OUTLANDER fans should think before they ink – to avoid getting a Gaelic tattoo which would make any native speaker blush, according to a new book.

Language expert Dr Emily McEwan-Fujita has penned what is understood to be the only Scots Gaelic guide to tattoos to help the Scottish diaspora – and fans of the hit Diana Gabaldon series –avoid adding to a growing list of cringeworthy designs which don’t make sense.

Based in Nova Scotia, the academic blogs about language and culture and wrote The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook after receiving increasing numbers of requests for translations from North Americans keen to celebrate their Scots links.

Illustrated by Californian Celtic tattoo specialist Pat Fish, the book is also a reaction to what McEwan-Fujita claims is an increasing number of garbled slogans created through online translation platforms or a misunderstanding of Gaelic language and grammar.

One woman’s attempt at branding herself with the sobriety message “drug free” ended with the phrase “drug’ail saor”, a nonsense phrase which roughly equates to “free drugging”.

Meanwhile, one man’s ancestral tribute “aithris a na dream” was supposed to mean “family tradition”, but instead reads more like “report out of the people”.

Yesterday the author told The National the errors are caused by a lack of care, expertise or even knowledge of the fact that Gaelic is a real, living language.

She said: “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.”

Estimates put the Gaelic-speaking population of Nova Scotia at around 100,000 at the turn of the 20th century, while 30 per cent of residents have connections to the language.

McEwan-Fujita’s Scots great-grandfather emigrated to America in the 1850s, meeting her Irish great-grandmother in New York.

She began learning the language after hearing a Gaelic song at the age of 19 and now works to promote it, saying: “There are people in Nova Scotia who never stopped speaking Gaelic, but at this point we are trying to bring it back to anyone who is interested.

“People who spoke Gaelic were discouraged by the schools, it was not supported by the government. Even though some of political leaders spoke it in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was for private life, not public life. Adults began speaking it as a secret language the children didn’t know, so it became something for adults.

“Now Gaelic tattoos are popular in the US and my theory is that this is a way to connect with their Scottish roots and to tell a story.

“But there has to be respect for the language. My blog about what not to do with Gaelic tattoos has been tremendously popular, I think because of schadenfreude, but I’m not doing it just to criticise, I’m giving them some advice.

“You can’t just use Gaelic words and English grammar. People want what they want, but what they want is not necessarily Gaelic.”

Due for release next month, The Scottish Tattoo Handbook is available to preorder from bradanpress.com.