Techie Tormod

14/05/2021 Leave a comment

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 the recordings featured here 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:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Stòras Beò: Anna

09/05/2021 Leave a comment

AnnaAnna 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 Anna 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, Anna and Maggie talk about changes in local culture. Noting that change and development are natural, Anna 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

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, UGC

Stòras Beò: Calum

22/04/2021 3 comments

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

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Technology Updates

18/04/2021 1 comment

Summary reportInterest is growing in the new opportunities and facilities that may open up for Gaelic speakers and learners, as and when Automatic Speech Recognition in the language becomes a working reality. Island Voices has been following recent developments with interest through our “Same-time Subtitles” and “Creative Craigard!” posts. In fact, we’ve been participants in the process, as both contributors and beneficiaries, with 80 Gaelic videos now featuring subtitles enabled by the project team – from Guthan nan Eilean Series 1 and 2, plus further material from Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal and Guth nan Siarach! The project began with Soillse funding, and Will Lamb has now produced a short summary report on this initial stage of the work, including numerous links for further reading and examples. It’s available on the Soillse website.

Agus ‘s cinnteach gun robh spòrs gu leòr aig Alasdair MacLeòid aig a’ BhBC nuair a bha e a’ cur an aithisg seo ri chèile airson Radio nan Gàidheal. Èistibh ris an intro aige, agus e a’ cluich leis a’ ghuth air an satnav aige fhad ‘s a bha e a’ draibheadh mun cuairt air na rathaidean san Eilean Sgitheanach! ‘S e cuspair na h-aithisg Google Translate agus na leasachaidhean a th’ air a bhith ann le Gàidhlig thairis air na bliadhnaichean, a’ togail air a’ phost againn fhèin – “Google learns Gaelic“. Ach, a bharrachd air plug beag airson Guthan nan Eilean, bha beagan eachdraidh ann cuideachd, le Will Lamb a’ bruidhinn air mar a chuidich e Google aig toiseach a’ ghnothaich le bhith a’ cur Gàidhlig san t-siostam, cuide ri rabhadh glic bho Anna NicSuain mu dheidhinn cuid dhe na duilgheadasan a tha ann fhathast an lùib eadar-theangachadh, agus a dh’fhaodadh a bhith ann gu bràth…

Seo an tweet a sgaoil sinn ma dheidhinn:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research

Guth nan Siarach

22/03/2021 4 comments

“Guth nan Siarach” (or “Voice of the Westside”) is the name of a new Gaelic community group in Lewis, set up in response to the 2020 publication of the Soillse research book, “The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community”.

Members of this group recently attended an online Soillse workshop on “New Insights on the Vernacular Gaelic Communities in the Islands”, led by Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin. It was a refreshing opportunity for community members to take part in discussion with interested academics from a range of universities, both within the Soillse network and from outwith Scotland.

Some days after the event, Guth nan Siarach members met again on Zoom to record their thoughts, questions, and ideas after hearing Prof Ó Giollagáin’s presentation and taking part in the subsequent discussion. We’re very grateful at Guthan nan Eilean that Jane, Maggie, Christine, Catriona, and Calum were willing to share their thoughts with us.

“Mother tongue” issues are often very close to the heart, and it can take confidence, courage, and no little skill to talk about them openly and with consideration, especially when the language in question has been on the receiving end of prolonged disadvantageous treatment. It’s a privilege to hear the group talk among themselves about issues of concern. We look forward to hearing more in the near future!

We recommend finding the time to watch the full discussion. The contributions are varied, thoughtful, and expressed in good Lewis Gaelic. And thanks to the Gaelic Speech Recognition research team, we’ve added CC Gaelic subtitling, which you can turn on or off as you please – and which will also enable Google translation into other languages:

But if your time is short, you can get a taste of the meeting from these “criomagan”. (CC subtitling also available on this clip.)

