ‘electoral registration officer’. The latter seems more precise.

122:3 saoradh o chìs is given for ‘exemption from tax’, but saorsa bho chìs is given for ‘tax exemption’; both neo-buailteach do chìs and saor bho chìs are given for ‘exempt from tax’ (203:2).16 Precision is essential in tax matters, and the distinction between ‘tax exemption’ (a form or portion of one’s income that is exempt from tax) and ‘exemption from tax’ (complete non-liability for tax) is critical. It would be clearer to give saorsa bho chìs for ‘tax exemption’, neo-bhuailteach do chìs for ‘exempt from tax’, and neo-bhuailteachd do chìs for ‘exemption from tax’.

130:2 Both siorraidh and siorram are given for ‘sheriff’, and this variability extends to all forms based on ‘sheriff’, e.g. cùirt an t-siorraidh, cùirt an t-siorraim (50:1, 312:1). These two parallel forms have long existed in Gaelic, but it is clearly necessary to choose a preferred term in naming important public offices and institutions for official purposes.

131:2 Both sluaigh-bhòt and sluaigh-bhreith are given for ‘plebiscite’. A single term should be chosen; the former might be rather clearer.17 It might be permissible to use this term for ‘referendum’ as well (where, disappointingly, the bare English word has been recommended in preference to the Irish reifreann or a Gaelic compound).

138:2 Both taighean ann an ioma-sheilbh and taighean sa bheil grunnd a’ còmhnaidh are given for ‘houses in multiple occupation’. The former seems preferable, although arguably imprecise in that seilbh tends to refer to possession rather than occupation.

151:3 Both mì-ghnathachadh and droch dhìol are given for ‘abuse’ (n.), while only mì-ghnathaich is given for ‘abuse’ (v.). It is not clear whether a distinction is intended here, and which form would be used for important terms like ‘child abuse’ and ‘domestic abuse’ (terms which probably merit new entries).

154:2 Both comhairleach and neach-comhairleachaidh are given for ‘adviser’.

155:1 Both cleamhnaich and ceangail are given for ‘affiliate’ (v.), and both cleamhnachadh and ceangal for ‘affiliation’.

157:1 Both lèir-laghadh and maitheanas coitcheann are given for ‘amnesty’. The latter seems preferable.

166:3 Both càcas and caucus are given for ‘caucus’. Although a traditional Gaelic form would seem preferable here, the Gaelicised càcas is at least superior to caucus.

169:1 Both làithreach and suidheachail are given for ‘circumstantial’. This is a legal term, most commonly used in the phrase ‘circumstantial evidence’, and a single form needs to be fixed.

169:2 Both cathair-bhaile and cathair given for ‘city’. As cathair-bhaile is used in the forms for ‘city council’ and ‘city hall’, it would seem appropriate either to remove cathair here, or to use this historic form throughout.

174:2 The Faclair’s terminology relating to contract law is confused, even though precision is of the utmost importance in this area. Here, both cumha and cùmhnant are given for ‘condition’; a single, clear term is essential. Although cùmhnant has become the ordinary term for ‘contract’ in modern Gaelic, the Faclair generally uses cunnradh for this purpose (177:3). At the same time, however, both cùmhnant and coinbheinsean are given for ‘convention’, which is a form of contract (178:3). A careful re-examination of terminology in this area is essential.

175:3 Three different terms, co-fheall, cuilbheart and guim, are given for ‘conspiracy’. As this is a legal term of art, a single, clear form is essential.

182:2 Both Cunninghame a Tuath and Coineagan a Tuath are given for the constituency name ‘Cunninghame North’, and both Cunninghame a Deas and Coineagan a Deas are given for the constituency name ‘Cunninghame South’. A single consistent form should be used for all constituency names.

184:3 neach-dìona is given for ‘defendant’, while dìonadair given for ‘defender’. It is not clear that two distinct terms are required here. There is no difference between these two roles in the legal system; the only difference is one based on the terminology used in English in the English and Scottish legal systems, but there is no clear reason why this variation need carry over into Gaelic.

193:3 Both eaconamas and eaconamachd given for ‘economics’. The suffix –as is a useful marker of disciplines, sciences and so on, and seems preferable here.

202:1 Both teisteanas and fianais are given for ‘evidence’; fianais is also given as meaning ‘witness’ (347:1) and ‘testimony’ (330:2), where teisteas is also offered. ‘Evidence’, ‘testimony’ and ‘witness’ are specific legal terms of art and need unambiguous Gaelic equivalents. By the same token, basic words like teisteanas and fianais must themselves be unambiguous. Reconsideration is clearly required here.

205:1 Four terms are offered for ‘factor’, adhbhar, bun-chùis, eileamaid and . A single form should be chosen. Arguably none of the terms supplied is sufficiently specific, however; the simple factar might be better.

208:1 Three different forms are given for ‘finding’, stèidheachadh, fiosrachadh and breith, with both stèidheachadh na fìrinn and fiosrachadh mun fhìrinn given for ‘finding of fact’. A single, unambiguous form is required for this legal term of art; stèidheachadh seems adequate here.

210:1 Four forms are given for ‘foot and mouth disease’, an galar roileach, an galar roilleach, an galar ronnach and an galar ladhair is beòil. The form an galar roilleach seems to have become established through media usage and is to be preferred here.

211:1 Both foirmle and formula are given for ‘formula’.

212:1 Both beingear-aghaidh and beul-bheingear are given for ‘front-bencher’, but only cùl-bheingear is given for ‘back-bencher’ (161:1). As such, beul-bheingear would seem preferable here.

213:2 Both gin and gnè are given for ‘gender (sex)’.

214:3 Both Glaschu Shettleston and Glaschu Baile Sheadna are given for the constituency name ‘Glasgow Shettleston’. This and all constituency names should be given a single authoritative form.

217:2 Both sàrachadh gnèitheasach and sàrachadh feiseil are given for ‘sexual harassment’. The underlying problem here is that there is no agreed term in Gaelic for ‘sexual’, but a fixed and unambiguous form is clearly needed for ‘sexual harassment’, a term of legal significance.

218:2 Cùis, èisteachd and rannsachadh are all given for ‘hearing’. Two illustrative examples are given: cùis lagha ‘a court hearing’ and rannsachadh poblach ‘public hearing’. The distinctions between these terms are not at all clear, as discussed below; layout and substance should be revised.

222:2 Both dearbh-aithne and ionannachd are given for ‘identity’. The two meanings are quite different: ‘self-perception in social context’ as opposed to ‘identicalness’. It appears that the former meaning is intended, and as such ionannachd should be deleted.

223:1 Both neo-chlaonachd and a bhith gun lethbhreith are given for ‘impartiality’, and gun lethbhreith is given for both ‘impartial’ and ‘impartially’. In that lethbhreith is used to mean ‘discrimination’ (190:2) — an action in fulfilment of a predisposition rather than the predisposition itself — forms with neo-chlaon seem preferable here. Claon and claonachd could then be used for ‘partial’ and ‘partiality’, forms not presently given in the Faclair (although compare claon-bhreith ‘prejudice’ (276:3)).

227:3 Both òrdugh and òrdugh-cùirte are given for ‘injunction’. A single, unambiguous term should be chosen for this important legal term of art. Neither of these is sufficiently specific; they mean only ‘order’ and ‘court order’ respectively, and do not convey the particular meaning of ‘injunction’. Òrdugh-bacaidh might be appropriate. ‘Injunction’ is, of course, a term from English law; an entry should be added for the Scots law counterpart ‘interdict’, but there is no good reason why the same Gaelic form cannot be used for both.

228:1 Both neo-chiontach and neo-choireach are given for ‘innocent’. Greater precision is required here, particularly if the same form is to be used for ‘not guilty’, a legal term of art.

230:3 Both eadar-dhìoghaiseach and eadar-easbaigeach given for ‘inter-diocesan’; but only sgìre-easbaig is given for ‘diocese’ (189:3).18

230:3 Both eadar-dhreuchdail and eadar-dhiosaplaineach are given for ‘interdisciplinary’.

230:3 Both buidheann brosnachaidh and buidheann iomairt are given for ‘interest group’.

233:2 Both aonarachdas and lethoireachas are given for ‘isolationism’, with variations of these forms being used for ‘isolation’, ‘isolationist’ (adj.) and ‘isolationist’ (n.). A single term should be chosen, probably the more specific lethoireachas, which better connotes the sense of non-participation suggested by ‘isolationism’.

234:3 Both breith and binn are given for ‘judgement’. This is a legal term of art, and a specific Gaelic counterpart is clearly required. Note that the Faclair has no entry for ‘sentence’ (criminal punishment); one of these forms might be reserved for that quite distinct meaning. Note further that a plural form is required for binn to mean either ‘judgements’ or ‘sentences’, although no such form is given in existing Gaelic dictionaries.

235:1 Both uachdranas and dlighe-chomas are given for ‘jurisdiction’. A single form is needed for this important legal term of art.

236:2 Both baintighearna and ban-mhoraire are given for ‘Lady’, but ban-mhoraire alone is given for ‘peeress’ (266:3). This being a specific legal title, a single form is required.

242:1 Both lobaidh and trannsa are given for ‘lobby’, and both forms are given in the illustrative example lobaidh / trannsa cruinneachaidh ‘mass lobby’. A single form should be chosen, or the distinction, if any, clarified with the use of separate headwords.

245:2 Both stiùirichean and manaidsearan are given for ‘management (the personnel)’.

250:3 Both ùrachadh and nodhachadh are given for ‘modernisation’.

251:1 Both monopolaidh and lèir-shealbhachd are given for ‘monopoly’. The latter form is somewhat unwieldy, but clear enough, and preferable to the unimaginative Gaelicisation of the English word.

256:1 Both neo-eisimeileachd and neo-thaobhachas are given for ‘non-alignment’, but only neo-thaobhach is given for ‘non-aligned’. Given the semantic overload on neo-eisimeileach(d), the form neo-thaobhachas seems preferable here.

263:3 Both obair taobh a-muigh uairean àbhaisteach and seach-thìm are given for ‘overtime’. The former term would seem more appropriate for ‘unsocial work hours’.

265:1 Both Bòrd Cead-saoraidh na h-Alba and Bòrd Paroil na h-Alba are given for ‘Parole Board for Scotland’. No entry is given for ‘parole’; this should be added. The Gaelic form cead-saoraidh seems clear and acceptable, particularly since the term parol is used to mean ‘parol’, i.e. ‘given or expressed orally’ (265:1).

277:2 The entries relating to ‘presidency’ and ‘president’ are unclear. For ‘presidency (of a state)’, ceannas and uachdranachd are given, while ceann-suidhe is given for ‘president (of a state)’. In contrast, ceannas and a bhith sa chathair are given for ‘presidency (of a meeting)’, with ceann-suidhe and cathraiche given for ‘president (of a meeting)’. The tangling here should be resolved.

280:1 Both pribhleid and sochair are given for ‘privilege’. This is a legal term of art and it is essential that a single clear form be chosen. A form based on pribhleid would be preferable by virtue of its specificity; note that sochair is also given as denoting ‘benefit’ (131:3), its principal colloquial meaning. In addition, a plural form needs to be supplied.

