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Originally made in 2006, our Craigard documentary is now re-published with a commentary in Greek, as part our “Other Tongues” initiative, in which our films are shared with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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Gaelic Mafia?

Le Gordon Wells

Twitter hashtags do not normally attract much attention from Island Voices, far less participation or amplification. Firestorms and pile-ons are not our normal digital habitat. Rather, our natural inclination is more towards common sense than confected indignation or online mass hysteria. But every now and then, one catches the eye – #GaelicMafia being a case in point. The phrase has been around for a long time, a dismissive and derogatory shorthand conveniently covering up the user-accuser’s unwillingness or inability to actually name any names in their imagined shadowy conspiracy of mad Gaelic zealots plotting the appropriation of rights and resources way beyond their proper station.

Well, it cropped up again recently, though perhaps without the effect the original twitterer intended, prompting an avalanche of ironic, sardonic, even scornful #GaelicMafia tweets in response. Of course, negative feelings towards Gaelic may spring from a range of sources in any individual’s mind, one of which is no doubt the monolingual’s insecurity in the face of clearly communicative expression beyond their own comprehension. One “convenient” way of suppressing this fear is to let oneself believe that it’s actually the Gaelic speaker’s world view which is the defective one, reflecting a “narrow”, “inward-looking”, or “retrospective” mindset, by contrast with the modern outlook that the English language supposedly supremely affords in comparison with any other language in the world today – a view which conveniently neglects to acknowledge that every Gaelic speaker is bilingual, and so possessed of all the advantages that English (or perhaps another language) bestows, and with plenty more besides.

It’s this additionality that balanced bilingualism, or indeed multilingualism, confers that Island Voices has been promoting from the start. A project founded upon transnational European co-operation is never going to accept a characterisation of its linguistic roots as somehow blinkered or introspective, or that it is motivated by selfish concerns for “cosa nostra” alone. Island Voices would not even have started, with its roots going back to the POOLS project of 2005-2007, without the support of European funding and partners from many different language backgrounds. We hope our response has been, and continues to be, appropriately reciprocal too, for example through our Other Tongues initiative – which actually extends way beyond European borders.

And so it is that an exception has been made, and we have allowed ourselves our own contribution to the hashtag of the day with a gentle reminder that other worlds beyond the English-only one continue to grow and develop. “Mi piace questo binario!” was first created over ten years ago, as part of the POOLS-CX project – a rough and ready multilingual creation, with English “flashcards” interspersed. Here it is again, this time with the English replaced by Gaelic. There cannot be any Gaelic Mafia without Guthan nan Eilean as a fully signed up member!

Prego!


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Màiri

Le Gordon Wells

Mary Robertson is another well-known Benbecula resident, here talking to fellow Baoghlach Archie Campbell for the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal series of recordings capturing natural conversations between fluent Hebridean speakers of Gaelic.

In the first part, Mary talks about her family and her memories of her early schooldays in Torlum. Her father was a gamekeeper for the South Uist estate. Leaving home at 15 to get further training at Duncraig Castle was a shock. She describes the daily routine there. After that she worked in Edinburgh for two years before moving to Fort William to do hotel work, where she found more of an island community.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8252

In the second part, Mary describes returning to Benbecula after losing her husband in an industrial accident, and the changes she noticed, particularly with the increased army presence and the work available through public schemes. She found work in the newly opened Sgoil Lìonacleit, where she continued till retirement. She is also involved with various charities and community groups, and her church involvement has entailed trips abroad to various countries. Her Gaelic interest also took her to Canada. She still dances and enjoys walking in various parts of the Highlands.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8253


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Schnellboot nach St Kilda

Le Gordon Wells

St Kilda, UNESCO-Welterbestätte im Nordatlantik, ist für viele Schottlandbesucher ein Traumziel. Der Kurzfilm berichtet über eine Gruppe von Tagesausflüglern, die vom natürlichen und kulturellen Reichtum des abgelegenen Archipels in ihren Bann gezogen werden.

