Gaelic word of the week blog – sun – a’ Ghrian

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Each week we publish the text of our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast here with added facts, figures and photos for Gaelic learners who want to learn a little about the language and about the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. This week our word is the sun – a’ ghrian. The Gaelic for the sun … Leugh an corr de Gaelic word of the week blog – sun – a’ Ghrian

Tadhail air Blog Pàrlamaid na h-Alba

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Gaisgich coimhearsnachd gan sireadh #gàidhlig

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Chaidh ainmeachadh an-diugh gu bheil Pàrlamaid na h-Alba a’ sìreadh 129 gaisgich coimhearsnachd ionadail. Thathar ag iarraidh air a h-uile Ball de Phàrlamaid na h-Alba aon neach-taghaidh aca a mholadh a thug cuideachadh a-mach às an àbhaist do bheatha dhaoine eile a tha a’ fuireach ann an Alba no thall thairis aig àm pandemic COVID-19. … Leugh an corr de Gaisgich coimhearsnachd gan sireadh #gàidhlig

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Stòras Beò: Christine NicLeòid

Le Gordon Wells

ChristineChristine MacLeod from Bragar in Lewis talks to Maggie Smith.

Christine remembers growing up in a crofting community where weaving and fishing were commonplace activities, and Gaelic was widely spoken in the local primary school. After secondary education in Stornoway, she moved to Edinburgh, first to study and then to teach, first through English medium, and then in the Gaelic school at Tollcross.

She has happy memories of her teaching career, but is content to have retired from that job and returned to Lewis. She speaks with particular conviction on the value of storytelling in education. She talks about Bragar today, touching on the use of Gaelic, local placenames, the new use for the old school, and the Bragar style of speech. She’s pleased her own Edinburgh-raised children think of it as home.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9504


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Gaelic Word of the Week blog – opinion – beachd

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

The Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid – is all about opinions. We spend a lot of time considering, discussing, and developing all the points of view to land on something we believe may be the best for Scotland – Alba. At the moment, the new committees of the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba – are … Leugh an corr de Gaelic Word of the Week blog – opinion – beachd

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Fois / Break

Le alasdairmaccaluim

Haidh a h-uile duine. Dh’fheuch mi ri cumail orm sa Bheurla ach chan eil e a’ còrdadh rium a bhith a’ sgrìobhadh sa Bheurla agus mar sin, tha mi a’ dol a ghabhail fois fad beagan mhìosan.

Chì mi a-rithist sibh airson trèanaichean, tramaichean is tràilidhean!

———-

Hi everbody. I tried to keep the blog going in English but I don’t enjoy writing in English so I’m going to take a break for a few months.

See you later for more trains, trams and trolleybuses!

Alasdair


Tadhail air Trèanaichean, tramaichean is tràilidhean

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2021 an t-Iuchar :Gàidhlig ann am Machair Rois 12+1/July: Gaelic 12+1, East, west and sunwise.

Le seaboardgàidhlig

This month we’re having a look at how directions and points of the compass were traditionally used in the Gaelic Highlands, and therefore in Gaelic-influenced Seaboard English, which also carried over into behaviour patterns still familiar to some people today.

If you look at the map, it’s clear that the Seaboard coast runs roughly north-east to south-west, but I’ve never heard anyone refer to the ends of the Villages except as east and west. In Hilton you went, and still go, east to the burn or the chapel, not north-east. So-and-so’s house, on the same NE-SW street, might be “a bit west” of someone else’s. This might seem just shorthand for the more exact orientation, but there’s more to it than that.

Nowadays we’re used to seeing, and giving, directions in terms of the usual map view – north is up, south is down. For distant places this was to a large extent also true traditionally, in Gaelic or English – you’d sail up to Orkney, or people went down to Glasgow or London to work. At a more local level, however, this was very different. Maps were not what people used, or even possessed, until relatively recently, so a map’s view of up and down was irrelevant. What mattered, and what people who lived from it were intimately familiar with, was the lie of the land. The main point of reference was direction of water flow. Up (Gaelic suas, pronounced /soo-as/) was upstream, and down (sìos, pron. /shee-as/) was downstream. So up could be north, south, east or west, depending on geography. This meant that there was nothing odd in a north-facing community in telling someone to go suas gu deas – up south (southwards upstream) to a place. Roughly south or south-east-facing communities, like Easter Ross, had coincidentally upstream to their north or north-east, so they could say suas gu tuath – up north, for local directions, coinciding more or less with the map view. There are examples all over the Highlands and Islands of place-names echoing the changing geography.