This problem also arises in connection with the entry for ‘qualified privilege’, where both pribhleid a thoradh air teisteanas and socair a thoradh air teisteanas are given (141:3). However, at present there is nothing in the Gaelic to convey the sense of ‘qualified’ as opposed to ‘absolute’. In addition, the use of the word toradh (‘consequence’) in the forms given suggests immunity from adverse consequences following the giving of testimony, whereas privileges generally allow the holder of the privilege to refuse to testify at all.

The form le aonta is given with the general meaning ‘qualified (conditional)’ (287:1), but this is arguably both unsuitable and unclear. It might be better to use the term coingheallach here, a form given in Dwelly 2001 and well-established in this sense in Irish. As such, pribhleid choingheallach would be the form for the general term ‘qualified privilege’, and pribhleid choingheallach a thaobh teisteanais would be the form for ‘qualified testimonial privilege’.

280:2 Three terms are given for ‘proceedings’, còmhraidhean, cùisean and imeachdan. The first two are plainly too vague, while the third, based on the Irish term imeachtaí, may not be entirely transparent. Gnìomharran has been used in some circumstances and might be superior here.

281:1 Both prothaid and buannachd are given for ‘profit’.

287:2 Both càileachdail and inbheil are given for ‘qualitative’, and both breith chàileachdail and breith inbheil are given for ‘qualitative judgment’.

287:2 Both càileachd and mathas are given for ‘quality’. These words both relate to the same meaning of ‘quality’, ‘excellence’, rather than ‘feature’. A single form should be chosen for formal usage; it might also be helpful to add a new entry for ‘quality (feature)’ (? feart) for the avoidance of doubt here. In the interests of parallelism and clarity, the forms for ‘quality’ and ‘qualitative’ should match each other; it would therefore appear that càileachd should be used as the base term.

282:3 Both co-rèireach and co-roinneil are given for ‘proportional’, while air stèidh cho-rèireach is given for ‘on a proportional basis’ and riochdachadh co-roinneil is given for ‘proportional representation’. The use of two forms here seems inappropriate. In addition, co-rèireachas is given for ‘proportionality’, and co-rèireach is given for ‘proportionate’ (283:1). ‘Proportionate’ and ‘proportional’ appear to be mere synonyms in English, so the use of co-rèireach for both is acceptable (although the provision of the two entries may be superfluous). The form co-roinneil for ‘proportional’ should be deleted.

283:3 protocal, co-ghnàths and leas-chunnradh are all given for ‘protocol’. As noted above, the sense of ‘legal agreement’ (leas-chunnradh) merits a separate entry. Both protocal and co-ghnàths appear to mean ‘accepted behaviour’ and a single form, preferably the transparent, Gaelic co-ghnàths should be chosen for this purpose.

284:2 Both ùghdarras neach-ionaid and procsaidh are given for ‘proxy’. The former Gaelic form, although somewhat unwieldy, is transparent and specific, and seems the better choice here.

287:1 Both barrantas and teisteanas are given for ‘qualification’.

287:1 an urra ri and le aonta are both given for ‘qualified (conditional)’. Neither form seems especially transparent, but a single term should be chosen. As noted above, the form coingheallach seems superior..

290:2 lasachadh is given for ‘rebate’ and ath-dhìoladh is given for ‘repayment’ (295:3); but lasachadh cìse is given for ‘tax concession’ (328:1) and ais-ìocadh cìse given for ‘tax rebate’. A form also needs to be added for ‘discount’. Clear and appropriate distinctions between these various terms are required.

292:1 Both anbharra and pàigheadh dheth are given for ‘redundancy’. The latter form is simply a calque on the colloquial English term ‘pay off’. The form anbharra, as used in the illustrative example airgead-dìolaidh anbharra ‘redundancy payment’, seems appropriate here.

296:1 Both ais-ghairm and cuir às do are given for ‘repeal’, with Achd ais-ghairm given for ‘to repeal an Act’ and cu[i]r às do lagh given for ‘to repeal a law’. The specific form ais-ghairm seems preferable for the technical meaning of ‘repeal’.

300:3 Both clàsa leasachaidh and clàsa rabhaidh are given for ‘rider (to a document)’. The latter form would seem preferable here as it connotes more of the negating or prohibitory quality suggested by ‘rider’.

305:2 Both Oifis Èifeachdas Cumhachd na h-Alba and Oifis Cùmhnadh Cumhachd na h-Alba are given for ‘Scottish Energy Efficiency Office’.

308:1 Both fo-fhastaich and cuir air iasad are given for ‘second’. The former seems more specific, while the latter means simply ‘lend’ and could apply to anybody or anything.

308:2 Both clèireachas and rùnachas are given for ‘secretariat’.

314:2 Both in-ghabhail sòisealta and com-pàirteachadh sòisealta are given for ‘social inclusion’. The first form seems clearer and more specific, and matches the term given for ‘social exclusion’, às-dùnadh sòisealta.

315:1 Both comann-sòisealta and sòisealtas are given for ‘society’.

315:2 Both dìlseachd and dlùth-phàirteachas are given for ‘solidarity’. As dìlseachd means simply ‘loyalty’, dlùth-phàirteachas would seem superior, although the reason for the rejection of the form dlùthachd given in Thomson 1996 is not clear.

316:1 Both uachdarail and neo-eisimileach are given for ‘sovereign’. Uachdarail seems more specific, and there is significant semantic overload on neo-eisimileach. Moreover, the common phrase ‘independent sovereign state’ would be hard to translate.

317:3 Three different words are given for ‘sponsor’ (n.), sponsair, goistidh and urrasair. Forms of sponsair and goistidh are then used for ‘sponsor’ (v.) and ‘sponsorship’. Although perhaps not ideal, the Gaelic term goistidh seems superior to the borrowing sponsair.

319:1 Three different forms are given for ‘standard’ (n.), ìre de mhathas, bun-tomhas and inbhe. As noted above, the two meanings ‘degree of quality’ (ìre de mhathas) and ‘accepted benchmark’ (bun-tomhas) should be broken down into two distinct entries. The form inbhe is probably too vague to be useful here. At the same time, bun-tomhasach, suidhichte and coitcheann are all offered for ‘standard’ (adj.); the single form bun-tomhasach should suffice.

322:2 Both Srath Cheilbhin agus Bearsden and Srath Cheilbhin agus Cille Phàdraig Ùr are given for the constituency name ‘Strathkelvin and Bearsden’. A single consistent form is needed here.

323:3 Both sìneadas and cumhachd a thoirt nas fhaisg air na daoine are given for ‘subsidiarity’. While the former term is not immediately transparent, it seems preferable to the long-winded and arguably imprecise cumhachd a thoirt nas fhaisg air na daoine.

323:3 Both tabhartas and subsadaidh are given for ‘subsidy’. As tabhartas is the only form given for the important term ‘grant’ (215:2), subsadaidh seems preferable here.

324:1 Both guth-bhòtaidh and còir-bhòtaidh are given for ‘suffrage’. The latter form seems more specific and transparent.

324:2 Both sumanadh and bàirlinn are given for ‘summons’. As bàirlinn generally has the specific meaning of ‘notice to quit’, the form sumanadh seems the better of the two for ‘summons’.

324:3 Both stiùireadh and àireachas are given for ‘supervision’.

325:3 Both freasdal-lann and lèigh-lann are given for ‘surgery’, with freasdal-lann a’ BhPA given for ‘the surgery of an MSP’ and lèigh-lann dotair ‘a doctor’s surgery’.19 If it is intended to restrict the term lèigh-lann to medical contexts, in contrast to the more expansive use of the term ‘surgery’ in English, it might be better to give two headwords, ‘surgery (medical)’ and ‘surgery (other)’.

326:3 Both gluasad and luasgadh are given for ‘swing’ (i.e. a change in voting pattern).

327:3 Both cìs and taraif are given for ‘tariff’. Cìs on its own is plainly too vague here, while the raw English term taraif seems inappropriate; the compound form cìs malairt might be better.

330:1 Both tabhainn and tairg are given for ‘tender’ (v.), but only tairgse is given for ‘tender’ (n.). ‘Tender’ can have a technical meaning in relation to contracts, and care is required here.

333:1 Both ath-sgrìobh and tar-sgrìobh are given for ‘transcribe’

333:1 Both atharraich and gluais thairis are given for ‘transfer’ (v.), but only atharrachadh is given for ‘transfer’ (n.). Atharrachadh may well not be sufficiently specific here.

333:2 Both san eadar-ama and eadar-amail are given for transitional, and the illustrative examples fail to demonstrate a distinction between these two forms.20

333:3 Both follaiseachd and trìd-shoilleireachd are given for ‘transparency’. Although a common and much-used word, follaiseachd seems entirely sufficient here, while trìd-shoilleireachd is a mere translation of an English term whose meaning is, ironically, not immediately clear.

334:2 Three terms are given for ‘trespass’, briseadh chrìochan, coiseachd gu mì-laghail and treaspas. A single form is clearly required as ‘trespass’ is a legal term of art.

335:2 Both rabhadh deireannach and fògradh deireannach are given for ‘ultimatum’. The former seems more immediately understandable, although, despite being faithful to the original meaning of ‘ultimatum’, it may not convey the sense of adverse consequences being threatened.

338:1 Both coitcheann and uile-choitcheann are given for ‘universal’. The latter form seems more specific, just as ‘universal’ means something more than ‘general’ in English.

341:3 Both ion-obrachadh and comas obrachaidh are given for ‘viability’. As the form a ghabhas obrachadh is given for ‘viable’ (341:3), the latter form may be superior, although ion-obrachail might be substituted for a ghabhas obrachadh.

346:1 Both an Iar-mhanachainn and Westminster are given for ‘Westminster’. The Gaelicised form seems superfluous here.

12. Problems of substantive accuracy

In a number of cases the forms supplied in the Faclair are inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise deficient. These shortcomings should be examined in the process of preparing a revised edition.

160:1 barail is given for ‘assumption’. A much more specific term is required here to mean ‘thing that is accepted as true, without proof’.

66:1 eucoireach is given as one of three forms for ‘heinous’. This word means simply ‘criminal’, and is typically used in the phrase ‘heinous crime’, which would come out as the redundancy eucoir eucoireach. Eucoireach should be deleted here and only aingidh and gràineil offered for ‘heinous’. Note that the Faclair does not include a form for ‘criminal’ (adj.) and eucoireach should be added for that meaning.

66:3 fàg nas miosa dheth is given for ‘marginalise’. This phrase is a mere calque on the English ‘leave worse off’ and is insufficiently specific here.

99:1 leig mu sgaoil is given for ‘leak’, with the illustrative example leig e an sgrìobhainn mu sgaoil chun nam meadhanan given for ‘he leaked the document to the press’. This phrase means simply ‘release’ and conveys none of the sense of unauthorised or underhanded conduct suggested by the term ‘leak’.