St Kilda, UNESCO world heritage site in the North Atlantic, is a dream destination for many visitors to Scotland.

This short film reports on a group of day trippers who are captivated by the natural and cultural wealth of the remote archipelago. It’s our latest addition to our “Other Tongues” collection.

As usual, a word-linked Clilstore transcript, with the film embedded, is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/8989

Our translator and narrator for this film is Volker Labitzke. A keen traveller who has visited many places all over the globe, he found his paradise in the Outer Hebrides where he moved from Germany more than 10 years ago.

“The breathtaking scenery of Uist, the friendliness of the islanders and the slower pace of life in my new home have made my former busy city life a distant memory”, he says. He is interested in languages, history, and walking as well as railway and miniature modelling.

At Island Voices we are very grateful that Volker found time in his busy schedule and amongst his many interests to offer this skilled narration. Mòran taing, a charaid!


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Ailig

Le Gordon Wells

Moving on to Benbecula this month we feature Alec MacPhee from Nunton – Baile nan Cailleach – in our regular spotlight on contributors to Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal. Alec still lives in Nunton, and has three sons (Donald, Angus, and John), eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Here he talks to Archie Campbell, also a Benbecula man.

In the first part, Alec recalls his childhood in Nunton, and wartime schooling in Balivanich – Baile a’ Mhanaich – and then Torlum, including pranks in the playground, classroom, or garden, as well as crofting chores at home, and later with the peats. Leaving school at 14, he started his first paid job in the building trade at 16. He also recalls wartime memories of many different nationalities associated with the airport and POWs, including Australians, Poles, Germans and Italians. He talks too of the end-of-war celebrations and memories of the “Whisky Galore” SS Politician. He then spent some time in Glasgow.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8243

In the second part, Alec relates how he came back to the croft and then got work with a services company which took him and several friends out to St Kilda. He later got work with the Water Board, with whom he stayed until retirement. He also talks about recreational activities, including badminton and football, as well as dances and New Year customs and associated drinking practices. He describes how he met his wife, Margaret, and the details of their wedding, and tells a story of a commando who turned up in the Steadings. Discussion of army-community relations leads to reflection on the changes he’s seen in island life.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8244


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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“Living off the edge”

Le Gordon Wells

Conchúr Ó Giollagáin gave this talk online, and the recording is now available on YouTube. His title was “Living off the edge: The crisis in late modern ethnolinguistic diversity from the Gaelic perspective”, and the talk drew substantially from the findings of the recent publication “The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community”. This is a substantial report on the findings of Soillse’s very comprehensive Islands Gaelic Research Project. It’s a challenging read in many ways, with particular relevance for anyone interested in Gaelic in the Hebrides. From that point of view it’s good to be able to hear Conchúr talk about the research and answer questions about the implications.

He had a lot of ground to cover in 40 minutes. If you missed it live here’s your chance to hear what he had to say – or indeed to listen again in case you feel the need.


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Gaelic Hebrides point the multilingual way

Le Gordon Wells

The University of the Highlands and Islands takes inspiration from Island Voices.

Perhaps a surprise to some, but not to us!

Here’s how it all comes back to Benbecula…

The tweeted press release touches on a couple of international projects that are being taken forward by UHI’s Language Sciences Institute. It doesn’t have the space to describe in detail how each builds on experience first gained in the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean project, and the closely linked development of Clilstore at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Both of these have grown from originally European Union-funded initiatives.

Island Voices followers who have time and inclination to read a bit more may find the additional information below of interest.

Taisce bheo na nGael/Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal” is a joint Irish/Scottish Gaelic ethnographic retrieval project in which community-based expert speakers are recorded in their own homes. The first stage of the Scottish side of the project was completed shortly before lockdown began. There are now 15 hours of video material with Clilstore transcriptions on the Institute’s website, with access open to all. Project partners are now testing out alternative ways of making recordings online, in case continuing lockdown restrictions mean the Irish recording stage needs to be tackled in a different way.