This Gaelic-influenced feature has even been continued over in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton natives are famous for saying “Down North” – there possibly related to wind and therefore sailing direction (upwind and downwind in relation to their prevailing winds). They also say they’re going up and down to places which are east and west. In Easter Ross we can do the same.

While it’s logical for us to say “I’m going up to Fearn” (up the hill) we also still say things like “I’m going up to Dingwall / Inverness”, even though they’re not to the north or uphill – but they’re “up the firth”, i.e. upstream from here.  Travel was largely by water until relatively recently in our history, as roads were poor and people didn’t have vehicles, so sea and rivers were dominant in people’s lives. It was also common in the East Highlands to refer to a westerly / easterly wind as gaoth à shuas / à shìos – a wind from upstream / downstream, as the mountains were west of the coast.

So far, so good. That meant in our area that if you had your back to the hill (where upstream was, roughly north), and were facing the sea (roughly south), the natural orientation of fishing villages, then on your left you had east, and on your right you had west. Thus east and west came to be used for left and right when speaking English.  And that’s why older folk like my granny always talked about going east to the kitchen, or west to the (good) room. East – west was the most important orientation for communication and daily movement in the Villages, so these terms, rooted in the landscape-based Gaelic language, were absolutely normal. It was also, significantly, the path of the sun, visible in its arc over the sea every day.

The sun itself was another natural element that was reflected in Gaelic words for directions. As in probably all cultures, the sun was seen as life-giving, its light eagerly awaited and its progress determining daily and seasonal activities. The most propitious way to face in the morning was eastwards, and you’d turn to follow the sun southwards and westwards throughout the day. West to north to east again was the night, the dark and dangerous time and therefore direction.  South came to mean good luck and prosperity, north bad luck. This is what has led to all the folklore and superstition that calls for doing things “sunwise”, or clockwise. The opposite, called “widdershins” in Scots (which literally means “against the sun”), was really unlucky. Seaboard fishing boats (despite being full of good Presbyterian seamen) always turned sunwise – taking no chances! Superstition was rife among the fishermen despite their sincere religious beliefs – I think of it as a belt and braces approach. They also always said “12 plus one” when counting, instead of 13, hence the numbering of this article!

The word for south in Gaelic is deas (pron. /jess/), and this is also the word for right, as in right-handed. South would be on your right-hand side when facing the rising sun in the east, the starting point for the “good” hours of the daytime. Again, many cultures consider right good, left bad. On the Seaboard it was considered bad luck to have the spouts of jugs and teapots facing left on the shelf. From deas Gaelic has the word deiseil (/jesh-al/), which means sunwise, moving in the same direction as the sun. It also means ready, prepared, based on the idea that you’re set on the right course. Katy Ross told me that to was customary for the fisherman who lived furthest from the boat to go round in the morning making sure the others en route were up and about by calling at their window “Am beil thu deiseil?” – a much more loaded and promising word than the English “ready”.  She heard it called to her father every morning.

So when you next hear what seems to be an odd use of up and down, or east and west, or left and right, just remember there will have been a perfectly logical reason for it in the Gaelic it came from. Enjoy them, and treasure them!

And as usual, let me have any more examples you hear or remember yourselves!


Tadhail air seaboardgàidhlig

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Prìomhachasan nan Comataidhean – co-chomhairle

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Chaidh na comataidhean aig Pàrlamaid na h-Alba a stèidheachadh bho chionn ghoirid – ach dè an obair a bhios aca? Faodaidh tu fhein buaidh a thoirt air sin! Tha na comataidhean air co-chomhairle a thòiseachadh mu na prìomhachasan a bu chòir a bhith aig na Comataidhean rè an t-seisein seo den Phàrlamaid. ‘S e co-chomhairle … Leugh an corr de Prìomhachasan nan Comataidhean – co-chomhairle

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Tha sinn air ais!

Le comannlitreachasg

Tha Comann Litreachais Ghlaschu ga ath-stèidheachadh às dèidh a bhith na thàmh fad corra bhliadhna. ’S e buidheann-leughaidh mhì-fhoirmeil a tha seo a tha ag amas air daoine a bhrosnachadh gus leabhraichean Gàidhlig a leughadh agus cabadaich mun deidhinn còmhla.

Feuchaidh sinn ri coinneachadh mu uair sa mhìos ann an ionad ùr an Lòchrain, anns an Lèanaig, Partaig. Dh’fhaodadh gun tèid againn air tighinn còmhla a-rithist aig toiseach an t-Sultain – tha sinn ag obrachadh sin a-mach an ceartuair.