110:1 piobrachadh is given for ‘heckling’. While this word’s original meaning is ‘adding pepper to’, its most common figurative meaning is ‘encourage’, and in the context of a speech would tend to suggest supportive comments to the speaker along the lines of ‘hear, hear’ rather than antagonistic verbal harassment. A stronger term like sàrachadh might be more appropriate here.

162:1 tha am beachd sin ri dheasbad fhathast is given for ‘that statement begs the question’. This oft-misunderstood phrase properly means ‘assumes something that requires to be proved first’, with a common misinterpretation taking it as ‘raises an obvious question’. The Gaelic form given here (literally ‘that question is still to be debated’) seems to correspond to neither.

166:2 lagh-cùise is given for ‘case law’. The form lagh-chùisean, with genitive plural rather than genitive singular, would be more accurate as this body of law involving many cases rather than just one. Lagh-cùise might be used for the much more specific term ‘law of the case’ (a form of res judicata).

168:2 thoir sùil air is given for ‘check’. This phrase means simply ‘look at’ and does not convey the sense of ‘confirm’ provided by ‘check’.

174:1 cead is given for ‘concession’. This is of course the basic word for ‘permission’ (see 267:3) and seems ill-suited to any of the meanings of the term ‘concession’. Indeed, three distinct entries would seem appropriate here, ‘concession (acceptance)’, ‘concession (discount)’ and ‘concession (licensed enterprise)’.

175:1 connspaideach is given for ‘confrontational’. While this meaning is well established, the meaning ‘controversial’ for connspaideach is so basic in public policy contexts that there is a potential for ambiguity here.

182:1 cruaidh-cheasnachadh is given for ‘cross-examination’. This form is insufficiently specific and would apply equally well, say, to a police interrogation; it does not convey the sense of formal questioning by the other side in an adversarial legal procedure. Tar-cheasnachadh might be a better form.

192:3 poileasaidh na dachaigh is given for ‘domestic affairs’. Unless this is intended to refer to house-cleaning and the like, the term dùthaich should be used instead of dachaigh, as in cùisean na dùthcha ‘home affairs’ (220:1).

193:3 lasachadh is given for ‘easement’ (and, more appropriately, for ‘rebate’ (290:3)). Lasachadh means simply ‘easing’, while ‘easement’ is a legal term of art referring to the right to enter or cross another person’s land (etymologically based on the Old French adverb aisement). Pribhleid cleachdaidh or pribhleid inntrigidh would be better here.

203:3 iomchaidh is given for ‘expedient’. Although normal for ‘appropriate’, the term iomchaidh does not convey the sense of convenient impropriety suggested by ‘expedient’. A more specific term is needed.

220:1 ro-innleachd chunnartach is given for ‘high-risk strategy’. This Gaelic phrase is too faint; an intensifier like air leth cunnartach might suffice.

222:1 cealgair and cealgach are given for ‘hypocrite’, ‘hypocrisy’; cealgach is also given the meaning ‘underhand’ (26:3), and cealg ‘treachery’ (26:3). It is not clear that the specific meanings of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘hypocrite’ (‘falsely claiming to have high standards’) are conveyed here.

223:1 fillte is given for ‘implicit’ and ‘implied’, and ciallaich is given for ‘imply’. These forms are clearly not specific enough, most glaringly ciallaich (the basic word for ‘mean’); reconsideration is required here. The forms chosen here should be based on the same root and should match those chosen for ‘explicit’, a term unfortunately omitted from the Faclair.

226:1 neach is given for ‘individual’. This form is insufficiently specific.

226:2 co-dhùnadh is given for ‘inference’. The basic meanings of this term are ‘conclusion’ and ‘decision’, and it by no means conveys the sense of indirect reasoning or deduction suggested by ‘inference’. A more specific term is required here.

231:1 The form buin ri is given for ‘interfere’, while cur a-steach is given for ‘interference’. The latter form is clear and seems adequate, but the first is puzzling. Cuir a-steach would seem preferable for ‘interfere’.

236:1 buaidh is given for ‘knock-on effect’. This is simply the basic word for ‘effect’, and does not convey the sense of secondary causation provided by ‘knock-on effect’. A more specific term is required.

240:1 both cliù-mhilleadh and tuaileas are given for ‘libel’ (n.); both cliù-mhill (ann an sgrìobhadh) and cuir alladh air are given for ‘libel’ (v.); both cliù-mhilleadh and tuaileas are also given for slander (314:1). Note also that the similar form mì-chliùthachadh is given for ‘defamation’ (184:2).

244:1 nithean a chaidh a chall is given for ‘losses’. This phrase means simply ‘things that have been lost’ and would not work to translate, for example, ‘the company has suffered significant financial losses’.

252:2 Seirbheis Iomlaid Fala Nàiseanta is given for ‘National Blood Transfusion Service’. The better form would be Seirbheis Nàiseanta Iomlaid Fala, following the structure of Aonadh Nàiseanta nan Tuathanach ‘National Farmers Union’ (252:3) and Comann Nàiseanta Pheinnseinearan Seann-Aoise ‘National Old Age Pensioners Association’ (253:3).

258:2 ceannairceach is given as one of two forms for ‘obstructive’. There may be a potential for confusion here, as this word has become strongly associated with the meaning ‘terrorist’ through media usage.

265:3 craoladh taghaidh is given for ‘party election broadcast’. The Gaelic form means simply ‘election broadcast’, with no reference to ‘party’.

268:1 iomlaid is given for ‘permutation’. This usage and the illustrative example dh’fheuch sinn gach iomlaid dòighe air a’ chùis ‘we have tried every permutation’ are difficult to understand.

271:1 ath-ghabh, literally ‘re-take’ or ‘take back’, is given for ‘poind’. Strictly speaking, poinding is merely an intermediate step in the debt recovery process, in which sheriff officers compile an inventory of a debtor’s property, in preparation for a subsequent warrant sale, when the property is actually disposed of.

292:2 iomraidhean bho na Cùirtean Nàiseanta (san Aonadh Eòrpach) is given for ‘references from National Courts (in the European Union)’, under the headword ‘reference (to a subject)’. The term ‘reference’ here, however, does not mean ‘mention’, but instead means ‘referral’ or ‘transmission’; ceistean / cùisean-lagha a chaidh a thoirt, or a phrase based on tar-chur ‘referral’ (292:3), is needed here. Note also that the capitalisation of Cùirtean Nàiseanta and ‘National Courts’ seems odd.

299:3 car tuathal is given for ‘reversal’. This traditionalist phrase may be limited in its range; it would not be suitable for ‘reversal of party policy’, for example.

314:1 aonad gnothachais beag is given for ‘small business unit’. This form would suit a ‘business unit’ that is small in size, but the entity in question is one dedicated to meeting the needs of small businesses; aonad ghnothachasan beaga would be more appropriate.

338:3 cainnt neo-oifigeil is given for ‘unofficial language’. If this is intended to mean ‘informal verbiage’, this form is acceptable; if intended to mean ‘language without official status’, cànan neo-oifigeil would be preferable.

13. Gaps in terminology

The Faclair contains a wide range of useful terms, but the gaps are significant. A revised edition should add a considerable number of terms if the Faclair is to become a viable working tool for translators and media personnel.

Proposed new terms are listed below, in several categories:

  1. General terms, all of which might readily be encountered in any broadsheet newspaper;
  2. Terms having a specialist legal meaning but widely known to the general public, with precision and non-ambiguity being particularly important;
  3. Names of officers, entities and institutions;
  4. Rhetorical expressions used in political discourse which do not require precise equivalents but ideally should have Gaelic counterparts of equal rhetorical impact

Where a proposed new entry can be inferred from related forms given in the Faclair, it is suggested in brackets with the < symbol indicating its derivation. Where a related form is given in the Faclair, but there is no ready counterpart form for the proposed new term, or where the ready counterpart form seems inappropriate, the < symbol is used but with nothing before it.

In some cases, Gaelic equivalents for some of the terms proposed for inclusion are in fact already well-established in the language and the process of supplementing the Faclair is straightforward (e.g. buannachd ‘advantage’, murt ‘murder’, pàirt-ùine ‘part-time’). In other cases, there are a number of basic words common in general English usage for which no ready Gaelic equivalents exist (e.g. ‘automatic’, ‘negative’, ‘optimistic’, ‘quotation’, ‘unique’) and the task of coining viable Gaelic forms is by no means easy.


Category 1:


achieve, achievement


alienation (feeling of disaffection)

amateur (n. and adj.)

ambiguity, ambiguous

anarchist, anarchy


apathetic, apathy

appease, appeasement


assimilate, assimilation

asylum, asylum seeker (? < comraich phoileataigeach ‘political asylum’ (272:1))


automatic, automatically


bad faith (? droch rùn < deagh rùn (205:2))

bias, biased




burgh (? baile (roinne-taghaidh) < baile (roinne-taghaidh) ‘borough’ (163:1))21




careerism, careerist


censor (n.), censor (v.), censorship

centralise, centralised, centralising (? meadhanaich < meadhanachadh centralisation (167:2))23


charisma, charismatic

check (n.)

civil liberties (? saorsainnean catharra < Comhairle Nàiseanta airson Shaorsainnean

Catharra ‘National Council for Civil Liberties’ (252:2))

(middle, upper, working) class

clawback (n.), claw back (v.)


climate change


colonial, colonialism, colonialist

communism, communist

competitive, competitiveness, competitor (? farpaiseach < (173:1))

concession (acceptance)

concession (discount)

concession (licensed enterprise)

confiscate, confiscation

conservatism (? caomhnachd < caomhnach ‘conservative’)

consistency (? co-chòrdaileas < co-chòrdail ‘consistent’)



constituency (group of people or organisations with a particular interest)


consumer (? neach-cleachdaidh < dìon luchd-chleachdaidh ‘consumer protection’ (177:1))



contingent (? tuiteamach?? < tuiteamas ‘contingency’)

contraception, contraceptive

conventional wisdom


corporation (? corparaid < Corparaid Leasachaidh Baile Ùir ‘New Town Development

Corporation’) (255:2))

costed (? < 180:1)


credential, credentials





cynical, cynicism


decommission, decommissioning

defeatism, defeatist

deference (? gèilleadh < gèilleadh ‘deferring’ (184:3))

define (? mìnich < mìneachadh ‘definition’ (185:1))

demagogic, demagogue, demagoguery

democratic deficit

demote, demotion

deport, deportation

diverse, diversify, diversity

(multiple, social) deprivation

deterrent (? < bac deter (188:1))24

developmental (? leasachail ?? < leasachadh development (188:2))



disadvantage (n.) (? mì-leasachadh < mì-leasachadh disadvantaging (189:3))25


discount (n. and v.)



