“Bhio’ tu dìreach ga ithe, bha e cho math = You would just eat it, it was so good”
This paper intends to examine metaphors and other tropes in Scottish Gaelic that are capable of shedding light on local aesthetic attitudes concerning various forms of verbal art and music among Gaelic speakers at the communal level. Special attention will be given to lexemes that are associated with the gustatory and employed by speakers to denote quality and acceptability in a performance or during more general forms of discourse, including <i>blas</i> (taste), <i>brìgh</i> (essence), and <i>ith</i> (eat). The symbolic use of these words reveals a blurring in the distinctions of genre boundaries as well as relationships between language and other forms of performance culture, including music, and provides a unique view on the semantic realm of ‘taste’ in a way that is arguably distinct from its application in dominant Western aesthetic circles. It will also be shown how such concepts of ‘taste’ and ‘essence’ are central to the transmission of various forms of intangible culture within Gaelic-speaking communities, revealing the role of such idioms in the maintenance of communal tradition. By exploring the semiotic range of these terms among Scottish Gaelic speakers both synchronically through ethnographic fieldwork and diachronically through corpora of printed texts in the language, it is hoped that deeper insights will be given into the inner mechanics of a Scottish Gaelic aesthetic ethos.