I’m excited to announce the release of a new book that I’ve been working on for the last year. It’s called Gaelic In Your Gob: Four Dozen English Words that Came from the Scottish Highlands. It’s a light-hearted exploration of 48 words that were borrowed into English from Scottish Gaelic, each of which is explained with its own short essay that reveals the use of the word in Scottish Gaelic texts and English texts, and the means by which the Gaelic word came into English. Many of these words (30 to be exact) are accompanied by humorous illustrations. The book opens with an extended introduction to the history of the Gaelic and English languages and the history of the study of these languages, so as to contextualize how we’ve come to understand borrowings such as these.
One of the most common topics that pops up amongst anglophones studying Scottish Gaelic is whether certain words in English that resemble words in Gaelic were originally derived the former or the latter language – with a great deal of wild speculation. There has never before been a full book account of these interesting and important questions, especially in a form accessible to a general readership.
Paperback ISBN 978-0-9713858-4-9
Published Feb 2021 by Ingram / Saorsa Media
215 pages with 30 illustrations by Natalia Lopes, 2 diagrams and map
“This book combines Michael’s scholarship with humour. It showcases a delightfully gung-ho attitude to rabbit-hole dives into finer detail whilst retaining total intelligibility and reading pleasure for the person discovering the Scottish Gaelic language for the very first time or simply looking for a good old wander onto a less-beaten etymological track … If your sights have been set on acquiring Scottish Gaelic, you couldn’t make a better start than this little book, showing that for all its seeming exotic remoteness to the modern English speaker, a surprising number of our Gaelic words have in fact been in your gob all along.”– Àdhamh Ó Broin, Gaelic Consultant for Outlander
“His careful scholarship and characteristically engaging style are on full display. While the etymological notes the book offers are thoughtful and intriguing, they serve most notably as a vehicle for the author’s illuminating insights into the cultural, historical, and linguistic interplay between Gaelic-, Scots-, and English-speaking communities.”– Dr. Ian Clayton, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Nevada, Reno
“Michael Newton’s study of the Gaelic element in modern English and Scots is a book with impact. He gives a masterly account of the history of Scottish Gaelic, a language of inspired poets and songwriters, before going on to previous discussion (some of it enthusiastic but eccentric) of the Celtic element in English. The main part of his book provides analysis of nearly fifty important borrowings, word by word. Some of them (banshee, coronach, loch, slogan, whisky) are familiar. Others (dulse, ingle, jilt) will come as a surprise even to professional linguists. Clearly written, and yet underpinned by reference to the latest research, Michael Newton’s survey will be essential not only to academic researchers, but to anyone with a love of Scotland’s Highland heritage and the languages of Scotland and beyond.”– Dr. Andrew Breeze, Professor of Linguistics, University of Navarra
NOTE 16 February 2021: On receiving my printed copies of the book, I recognized that the inner margin of the initial layout of the book needed to be widened. The printers now have a revised layout with improved inner margins (which I submitted within a day of receiving the printed proofs) and that layout should now be actively used for printing.