BORIS Johnson has been ridiculed after making a total hash of trying to speak Gaelic during a speech.
The Foreign Secretary was attempting to boost sales of Scotch whisky at an event in India when he made his ill-judged stab at the language.
After struggling to pronounce the Scots Gaelic word for “water” – “uisge” – Johnson decided to spell it out for his bemused audience.
Unfortunately, Johnson first spelled the word “uisce”, which is the Irish Gaelic for water.
He then had another go, this time spelling it “uisceaugh” which is not a word in any known language.
Finally, the politician prounced the word “Gaelic” as “gaylick” which refers to the Irish version of the language rather than the Scots “ga-lick”.
Social media users were quick to ridicule Johnson.
Andy Inglis wrote on Twitter: “Even with Ex Big-Whisky advising him, Brexit-Barrow-Boy Boris botches his Scotch sales pitch.”
David C joked: “Gaelic for F****** Buffoon is Boris Johnson.”
One Reddit user added: “Trying to speak in language you clearly have no experience in, nonsense blabbering and sourcing from Wikipedia.
“God I would not think this banter is good enough for a business meeting or even a fully p****d bar; never mind an international meeting where you are a representative for state and country on serious trade deals.”
The UK government appear to have attempted to “clean up” Johnson’s multiple gaffes on their website.
A transcript from a video of Johnson’s speech in New Delhi shows that he said: “Whisky is itself, as far as I know, according to Wikipedia, derived from a Gaelic word uisce or possibly ‘uisceaugh’, depending on how good your Gaelic is.
“Does anyone know what ‘uisceaugh’ means by the way? Anybody know? It means water apparently. They obviously drank a lot of it.”
But according to the government’s website however, he said: “Scotland is incontestably the home and progenitor of Scotch, the only place in the world where the water trickles through the peaty glen in exactly the right way; to turn into liquid fire even though whisky is itself a Gaelic word uisge beatha.”
A spokeswoman for the SNP said: “Boris Johnson doesn’t have a clue when it comes to Scotland or the Gaelic language and, as usual, he wasn’t slow to demonstrate his ignorance.
“The public will be surprised that the foreign secretary – with the might of the UK Government behind him – is relying on Wikipedia for his ‘facts’. It makes you wonder if bumbling Boris’s reckless decision-making is frequently informed by a brief skim of Wikipedia.”
Donald MacNeill, Chief Executive of Comunn na Gàidhlig, an organisation which seeks to promote Scottish Gaelic language said: “It would have been good if Mr Johnson had been slightly better briefed about Scottish vs Irish Gaelic, and that he had worked on his pronounciation a bit more.”
But he added: “It’s good that the language was even on his radar.”
A Foreign Office spokesman declined to comment on the apparent editing of the transcript or Mr Johnson’s Gaelic skills, saying only: “The Foreign Secretary was promoting Scotch whisky to highlight the potential to boost export revenues for a key Scottish industry.”