Le Gordon Wells
Here’s welcome news of an exciting event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) at the University of the West Indies, with whom the University of the Highlands and Islands recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the back of joint work on Mediating Multilingualism with the Language Sciences Institute (LSI).
This symposium is livestreamed on the Braadkyaas Jamiekan YouTube channel – the JLU’s media platform which provides a community-facing link for speakers of Jamaican, in much the same way as Island Voices has aimed to bridge gaps between academic linguists and vernacular Gaelic speakers in the Hebrides.
Any successful language revitalisation or normalisation strategy or plan will not be developed in isolation from the real world around it. That is surely a truism, yet worth repeating in a context where the detailed and demanding practical work entailed requires careful, even microscopic, attention to the actual “facts on the ground”. For best results in a highly challenging task the critical linguistic gaze must surely still be both inward and outward. Insofar as Island Voices can contribute to a wider appreciation and re-valuing of the Gaelic language in hopeful anticipation of renewed community use, that is why this project, alongside its local Hebridean capture and curation work, has from the start been multilingual in orientation, and actively seized any opportunity to build links with other language communities who might find their own continuity or development under similar threat.
The applied linguistic collaboration between the JLU and the LSI has included the creation of Jamaican versions of various Island Voices films alongside other foundational media and corpus work, in the hope that this Hebridean-Caribbean language link can be further developed going forward. Creole linguistics and the languages of the Caribbean tell an illuminating story, which pioneering Jamaican linguist Beryl Bailey helped uncover. It contrasts interestingly with that of Scottish Gaelic. Nevertheless fruitful links, perhaps particularly in relation to oral and bilingual skills and resources, are there to be seen, explored, and developed. This event is open to all comers. Happy 20th Birthday, JLU!
Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean
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