Island Voices & Aire Air Sunnd

10/05/2022 Leave a comment

The Island Voices project has collaborated with Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (The North Uist Historical Society) on joint work in the past, and we’re delighted to renew the link in the new Wellbeing initiative, “Aire Air Sunnd”, led by the Comann Eachdraidh in a partnership which brings in the Universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews, as well the Highlands and Islands (UHI). It’s funded by the Ideas Fund, with each partner contributing from some of its own strengths and specialisms. This leaflet gives an outline of the overall shape of the project, with an explanation of what the different components are.

The project was launched on Friday 6th May in a hybrid format event, with the various academic partners giving online presentations to a North Uist audience either “Zooming in” from their own homes, or gathering at the Carinish School society headquarters, with the St Andrews “Smart Heritage” team taking care to record the contributions from the various presenters. The Island Voices role will be primarily linguistic, focussing on Gaelic in particular as a key element of local cultural heritage. You can see Gordon Wells’s short (15 minute) presentation here on initial thoughts and plans for the Guthan nan Eilean component of the project.

The eagle-eyed may spot that most of the images after the second slide contain embedded links. If you wish to explore these further, please open this PDF version of the presentation. You can then click/tap any picture or graphic to explore the webpage to which it links.

Cò MiseOrdinarily, Gordon probably wouldn’t start a presentation with the level of personal detail offered here. But the CEUT connection is a close one, as his first picture shows!

The story of a rooted Hebridean family with close connections around the globe, through Australia, Canada, China, Singapore and elsewhere, as well as India (if we were also to go through the histories of Ann’s eight brothers and sisters…) is probably one that many other Hebridean family albums could tell just as well. When it comes to reflection on the links between heritage and wellbeing, and the value of transcending imagined boundaries, bilingual Island Voices may offer special insights!

North Uist residents and relatives! If aspects of this project are of interest to you and you’d like to learn more about it or are interested in taking part, contact details and further information are on the project leaflet. Siuthadaibh!

Under the Gaelic ASR Bonnet

06/05/2022 Leave a comment

Old Island Voices friend, Will Lamb, delivered some fascinating insights into the development of Automatic Speech Recognition for Scottish Gaelic in a recent seminar for the Soillse inter-university research network. In a step-by-step approach, he outlined the progress made so far, the current state of the art, and plans for further development to a local and international audience representing a range of languages in addition to Gaelic, including Basque, Friulian, and Maltese.

His talk was recorded, and you can view it on the Island Voices Videos YouTube channel:

Will has also made a PDF of his presentation available for anyone who wants to study it in detail. This includes live links to other online sites and resources for further background reading (or viewing).

ArchieASRHere at Island Voices we have, of course, been following the progress of this development closely for some time, and were very pleased to contribute substantially to its initial phases through the provision of our own collection of ready transcribed recordings, which Will generously acknowledges.

The benefit has been mutual, as the ASR project has in turn provided Island Voices with the impetus to develop the subtitling of our videos using the YouTube Closed Caption option. It was nice to see a sample Island Voices clip used in Will’s presentation, as well as one from the Ceòlas collection!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video Tags: , , ,

Old Storytellers Newly Subtitled!

07/04/2022 Leave a comment

TormodEoinRevived interest in storytelling brought the Island Voices Storytellers page into renewed focus recently. First put together nearly ten years ago, it was a pleasure to look back over this collection of videos, many of which pre-figured later exciting developments, such as further series of recordings of Norman Maclean and the Stòras Beò style of conversational capture.

But it turned into more than an exercise in fond reminiscence! Given the existence of Clilstore transcripts for three of the items it became a relatively simple exercise to use these as the basis for incorporating YouTube subtitles into the films in question. This has now been done, which means you can view the videos with Gaelic subtitles, using the CC button. And further, using the Auto-translate function in settings you can also get subtitles in a host of other languages too. The translations are not perfect, of course. (Iain does not work a 400-hectare “harp”…) But they’ll generally give you a good gist in any place where your own Gaelic is not yet up to scratch. Take a look and see!

“Master raconteur Norman Maclean tells the spine-tingling Gaelic tale of Àiridh na h-Aon Oidhche, a local landmark out near Rueval in Benbecula, and reveals how it got its name… He relates the story for Mary Morrison, an enthusiastic community participant in the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean project.”

“Norman Maclean tells the story in Gaelic of the Battle of Carinish in 1601 – as if it was yesterday. And, master storyteller that he is, he brings it right up to date with references to current singers who still mine this rich cultural heritage.”

