My Texan Gaelic teacher tells me it is fun to get Dwelly’s Scottish Gaelic dictionary and look up words for sheep. She is right! There are words for a small or inferior lamb, draft gimmer, crooked hogg and other sheepish types I’ve never heard of. For a short tailed-ram, pet ewe-hogg and three-winter ewe. You can even narrow your conversational sheep requirements down to a female after weaning but before her first shearing, a yearling of a wether after its first Halloween or a barren twinter if not put to ram. And then you can do the same for cows! And, presumably, pigs! The precision you can achieve in Gaelic really is most impressive. According to my instructor, who has counted, Dwelly’s lists “87 different types of cow”, offering clarification as to whether they’re on their third calf or just had one or whether they’re a sturk, which, I’m informed, is an adolescent heifer. Words for old women are just as extensive, she tells me. I remember Olive, a friend in Glasgow, saying that she’d heard there were dozens of words for “love” in Gaelic; from a word for the love of a friend to one for the love of a wife. Or, my dad suggested, for the love of a friend’s wife. I’m quite sure Dwelly’s has a word for that, too. With its exhaustive ovine, bovine and amorous vocabulary, Gaelic puts Glaswegian to shame, although proportionally we have more insults to other parts of a sentence, which seems a more useful thing in a language spoken in my hometown.
Learning Scottish Gaelic in Texas: From Ovine to Bovine and Back
The Scottish Ambassador
Learning How To Be Scottish in Scottish-America
Ex-pat Scot Aefa Mulholland travels around the US, persuading bemused Americans to teach her how to things considered stereotypically Scottish, but that she never learned to do growing up in Scotland. She tries Scottish country dancing in Honolulu, makes a stab at playing bagpipes in New Orleans and attempts golf for the first time on a rattlesnake-infested desert course in Arizona—and learns what it means to be Scottish, what it means to be Scottish-American and what it means to be at home such a long way from home.