Titles for the Raiders

Le Gordon Wells

AlecScrnShtRetired policeman Alec MacAulay recounted this story in 2014 of his raider father’s bold exploits on coming back home to Uist from the First World War. Returning soldiers across the islands were in no mood for undue deference to the landowning classes, and were taking crofting matters into their own hands, with strong popular support.

“Làmhachas làidir” was the call of the hour. It was a fascinating account, related on the day to Archie Campbell, and recorded as part of the Comunn Eachdraidh Uibhist a’ Tuath project “An fheadhainn tha làighe sàmhach”.

Skilfully told here, it’s a compelling story well worth repeating, and recent techie developments have enabled Island Voices to enhance the access both for learners of Gaelic, and for those who don’t know the language at all. Now you can click on Closed Captions to get written Gaelic subtitles, which can then be machine-translated simultaneously into English and scores of other languages through “auto-translate” on the Settings button. If you missed it first time round, here’s your chance now!

Leading the technical team that’s facilitating this progress for Gaelic is Will Lamb, ex-Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla, now at the University of Edinburgh. There’s a new report by Lucy Evans on the GARG (Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group) blog, detailing latest developments.


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Techie Tormod

Le Gordon Wells

A couple of Norman Maclean’s impromptu recordings provide the material for trying out the latest developments in Gaelic Automatic Speech Recognition.

NormanMiracles

When Norman kindly offered to record some stories for Island Voices in 2015, he was perhaps already beginning to feel his age. As a result, while he delivered them all with his trademark panache, he opted in the main to read them aloud from pre-prepared scripts. This was a blessing in disguise for Island Voices, as it meant that ready-made transcripts already existed which could be easily transferred to the Clilstore platform, enabling word-by-word clickable translations – all available on our Norman Maclean page.

However, the man was irrepressible, and once he was into his stride he just kept going, meaning a couple more stories were added to the collection off the top of his head. Lively recordings resulted, but without written transcripts – until now. Island Voices has recently been working closely with the Automatic Speech Recognition project in Edinburgh, and a good number of our Gaelic films now offer optional subtitling. These were created by feeding already existing transcripts into the text aligner tool the ASR team developed as part of their work, so that individual subtitles would appear at the right time on the videos. These were texts that had been created by someone sitting down with the recording and manually typing out every word they heard – time-consuming work!

What’s new with these recordings is that it is the ASR tool on which the Edinburgh team are working that has actually itself created the first draft of the transcripts used to produce the subtitles in these films. The results were by no means perfect, and there was still a need for a human ear and hand to tidy them up before they could be used, but it’s a developmental process. And progress is clearly being made, to the extent that the Clilstore gap in our “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” collection has now been compensated for by enabling optional onscreen subtitles on the two extra recordings he made for us – “Mìorbhailteann ann am Barraigh“, and “Bodach nan Serviettes“.

And again, as with earlier versions, once the Gaelic subtitles are in the YouTube system, automatic translation into scores of other languages via Google Translate then becomes instantly available. Norman, among his many other talents, was an enthusiastic linguist – and no slouch with a computer. True, he expressed his reservations about the development of “text talk”, but we can surely allow ourselves to think that this latest technical innovation, with the human voice at its centre (his own!), would have met with his approval.

One for the Barraich:

And the other for the Hearaich:


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Anna

Le Gordon Wells

AnnaAnne MacInnes, from Callanish on Lewis, talks to Maggie Smith about her family connections to the Breasclete community and school, where Gaelic Medium Education was pioneered.

In the first section of this two-part conversation Anne reveals how the Callanish Stones have always attracted tourists, but she recalls from her childhood the cèilidh culture amongst the locals, including many “characters”.

Her career to date has been varied, from Gaelic teaching to working at sea, but she remains attached to a crofting lifestyle, still keeping cattle. Currently at home with a baby, she comes from a musical family, and plays box and pipes. With fewer people now working their crofts she’s noticed a change in the appearance of the township.