“”Difficult Encounters with Mother Earth” – Iain talks to his old friend and neighbour, Mary Morrison, a retired English teacher and revitalised Gaelic learner. Their conversation covers three generations of family and friends from the acquisition of the croft, through the many changes since, to current practice today, via English-teaching in Spain, the North Uist Highland Games and other highlights.. Iain speaks clearly and precisely and is always keen to encourage Gaelic learners. This is Mary’s first Gaelic interview.”


Categories: CALL, Community, Video

Sgeama “Ar Guthan”

14/03/2022 Leave a comment

The Gaelic Books Council has announced a support scheme for new authors, and wants to spread the word!

While the Island Voices emphasis is on spoken language, we’re more than happy to help get the message out about a project titled “Ar Guthan”, even if the voices here will be written ones, especially when island communities are listed among the under-represented groups from whom applications are particularly welcomed.

Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council, talks about the scheme here:

You can read more about the scheme in Gaelic or English in this press release, which also gives details of how to apply.

Categories: Community, Video

Karaoke sa Ghàidhlig

04/02/2022 1 comment

Roll over, Beethoven!

Irish-speaker Seán Ó Muiris has announced a new voluntary and non-profit initiative to replicate his work in producing an Irish language karaoke repertoire with a parallel Scottish Gaelic stream. First fruits can be tasted in the YouTube link above, with his rendition of Runrig’s classic “Alba”.

Scottish Gaelic enthusiasts “of a certain age” may recall a previous venture in the karaoke genre, spearheaded by Comann an Luchd-Ionnsachaidh, nach maireann, in collaboration with Clydebank College (also no longer with us in the shape pictured here).


As Gordon Wells’s notes to that pioneering production point out, “Scottish Gaels had of course … developed their own (pre-electronic) means of musical entertainment without instrumental backing, in the shape of puirt-à-beul…”. He also remarked that “Singing can be very helpful for the language learner. It allows you to concentrate on your pronunciation, and helps to fix unfamiliar vocabulary in your memory.” So, given that the original cassette-based package may not have fully withstood the test of time, this new venture in the world of Gaelic karaoke could well be overdue!

Seán makes the point strongly that his innovative approach is undertaken in a completely voluntary capacity, without any institutional backing, for the benefit of the Gaelic languages. You can hear him talking about it in detail in this interview in Irish for RTE. With over 100 karaoke versions of Irish songs on his YouTube channel he now wishes to start something similar for Scottish Gaelic and is offering to run free training seminars for anyone who might be interested in helping out.

His graphic below gives more detail:


Categories: Audio, CALL, Community, Video

Talking Points le Tormod et al

01/02/2022 Leave a comment

MOOTPicFinalSna seachdainnean mu dheireadh aig a’ phròiseact Mediating Multilingualism aig Institiùd Rannsachaidh Cànain Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean thàinig na com-pàirtichean eadar-nàiseanta sna h-oilthighean ann an Alba, Diaimeuga, agus sna h-Innseachan còmhla airson cuspairean san robh ùidh aca uile a dheasbad cuide ri luchd-labhairt às an Rìoghachd Aonaichte aig a bheil cànanan coimhearsnachd. Chleachd iad pìosan a-mach à Saoghal Thormoid airson na deasbadan (a chaidh a chumail sa Bheurla) a thòiseachadh. Chaidh na còmhraidhean seo a chlàradh, agus tha iad a-nis ri fhaighinn air sianal YouTube Guthan nan Eilean.

Bheir an clàr shìos ceanglaichean ris na deasbadan gu lèir, cuide ris na bhidiothan le Tormod MacGill-Eain a’ bruidhinn.

Cuspair Còmhradh Clàraichte Earrann à Saoghal Thormoid
Cànanan ann an Cunnart Talking Points 1 Saoghal Thormoid 1
Cànanan air an Rangachadh Talking Points 2 Saoghal Thormoid 2
Cànanan Taobh ri Taobh Talking Points 3 Saoghal Thormoid 3

Faodar criomagan às na h-earrannan ann an Saoghal Thormoid fhaicinn an seo, airson blasad beag fhaighinn dhe na beachdan aig Tormod fhèin.

1. Gaelic Trajectory? 2. English Ascendancy?
3a. Bilingual Balance? 3b. Homecoming Postscript

Agus ma tha ceistean agad, no ma tha thu airson puingean a thogail air-loidhne sna deasbadan seo, faodaidh tu pàirt a ghabhail sna còmhraidhean a bhios a’ dol ann am MOOT Guthan nan Eilean! Rud nach bi a’ tachairt a h-uile latha… Siuthad! Carpe diem!

Categories: Classes, Community, Research, Video

Invitation to Unmute

24/01/2022 3 comments


Who remembers we once mooted a MOOT?

