Language in Scotland as depicted in the Outlander series comprises Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), Scots, and Scottish English.
The Scots language and Scottish English should not be confused with Scottish Gaelic. While the latter is a Celtic language historically spoken in the Scottish Highlands, Scots refers to the Germanic language variety spoken in the Lowlands, and Scottish English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Scotland. Linguists have yet to come to a consensus on whether Scots ought to be considered a dialect of English or its own distinct language.
Gaelic in the Outlander Series
When writing the early novels of the series, Diana Gabaldon had limited access to Gaelic and Scots language resources, these including a Gaelic-English dictionary and Scottish literature and film. It was while writing the third novel, Voyager, that a helpful reader, while praising her inclusion of the language, pointed out several grammatical errors and offered to help with future use of Gaelic in the books.
The Starz television production of the Outlander series employs the knowledge and expertise of a Gaelic speaker, Àdhamh Ó Broin, as well as dialect coach Carol-Anne Crawford.
Gaelic (Gàidhlig) Glossary
Nicknames and Endearments
|sassenach||/Sass-un-nakh/||outlander, or foreigner; more specifically an English person; usage generally derogatory.
The name given by the Gaelic inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland to their ‘Saxon’ or English neighbours. (Sometimes attributed to Welsh speakers: the corresponding Welsh form is Seisnig.) Also used by Highlanders to refer to Lowland Scots.
vocative: a leannan (with the implication of "baby"; addressed to a daughter or other young person)
|cridhe||/cree/ or /kri-e/||heart
genitive: mo chridhe (my heart; used as a term of affection)
vocative: a nighean
mo nighean donn: my brown one; my brown-haired lass
vocative: mo charaid /xar-id'/ (my friend; "ch" as in Scottish "loch")
vocative: a ghràidh (my love, dear)
- Ciamar a tha thu [Kia-mar a haa u]: greeting; "How are you?"
- Tha mi glè mhath [Ha Mi glay vah]: "I am very well."
In The Novels
- In Drums of Autumn, Duncan Innes leads the group in a caithris, or a Gaelic lament for the dead. Listen to the scene read aloud by Cathy-Ann MacPhee:
Some Scots words and phrases used frequently in the Outlander novels:
- Bairn/Wean: baby/child
- Besom [BIZ-zum]: a woman, generally ill-tempered.
- Braw: literally, "brave," but also implies "fine, splendid, or excellent."
- Clot-heid: clot-head or cloth-head; an idiot or imbecile.
- Dinna fash: Don't worry; don't be troubled or bothered.
- Gomeral: fool, idiot.
- Greet: to weep or grieve
- Ken: to know (kent, kenna)
Speak Outlander Series
STARZ has released a series of videos teaching the pronunciation of various Gaelic words and phrases, as well as other unfamiliar words.
Other Starz Media
- LearnGaelic Dictionary – Enter search terms and listen to pronunciation audio clips.
- LearnGaelic: Fichead Facal - 20 Words – A special list with 20 words related to the series.
- Gàidhlig audio clips – correct pronunciation of several Gaelic words used in Outlander
- Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) – written pronunciation guide
- Scottish Gaelic Conversational Phrases – written list of basic phrases
- Dictionary of the Scots Language
- This form is more accurately described as the Scots spelling of the Gaelic word sasannach. See "Sassenach adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Jun 2016 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/sassenach>
- "Sassenach, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 25 April 2014.
- Scots Word of the Season: Sassenach – Accessed 20 November 2017
- "Sassenach adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2016 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/sassenach>
- The Gaelic-English Dictionary By Colin B.D. Mark
- gràdh – LearnGaelic Dictionary