Nam biodh ùidh agad fhèin a bhith an sàs anns a’ chomann, no dìreach a bhith a’ tighinn gu coinneamh nach lìon thu a-steach an ceisteachan againn (gu h-ìseal)? Agus, bhiomaid taingeil nan cuireadh tu am fiosrachadh seo gu caraid sam bith aig am biodh ùidh cuideachd.

Bidh fàilte ron a h-uile duine a tha ag iarraidh leughadh agus bruidhinn ann an Gàidhlig. Ged a bhios cuid mhòr dhinn airson nobhailean agus leabhraichean slàn a leughadh, le ùidh gu leòr ghabhadh coinneamhan a chur air dòigh airson, mar eisimpleir, sgeulachdan goirid is bàrdachd.

Ma tha ùidh agad a bhith an sàs anns a’ Chomann, faodaidh tu teachdaireachd a chur thugainn no conaltradh ruinn air Twitter. Feuchaidh sinn ri fios a chumail ri daoine mu na coinneamhan againn air na meadhanan-sòisealta.

Seo cuideachd an ceisteachan beag againn. Faodaidh tu a thilleadh thugainn ron Fhoghar 2021 aig comannlitreachas [aig] gmail.com.


Tadhail air Comann Litreachais Ghlaschu

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Taisce Bheo: Clíona

Le Gordon Wells

Clíona“Tionscadal píolótach a dhíríonn ar shamplaí cuí eiseamláireacha den chaoi a labhraítear an Ghaeilge agus a’ Ghàidhlig i bpobail Ghaelacha in Albain agus in Éirinn atá sa Taisce Ghaelach. Baintear leas as uirlisí soláimhsithe cláraithe agus teicnící furasta chun an t-ábhar a chruinniú.”

We start with a quote from the Irish language introduction to the UHI “Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal” project, whose Scottish Gaelic samples we’ve been regularly featuring on these pages. It explains that the project aims to collect exemplary samples of Gaelic speech from vernacular communities in Scotland and Ireland with user-friendly equipment and techniques.

The COVID crisis struck just as the Irish recordings were due to be getting underway, causing an inevitable delay. However, following the recent experimentation with Zoom conversations in Scottish Gaelic, a parallel Irish series has now begun recording, following the same pattern. This conversation between Colm Mac Giolla Easpaig and Clíona Ní Ghallachòir is the first to be placed online. Consider it a foretaste of more delights to come!

Clíona is from Meenaclady and Colm is from Gweedore. Clíona is a twenty-one-year-old student who is currently residing in Galway. In the first part of the interview, she speaks about the student experience during the Covid 19 pandemic. She talks about her hometown and her views on the state of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht. She goes on to talk about her interest in singing and storytelling with some mention of local traditions and customs.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9452

In the second part of this interview, Clíona talks about the changes occurring in the Irish language communities and her own work experience with both translation and language planning. She goes on to speak about her childhood memories and other interests she would like to pursue. She then speaks about her involvement in drama both onstage and behind the scenes. She discusses the importance of faith in her local area before finally talking about what she would do if she were to win the lottery.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9454

If you follow the Clilstore transcript links for either of these clips you will spot an interesting innovation in comparison with the earlier Scottish series. Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin of Ulster University, who produced the transcriptions, has gone a step further and provided additional footnotes to mark regional variations on the standard. You’ll find these by clicking on the “annotated version” tab in the Clilstore unit. At this point, Guthan nan Eilean aficionados may well also be thinking back to our “Gaelic Journeys” page, and noting previous links to Ulster University and Donegal. This is not the first time Colm has appeared on this site!


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Taking plastic to Lochaber?

Le alasdairmaccaluim

In English, we talk about “taking coal to Newcastle”. In Gaelic, we’d say “taking wood to Lochaber”.

But maybe we’ll be taking plastic to Lochaber for the railways soon!

Since the beginning of railways, wooden sleepers have been crucial.

While concrete sleepers have become more prevalent in recent years, wooden sleepers have continued to be used, for example in areas where there there are weight restrictions or on lightly used tracks.

However, the day of wooden sleepers is coming to an end. New softwood sleepers coated in creosote are no longer allowed due to environmental regulation and hardwood sleepers are not available from sustainable sources and so are no longer used by Network Rail.

For this reason, Network Rail has started using recycled plastic sleepers for the first time.

You can read the full story here: https://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/news/beyond-wood-first-recycled-plastic-railway-sleepers-laid-on-network-rail-tracks

Alasdair


Tadhail air Trèanaichean, tramaichean is tràilidhean

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