Le Gordon Wells
The beginnings of the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean project can be traced back to 2005 and the original European POOLS project in which Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) played a key co-ordinating role, with Gordon Wells appointed as Project Officer. It’s been a fascinating journey ever since, from the bilingual English and Gaelic recording of the first Craigard documentary video onward, in an ever growing and diversifying collection of “slices of life and work in the 21st Century Hebrides” combined with thoughts and reflections from both community members and interested observers.
Now in its eighteenth year, and fully independent of SMO, the project may be said to be “coming of age”, so Gordon has compiled a detailed report on its history and content to give an account of progress so far: “Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean: Hebridean Language Capture and Curation, 2005-2023”.
From the summary:
“This article provides a comprehensive description of the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean language capture and curation project as it stood in Spring 2023. The introduction presents information on its main features and aims, the linguistic rationale focussing on the primacy of speech and the salience of bilingualism, and the Hebridean community context in which the project operates. This is followed by a detailed account of the project contents and chronology, divided into four separate sections or phases: Staff-led Production; Participatory Production; Multilingual Diversification; and Research Alignment. In conclusion, connections to further research and development projects and opportunities are sketched out, and some final reflections question a polarising juxtaposition of local versus global interests, while pointing towards responsibilities alongside the opportunities this kind of work entails.
Describing a primarily oral project through written text presents a challenge. Copious footnotes point to online samples of the materials discussed, and readers are encouraged to engage through screen as well as page in order to extract full benefit. The article is bookended by a preamble and postscript which offer written exemplification from short, transcribed extracts.”
And from the conclusion:
“There may be a lesson here for applied and socio-linguistic professionals. In a meaningfully socially aware mission, the development and display of academic and linguistic prowess should surely show and serve a genuine community connection and purpose. Such, at least, are the principles which the Island Voices project aspires to uphold. The project trajectory, while linguistically guided, thus aims at inclusiveness in content organisation and presentation, remains open to new inputs, and has an undefined end-point still over the horizon.”
Watch this space, a chàirdean! Agus cumaibh cluas ri claisneachd…
Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean
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