The same issue has also arisen with the Institute’s “Mediating Multilingualism” project in India, in partnership with Amity University Haryana and the Indian network of Centres for Endangered Languages. With COVID-19 continuing to cause severe disruption to university-based activities there (including fieldwork), the project team has already been trialling the production of home-based recordings for publication on the same, highly flexible, online Clilstore platform. Six Indian languages have been recently added to its linguistic range. Some of these are featured in the short Gaelic film (subtitled in English) “Dà Dhùthaich Iomadh Cànan/Two Lands Many Languages” produced by the UHI team after visiting Shillong in North-East India at the end of 2019 (the International Year of Indigenous Languages). This is also available to view online on the project’s webpage.


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Alasdair

Le Gordon Wells

Happy Birthday to Alasdair Crois Mòraig!

Belying Alasdair MacDonald’s youthful looks and demeanour, we’re reliably informed that 14th October 2020 is a particularly special day, marking the completion of his 80th year. We can only wish him many more happy returns!

We mark the day by featuring his own contributions to the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal collection, in conversation with Archie Campbell. Alasdair has his own inimitable style in rich North Uist Gaelic, and we’re grateful for his daughter Kirsty’s help with one or two words in the transcripts that had left earlier scribes rather scratching their heads…

In the first part, Alasdair talks about his life-time commitment to crofting on North Uist, which his son is now continuing. His first schooling was in Carinish, with his fondest memory being of getting out into the garden, followed by Bayhead, and one year in Inverness, which he didn’t like. On returning to Uist he has worked his croft full-time ever since. He recalls the house-visiting customs of earlier times. His wife, Annie, is from Broughty Ferry, but Alasdair would find it difficult to live somewhere else if it wasn’t by the sea. He’s seen many changes since the time crofters would work with horses, and he explains fertilising and storage practices using seaweed and potatoes.

The wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8245

In the second part, Alasdair remarks on developments since the 60s, such as the advent of tractors for horses, the Baleshare causeway, local government reorganisation, and European Union development funds. He also talks about a visit to New Zealand and the evident Gaelic influence in its recent history. The discussion shifts to discussion of changes in the Uist physical environment. Shipwrecks are also talked about and the cargo they might yield. Alasdair explains the history of the name Crois Mòraig, and talks about the strength of Gaelic in the community, and reflects on the rhythm of the seasons experienced through crofting.

The wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8246


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Stòras Beò: Dòmhnall

Le Gordon Wells

We continue our exploration of the North Uist cluster in Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal with Donald MacDonald – “Dòmhnall Caol” – from Baleshare. As we’ll hear, Donald was a well-travelled man in Europe and the Middle East before settling back home to full-time crofting. Talking to Archie Campbell in measured tones, Donald takes his time to give a detailed account of his adventures.

Here, in the first part, Donald recalls his schooling and first job. Going to primary school in Baleshare he found he made faster progress with a Gaelic-speaking teacher. Illness interrupted his education at Bayhead, before he spent 5 years in Inverness, where he encountered some hostility as a “teuchter”, and experienced a distancing from his family. A happier memory was of salmon poaching in Lewis on his way home, where he started work in a bank before being transferred to Glasgow.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8249

In the second part, Donald recalls giving up his job in Glasgow, and then poignantly describes how his father saw him off at the quay in Lochmaddy as he set off on his travels round Europe. He recounts various adventures with various travelling companions, before arriving in Turkey. Troubles at the time between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus caused difficulties with the post.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8250

In the third and final part, Donald describes his adventures crossing to the West Bank from Syria to spend time in a kibbutz. He was then called home in light of his father’s serious illness, which meant that Donald had to take over responsibility for the croftwork. Working several crofts together he made a living for a while selling cattle and beef, with partners in Elgin and customers in Ardnamurchan. While his father was alive they would also host Gaelic learners. Following a mini-stroke he no longer keeps cattle, but a neighbour continues to use his land.

A wordlinked is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8251


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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