Well, the idea of an Island Voices “Multilingual Open Online Teach-in” is now no longer, um, moot – for want of a better word. “Chan ann a h-uile latha a bhios mòd aig Mac an Tòisich”, mar a chanas iad, (“It’s not every day Mackintosh throws a party” – loosely) but its time has come.

“Talking Points” with Tormod

We’ve recently placed a whole series of “Talking Points with Norman Maclean” recordings on our YouTube channel, built on a merging of materials and ideas from the Soillse/UHI Language Sciences Institute projects Mediating Multilingualism and Saoghal Thormoid. In the last few weeks of the funded period for Mediating Multilingualism, linguists in universities in Scotland, India, and Jamaica discussed topics of common interest with UK-based community language speakers, stimulated by brief extracts from the final session of Saoghal Thormoid. And these discussions are now available to view.

It’s an experimental format, mixing subtitled Gaelic recordings with live English debate. The topics are sociolinguistic, covering Language Endangerment (Gaelic Trajectory?), Language Hierarchies (English Ascendancy?), and Language Contact (Bilingual Balance?). And they may raise just as many questions as answers, if not more. Just the thing then for the enquiring mind, and quite in the spirit of the “Teach-in” philosophy described in our 2019 post! In the end, we didn’t set up a separate online forum then, and we won’t now. There are perfectly good comment and reply functions on YouTube and here on WordPress for any questions readers or listeners may have.

YouTube Playlist

But to help provide a degree of focus or sense of direction – without closing down the options for diverging lines of thought and enquiry – we’ve put together a special “box set” International Island Voices MOOT playlist on YouTube that brings together the Talking Points material with some other key videos from our overall body of work which underpin and exemplify our multilingual approach.


By the way, we knitted some 2-minute Norman Maclean “highlights” into the recorded discussions, as an aide memoire for the longer extracts that were being discussed. If you want a quick taste of a topic, we’ve extracted them here, and you can take a quick look at any of them now, before choosing which full discussion to dive into for the wider treatment.

1. Gaelic Trajectory? 2. English Ascendancy?
3a. Bilingual Balance? 3b. Homecoming Postscript

Taking Part

There’s no start or stop date on this. The “Talking Points” participants are separated by up to ten and a half hours difference in time zones between India and Jamaica, so a simultaneous “launch” has not been feasible. And our geographical catchment is worldwide, so the approach is deliberately asynchronous – completely independent of any timetable. View the videos, ask questions, and make comments (which will be moderated) as and when you can and wish. Please be polite, and be prepared to be patient if waiting for responses.

Choosing where to comment is up to you. Specific queries about particular videos may be best posted under the relevant YouTube clip. But if your point or question is more general, then a comment here under this WordPress post may be the best place.

Binge-watching the whole playlist in one go is probably doable, if challenging, but perhaps not the best way of giving yourself time to think through issues that arise and about which you may have questions. A better approach might actually be to split up the longer discussion videos into smaller chunks – for which the “chapters” function in YouTube may well come in handy. If you take a look at the video description for any of these long clips you’ll find timed listings for each of the speakers, which you can click on to go straight to that particular point in the film.

And any time you catch yourself wondering which one’s Treebeard, it’s probably time for a break…

We’re pleased to have a receptive and supportive audience and readership, of course, but comments, questions and other feedback are always very welcome. Wikipedia tells us “Teach-ins are meant to be practical, participatory, and oriented toward action. While they include experts lecturing on their area of expertise, discussion and questions from the audience are welcome…”

Dear readers, whether you have questions or suggestions, the MOOT is open. We invite you to “unmute”!

International Island Voices MOOT: the YouTube Playlist

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Gaelic Jorni

13/01/2022 Leave a comment

Jorni3“Winta jos a ton ina spring ina di Outer Hebrides, we de pan Scotland wes kuos. Di priti plies dem mek yu memba se dem ailan ya suun fulop a piipl we lef dem yaad an kom pan alidie ina di at mont dem we suun riich, bot rait ya nou wan gruup a luokal piipl a go pan a chrip pan di Naatwes kuos a Ireland. Bak ina di diez,  dem wuda chavl bai waata an wuda go fram ailan tu ailan ina dis lang schring a komyuuniti we piipl ongl chat Gaelic. Bot nou-a-diez Benbecula ierpuot gi piipl wan iiziya an muo komfatebl wie fi go bout dem bizniz…” (Jamiekan)