disinterested (? gun chom-pàirt sa chùis < le com-pàirt sa chùis ‘interested’ (231:1))

disinvest, disinvestment (? < cur an seilbh ‘invest (232:3))

disposable (income)

disproportionate (? < co-rèireach ‘proportionate’ (283:1))

distort, distortion

divest, divestiture


divisive, divisiveness

(public) domain

double standard


drug, drugs, drug addict, drug addiction, drug dealer, drug tsar

dynamic, dynamics

dump, dumping (selling goods below cost for anti-competitive reasons)

ecological, ecology (? eag-eòlach < eag-eòlaiche ‘ecologist’ (193:3))

economic (? < eaconamas, eaconamachd economics (193:3))27

elite, elitism, elitist

endorse (give support to a candidate or policy)

emphasis, emphasise

entrepreneurial, entrepreneurialism (? < neach-tionnsgain entrepreneur (199:2))

environment, environmental, environmentalism, environmentalist

ethnic, ethnicity

escalation, escalate




experience, experienced

explicit, explicitly28

exploit, exploitation

extreme, extremist

factual (? < 205:2)

fascism, fascist

favourite (person most likely to succeed)

feudal, feudalism

float (an idea)


focus group

forfeit (? arfuntaich < arfuntachadh forfeiture (210:2))



general practitioner (GP)

genetically modified

genocidal, genocide

global warming


graduate endowment


hard-line, hard-liner

heresy, heretic, heretical

heterosexual, heterosexuality



hold (retain a seat at an election)


homosexual, homosexuality

homophobia, homophobic


housing association (? comann taigheadais < cosgaisean taigheadais housing costs (221:3))

housing scheme (? sgeama taigheadais < cosgaisean taigheadais housing costs (221:3))


hypothesis, hypothetical

ideological, ideologue, ideology

implausibility, implausible29



inefficient (? neo-èifeachdach < neo-èifeachdas inefficiency (226:1))




interaction, interactive

interim (n.) (? eadar-ama < eadar-ama interim period (62:3))

interpolate, interpolation

intolerance, intolerant32

investor (? < Taic le Cur an Seilbh Investment Assistance (232:3))

jargon, jargonistic


land reform33


legitimacy (? < (239:2))

lesbian, lesbianism

liberalism (? libearalachas < libearalach liberal (240:2))


low-profile (? < (220:1))

loyalist (? dìlseach < dìlseachd loyalty (244:3))

macroeconomic, macroeconomics




mental health

meritocratic, meritocracy

metropolis, metropolitan

militancy (? mileantachd < mileantach militant (248:2))



modernise, moderniser (? < 250:3)


monetary policy34

mortgage, mortgaged

motivate, motivated



multi-cultural, multi-culturalism (? ioma-chultarach, ioma-chultaras < ionad-stòrais ioma-

chultarach multi-cultural resource centre (251:3))

multi-lateralism, multi-lateralist, multi-laterally (< ioma-thaobhach (252:1))35


negative, negativity

neo-liberal, neo-liberalism

neutralise (? < 255:1)

non-governmental organisation (NGO)



occupy, occupation (hold territory illegally) (? gabhail thairis fearainn < gabhail thairis

togalaich occupation (of a building in protest) (258:3))

offshore (financial services context)

oligarch, oligarchy


opportunism, opportunist, opportunistic

optimism, optimist, optimistic37


organised crime

(sexual) orientation

original (adj. and n.)

orthodox, orthodoxy

ostracise, ostracism

overfund, overfunded, overfunding (? < maoinich fo ìre iomchaidh underfund (335:3))

pacifism, pacifist

paedophile, paedophilia

paranoia, paranoid


partial(ity) (? claon, claonachd < neo-chlaonachd impartiality (223:1))


passport (? cead-siubhail < Buidheann-ghnìomha nan Ceadan-siubhail Passport

Agency (266:1))

patent (adj.)

patient (n.)

patronise, patronising

peer pressure

pensioner (? peinnseinear < Comann Nàiseanta Pheinnseinearan Seann Aoise National Old Age

Pensioners Association (37:2, 253:3))

pessimism, pessimist, pessimistic

philanthropist, philanthropy

picket (n. and v.)


plausibility, plausible

popular, popularity38

populism, populist

power (energy or resource)



presume (take for granted) (< ro-bheachd presumption (278:3))


princess ( ? bana-phrionnsa < prionnsa prince (279:1))

privatisation, privatise

probation (? probhaidh < Oifis Probhaidh Probation Office (280:1))



productive, productivity

profitability, profitable (? < prothaid profit (281:1))


prohibition (? toirmeasg < toirmisg prohibit (281:3))

proliferate, proliferation

protectionism, protectionist

protest vote

provide, provision (contents of legislation)39


quotation, quote

reciprocity, reciprocal, reciprocate


refer (transfer, transmit)

regenerate, regeneration

regionalism, regionalist

rehabilitate, rehabilitation (? ath-ghnàthaich < Buidheann airson Ath-ghnàthachaidh tro

Thrèanadh Organisation for Rehabilitation through Training (262:2))

remunerative (? < ìocadh remunerate)


renewable, renewal (? < ath-nuadhaich renew (295:3))


repatriate, repatriation



retail, retailer

riot, rioter

rival, rivalry

road-equivalent tariff

rogue (adj.)

scandal, scandalous

scapegoat (v.) (? < ceap coireachaidh scapegoat (n.) (304:2))


sceptic, sceptical, scepticism

sectarian, sectarianism

segregate, segregation

separatism (? dealachas < dealachaidh separatist (310:3))

severance pay

sexism, sexist

share, shareholder (corporate ownership)

shop steward

(over)simplification (? < sìmplich simplify (313:1))

single-issue politics



social cohesion

sophisticated, sophistication

(political) spectrum

specialise (? spèisealaich < spèisealaiche specialist (317:1))

speculate, speculation (financial)

spin (? grèiseadh or obair-ghrèise < dotair-grèisidh spin doctor (317:2))

stake, stakeholder

stalk, stalker

standard of living


stealth tax

stewardship (? stiùbhardachd < co-òrdanaiche stiùbhardachd stewardship co-ordinator (321:2))

stereotype, stereotyped, stereotypical

stigma, stigmatise

stock market42

(general) strike


sub-contractor (? fo-chunnradair < fo-chunnradh subcontract (323:1))

successive, successor




term of art

tokenism, tokenistic

tolerance, tolerant, tolerate

trade (n.) (? malairt < turas malairt trade mission (332:1))

transaction, transactional

umbrella organisation


uncosted (? < 180:1)

unionism, unionist

unique, uniqueness

unpopular, unpopularity


unwritten rule (? riaghailt neo-sgrìobhte < bun-reachd neo-sgrìobhte unwritten constitution (339:2))


victimisation, victimise (? < 342:1)

voluntary (? saor-thoileach < buidheann-iomairt shaor-thoileach voluntary agency (343:1))

voucher (? eàrlas < Ionad Eàrlais Sgoil Àraich Nursery Voucher Centre (257:2))43


Category 2:

Developing a full range of legal terms, including technical terms relating to practice and procedure, would be a major task, requiring the participation of trained lawyers as well as lexicographers, and should not be undertaken in a vacuum; it is only worth developing such terminology if it is to be put to use. Until the Executive takes significant steps to increase the actual use of Gaelic in the Scottish legal system, such a project should not be a priority.44

On the other hand, there are a number of additional legal terms used in general political and media discourse that are needed immediately and should be added to the revised Faclair:

accusation (? < 152:3)

accused (person charged with a crime)

acquit, acquittal



allegation, allegations

alienate, alienation (give up property right)



approximation (making national laws more similar to each other)


bail (n.), bail (v.)

bankrupt, bankruptcy


bond, bondholder

breach of the peace


caution, cautioner

common law

company law

convict (? dìt < dìteadh ‘conviction’ (179:1))


criminal (? eucoireach < eucoir ‘crime’)

culpable homicide

custodial (sentence)

damages (? damaistean < damaistean peanasach ‘punitive damages’ (286:3))

debtor (? < fiach ‘debt’)



derogate, derogation

diminished responsibility

embezzle, embezzlement, embezzler


evict, evicted


extradite, extradition


harmonise, harmonisation

(culpable) homicide45

indictment (? < tog casaid an aghaidh indict (225:3))46

insolvency, insolvent

intellectual property


justifiable homicide


not guilty48

not proven

paragraph (in legislation)

parole (? cead-saoraidh < Bòrd Cead-saoraidh na h-Alba Parole Board for Scotland (265:1)

patent (n.) (? pàitinn < Oifis nam Pàitinn Patent Office (266:1))

predatory pricing


repossess, repossession


sentence (n. and v.) (criminal punishment)


sexual assault

sexual harassment

short assured tenancy


subsidiary (company owned by corporate parent)


tax credit (? creideas cìse < creideasan cìse tax credits (328:1))

tenancy, tenant50


testify (? < teisteas ‘testimony’ (330:2))


warrant sale

It might also be appropriate at this stage to give Gaelic forms for the following courts, court divisions and judges in Scotland:

Court of Criminal Appeal; Court of Exchequer; Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms; Court of Session; Election Petition Court; Inner House; Lord Justice-General; Lord Lyon; Lord Ordinary; Lord President; Outer House; Registration of Voters Appeal Court

At the very least, an official form for ‘Court of Session’, an entity mentioned almost daily in print and broadcast media, is essential.

Category 3:

The foreword notes that examples and collocations were provided ‘as time permitted’ (ix) but some of the choices are surprising. Various obscure entries are included (Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, Official Seed Testing Station, swine vesicular disease etc.) as are names for numerous private organisations, while authoritative Gaelic forms of names for important public bodies (Child Support Agency, Court of Session, Strategic Rail Authority etc.) are not provided.

Forms should be given for each of the local authorities in Scotland (Highland Council, City of Edinburgh Council etc.)

Forms should be given for each of the health boards and NHS trusts in Scotland (Argyll & Clyde Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Western Isles Health Board etc.)

Forms should be given for each of the local enterprise companies in Scotland (Lochaber Limited, Renfrewshire Enterprise etc.)

Forms should be given for each of Scotland’s police forces (Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police etc.)

Forms should be given for each of Scotlands universities and FE colleges. Puzzlingly, the Faclair gives forms only for Open University, University for Industryand University of the Highlands and Islands.51 Authoritatively agreed forms would be especially useful with regard to some of the newer universities whose Gaelic name is not immediately obvious, e.g. Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Abertay Dundee.

In addition, forms should be given for the following public agencies, offices and institutions:

Accounts Commission for Scotland; Advisory Committee on Sites of Special Scientific Interest; Advisory Panel of Economic Consultants; Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland; Audit Scotland; Benefits Agency; Broadcasting Standards Agency; Building Standards Advisory Committee; Central Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace (Scotland); Chief Constable; Child Support Agency; Childrens Hearing; Childrens Panel; Clinical Standards Board for Scotland; Common Services Agency for the National Health Service in Scotland; Community Education Review Group for Gaelic; Community Learning Scotland; Community Service Order; Competition Commission; Countryside and Natural Heritage Unit; Court of Session; Crown Estate Commissioners; Deer Commission for Scotland; Department for Education and Skills; Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions; Department for Work and Pensions;52 Direct Labour Organisation; Disability Discrim

As suggested above, naming private organisations should not be a particularly high priority. The Faclair should, however, be consistent. A number of trade unions are given Gaelic forms but some of the largest (e.g. the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, the Manufacturing, Science and Financial Union) are excluded. It is recommended that forms be given for all unions affiliated with the Trades Union Congress.

