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Celtic Language Statistics 2021

Written by: Doug
Published: 13th May 2021

Keep GoingCeltic languages are an integral part of British and world history.

They were once widely spoken across the UK and other parts of the world. However, in recent times, they’re not too popular at all. Here, we take a look at some of the reasons this may be, revealing all of the most up-to-date facts and figures on the topic of Celtic Languages in 2021.

 


Celtic Languages: In A Nutshell

Here are just a few key findings from our research:

  • Almost half of people living in Wales can’t say ‘Hello’ in Welsh.
  • The Manx language is slowly making a comeback after it was declared extinct in the
    1970’s.
  • Welsh is the most popular out of all 6 insular Celtic languages.

Celtic Language Statistics – Basic Greetings

Here are a few key findings from our survey conducted in April 2021:

  • 47% of people living in Wales cannot say ‘Hello’ in Welsh.
  • 1 in 50 UK adults can say hello in ‘Manx’.
  • Almost 5% of USA adults can say ‘Hello’ in Scottish Gaelic.
  • More people in Northern Ireland can say ‘Hello’ in Welsh than in Irish Gaelic.

How Many People in the UK and USA Can Say ‘Hello’ in These 6 Celtic Languages?

In our survey of 1,000 people in both the UK and the USA, we asked people if they can say ‘Hello’ in any of the 6 insular Celtic languages in the table below. Here are the percentages of how many people can say ‘hello’ in each language from each country:

Celtic Language Percentage Of People Who Can Say ‘Hello’ From The UK Percentage Of People Who Can Say ‘Hello’ From The USA
Welsh 12.3% 2.4%
Scottish Gaelic 4.8% 1.4%
Irish Gaelic 4.3% 2.5%
Cornish 4.3% 1.3%
Breton 2.2% 1.2%
Manx 2.0% 1.8%

Celtic Language Stats 2021


Celtic Languages in America

Across America, there are an average of 5,600 monthly searches for the term ‘celtic language’. The table below shows which US states search for ‘Celtic language’ the most on average each month per million people.

State Average Monthly Searches Average Monthly Searches For ‘celtic language’ Per Million People
Washington 200 26.00
Utah 80 24.62
Oregon 100 23.58
Massachusetts 160 23.21
Virginia 180 20.95
Delaware 20 20.27
Maryland 120 19.82
Connecticut 70 19.68
California 770 19.56
Minnesota 110 19.44
USA 5600 16.82

To find these figures, we used the Keyword Finder tool to find out the average monthly searches per state. We then divided this number by the population of each state to find out how many searches are made per person per month. We then multiplied this number by 1 million.

From this table, we can see a couple of notable things:

  • The average monthly searches per million people in Washington is 1.5 times the average for the USA.
  • This is followed closely by Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts who also search for this term a high amount of times.

Welsh Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Welsh language from our survey:

  • Nearly half of those living in Wales can’t say ‘hello’ in Welsh.
  • Just over 12% of UK adults can say ‘hello’ in Welsh.
  • Only 2.4% of Americans can say ‘hello’ in Welsh.

Interestingly, our survey also found that more people in Northern Ireland can say ‘Hello’ in Welsh than in Irish Gaelic. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that only 25 out of the 2,000 responses were from those in Northern Ireland so the sample size is fairly small.

Welsh is by far the most popular of the minority languages in the UK. In 2020, the Annual Population Survey showed that 29.1% of people aged 3 or over were able to speak Welsh. This is roughly 880,000 people. The number of Welsh speakers in Wales has increased significantly since the 2011 Census which found that there were only around 560,000 people who could speak Welsh.

This is great news because it means that the number of Welsh speaking people is increasing over the years, even continuing to increase by 0.7% since the 2019 survey.


Scottish Gaelic Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Scottish Gaelic language from our survey:

  • Around 1 in 20 UK adults can say ‘hello’ in Scottish Gaelic.
  • 13.6% of adults can say ‘hello’ in Scottish Gaelic who are living in Scotland.
  • Only 1.4% of USA adults can say ‘hello’ in Scottish Gaelic.