A wordlinked transcript, with the video embedded, is available on Clistore here: https://multidict.net/cs/9355

In the second part, Anne and Maggie talk about changes in local culture. Noting that change and development are natural, Anne regrets the loss of local distinctiveness in Gaelic speech. The musical culture is strong. The link with the language should be upheld. There have been various sources of employment, including offshore as well as at the hospital or with the council, plus the nearby pharmaceuticals factory and the community-owned visitor centre. Visitors have included royalty. But the community hall offers a local focus. She remembers some of her grandmother’s special words, and reflects on the value of having family relations all around. It’s important to value what’s past, including local songs, as life goes on.

A wordlinked transcript, with the video embedded, is available on Clistore here: https://multidict.net/cs/9356


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Calum

Le Gordon Wells

CAF1Calum Alasdair Fraser, from Tolastadh a’ Chaolais, talks to Maggie Smith about his family connections and upbringing on the west side of Lewis.

In his childhood he spent a lot of time outdoors. Though still young himself, he remembers the sound of weaving from many houses – a sound that is no longer heard. After leaving school he tried various jobs in different locations. Now he works on Gaelic issues with An Lanntair in Stornoway.

He talks about how he values the Gaelic language and its close connection to where he lives, even though it wasn’t his home language growing up. He also talks about his musical activities, and his interest in maintaining local interest in Gaelic, relating it to a changed way of life that still has close connections to previous generations.

A full transcript with the video embedded can be viewed on the Clilstore platform here: https://multidict.net/cs/9331


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Google learns Gaelic

Le Gordon Wells

Five years ago Island Voices posted about “Google Gaelic“, in wake of the excitement over the recent addition of Scottish Gaelic to the list of languages supported by Google Translate. The move, while welcomed in some quarters, was not an uncontroversial one, with many people voicing fears over how it could be easily misused, for example to the detriment of people working in translation services.

The pitfalls inherent in using Google Translate, in particular to try to generate well-formed Gaelic from English input, are still very much there. However, here’s a good news story relating to translation from Gaelic into English. Our five-year old post gave a sample of English text generated by processing the Gaelic voiceover script for our peatcutting documentary through Google Translate. Five years later we’ve just done the same thing again.

You can compare the two texts here, with 2016 in the left column, and 2021 in the right. The later one is still by no means perfect, but it’s still clearly an improvement on the first version. Google is “learning”, and Island Voices welcomes that, particularly in light of the recent adoption of optional CC subtitles on our Series 1 and Series 2 films, meaning the original Gaelic can be machine translated into scores of other languages at the click of a mouse…


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Magaidh

Le Gordon Wells

Maggie Smith, from Achmore on Lewis, has been doing a power of work collecting and recording Gaelic stories and poetry around and about Lewis for a number of years, many of them curated on her own website, and reproduced on the Island Voices page dedicated to her work. Nor has lockdown stopped her, as she reveals in this conversation with Pàdruig Moireach conducted over Zoom.

This is a new and experimental departure for the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal team, seeking to make a virtue out of necessity. Indeed, in some ways community recording work may become easier as more and more of us get accustomed to using technology to overcome physical barriers. If this works well, we can expect more of this kind of material in the months to come.

In the first part, Maggie talks about early childhood memories and stories of Glasgow where she was born, though her Achmore roots go back many generations. Returning home she recalls the kind of upbringing island children of her age received, in which community links and mutual responsibilities were strong. Grandparental stories from work experience in Patagonia, and snatches of Spanish at the fank guarded against cultural introversion. She recalls her schooling, and the impact of television’s arrival on cèilidh culture, with traditional work on the land noticeably falling off in the 80s, particularly after oil work began.

A wordlinked transcript, with the video embedded, is available on Clistore here: https://multidict.net/cs/9169

In the second part Maggie and Pàdruig talk about trends in island work patterns over the years. The advent of the Arnish yard led to skills development opportunities for men across Lewis, which many later put to use in openings around the world. Weaving was a traditional occupation, frequently practised in combination with other jobs. Even as a schoolchild Maggie was accustomed to fitting her schoolwork into other duties, such as fetching water for the house. After a short spell working in Inverness after school, she returned to work with the family haulage firm for many years, before branching out into media work, tourism and other projects.

