Be Careful With That Tattoo - Get Your Gaelic Right

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The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook: Authentic Words and Phrases in the Celtic Language of Scotland

This work is an aid to tattoo enthusiasts who choose their personal ornamentation to be  in the Gaelic tongue of Scotland. The author offers guidance that ensures the appropriate word or phrase for a Gaelic tattoo.  According to Amazon: “This book can help; it contains a glossary of nearly 400 authentic Gaelic words and phrases, history and description of the Gaelic language, examples of real-life Gaelic tattoos that went wrong, advice on how to avoid common mistakes, and insights on how to incorporate Gaelic words into a tattoo design that honours and supports the culture. The book focuses on language and does not contain artwork. This book is for tattoo enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in Celtic, Scottish, and Gaelic language and culture."

In an interview published on the website of the Scottish Gaelic Foundation of the USA (linked below) Dr. McEwan described her motivation in writing the book after seeing the sorry state of Gaelic Tattoo Art: “I decided to write a book on the topic, hoping to use this tremendous interest in tattoos to reach even more people with factual information about Scottish Gaelic language and culture. The book is titled The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook and it launched on May 31, 2016 at the Halifax Central Library as part of Gaelic Awareness Month in the province of Nova Scotia."

Dr. McEwan was quoted recently in Canada’s “The National”: “It’s funny, but at the same time you feel sorry for the person – for anyone who can read that tattoo, it’s a bit painful. A little piece of me dies inside every time I see something like that. It is not a magic language, it is not Elvish, it is not a joke. It is not Outlander. If you care enough about it that you want to inject it into your skin, then you should also care enough to spell it correctly.”

Commenting on her most recent endeavors: “I have also started a new publishing company, Bradan Press, which focuses on Scottish Gaelic language and culture. Our first book is the tattoo handbook, and our second book will be a volume of queer Gaelic poetry by Marcas Mac an Tuairneir titled Lus na Tùise/Lavender. It’s being published on November 11, 2016 with the launch in Inverness, Scotland.  After that, there are a few other projects in the pipeline and of course I welcome proposals for new books in or about Gaelic language and culture!”


Dr. McEwan's blog can be found at the following:  Dr. Emily McEwan-Fujita is a Linguistic Anthropologist based in Nova Scotia specializing in the revitalization of Scottish Gaelic.  The author of numerous articles on the Gaelic Language, her latest book is “The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook – Authentic Words and Phrases in the Celtic language of Scotland”.

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