Category 4:

Political rhetoric in English relies on a wide range of figurative usage, a richness that is unfortunately not now replicated in Gaelic owing to its small language community and limited range of use. Examples of such metaphors and expressions are given below. It would be bizarre to attempt literal translations of many of these items, but unwieldy Gaelic translations that seek simply to unpack these English terms would be equally inappropriate (e.g. neach-poileataigs a tha ga stiùireadh a rèir phrionnsabalan agus bheachdan làidir for ‘conviction politician’). The only viable solution is to develop a rich Gaelic register of political discourse and debate, a complex process towards which a revised Faclair can make only an initial contribution.

Examples: ‘bargaining chip’, ‘basket case’, ‘charm offensive’, ‘conviction politician’, ‘dark horse’, ‘feelgood factor’, ‘go pear-shaped’, ‘jump on the bandwagon’, ‘knee-jerk reaction’, ‘litmus test’, ‘loose cannon’, ‘mudslinging’, ‘nanny state’, ‘olive branch’, ‘poisoned chalice’, ‘put on the back burner’, ‘slush fund’, ‘tartan tax’, ‘throw one’s hat into the ring’, ‘turf war’, ‘underdog’, ‘wake-up call’


In general, the Faclair is highly traditional in grammatical terms, retaining traditional inflected case forms to a significant, even marked degree. A significant exception is its innovative approach to the genitive case for feminine nouns, discussed in detail below.


1. Usage of the dative case

Usage of the dative case in the Faclair is entirely traditional. In almost all cases, indefinite feminine nouns are slenderised following prepositions:

Examples: ri buidhinn ‘to a group’ (27:1), bho choinneimh ‘from a meeting’ (51:1), air coinneimh ‘on/about a meeting’ (52:3), aig coinneimh ‘at a meeting’ (160:2).

Exception: mu choinneamh ‘about a meeting’ (dative mu choinneimh) (142:3)

This practice extends to the slenderisation of modifying adjectives:

Examples: ann an dòigh bhagraich ‘in a threatening manner’ (14:1), ceàrn le àrainneachd chugallaich ‘environmentally sensitive area’ (28:1), fo fhaire phoblaich ‘under public scrutiny’ (67:2), san earrainn phoblaich ‘in the public sector’ (78:3), air stèidh shealaich ‘on a temporary basis’ (123:3)

Exceptionally, one feminine noun not given its traditional dative form is Alba; the form Alba is used in all cases rather than the traditional dative Albainn and the traditional genitive Albann. Although the practice with regard to the genitive form is noted (if not fully explained) in the foreword to the Faclair, as discussed below, no reason for this treatment of the dative form is given.

Recommendation: a consistent practice should be followed with regard to the dative case.

2. Usage of the genitive case

  1. Compound prepositions

    With sporadic exceptions, the Faclair generally uses genitive rather than nominative forms of indefinite nouns following compound prepositions, a usage that is distinctly traditional, perhaps even bordering on hypercorrect.

    Examples (among many): airson adhbhair ‘for a reason’ (3:1); a rèir ceartais ‘justifiable’ (28:2); mu choinneimh fàis ‘for growth’ (42:1); an lùib sgrùdaidh ‘in connection with a review’ (129:2); an aghaidh mì-cheartais ‘against injustice’ (144:1); a thaobh ionmhais ‘with regard to finance’ (207:3); air sgàth prionnsabail ‘for reason of principle’ (318:3)

    Exceptions: an dèidh beachdachadh (genitive an dèidh beachdachaidh) ‘advisedly’ (154:2); airson taghadh (genitive airson taghaidh) ‘for election’ (318:3)

    This conservative usage is extended to indefinite nouns modified by an adjective:

    aonad airson poileasaidh eaconamaich ‘economic policy unit’ (8:2), an aghaidh poileasaidh phoblaich ‘against public policy’ (111:1, 286:1)

    Recommendation: a consistent rule should be followed here and genitive forms, if considered appropriate, should be used with compound prepositions throughout the revised Faclair.

  2. The verbal noun

    The Faclair also follows conservative practice in using genitive forms of indefinite nouns following a verbal noun. This usage is certainly not normal in colloquial Gaelic; it is not given in Byrne 2000 and was not recommended by any of the various experts consulted in connection with the CALG project (see McLeod 1998: 34).

    Examples (among many): a’ moladh faicill ‘counselling caution’ (66:3), a’ cur bacaidh ‘hindering’ (141:1, 322:3 ), dèanamh measaidh ‘assessing’ (158:2)

    Although the genitive is used in a heavy majority of cases, there are a number of exceptions: a’ dèanamh dàil ‘delaying’ (genitive a’ dèanamh dàlach (see 185:1)) (13:3); a’ gabhail dragh ‘worrying’ (genitive a’ gabhail dragha) (60:3); a’ cumail sùil ‘keeping an eye one’ (genitive a’ cumail sùla) (136:2); a’ tarraing amharas ‘attracting doubt’ (genitive a’ tarraing amharais) (173:2); ag iarraidh ath-chunntadh ‘demanding a recount’ (genitive ag iarraidh ath-chunntaidh) (185:2); dèanamh eucoir ‘committing a crime’ (genitive dèanamh eucorach) (259:1); gabhail aithreachas ‘regretting’ (genitive gabhail aithreachais) (294:2); toirt geàrr-chunntas air ‘summarising’ (genitive toirt geàrr-chunntais air) (324:2)

    This conservative usage is extended to the use of genitive forms of indefinite nouns modified by an adjective following a verbal noun: cur rian ùir air ‘reorganising’ (295:3). This practice probably crosses the line into hypercorrection, as this usage appears to have been moribund by the early 20th century (Murchison 1960: xxvi).

    Recommendation: a revised edition of the Faclair should ensure consistency of grammatical practice with regard to the verbal noun, and should re-evaluate whether continued rigid use of the genitive in all positions is truly appropriate.

  3. Genitive forms of feminine nouns

    One of the Faclair’s more striking and problematic innovations is the treatment of feminine nouns in the genitive case: adjectives (and nouns in hyphenated compounds functioning as adjectives) following genitive singular feminine nouns which have lost or do not form genitives with terminal –e are lenited. This is in contrast to the traditional practice (still applied to feminine nouns with genitives having terminal –e) whereby such adjectives are unlenited and given a terminal –e.

    While this treatment is recognised as an optional form in existing grammars, it seems to be connected to the process of morphological simplification or breakdown (e.g. Byrne 2000: 32-34). In the Faclair, however, this principle is applied to all feminine nouns that form genitives without terminal -e, including those that have never (in recent centuries at least) taken a genitive form of this kind, and not simply those that may be considered to have undergone morphological simplification by loss of a former terminal e in the genitive. The most important examples are nouns with genitives in ach and achd, which yield lenition in qualifying adjectives: e.g. Roinn na Tèarainteachd Shòisealta Department of Social Security (186:2), àrainneachd phoileataigich as the genitive of àrainneachd phoileataigeach political environment (272:1). However, there is variability in usage with feminine nouns whose genitive forms end

    Above and beyond any difficulties with this general principle, there are problems in its application as a result of the specific forms supplied in the Faclair. In general, the Faclair retains e genitive forms in many nouns where they are no longer typical in vernacular speech; as such, an apparent relaxation of traditional grammatical principles in order to conform to vernacular practice may in fact be an awkward compromise. In addition, there is variability in the forms given in the Faclair, with an e genitive being used in certain entries and a genitive without terminal e appearing in different entries involving with the same word.

    The following words appear to be given terminal e in their genitive forms consistently throughout the Faclair:

    àbhaist > àbhaiste norm (256:3), acfhainn > acfhainne equipment (208:2), ais-ghairm > ais-ghairme repeal (296:1), anailis > anailise (157:1), bànrigh > bànrighe queen (61:2, 287:2), barail > baraile opinion (160:1), being > beinge (162:1), binn > binne judgement (adjudication) (234:3), bòid > bòide oath (257:3), buaidh > buaidhe benefit, effect (194:3, 226:2, 236:1), buil > buile consequence (175:2), cainnt > cainnte speech (211:3), cealg > ceilge hypocrisy (222:1), connspaid > connspaide controversy (178:2), cuip > cuipe (346:1), cùirt > cùirte court (180:3), deuchainn > deuchainne examination (330:2), duilichinn > duilichinne regret

    While these forms generally reflect current formal usage (if not necessarily colloquial practice), it is significant that Brìgh nam Facal (Cox 1991) gives genitive forms without final –e for four of the words above: connspaid, ìomhaigh, lèirsinn and linn. Watson 2001 gives connspaide but ìomhaigh, lèirsinn and linn.

    In contrast, the following words appear to be given no terminal –e in their genitive forms consistently throughout the Faclair:

    abairt > abairt ‘expression (phrase)’ (204:2), àmbasaid > àmbasaid ‘embassy’ (196:3), argamaid > argamaid (159:1), bileag > bileig ‘form’ (170:1, 299:2), breith > breith ‘judgment’ (208:1, 234:3, 303:2), coinneamh > coinneimh (158:2, 247:2), comraich > comraich ‘sanctuary’ (272:1), cosgais > cosgais (179:3), cusbainn > cusbainn ‘customs, excise’ (182:3), dachaigh > dachaigh ‘home’ (220:2), èiginn > èiginn ‘emergency’ (181:2, 196:3), eileamaid > eileamaid ‘element’ (196:1), Gearmailt > Gearmailt ‘Germany’ (337:2), gibht > gibht ‘gift (talent)’ (214:2), inntinn > inntinn (16:1, 228:3), labhairt > labhairt (174:3, 211:3), làrach > làraich ‘site’ (313:2), malairt > malairt ‘trade’ (114:3, 161:2, 186:2, 332:1), pàirt > pàirt ‘part’ (282:3), ùrnaigh > ùrnaigh ‘prayer’ (276:1)

    Again, there is some discrepancy with Brìgh nam Facal (Cox 1991), in which the genitive forms abairte, argamaide, comraiche and cosgaise are given.

    A more serious discrepancy is the inconsistency in the forms used for specific words within the Faclair itself:

    In other instances, the Faclair gives alternative genitives of common feminine nouns, one form with terminal –e and one without. This has the consequence that the use of lenition in modifying adjectives is left somewhat uncertain — a potential problem with regard to formal names of entities and acts.

    There is also confusing variability in the genitive forms supplied for certain other feminine nouns, although here there is no uncertainty concerning the lenition of modifying adjectives, as neither form ends in –e.

    Finally, the Faclair abandons the traditional genitive form of Alba, Albann, although Albann has been used fairly consistently in official documents up to now. A brief note on page xiii announces summarily that ‘the team recommended the use of "na h-Alba"’ rather than na h-Albann’, but no explanation for this decision is given. The decision is somewhat puzzling in light of previous practice in official publications, the Faclair’s generally conservative treatment of the genitive case, and the retention of the traditional genitive form Èireann (203:1, 247:3, 256:3) in preference to the colloquial Èirinn.