“Mu dheireadh thall tha sinn a’ cur ar cul ris a’ Gheamhradh anns na h-Eileanan Siar, sa chuan pìos a-mach à taobh an iar na h-Alba. Tha na seallaidhean àlainn gar cuimhneachadh gum bi luchd-turais gu leòr a’ tighinn ann am mìosan blàth an t-samhraidh. Ach an-diugh fhèin tha sgioba de dh’Eileanaich a’ dèanamh an slìghe gu taobh an iar-thuath na h-Èirinn. Aig aon àm, b’ e bàta a bhiodh aca, a’ leum bho eilean gu eilean ann an sreath slàn de choimhearsnachdan Gàidhlig, ach tha port-adhair Bheinn na Faoghla a’ dèanamh gnothaichean nas fhasa dhaibh an-diugh…” (Gàidhlig)

Jorni2“Tá an tEarrach ag teacht sna hOileáin Siar amach ó chósta thiar na hAlban. Cuireann na radharcanna áille i gcuimhne dúinn go mbeidh neart turasóirí ag triall ar na hoileáin seo sna míonna teo atá le teacht. Ach san am i láthair tá buíon oileánach ag imeacht ar thuras go cósta Iarthuaiscirt na hÉireann. Blianta ó shin is turas farraige a bheadh ann, ag imeacht ó oileán go hoileán i slabhra de phobail Ghaeltachta. Ach anois cuireann Aerfort Bheinn A Faoghla modh níos áisiúla taistil ar fail…” (Gaeilge)

“Winter is just turning to spring in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. Picturesque scenes are a reminder that these islands will host a steady stream of holidaymakers in the warmer months to come, but right now a team of islanders is heading off on a trip to the Northwest coast of Ireland. In earlier times the journey would have been by sea, hopping from island to island in an unbroken string of Gaelic-speaking communities. But now, Benbecula airport offers a more convenient means of travel…” (English)

Following his work on the Tobar an Dualchais Dijitaizieshan Senta, Hugh Campbell of the University of the West Indies Jamaican Language Unit has kindly voiced another Island Voices film – the “Gaelic Jorni” documenting the seminal linkage with Irish language speakers in Donegal.

As with his first film, this is part of the transnational “Mediating Multilingualism” project linking Scottish, Indian, and Jamaican universities. Congratulations also to the UHI IT team for adding Jamaican to the growing list of languages in which the university’s webpages are now available!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Taisce Bheo: Caitlín Ní Bhroin

12/01/2022 1 comment

ColmagusCaitlínColm Mac Giolla Easpaig from Gweedore speaks to Caitlín Ní Bhroin from Magheroarty.

Although originally from Magherorarty, Caitlín has spent time living in the six counties and currently lives outside Letterkenny while working in the Gaeltacht Láir.

In the first part of the conversation, she speaks about her family and her upbringing as well as some of the customs and superstitions in the area. She goes on to speak about her work-life and the initiatives she has been involved in to help the inhabitants of Fintown, Edeninfagh and Doochary.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

In this second part, Caitlín speaks about her educational background. She then speaks about her love of placenames and explains the meaning of some local names. She goes on to give details about a campaign in which she is involved which hopes to save the bays of her hometown. Finally, she describes what she would do if she were to win the National Lottery.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

Part of the Taisce Bheo na nGael project in which the UHI Language Sciences Institute with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Soillse, together with Irish partners, record the natural speech of Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers in their own communities with user-friendly equipment and techniques. This is the second set of recordings in Irish, following the earlier release of the conversation with Clíona Ní Ghallachóir. Once again, we’re indebted to Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin of Ulster University for his meticulous work on the transcriptions.

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Seanchas le Magaidh Smith

13/12/2021 Leave a comment

Maggie (2)“Bhuail e mi nach eil cruinneachadh de sheanchas a tha a’ buntainn ri Sgìre nan Loch an àite sam bith, is gum bu chòir dhomh cuid aca a thoirt cruinn agus mar a bha sa chleachdadh bho chionn fhada an aithris. ‘S e bha nam amharc gum biodh iad ri làimh dha daoine òga a tha ag iarraidh an aithris aig a’ Mhòd, no aig a bheil ùidh ann am beatha anns an sgìre bho chionn fhada”.

Magaidh Smith explains how the need for a collection of traditional tales from the Lochs district motivated her to record some in the old style. They might be useful for young people entering the Mòd, or who are interested in the traditional life of the area. We’re delighted that she offered them to Island Voices to place online. They will also contribute to the Stòras Beò collection.

Here she retells the story of Calum Bàn, Tacksman of Laxay, from her own knowledge of oral tradition.

You can access a wordlinked transcript on Clilstore with the video embedded here:

Here she brings back to Gaelic life a story from William Cummings’ edited collection “Family Traditions: John Macleod, 11 Melbost”.

You can access a wordlinked transcript on Clilstore with the video embedded here:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video
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