And here’s Prof Ó Giollagáin’s presentation:

Categories: Community, Research, UGC, Video

Google learns Gaelic

20/03/2021 3 comments

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…

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Ceangal Caraibianach

01/03/2021 Leave a comment

Abair latha inntinneach a bh’ ann anns an “Taigh-tasgaidh Digiteach” (Digital Museum) air 21/02/21 – Latha Eadar-nàiseanta nan Cànan Màthaireil. A’ tòiseachadh ann am Bangladesh – far an do rugadh an iomairt airson cànain ar màthairean a chomharrachadh air làtha sònraichte air an son – bha 4 seiseanan eadar-dhealaichte air an cumail fhad ’s a bha a’ ghrian a’ gluasad chun an Iar, le Gàidhlig air a comharrachadh ann an Seisean 3 cuide ri Jamaican.

Gàidhlig cuide ri Jamaican? Seadh, agus le deagh adhbhar. Bha na bha aig an neach-teagasg cànain Audrey West ri ràdh mu dheidhinn dì-meas agus dà-chànanas fìor inntinneach, a’ leantail air òraid ghoirid leis an àrd-ollamh Conchúr Ó Giollagáin air Staing na Gàidhlig, agus còmhradh eadar Gordon Wells agus Jibunnessa Abdullah air Guthan nan Eilean. An uair sin bha òran Gàidhlig ann le Meg Hyland – ‘Air Tir an Raoir, air Muir a Nochd’ – a chòrd ris a h-uile duine, air a leantail le beagan deasbad, mus tàinig an tachartas gu crìoch le Yvonne Blake a’ toirt dhuinn “Colonization in Reverse” leis a’ bhàrd ainmeil Louise Bennett Coverley.

Chaidh an seisean air fad a chlàradh air Zoom, agus ‘s urrainnear fhaicinn saor an asgaidh (an dèidh clàradh) tron cheangal seo: https://tinyurl.com/HebrideanCaribbean.

Clàr-ama:

Introductions 00.00.00
Conchúr Ó Giollagáin
The Gaelic Crisis
00.12.50
Gordon Wells
Island Voices
00.31.50
Audrey West
Journey with Jamaican
00.50.45
Meg Hyland
Herring Gutters
01.09.50
Discussion
Question and Answer
01.23.20
Yvonne Blake
Colonization in Reverse
01.35.35
Conclusions 01.39.45

Thathas an dòchas gun tèid ceanglaichean a bharrachd a thogail eadar “muinntir nan Eilean” agus an cànain air an dà thaobh dhen Chuain sna h-amannan ri teachd!

Categories: Community, Research, Video

Mother Languages

14/02/2021 Leave a comment

Island Voices come under the spotlight in this Digital Museum event on International Mother Language Day, Sunday 21st of February. We’re up in the third session of four in total that track westwards across the globe through numerous timezones under Jibunnessa Abdullah’s careful guiding hand. All session timings and links are available through the tweet below.

We’re on at 3.30pm Hebridean time in the Gaelic and Jamaican session, but you could usefully spend the whole of Sunday listening in to the various speakers from Bangladesh to the Americas!

Jibunnessa makes generous mention of Island Voices’ “innovative and energetic approach to improving language engagement and multilingual connections across the globe” on the registration page for this session. In a programme packed with interesting speakers there won’t be time to show any of our films in the session itself, but in the spirit the day celebrates we’ve selected a few below from across the years with a particularly international flavour that you might care to preview, as a reminder of (or introduction to) some of the things we do, and perhaps as a warm-up for the event itself. See you then!

Home in the Hebrides Ireland
Mainland Europe India

 

 

Categories: Community, Video

Stòras Beò: Magaidh

12/02/2021 1 comment

Maggie Smith, from Achmore on Lewis, has been doing a power of work collecting and recording Gaelic stories and poetry around and about the island 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

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Creative Craigard!

06/02/2021 6 comments

 

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 on, 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.

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?

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, UGC, Video
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