LOCALS have raised concerns about the “frankly insulting” street signs which have been put up in a new Scottish housing development.

The signs, which are located on the Culloden West estate being developed by Barratt, contain basic errors in Gaelic – and even in English.

It is understood that Highland Council provided the correct Gaelic, working with the place names body Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba, but Barratt instead sourced their own translations.

Alasdair Laing, a local in the Inverness area who raised the issue of the “lazy” Gaelic errors on social media, said the developer was “clearly using Google Translate”.

What are the mistakes?

Issues include a sign which reads “Draibh na h-Appan” in Gaelic and “Appin Drive” in English.

Laing explained that the Gaelic form was using the verb “to drive” and not the noun. Bizarrely, a sign with a more correct Gaelic form – Slighe Appin – is located just metres away.

Another sign reads “Aite Benbecula” in Gaelic, and “Benbecula Place” in English. The island name Benbecula is an anglicised version of the Gaelic “Beinn na Faoghla”, meaning its inclusion in the Gaelic translation is out of place. Laing said the word “aite” was also not correct in context.

He said: “These words are Gaelic words, they’re not English. To then be putting the anglicisation in place of the Gaelic is just extra ridiculous and disrespectful – and then to be misspelling the rest of it. It just looks really poor.”

The issue of misspelling in both English and Gaelic appears on a third sign. It reads “Rathad Drummossie” in Gaelic and “Drummossie Road” in English.


Roddy Maclean, who has written extensively on place names in the area including the book The Gaelic Place Names and Heritage of Inverness, described the signage as “frankly insulting”.

Pointing to the “Drummossie” sign in particular, he wrote on Facebook: “The spelling is wrong in both languages! Obh obh, as the cailleach would say.

“The incorrect signs should be removed and corrected. Who are these ignorant people who obviously know nothing about our language and who think they can make up exactly what they want because 'it doesn't matter, it's only Gaelic'. Well it does matter. A lot!

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“The Gaelic Druim Athaisidh has become anglicised Drumossie in the vicinity of Inverness (and Drumashie in the rural hinterland). Drumossie (or Drummossie if you are a street sign maker) is not a Gaelic form.”

Calum Maclean, a Gaelic-speaking outdoor swimmer and videographer who in December was named the most influential Scot on the TikTok social media platform, also hit out at the signage.

“Crap effort, disrespectful, pathetic,” he wrote on Twitter.

And Calum Steele, the former general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, also expressed bemusement at the signs, tweeting: “WTAF [what the actual f***].”

Laing said the problem would feed into anti-Gaelic narratives, with speakers of the language taking the brunt.

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“‘Gaelic’s a waste of money’, ‘nobody speaks it’, ‘why are we bothering’. The backlash falls on Gaelic speakers, instead of the building companies or councils,” he told The National.

“If we’re going to do it, and I think we should – not just because I’m a Gaelic speaker but to showcase our culture and history in the Highlands of all places – do it right.”

He went on: “The Gaelic road signs are just terrible in general. Bad grammar, accents in the wrong places.

“A common one is the Gaelic name for Fort William, An Gearasdan, becomes An Gearsadan, or Mallaig becomes Malliag. It’s all these silly little mistakes and laziness.

“There’s clearly no respect or thought put into it and it’s never the other way around. It’s never that Inverness or Fort William is misspelled.”

Highland Council said it had asked for templates of the signs to be provided before they were produced and installed, but developer Barratt never provided them.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “In line with Highland Council policy, correct translations were provided by The Highland Council to the developer for their street signs in this housing development in 2019 following consultation with Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba.

“The Highland Council also requested sight of templates prior to manufacture. This was not done and the developer subsequently sourced their own translations.

“These errors have been flagged up with the developer. The roads are not yet adopted by the Highland Council, however we are working with the developer to ensure the street signs are corrected before adoption takes place.”

A spokesperson for Barratt said: “We are aware that some of the street signs are incorrect. We will work with Highland Council to replace these as soon as possible.”