A wordlinked transcript, with the video embedded, is available on Clilstore: https://multidict.net/cs/9170

In the third part Maggie talks more about her cultural activity in the community, including community drama based on locally sourced stories, and the collection of local poetry. Moving to Zoom during lockdown has created a new platform for locals to share stories and for incomers and Gaelic learners to learn about the culture, recreating old communities and gathering new people. She also talks about the power of music and song in working with older people at risk of memory loss, and of collecting fishermen’s stories, mostly in Gaelic. The conversation ends with a discussion of changes that have come over Achmore and the use of Gaelic in the community.

A wordlinked transcript, with the video embedded, is available on Clilstore: https://multidict.net/cs/9171


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Creative Craigard!

Le Gordon Wells

 

Our Craigard film was the first we ever made, and we keep returning to it for inspiration!

This week’s exciting news, following our posts last Friday and Saturday, is the addition of optional subtitles to the Island Voices Gaelic videos on our YouTube channel. When we asked who would be interested in such a development on our social media last weekend, the positive reactions quickly came back in their hundreds. (Some folk also wanted the reassurance that this would not mean the withdrawal of un-subtitled videos or of the Clilstore transcripts – we have no intention of doing either!)

Given the strongly expressed enthusiasm, the response from the Speech Recognition research project team has been instant and impressive. Systems have been set up to enable the automatic subtitling of all the Gaelic output on our Island Voices Videos YouTube channel, and all 20 films in Series One are already done – with the Craigard documentary in first place on the playlist. Keep an eye out for swift progress on Series Two and other films in due course!

The way in is through the CC “Closed Caption” button. To see any subtitles at all, that needs to be on. (So the default viewing remains clear of any textual additions.) You should now see the Gaelic subtitles.

But that’s not all – once you have them enabled, there’s another clever little trick that enables Google Translate to work on them. If you go into Settings (next to CC) and then click on “subtitles” you’ll find an “auto-translate” option, which then opens a wide range of languages into which the Gaelic subtitles can be translated. (WARNING: if you want English, DON’T go for the “English auto-generated” option first offered. Follow instead the “auto-translate” route and then pick English from the dropdown menu – unless you want a good laugh at “Artificial Intelligence”!)

Machine translation remains an imperfect science, of course, so any expectation of error-free renderings will inevitably be disappointed. Nevertheless, even without this extra facility, Gaelic learners stand to benefit just from using the Gaelic subtitles alone as an extra support for their eyes to help their ears recognise what they’re hearing.

So here’s the Craigard film again – this time with the new multilingual subtitle functionality added.

Nor is this the first time that the Craigard film has taken the lead in test-driving new innovations and community adaptations. Donald Mackinnon’s re-voicing of the original films in Gaelic and English was our first step along the road to the re-purposing of many of our films in Other Tongues. And, much more recently, it’s the film Valentini Litsiou chose for her Greek contribution. (Donald’s versions are actually hosted on a different YouTube channel, so the subtitling option is not available for them – but he did the film in both Gaelic and English, anyway!)

Donald in Gaelic:

Donald in English:

Valentini in Greek:

Who can say what the next innovation will be?


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Flòraidh “ioma-chànanach”!

Le Gordon Wells

Gàidhlig agus Beurla, gu cinnteach – ach a bheil cànain eile aig Flòraidh NicDhòmhnaill? Agus ma tha, cia mheud!?

Abair seachdain “techie” a th’ air a bhith aig Guthan nan Eilean. Bha fèill mhòr Dihaoine is Disathairne sa chaidh air na fo-thiotalan “automataigeach” a chaidh a chruthachadh aig Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann ann am pròiseact Shoillse, ach dè eile a thàinig a-mach à sin ach cothrom fo-thiotalan a chur air na bhidiothan Gàidhlig uile gu lèir a th’ aig Guthan nan Eilean air YouTube! Cha ghabh an obair sin dèanamh taobh-a-staigh latha, ach tha an sgioba ris a’ ghnothach, agus tha Sreath 1 deiseil mar-thà.