The 2011 Scottish Census found that:

  • Just over 1% (58,000 people) of the population aged 3 and over in Scotland were able to speak Scottish Gaelic.
  • However, just like Irish, this is a slight fall from 59,000 people in 2001
  • Although there were decreases in general, those aged under 20 actually showed a 0.1% increase.

This could show that the younger age groups are going to try to bring this beautiful language back from being near endangerment.

Another positive is that the term ‘Scottish language’ is searched around 5,300 times every month in the UK and 8,000 times in the USA. Worldwide, ‘Scottish language’ is searched 20,200 times a month. This alone shows that the Scottish Gaelic language is still a talking point for many people which could push it back into the public eye.


Irish Gaelic Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Irish Gaelic language from our survey:

  • 4.3% of UK adults can say ‘hello’ in Irish Gaelic.
  • 1 in 40 of adults in the US can say ‘Hello’ in this language.
  • Almost 1 in 19 UK adults living in Wales can say ‘Hello’ in Irish Gaelic.

After looking at the 2016 Irish Census, we found the following:

  • Just under 40% of the population of Ireland (1,761,420 people) could speak Irish.
  • However, only 1.7% (73,308 people) actually claimed they spoke Irish daily, down 3,382 people from 2011.

This could unfortunately suggest that there is a steady decline in the language potentially casting doubts about the future of this endangered mother tongue.

On a positive note, though, the term ‘English to Irish’ has around 19,000 monthly searches on Google. This suggests that a large amount of English speakers are using the Irish language, so perhaps we’ll someday be able to bring it back to the popularity it once had.


Cornish Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Cornish language from our survey:

  • Almost 1 in 23 UK adults over the age of 55 can say ‘Hello’ in Cornish.
  • Only 1.3% of US adults can say ‘Hello’ in Cornish.

As with other minority languages, Cornish isn’t as popular as it was in the past. There are a lot of positives with this language, though. In 2002, Cornish was actually recognised by the UK government under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The council then started to fund bilingual signage.

In 2010, it was taken off Unesco’s ‘extinct’ languages list. This was a great achievement for the people of Cornwall and others who speak the language. There are also some nurseries and schools that have started to teach Cornish.

The term ‘Cornish language’ has around 3,800 monthly searches in the UK which is significantly higher than other Celtic languages such as Manx and Breton.


Breton Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Breton language in our survey:

  • 1.2% of US adults can say ‘Hello’ in Breton.
  • Whereas in the UK, 2.2% of adults can say ‘Hello’ in the language.

It was estimated that approximately 500,000 people could speak and understand Breton at the turn of the 21st Century. This is clearly bigger than other minority languages and gave a huge boost for the public opinion in the region of Brittany. This may be due to the large language-recovery movement which appeared in the area in the late 20th Century and helped Breton culturally and socially.

Surprisingly, search terms related to Breton and learning it are actually higher in the USA than in the UK. The term ‘Breton’ has an average monthly search volume of 140,000 around the globe. This is great for the language as it could be argued that it’s more well-known around the world than many of the other insular Celtic languages.


Manx Language Statistics

Here’s a summary of what we found about the Manx language from our survey:

  • 2% of UK adults can say ‘Hello’ in Manx.
  • In America, around 1.8% of adults say they can also say ‘Hello’ in Manx.

The Manx language is the official language of the Isle of Man. However, in recent times, the language was declared extinct. Speakers of the language argued back against this and it was later listed as endangered.

Around 20 years ago in St Johns in the centre of the island, Bunscoill Ghaelgagh was established. Approximately 70 pupils attend this school and apart from a weekly English class, every lesson is taught in Manx. This just goes to show that many of the locals on the Isle of Man don’t want to let go of the language that forms a significant part of their identity.

All in all, some of the minority languages are unfortunately decreasing, but it does seem like there are many efforts to try and keep these languages afloat in order to create a more diverse and cultural world for future generations. We hope this roundup of all of the latest Celtic Language Statistics for 2021 has been useful and provided you with some valuable information about these powerful languages.


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Written by: Doug


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