Inscribing Ethnicity: A Preliminary Analysis of Gaelic Headstone Inscriptions in Eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton
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AbstractFocusing on the verbal rather than the visual elements of early and more modern headstones in eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, this essay will comment on a selection of Gaelic headstone inscriptions, highlighting such elements as word choice (whether secular or religious), cemetery location, time period, and the deceased’s background. Despite the striking paucity of Gaelic examples, it is our objective to discuss why Gaelic had a limited presence in Nova Scotia’s pioneer Scottish immigrant cemeteries and to demonstrate how these cemeteries were contested sites, which mirrored ongoing tensions between assimilation and cultural retention. In sum, this article will assess the importance of cemeteries as material articulations of language use and language maintenance among Nova Scotia’s diasporic Scots, set against the wider background of their struggles, aspirations, and shared values.