Chan e sin deireadh an sgeòil ge-tà. Le fo-thiotalan “san t-siostam” a-nis tha sin a’ fàgail gur urrainnear “eadar-theangachadh” a thabhann cuideachd tro Google Translate air na fo-thiotalan sna bhidiothan. Cha bhi iad gun mhearachd idir, ach can nam biodh càirdean agad aig nach eil Gàidhlig: an dèidh dhut “CC” a chur air, faodar an uair sin na settings air “subtitles” atharrachadh gu “auto-translate” airson tionndadh air choireigin a thabhann dhaibh ann am Beurla – no Frangais, Gearmailtis, agus iomadh cànan eile.

Seo Flòraidh, ma tha, ann an Sreath 1, ri “leughadh” cha mhòr ann an cànan sam bith a thogras tu.

Agus mar chuimhne air a’ chuspair air a bheil i a’ bruidhinn, cuir sùil a-rithis air a’ phost “Community Adaptations” airson tionndaidhean eile (gun fo-thiotalan) fhaicinn dhe na filmichean aithriseach a thòisich an còmhradh, le seann charaid eile aig Guthan nan Eilean na rionnag annta…


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Ceòlas nyári iskola

Le Gordon Wells

Rövid dokumentumfilm a Ceòlas skót-gael zenei nyári iskoláról, melyet a Skócia Nyugat Szigeteihez, a Külső Hebrdákhoz tartozó Dél-Uiston rendeznek meg minden évben.

Hungarian becomes the nineteenth language in which an Island Voices film is featured, as part of our ongoing “Other Tongues” initiative.

We’re very grateful to László Horváth, a long time friend of the Gaelic language, for this kind and skilful contribution in his own mother tongue.

László teaches at Corvinus University and McDaniel College in Budapest, but he has been involved with Gaelic since he was 15 years old. He has attended several summer schools at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, where he has lectured in Gaelic and made many friends. He has also written a series of Gaelic articles on Hungarian language renewal for the Gairm periodical. László is currently teaching his students in Budapest from Istanbul, where he is staying with his Turkish wife, Sinem. Still, somehow he managed to find time to send through to us a Hungarian version of the original commentary. Mòran taing, a László!

His chosen film is the documentary from the original Series One about the Ceòlas music summer school held annually in South Uist. It aims to integrate traditional music and dance in a community setting. It has strong links with tutors from Cape Breton in Canada, where old styles of Scottish fiddling and stepdancing have been maintained. The school attracts students from around the world.

As usual, a wordlinked Clilstore transcript – with the film embedded – is also available. You can find it here: https://multidict.net/cs/9092


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Tο Κέντρο ημέρας Craigard

Le Gordon Wells

Μια ταινία μικρού μήκους για το κέντρο ημέρας Craigard στο Lochmaddy, στα Δυτικά Νησιά της Σκωτίας. Πρόκειται για ένα μέρος, όπου πολλά άτομα περνούν δημιουργικά και ευχάριστα το χρόνο τους.

Originally made in 2006, our Craigard documentary is now re-published with a commentary in Greek, as part our “Other Tongues” initiative, in which our films are shared with other languages around the world. It’s a particular pleasure to see our first ever documentary, and still one of our favourites, brought back to life in this way!

As usual, a wordlinked Clilstore transcript – with the film embedded – is also available. You can find it here: https://multidict.net/cs/9062

Our narrator this time is Valentini Litsiou of C.V.T. Georgiki Anaptixi – an early partner with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in one of the follow-up initiatives to the POOLS project out of which Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean was born. So it seemed particularly appropriate to “go back to the beginning” when Valentini selected “Craigard” as the film she would like to translate and narrate.

Valentini still works for the same group, offering support in public relations, and has been involved in various other European projects. She’s always enjoyed this work because of the opportunities it’s offered to meet people of other cultures, who speak other languages, and who have other ways of thinking.

She also has a wide range of domestic interests, but is not enjoying this period of COVID-19 restrictions. Luckily for us, it didn’t stop her from making this excellent new contribution to Island Voices in double quick time! Perhaps the earlier experience of POOLS-related recording work made it an easy decision for her to get involved again?

Or maybe she’s just a natural star – witness her contributions in “Mi piace questo binario!”, also recently dusted off and re-presented…

 


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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