  4. The genitive case and complex definite noun phrases

    The Faclair’s treatment of complex definite noun phrases requires further attention: certain principles are stated explicitly but should be applied more consistently, and certain additional questions should be definitively resolved, clearly explained, and consistently applied.

    The following rule is given on p. xvii of the Faclair:

    In compounds of the type genitive noun1 + article +genitive noun2 the genitive is not marked before the definite article in normal Gaelic usage (though the noun in question if a proper noun and masculine will generally if susceptible undergo syntactic proper noun lenition).


    Clàr nan Làraichean Àrsaidh

    (meud) Chlàr nan Làraichean Àrsaidh

    Compounds of this type are shown as:

    Clàr (fir) nan Làraichean Àrsaidh

    Chlàr nan Làraichean Àrsaidh gin

    This approach squares with the principles implicit in existing grammars (e.g. Calder 1980 [1923]) but does not appear to be applied consistently. For example, lenition of the initial noun might be expected in the genitive forms of the following entries (among a number of others), although this is not given in the Faclair:

    182:2 Comar nan Allt agus Cill Saidhe ‘Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’

    201:1 Banca Coitcheann na h-Eòrpa ‘European Central Bank’ (cf. 201:3: Bhanca Calpa na

    h-Eòrpa given as the genitive of Banca Calpa na h-Eòrpa ‘European Investment Bank’)

    213:1 Pròiseact nan Ealan Gaelic Arts Development Council [sic]60

    214:1 Barrantas Dreuchdail Coitcheann na h-Alba ‘General Scottish Vocational Qualification’

    251:1 Coimisean nan Lèir-shealbhachd is nan Coimeasg ‘Monopolies and Mergers Commission’

    254:1 Comann Nàiseanta nan Caorach ‘National Sheep Association’ (cf. 201:3 Chomann Saor-mhalairt na h-Eòrpa given as genitive of Comann Saor-mhalairt na h-Eòrpa ‘European Free Trade Association’).

    307:2 Pàrtaidh Sòisealach na h-Alba ‘Scottish Socialist Party’

    In contrast, the Faclair appears to be consistent that in compounds of this type — genitive noun1 + article +genitive noun2 — lenition of genitive noun1 does not occur when this noun is feminine. Although implicit in the extract quoted above, this principle should be stated clearly and explicitly.

    The Faclair does not state any operating principle with regard to complex definite noun phrases that do not include the definite article. One important unresolved question is the appropriateness of lenition in the genitive forms of such phrases that begin with a masculine noun. For example, lenition might be expected in the genitive forms of structures when a place-name beginning with a masculine noun is involved, such as Coineagan a Tuath Cunninghame North (182:2), Choineagan a Deas Cunninghame South (182:2), and Baile Átha Cliath Dublin (193:1).61 More generally, the role of lenition in genitive forms like Cuibhreann Dìolaidh Stuic air Talamh Àrd Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance (220:1), Bhòrd Deuchainn Nàiseanta Sgoiltean Àraich National Nursery Examination Board (253:2), and Comann Rìoghail nan Ealan Royal Society of Arts (303:1) should be re-examined. Lenition-related inconsistencies in related terms should also be reviewed: for example, Ùghdarras Shlàinte a' Phobaill is given as the genitive of Ùghdarras Slàinte a' Phobaill 'Public Health Authority', but oifigear slàinte a' phobaill is given as the genitive of oifigear slàinte a' phobaill 'public health officer' and aonad slàinte a' phobaill as the genitive of aonad slàinte a' phobaill 'public health unit' (285:2).67

    Also requiring attention is the appropriateness of lenition of feminine nouns in such definite noun phrases; the Faclair consistently gives genitive forms without lenition, but lenition is normal in ordinary usage with place-names like Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain ‘Campbeltown’ and entities like Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla ‘Benbecula College’.

    A more basic question involving such structures is the appropriateness of genitive marking in genitive noun1 in complex genitive structures that do not contain a definite article. As noted above, the Faclair explains that when the definite article is used in a complex genitive structure no genitive marking occurs before the definite article. At some points in the Faclair, however, ‘double genitive’ forms appear in complex genitive structures where the definite article is not used, e.g. Comainn Teaghlaichean Shaighdearan, Sheòltairean agus Luchd-adhair as the genitive of Comann Teaghlaichean Shaighdearan, Sheòltairean agus Luchd-adhair ‘Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmens’ Families Association’ (315:2). Clear principles should be set out and implemented in this context.

    Clearly stated and consistently applied principles on all these points would be extremely useful.

    Recommendation: these entries should be re-examined and re-edited carefully to ensure consistency, and the principles governing the morphology of the genitive case of feminine nouns should be reviewed. The treatment of complex definite noun phrases should be examined more closely and clear and comprehensive principles should be set out.

3. Gender uncertainty

For historical reasons, a number of nouns, many of them originally neuter, vary in gender according to dialect. The Faclair generally notes that such nouns can be either masculine or feminine, although in some cases well-established variants are excluded. In most cases, however, one gender or the other is then chosen for oblique case forms or for compounds based on the word in question.

Although it might be argued that a single gender should be chosen for standardisation purposes, the approach taken in the Faclair comports with the general view that reasonable flexibility is appropriate in matters of dialectal divergence.

A more problematic practice in the Faclair is the giving of both genders for certain modern loan-words. Here, it would seem appropriate to choose a single gender and apply that form consistently.

It may be that the indication of gender variability in some of these recent loan-words is actually intended to indicate that the word in question, like certain other loan-words like fòn ‘telephone’ (see 329:1), is not be treated according to normal Gaelic morphological principles. For example, the term euro ‘euro’ is given as being both masculine and feminine; it may simply be intended that the same form be used in all singular positions, i.e. an euro in both the nominative and the genitive, rather than an t-euro > an euro (as if masculine) or an euro > na h-euro (as if feminine). If this is the thinking here, it should be made explicit.


The spelling of Gaelic has long been a matter of controversy and has attracted substantial and arguably disproportionate attention over the years. It is both predictable and depressing that orthographical questions — rather than terminological matters or the underlying political issue of expanding the use of Gaelic in Scottish public life — have been the focus of most public comment concerning the Faclair, both in the course of its preparation and following its publication.

The Faclair endeavours to comply with GOC (Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board 1981) while taking on board certain modifications that have come into widespread use in more recent years.68 The foreword to the Faclair identifies some of the more noteworthy features (xii-xiv); perhaps the most valuable modification is the consistent use of accents on capital letters as well as lower-case letters.

1. The use of hyphens in compound words

The most significant orthographic deficiency of the Faclair relates to its use of hyphenation in compound words, which are especially common in this register. This has long been a problem area in Gaelic orthography.

The foreword explains that hyphenation will be used in ‘closely bound compounds’ but not in ‘non-closely bound compounds’ (xvii). The use of hyphenation will then have morphological consequences: in the former case, ‘a noun in the genitive qualifying (modifying) another noun will be lenited or not as a qualifying adjective would be in the same position’, but in the latter ‘the qualifying genitive noun will not be lenited’ (xvii). Two compounds involving the feminine noun buidheann ‘group’ (here treated as feminine in gender) are given as examples: buidheann-ghnìomha ‘action group’, with lenition, and buidheann comhairleachaidh ‘an advisory body’, without lenition.

Unfortunately, usage in the Faclair reveals that this principle has not been put into practice in an effective manner; it may not be possible to distinguish in a clear and predictable manner between ‘closely bound compounds’ and ‘non-closely bound compounds’. On a number of occasions the same word is spelled differently at different points in the Faclair, sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes without; while in others, highly similar compounds vary unpredictably in the use of hyphenation. This variability is clearly unacceptable; a re-examination of this key area is crucial.

More commonly, a hyphen is used in certain entries but not in closely related forms, and it seems impossible to discern any principled basis for the variability:

In a few places, the use or non-use of hyphenation seems irregular or exceptional:

air-loidhne ‘on-line’ (5:2, 260:2)

air-teachdaireachd ‘on-message’ (5:2, 260:2)

bòrd-geal ‘white board’ (18:3, 346:1)

cuairtlitir ‘circular (letter)’ (46:2, 168:3)

dleastanas-sònraichte given for ‘assignment’ (59:2, 159:3)

With some entries, the use of lenition in compound words does not seem to follow the general principles guiding the Faclair:

ceist bheòil ‘oral question’ (261:3) (? ceist beòil)

fianais bheòil ‘oral evidence’ (261:3) (? fianais beòil)

freagairt bheòil ‘oral answer’ (261:3) (? freagairt beòil)

obair-cùise ‘casework’ (104:3, 166:2) (? obair-chùise)

obair-pàipeir (103:3) (? obair-phàipeir)

Recommendation: a fundamental re-evaluation is necessary in this key area. The clear and consistent rules adopted in Irish (Rannóg an Aistriúcháin 1958) should be considered within this assessment.

2. Miscellaneous orthographic inconsistencies

A number of miscellaneous orthographic inconsistencies occur at various points in the Faclair. Some of these inconsistencies are not truly orthographic in nature but instead involve dialectal differences or morphological matters; they are grouped here for ease of reference. For the avoidance of doubt, it would be helpful if a consistent approach were followed in these areas.

3. Unmarked elision: problems of ambiguity?

The Faclair follows conventional Gaelic orthographical practice and adopts a practice of omitting most vowels in written forms when these are elided in speech; although at the same time it states a preference for forms such as balla àrd ‘high wall’ and duine òg ‘young man’ to ball’ àrd and duin’ òg on the grounds that ‘they represented the formal register and were therefore more suited to use in the context of the Parliament’ (xiii).

This practice of omitting vowels was criticised in the CALG report (McLeod 1998: 24) as leading to confusion among learners of Gaelic; more problematic for purposes of public policy is the potential for ambiguity, particularly with regard to the potential disappearance of the possessive pronoun a ‘his’. This problem is especially acute when the unwritten a is followed by a vowel or unlenitable consonant or consonant combination, as there is then no lenition of the following word to show the impact of the unwritten a. For example, the phrase chaill e eàrlas, given at 186:3 to mean ‘he lost his deposit’, could equally well mean ‘he lost a deposit’.

The normal justification for such forms is that context will explain what is meant. This may be a viable approach when participants in a conversation or reading are working in good faith towards mutual comprehension; in adversarial settings like the floor of Parliament or the courtroom, however, participants may strain to find ambiguities or plausible alternative readings or misreadings. Indeed, some politicians and lawyers are masters of this art. As Gaelic grows into formal settings, including formal, adversarial environments, orthographic practice must be as clear as possible.

An alternative practice is to use apostrophes to indicate elision and omitted letters: chaill e ’eàrlas. Although logical and well-precedented in Gaelic writing of the past, this method may appear unattractive to some, and there appears to be a powerful antipathy to apostrophes among certain users of Gaelic, particularly among some in the educational sector.

