AN official Gaelic version of the popular board game Scrabble has been announced in time for Christmas, as the game’s creators say it will “give the language a much-needed boost”.

Launched by Tinderbox Games in collaboration with An Taigh Cèilidh, a Gaelic cultural centre and community café in Stornoway, Gaelic will become the twenty-ninth language to have its own Scrabble set.

The special edition of the game will be released on December 2 and will be commemorated by the first ever Gaelic Scrabble World Championship.

As the Gaelic alphabet uses only 18 letters, those which are not used – J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z – will be removed from gameplay.

The National:

The board and rules will be in Gaelic, the numbers of letters reflect the frequency of use in Gaelic, and the letter scores match how difficult it is to use the letters to spell a Gaelic word.

The grave accent - À È Ì Ò Ù - also appears on some of the vowel tiles.

The process for making the game involved entering digital Gaelic literature such as e-books and articles into a data analysis software, which helped the team to understand how often certain letters are used in the language.

READ MORE: Gaelic university proposals announced by Scottish Greens

After a prototype was made, the game was then tested for about six months, in addition to the team translating the box, board and rules into Gaelic.

A game-changer for Gaelic

Dr Teàrlach Wilson, the founding director of An Taigh Cèilidh and the individual who first reached out to Tinderbox Games, said he was “ridiculously excited” to see the game hit shelves.

“I enjoy playing Scrabble and I have wanted to play Gaelic Scrabble for a long time,” Wilson told The National.

“Because of the popularity of the game, I think it will give the language a much-needed boost.

“It will also be a welcome addition to our wee gift shop in the Gaelic café, and I think that will really help with our revenue and social impact.”

An Taigh Cèilidh is a not-for-profit community project based in Stornoway, Outer Hebrides.

The income surplus from the community project supports the Gaelic language and culture, including recording local oral traditions, holding community events, publishing local books and offering educational and wellbeing activities.

The National:

“We’re a little anxious about how we’ll keep on top of demand, to be honest. Initial analysis of the market suggests that we will be very busy.

“If the interest translates into orders, then we may not have enough staff to keep on top of it!

“It’s excellent news for Gaelic and for An Taigh Cèilidh.”

READ MORE: Dominic Cummings: Covid meetings with devolved leaders 'performance'

Wilson believes part of the reason the game has attracted so much interest is due to the success of Gaelic on the popular language-learning app Duolingo.

“When Welsh and Irish versions of Scrabble came out, Duolingo did not exist, so I think we’re expecting initial sales of Gaelic Scrabble to outperform the first run of Welsh and Irish Scrabbles.”

Visibility is important

Scrabble is available in more than 120 countries and is one of the most iconic games in the world.

According to An Taigh Cèilidh, half of British households own at least one Scrabble set.

“Having a version of Scrabble in your language will only add to confidence and enjoyment in the language.

“Visibility in the language is important too, so that the language becomes more normalised and accepted.

“We want to see Gaelic being used in all domains of life, just as English is – from classrooms to pubs, offices to cafes, newsrooms to performing arts, sports to boardgames!”

The Gaelic version of Scrabble is currently available to preorder on An Taigh Cèilidh’s website.

The first Gaelic Scrabble World Championship will take place on December 2 at An Taigh Cèilidh.