Mother Tongues and Other Tongues

11/07/2017 Leave a comment

From the beginning Guthan nan Eilean/Island Voices has been a “more than monolingual” project. In the early days the balance between English and Gaelic video production was deliberately kept strictly equal in terms of numbers. Naturally enough, that approach would not necessarily protect the project from criticism from either side of any partisan argument which presented language competence (or language resourcing) from a “zero-sum” perspective, in which anything that “Paul” may gain must be marked down as a loss for “Peter”. But that was neither our philosophy nor experience. We found technical “economies of scale” in putting together single picture sequences which could be used interchangeably between the two languages. Also, and perhaps more significantly from a language support point of view, in circumstances where contributors might be underconfident in speaking on camera in one of their languages, it was often the case that a run-through first in the other might be all the encouragement they needed to then repeat the exercise in their supposedly “weaker” tongue.

In later years, as community members and groups began to engage more proactively with the project and with less of a need for “prompting”, the division between English and Gaelic materials (audio and video) undoubtedly swung over markedly to the Gaelic side. In a context of creeping English language dominance in all aspects of community life, this may be viewed as an entirely understandable and justified attempt, by those with a local interest in “mother tongue maintenance”, at some kind of counterbalancing support for the “weakening” language.

All the while, the research/reports page has been accumulating a series of reports and articles that document the developing context in which the project has been operating, and/or describe how the project has responded to that context. The term “bilingualism” can cover many different meanings, and certainly deserves close interrogation whenever it is invoked in support of particular social approaches or policy proposals to do with language use or learning. That being said, this project has consistently maintained a positive stance on the potential benefits of engaging with more than one language. The 2012 British Council book chapter (p153) and 2016 Language Issues article, in particular, explore the development of this approach over the duration of the project in some detail.

In the broadest terms it means recognising the interrelatedness and interdependence of seemingly separate languages and communities, and seeking judiciously to strengthen or exploit these for mutual benefit. It is in this context that the “Sharing Gaelic Voices” theme has emerged over the past year or so, to the extent that a new page for “Other Tongues” has now been created on this site, where our videos in languages other than English and Gaelic, voiced by contributors near and far, are gathered in one place. No doubt, there are powerful forces at work and complex issues at stake wherever languages are in contact, and the production of a few extra videos may have little material impact of itself on a tangled web of interlocking competences, loyalties, and social and economic pressures. But even if we are just reminded for a moment that one person’s “mother tongue” will be somebody else’s “other tongue”, and vice-versa, then we may be contributing in some way to the development of a more open mindset and a willingness to question previously narrower, maybe even “monolingual”, lines of thinking, whether that be at policy-making or community level, or indeed within ourselves.

Worthwhile activity, then. But also fun! Any other budding voiceover artists out there?

Categories: CALL, Community, UGC, Video

Taith drwy’r Aeleg

01/07/2017 Leave a comment


Prosiect ‘Lleisiau’r Ynysoedd’ (Guthan nan Eilean) yn ymweld ag Iwerddon. Ffilm ddogfen gyda sylwebaeth yn Gymraeg. Gellir clywed rhai sgyrsiau Gwyddeleg a Gaeleg yr Alban gydag isdeitlau yn y ddwy iaith.

Cuairt Ghàidhealach ann an Cuimris a-nis. Tha an ùidh anns na tha sinn a’ dèanamh an seo a’ fàs…

Sharing Gaelic Voices again – this time in the Welsh language. For the full wordlinked transcript check this unit (5834) on Clilstore. Many thanks to Richard Glyn Roberts for the translation and voiceover! The Gaelic Journey is the gift that keeps on giving…

Categories: CALL, Community, UGC, Video

Norman’s World – In Print!

13/06/2017 Leave a comment

 

For all that the Guthan nan Eilean project is about recording “Island Voices”, and so capturing and curating speech, there are those who still prefer to read – and not just online but off paper. With that in mind, the Soillse-supported “Saoghal Thormoid” series featuring Norman Maclean in conversation with Gordon Wells has now been made available in printable format.

This document, “Saoghal Thormoid – Norman Maclean: Synopses and Transcripts“, contains a verbatim written version of all the recordings in the series, and is free to download. Complementing the transcripts are the brief synopses of each day’s discussion previously published online.

What’s additionally new, however, is the Foreword by Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Director of Soillse and Gaelic Research Professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands, in which he maps out the significance of Norman’s lifelong contribution to Gaelic culture, and the potential for research and recovery that work of this nature embodies.

“Tormod’s life is an acknowledgement of the cultural wealth of Gaelic society, and by virtue of this archive, he represents an ambassador to its future.” Give it a read!

Categories: Community, Research

Dance in the Car Park

06/05/2017 Leave a comment

There was a warm welcome back to Uist for Will Lamb and Naomi Harvey this weekend, when they led a “Danns’ ri Puirt” workshop at Talla Chàirinis in North Uist – so warm, in fact, that they held it in the car park rather than inside the hall! It was part of the Ceòlas annual Òran ’s Fonn song festival, which stretches over three days.

In this clip Will and Naomi talk, in Gaelic and English, about their research collaboration, and how they’re seeking to put it to practical effect, by actually trying out putting singing and dancing together. You can also get a taste of the workshop itself, as Liam Alastair Crouse, from Ceòlas, and visiting students on the Gaelic Immersion for Teachers course at the University of Strathclyde willingly put theory to test…

Categories: Classes, Community, Research, Video

Jurnaa Gaelagh

01/05/2017 9 comments

We’re “sharing Gaelic voices” again, this time quite literally!

Thanks to Culture Vannin and the fine narrative tones of James Harrison, Guthan nan Eilean now offers you the previously missing Manx version of “A Gaelic Journey – from Benbecula to Ranafast”, the story of a Hebridean trip to Donegal with Archie and Neil Campbell, focussed on capturing Gaelic voices. (We already have versions in other languages on our Gaelic Journeys page.)

This one short 10-minute film gives you the opportunity to hear all three Gaelics, as they are spoken now in the twenty-first century. The narration is in Manx, but there are also conversations in both Irish and Scottish Gaelic with onscreen dual language subtitling in Manx and Irish or Scottish Gaelic. You can also access the full transcript on Clilstore (with online dictionary linkage) in this unit – http://multidict.net/cs/5562.

Enjoy this pan-Gaelic production, propitiously launched on Latha Buidhe Bealltainn!

(And if that’s whetted your appetite for multilingualism, try the same film here again – in Basque!)

Categories: CALL, Community, UGC, Video

Gaelic Media and Communications Officer

29/04/2017 1 comment

Ceòlas were recently pleased to announce the appointment of Liam Alastair Crouse to the post of Gaelic Media and Communications Officer (Oifigear Mheadhanan is Conaltraidh Gàidhlig).

Close followers of Guthan nan Eilean will remember that he’s worked with Ceòlas in Uist before, as Gaelic Development Officer, when he recorded a short interview close to the start of his job.

So, Gordon Wells was happy to catch up with Liam again as he starts out on his new posting, this time for a video recording. Liam talks about the opportunities and challenges entailed in the task of getting more Gaelic onto the Internet. We wish him well!

Categories: Community, Video

Meetings in Lewis and Harris

10/04/2017 Leave a comment

More meetings coming up. Please spread the word.

Categories: Community, Research
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