Examples of unmarked elision abound in the Faclair. In the selected examples below, the missing vowel, not given in the Faclair’s text, is marked in bold.

cumhachd a thoirt nas fhaisge air na daoine subsidiarity (51:3); chaill e a eàrlas he lost his deposit (64:2); cumhaichean a òrdachadh to dictate terms(107:2); àite-fhuirich (genitive form of àite-fuirich accommodation) (152:2); tha e air a dhol air ais air a fhacal he has gone back on his word (163:2); aithisg a ullachadh to prepare a report (176:2); rinn iad fanaid air a òraid they derided his speech (187:2); tha sin a toirt air falbh bho a chliù that detracts from his reputation (188:2); chaidh a aingidheachd a mhaitheadh dha his iniquity was pardoned (227:2); an deasbad a fhosgladh to open the debate (260:2)72

Recommendation: for clarity and the avoidance of doubt, all vowels should be written out in full.


The analysis presented in this report demonstrates that the first edition of Faclair na Pàrlamaid, although an important step forward in the process of Gaelic development, is deficient in a number of important respects and that preparation of a revised edition must be an urgent priority.

In taking the Faclair project forward, care must be taken to avoid what might be described as ‘linguistic centralism’, the view that linguistic decisions or choices, once made, can never be revisited or revised. This stance has been widespread in the Gaelic community with regard to orthographic matters, and has meant that ill-considered decisions are rendered impossible to correct (cf. foreword at xi). With regard to the Faclair, the process of terminological and stylistic development must be organic; the language must continue to develop and evolve, and the choice of forms must ultimately rest with users of Gaelic, speaking and writing the language over time and in diverse contexts. It may be that specific forms offered in the first edition of the Faclair will not gain currency, or that new forms will be coined in the media or other environments that diverge from the ‘official’ term. Such a process is natural and healthy, and should be not only accepted but welcomed (Nic Eoin and Mac Mathúna 1997).

At the same time, revision and expansion of the Faclair only really makes sense if Gaelic is to be used on a meaningful and regular basis within Scotland’s national political institutions. The preparation of an improved Faclair must therefore be coupled with an intensified drive to ensure that Gaelic achieves official status and takes a significant role in Scottish public life.



Noted below are a number of typographical errors in the Faclair. Many of these merely involve layout, usually the use of Roman type where italics are appropriate according to the chosen presentation. Errors are generally marked in bold type, but italics are used when the error is simply the use of Roman type rather than italic. Where the same error occurs twice in the same column, it is noted twice here

6:1 accommodation

17:1 atharrachadh a bhòtadh às

25:3 cùisean

(airson eucoir an aghaidh na stàite)

(airson eucoir an aghaidh na stàite)73

26:1 chaidh iarraidh oirre a’ chathair a ghabhail

28:2 a bhith ceàrr

42:3 fir / boir (following companaidh)

concordait boir

concordat n

47:3 dèan cuilbheart

chaidh cur às

48:2 comataidh a chur air bhonn

cuir an aghaidh puing

cuir an aghaidh bhòtaidh

49:3 sully someone’s reputation

60:2 irremediable adj

61:3 dùbhlan cuideachail

64:2 fir / boir (following earraid)

66:1 eucoir a dhèanamh

72:1 by-law

75:2 Pollok

81:1 multi-lateral (compare ‘multi-cultural’, ‘multi-disciplinary’, ‘multi-party’ 80:2, 81:1, 251:3, 252:1)

83:3 Scots law

94:1 on sufferance

113:2 Gaelic Arts Agency

115:2 reat leasachail

128:1 sgìre slàinte

128:2 sgìre taghaidh74

130:2 Aberdeenshire West

137:3 taghadh fir Pàrlamaid

143:3 tìodhlac

145:1 tòisichidh a’ choinneamh

145:1 a’ faireachdainn

146:1 Medical Appeal Tribunal

160:3 Comataidh (boir) Sgrùdaidh

160:3 Comataidh Sgrùdaidh gin

161:1 bun-fhiosrachadh fir

163:2 delete Comataidh (boir)

Comhairleachaidh air

delete Comataidh (boir)

Comhairleachaidh air75

163:2 chuir iad am poca analach air

164:3 by-law

165:3 buannachd phoileataigeach

166:3 no comma following suidheachadh-bàn sealach

166:3 no comma following shealaich gin

169:1 baile (fir) mòr

169:2 cathrach gin

174:2 concordat n

concordait boir

concordait gin

concordaitean iol

176:2 to prepare a report76

180:3 Cùirt nan Còraichean Daonna gin

185:1 teacsa dheimhinnte77

194:1 economics

194:1 eaconamachd

194:2 Institiud (boir) Foghlaim

194:2 Institiud Foghlaim

197:2 Employment Appeal Tribunal

Tribiunal-tagraidh (fir) Cosnaidh etc. (compare 146:1)

198:2 gu sùrdail cgr

198:2 gu lùthmhor cgr

199:1 Comataidh (boir) na h-Iomairt

200:3 euros

201:1 Comataidh Eòrpach gin

213:1 Gaelic Arts Agency

213:2 a’ faireachdainn

214:3 Pollok

217:1 an t-saibheir

217:1 an t-saibheir

218:2 fathann fir

fathainn gin

223:2 an aghaidh na stàite) gr

an aghaidh na stàite) agr

231:2 Ùghdarras (fir) Eadar-nàiseanta

Ùghdarras Eadar-nàiseanta a’

232:2 dèan agallamh

232:1 add: eadra-lìontan iol

235:2 Comataidh (boir) a’

236:3 Lands Tribunal

Tribiunal (fir) Fearainn etc. (compare 146:1)

237:3 mì-laghalachd

237:3 mì-laghalachd

244:3 prìomh phrògraman bailteil iol

247:1 Medical Appeal Tribunal

Tribiunal (fir) airson Ath-thagraidhean Meidigeach etc. (compare 146:1)

249:3 eugsamhail,

measgaichte br

251:1 Coimisean nan Lèir-shealbhachd is nan Coimeasg gin

252:1 multi-lateral (compare ‘multi-cultural’, ‘multi-disciplinary’, ‘multi-party’ 80:2, 81:1, 251:3, 252:1)

253:2 National Lottery

Crannchur Nàiseanta (compare 244:2)

254:3 Atlantic

260:3 companaidh (fir/boir) seilbhe

263:2 Buidheann-rianachd Leasachaidh Chèin gin

263:3 obrach taobh a-muigh uairean

àbhaisteach gin,

268:2 buadhmhor

269:2 cuir ann an cunntas

277:2 tìodhlac

280:2 Comataidh (boir) nan

284:2 provisos pl

286:2 foillseachadh agr

290:1 add: rìoghachdan iol

294:1 Nursaichean Inntinneil

296:1 cuir às do lagh

303:2 Comataidh (boir) Leasachaidh


Comataidh Leasachaidh

Dhùthchail gin

304:3 sgoil le ceannsal soir-thoileach

308:2 secret n

rùn-dìomhair fir

309:2 tèarainteachd boir

tèarainteachd gin

310:3 Oifis an t-Seàirdeint gin

312:1 Sheriff n Principal

312:3 buill air taobh eile

an t-seòmair

316:1 cothachadh (fir) an

aghaidh a chèile

cothachaidh an

aghaidh a chèile gin

318:1 luchd-obrach gin (s.v. ‘staff’)

319:1 inbhe boir

inbhe gin

inbhean iol

Comataidh (boir) Inbhean

Comataidh Inbhean gin

gnàth-chomataidh (boir)

320:2 ann an-dràsta

ann an-dràsta gin

323:2 Comataidh (boir) an Fho-


328:1 buidhne gnìomha gin78

328:3 Buidheann (boir) Trèanaidh

Buidheann Trèanaidh

330:3 add: cuipe trì-loidhne gin

cuipean trì-loidhne iol79

331:3 add: bùird turasachd iol

333:3 Comataidh (boir) na Còmhdhail

339:2 of a statesman

340:3 caochlaidh gin

342:3 sealladh air na tha

ri teachd

343:1 sgoil (boir) le taic shaor-thoileach

345:3 thàinig e / i a steach

an deagh àm

345:3 Aberdeenshire West

347:1 taobh a-staigh (roi le gin)

349:2 a bhith ceàrr

350:1 oibriche-òigridh fir

oibriche-òigridh gin

oibrichean-òigridh iol

350:2 an cron as lugha


The author is grateful to William Gillies, Alasdair MacCaluim, Michael Newton, Peadar Morgan, and Dòmhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart for their comments on an earlier draft of this report. All opinions expressed herein, and all mistakes of commission and omission, remain the responsibility of the author.


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MacilleDhuibh, Raghnall (2001). ‘Cainnt ghrinn phàrlamaideach an dubh ’s an gorm’. The Scotsman, 1 June.

