COMPUTERS can now speak Gaelic thanks to Ceitidh – the world’s first synthetic Scottish Gaelic language system.

The programme was created by Edinburgh speech synthesis company CereProc.

The firm specialises in creating natural and expressive-sounding voices, including those adapted to regional accents.

The company already offers three “Scottish English” voices and another in “Glasgow English”, with others in Catalan, Brazilian Portuguese and “Lancashire English”.

Now it aims to help visually-impaired Gaelic speakers and language learners with Ceitidh.

Available to download for free, it is hoped the programme will be used by schools, colleges, universities and public sector organisations to read documents, website and audio books.

Creators say the voice is also “especially useful” to people with dyslexia, visual impairment or other reading difficulties.

Paul Welham, chief executive of CereProc, said: “As a Scottish company, we were extremely pleased to have the opportunity to develop one of Scotland’s native languages.

“The feedback during trials of Ceitidh has been totally positive.

“CereProc hope this will encourage more people to learn and speak Gaelic”.

Funded by the Scottish

Government, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, CereProc worked with Gaelic expert Michael Bauer from Scottish Gaelic language consultancy Akerbeltz to develop the synthetic voice.

The result can be downloaded from the CALL Scotland website for use on Windows and MAC OS X devices.

A commercial version is available directly from CereProc.

Founded in 2005, CereProc was employed by US film critic Roger Ebert to create a synthetic version of his voice after he lost the power of speech as a result of surgery for thyroid cancer.

The company used tapes and DVD commentaries made by the movie expert to replicate his tones in 2009.