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1This last form may not properly exist in the singular; it might instead be given under 'terms (basis)'.
2This spelling does not reflect the pronunciation of the English 'veto'; bhìoto might be more suitable.
3Note that the plural form crèches is given, suggesting that the French word is to be retained here rather than Gaelicised.
4A long o would be expected here to reflect the vowel of the English 'quota'; the spelling as given would also imply pre-aspiration according to traditional Gaelic orthographic principles.
5Ronald Black has suggested sluaghfhlaitheas here, a transparent and useful term (MacilleDhuibh 2001). The Irish daonfhlaitheas is also an attractive alternative.
6The spelling with g here adds to the peculiarity; the form lèidion might be an improvement.
7Some commentators have criticised the inclusion in the Faclair of the term mayor, which is not used in Scotland. However, it is important that terms are made available to describe entities and offices outside Scotland; a form for 'mayor' is useful if, for example, the Gaelic media are to report on political developments involving the Mayor of London or if an MSP wishes to welcome the visiting Mayor of Paris in Gaelic.
8The form miocrofon does not effectively represent the first and third syllables of microphone; maidhcrofòn might be better.
9To mean '(parliamentary) seat'; the inelegance of this choice is compounded by the provision of another arguable neologism, seat(a) to mean 'set'.
10The borrowing of the Irish term eisceacht is perhaps surprising, as the neologism conadal (literally 'a stray sheep') is given in Faclan Ura Gàidhlig (Buidhnean Eadar-Roinneil airson Foghlam Gàidhlig 1992) for 'exception'. Although this word is well-known in its literal sense, the new figurative meaning does not seem to have gained widespread recognition.
11Tùs-smuain might be more workable here.
12As noted above, it is puzzling that prìomhaich is not given here.
13The use of the hyphen in these two entries seems to be transferred from English and is difficult to understand according to Gaelic orthographic principles.
14The use of the form obrach (< obair 'work') in the first term and obrachaidh (< obrachadh 'working') suggests inconsistency of usage rather than a viable means of clarifying the distinction here.
15The forms chìs and chìsean here must be understood as genitive plural, as no lenition would occur were they singular according to the rules of the Faclair (xvii: rule 2). The first form, with an older genitive plural form identical to the nominative singular, seems to be an unusual usage; again, the variation here suggests inconsistency rather than a viable means of clarifying a semantic distinction.
16The use of the alternative verbal noun form ruigheachd for ruigsinn in this example adds to the untidiness here.
17Inconsistency in the use of the forms o and bho is discussed below.
18The use of the genitive form sluaigh- as the first element here rather than the nominative sluagh- is puzzling and should be reconsidered.
19Note that the simple form easbaigeachd might be preferable here, on the model of rìoghachd and siorramachd.
20Note that the form freastal-lann would seem mandated by GOC.
21Note that the form eadar-ama has been criticised as ungrammatical by Ian MacDonald of the Gaelic Books Council (Cothrom, 24 (2000): 34), on the grounds that there is no basis for the use of the genitive form ama rather than the nominative àm. As such, eadar-àm would appear to be the correct form.
22The provision of a term for 'borough', used in England and Wales but not Scotland, betrays the Faclair's Welsh origins. However, there is no reason why the same term cannot be used for both 'burgh' and 'borough', although the form baile (roinne-taghaidh) supplied for 'borough' is somewhat unclear.
23Note that tagrachas - a clear and suitable neologism - is given for the less common variant form 'candidature'.
24Note that forms are offered for 'decentralise', 'decentralised' and 'decentralising' (184:1). As discussed above, symmetry between the forms for 'centralise' etc. and 'decentralise' etc. would be helpful.
25The form chosen here should correspond to that for 'conspiracy'; as noted above, however, a plethora of alternative terms is supplied for 'conspiracy'.
26The form bacadh for 'deterrent' is logical here but this term suffers from 'semantic overload' in the Faclair. Among other things, it is given to mean 'embargo' (196:2), a meaning so different that ambiguity in certain contexts is certainly possible.
27The suitability of mì-leasachadh for 'disadvantage' is questionable; ideally, a term should be found that forms a logical pair with 'advantage', and that covers all senses of the word.
28The form chosen should correspond to that for 'incentive' below.
29The form eaconamach is given as one term for 'economical'; another word is plainly required for the quite different meaning 'economic'. The need for this distinction does not seem to have been recognised, however, as measadh eaconamach is given for 'economic appraisal'. Alhough not given in the Faclair, the (rather less than ideal) form eaconamaigeach is sometimes used. As noted above, a single term for 'economics' should be chosen; eaconamas would seem preferable.
30The forms chosen for 'implicit' and 'implictly' should correspond to those for 'explicit' and 'explicitly'; however, the form given for 'implicit', fillte, is rather unsatisfactory.
31The forms chosen should correspond to those for 'plausibility' and 'plausible' below.
32As noted above, different terms are required for ineffective and inefficient, which are quite distinct in meaning.
33The form co-dhùnadh, the ordinary word for 'conclusion' or 'decision', is given for 'inference'; as noted above, a more specific term is required, which should correspond to an appropriately specific form for 'infer'.
34The forms chosen should correspond to those for 'tolerance', 'tolerant' and 'tolerate' below.
35Although no term is given in the Faclair, the form ath-leasachadh an fhearainn - a direct and infelicitous translation of the English phrase - is sometimes heard; ath-leasachadh lagh an fhearainn 'land law reform' would be preferable.
36This important term is certainly worthy of a separate entry, but the appropriate form cannot be inferred; the Faclair gives (251:1) gnothaichean airgid for 'monetary affairs' but com-pàirt ionmhasail for 'monetary interest'.
37Note the range of entries at 337:2.
38The form chosen should correspond to that for 'proliferation' below
39The forms chosen should correspond to those for 'pessimism', 'pessimist', and 'pessimistic' below.
40The forms chosen should correspond to those for 'unpopular' and 'unpopularity' below
41The form ullachadh is given under 'provision' (284:1); this has the meaning of 'preparation'. A form is needed for 'provide' / 'provision' as in 'the bill provides that . . .' and 'this provision of the bill requires . . .' The term forail, given in Dwelly 2001 and standard in Irish, seems the best choice here.
42The term chosen here should correspond to that for 'recruit'. The Faclair offers tog for 'recruit'; a more specific term like trusadh, already used in some institutions with the meaning 'recruitment', might be preferable.
43The term chosen should correspond to a single term for 'standard'. As noted above, however, a multiplicity of terms are offered for 'standard'.
44The obvious term here would be margadh nan earrannan, but this term is used to mean 'stock exchange'. A distinct term is clearly needed for the more metaphorical 'stock market' as opposed to 'stock exchange', a building or institution.
45Note that eàrlas is also given as meaning 'deposit (election)' (64:2), a seemingly incompatible meaning. The meaning 'voucher' is established, however, and is given in Cox 1991.
46Note here that the Faclair provides a number of Gaelic forms for particular legislative enactments (1:3-3:1). This feature is certainly not harmful, but the selection is highly eclectic, and far less than complete. The foreword to the Faclair notes that expansion in this area 'is a task for future editions' (ix).
47The term murt 'murder' tends to be used in Gaelic as a generic to mean 'homicide', but specific terms to convey the different shades of criminal intent are plainly necessary.
48As noted above, the term casaid is severely overworked in the Faclair and is thus excessively ambiguous for a legal term like 'indictment'.
49See note above re 'homicide'.
50As noted, the Faclair gives both neo-chiontach and neo-choireach for 'innocent' (228:1); a single, specific term is required for 'not guilty'.
51The term given for the English legal term 'plaintiff', gearanaiche (269:2), would be suitable for the Scots legal term 'pursuer'. As discussed above in the context of the terms for 'defendant' and 'defender', there is no real need for two terms; difference in terminology for English/Scottish need not carry over into Gaelic.
52The form teanant is used in Comann nan Teanant 'Tenants' Association' (330:1). The use of the English word here seems unfortunate and unnecessary, since the modern legal concept of tenancy has been an important institution in Gaelic communities since at least the early nineteenth century; the more traditional terms gabhaltach and gabhaltas seem preferable.
53Note that the term 'University of the Highlands and Islands' has been suspended until such time as the institution achieves full university status. It is now known as the UHI Millennium Institute, with the Gaelic form being Institiud UHI nam [sic] Mìle Bliadhna.
54Following government reorganisation in summer 2001, the Department for Education and Skills, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and Department for Work and Pensions replaced the Department for Education and Employment, Department for Education, Transport and the Regions, Department of Social Security, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The foreword to the Faclair (ix) acknowledges the continuing need for revisions of this kind.
55The Faclair gives an entry for the Independent Broadcasting Authority (148:1, 225:2), which does not appear to exist, but not the ITC and other broadcasting-related agencies. The entry for the Independent Broadcasting Authority should be deleted.
56These offices were created as a result of the governmental reorganisation noted above.
57The form given here for the genitive form of 'high-profile' is ìomhaigh àirde. The use of the terminal -e on the modifying adjective àirde indicates an underlying genitive form ìomhaighe, though this is disguised by the use of a phoneticised spelling that neglects the terminal -e of ìomhaighe because it is followed by a vowel. The Faclair's use of such phoneticised spellings is discussed below.
58The form a' toirt taic don argamaid is given for 'in support of their argument' (138:1, 325:1). This is probably best understood as a nominative form of an indefinite noun following the verbal noun, and thus an inconsistency with the Faclair's general use of genitive forms in this position. Alternatively, it may be understood as a genitive form here and thus inconsistent with the genitive form taice used elsewhere in the Faclair.
59This last example may alternatively be understood as a nominative form of an indefinite noun following the verbal noun, and thus an inconsistency with the Faclair's general use of genitive forms in this position.
60The examples given in brackets could be interpreted as genitive plural forms, but the genitive plural for oifisean is given in àite oifisean 'office accommodation' (5:3, 259:3).
61The entry for 'prosecution' is unclear and the distinction between the two meanings of the term 'prosecution' is not given in the Faclair. See above.
62These entries are doubly problematic in that the form given in the Faclair for 'dishonesty' is not eas-onair but mì-onair; eas-onair is given for 'dishonour'. See above.
63Note that fianais in the last two examples could be interpreted as a nominative form; as shown below, the Faclair generally uses the genitive form of indefinite nouns following the verbal noun, but is less than entirely consistent in this respect.
64The morphology of this word is particularly complex, being masculine in some dialects although generally feminine and having alternative genitive forms. Dwelly 2001 and Thomson 1996 identify it as feminine only, while Cox 1991 and Watson 2001 show it as both masculine and feminine; Dwelly offers both buidheinn and buidhne as genitive forms, while Cox and Watson give only buidhne.
65The word pròiseact is sometimes treated as feminine, and non-lenition of Pròiseact nan Ealan in the genitive could be explained on that basis. However, the Faclair identifies both pròiseact and Pròiseact nan Ealan as masculine.
66Compare the lenited genitive forms Phàislig a Deas 'Paisley South' and Phàislig a Tuath 'Paisley North' (264:3).
67In that slàinte is feminine, the form Ùghdarras Shlàinte a' Phobaill may be best explained as a typographical error.
68There are occasional minor deviations from GOC that should be addressed: e.g. tha adhbhar agam a chreidsinn gum bheil e fìor 'I have reason to believe that it is true' (290:2) (gu bheil according to GOC); troimhe-chèile 'upset' (53:3, 339:3) (troimh-chèile according to GOC); freasdal-lann (72:1, 325:3) (freastal-lann according to GOC).
69As noted above, a single form should be chosen for 'inheritance tax'.
70The variation between the singular form dàimh and the plural dàimhean in these entries seems inexplicable.
71Note that the entries in the English-Gaelic section for 'health district' and 'electoral district' use the spellings sgìre slàinte (218:1) and sgìre taghaidh (195:2). This is the appropriate spelling according to the Faclair's operative rules; the lenition of the qualifying genitive nouns in the Gaelic-English section is incorrect. Note also that the hyphenation in siubhal-gu-obair is unusual.
72Note that, in accordance with conventional practice, the Faclair writes out the particle a in infinitive constructions of this kind for verbs beginning with f + consonant rather than f + vowel: ceist a fhreagairt 'to answer a question' (157:2), coinneamh a fhrithealadh 'to attend a meeting' (160:2).
73Alternatively, the form an aghaidh an stàite given in the Faclair can be seen as an inconsistency with regard to gender; stàit itself is identified as feminine (134:3, 319:3).
74Since no hyphen is used, the rules given in the foreword to the Faclair suggest that lenition of nouns with adjectival function following a feminine noun should remain unlenited. This rule is observed at 195:2 where no lenition is given in three compounds with the feminine nouns colaiste, sgìre, and foill: colaiste taghaidh, sgìre taghaidh, and foill taghaidh. The same is true of sgìre slàinte: see 218:1.
75Note that the remarkable form Spongiform Encephalopathaidh should be revised to include the 'Bovine' element.
76The form given is 'to construct a report', which seems peculiar.
77Although the word teacs / teacsa can be variable in gender, the Faclair gives only the form teacsa and identifies it as feminine (330:2); as such, lenition is mandatory here.
78Cf. the genitive forms buidhne cothruim and buidhne iomairt given for 'access group' (152:1) and 'interest group' (230:3).
79Genitive singular and nominative plural forms are given for cuip aon-loidhne 'one line whip' (260:1) and cuip dà-loidhne 'two-line whip' (335:1).