Hebridean Dijitaizieshan Senta

15/11/2021 Leave a comment

DijiSentaWahn shaat flim ina di Jamiekan langwij bout di Tobar an Dualchais (Well of Heritage) Dijitaizieshan Senta ina South Uist, ina di Outer Hebrides ina Scotland.

We were pleased to get Island Voices representation on the Digital Museum’s truly continent-spanning special event on International Mother Language Day this year. Starting in Bangladesh, where the movement began, the various sessions crossed Asia, Europe, and Africa, before finishing up with speakers from the Americas.

Gaelic was presented alongside Jamaican, and from that initial contact an exciting collaboration is growing up between the University of the Highlands and Islands Language Sciences Institute and the Jamaican Language Unit of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. This is being developed through the enlargement of the inter-university Mediating Multilingualism project, which was already linking UHI with Indian partners.

The Jamaican Language Unit conducts research on the Jamaican language, and advocates for the recognition and officialisation of the language, and its teaching to native and non-native speakers. As part of Mediating Multilingualism it will oversee the creation of audio and audio-visual materials in the Jamaican language, the provision of transcripts, translations, and related lexicographic work, plus compilation of a 500,000-word corpus.

Test Clilstore units are now coming through, based on Island Voices documentary material, making use of the same Custom Wordlist function first tested out on Okinawan. Here’s an early sample, adding yet another language to our Other Tongues collection. The Tobar an Dualchais film was first made in Gaelic and English for Series Two Enterprise, with a Scots version following later. Many thanks to Hugh Campbell and the Jamaican Language Unit for this new production!

Hugh’s voiceover narration has been transcribed using the approved Cassidy-JLU orthography for the Jamaican language. Here’s the wordlinked Clilstore unit, with every word clickable for a Jamaican to English translation: https://clilstore.eu/cs/9897

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Scotland’s Gaelic College: an Okinawan take

01/11/2021 1 comment

Okinawandumptitle (2)

ソールモールオスタイク んでぃいーる スコットランド ぬ ゲーリック 大学に ちーてぃ うちなーぐち っし  うんぬきやびら。

(“Nach bruidhinn sinn mu dheidhinn Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Colaiste Ghàidhlig na h-Alba, ann an Uidsianàguidsidh – cànan Okinawa.”)

At Guthan nan Eilean we centre our Gaelic attention on the Hebridean islands where the language is still most widely spoken, while reaching out to a worldwide community of interest. We believe this provides a firmly grounded platform, rooted in day-to-day vernacular practice, on which to build links and relationships with other linguistic communities who may be facing similar challenges, transcending nationally drawn boundaries of frequently debatable relevance or disputed authority for those who actually speak the languages in question.

So we’re delighted now to add Okinawan – another island language at apparent risk of societal desuetude – to our list of Other Tongues in which our films have been re-purposed. Here, Tomoko Arakaki of the Okinawa Christian University has provided a fresh voiceover for our short documentary film about Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. This was first made in Gaelic and English for Series 2 Generations, with a Breton version following more recently. It’s a source of pleasure and encouragement to us to make this concrete and practical new link across seas and continents, with a view to sharing news and ideas in a manner as suggested, for example, in the “Two Lands Many Languages” film which was shot mainly in Meghalaya during the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Hebridean communities have functioned bilingually for generations, with the balance only tipping drastically in a majoritised monocultural direction within the living memory of current residents – an experience commonly shared in similar contexts across the world. If Island Voices has anything to offer in terms of redressing that imbalance, we’re more than happy to share lessons from our Gaelic work with others.

Producing an accompanying Clilstore transcript – at https://clilstore.eu/cs/9722 – presented various challenges, not least the lack of an appropriate online dictionary for Okinawan. Fortunately, Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle at SMO has already been putting his mind to this issue in relation to the “Mediating Multilingualism” project led by the UHI Language Sciences Institute. We can look forward to extending his “Custom Wordlist” approach beyond Okinawan to Indian and Jamaican languages in the near future. Watch this space!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, UGC, Video

Stòras Beò: Alasdair a-rithist

09/10/2021 Leave a comment


Alasdair Macdonald talks to his daughter Kirsty. This follows on from the previous conversation Archie Campbell had with Alasdair for Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal.

This time Kirsty took charge of the kit and made the recording herself, capturing a fascinating father-daughter exchange in which more stories were re-told, many of them obviously old family favourites.

In this part, Alasdair recounts a number of tales recalled from his own childhood. Topics covered include hunting for rabbits, a near-drowning before the Baleshare causeway was built, youthful gun-handling, the making of seal oil, the use of horses for ploughing or to haul carts, and illicit fishing attempts with dynamite. These are followed by the recital of more traditional stories such as Cù Dubh Mhic a’ Phì (Àiridh na h-Aon Oidhche) and Isean Mhic Mhuirich.

A wordlinked transcript with embedded video is available on Clilstore via this link: https://multidict.net/cs/9723

In this part, Alasdair relates a story of fairy abduction to begin with, before hitting his stride with a series of anecdotes concerning local “characters” or family antecedents, including Iain Beag, Teàrlach Ruadh, Aonghas Ailean mhic Aonghaidh, and Ailean Heisgeir himself. From there the conversation moves onto deer-hunting escapades around Eaval (and how court appearances would not necessarily result in a poaching conviction), followed by discussion of grazing issues for both cattle and sheep. He finishes by describing traditional methods commonly used to make butter and cheese.

A wordlinked transcript with embedded video is available on Clilstore via this link: https://multidict.net/cs/9724

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Stòras Beò: Pàdruig Moireasdan

08/09/2021 Leave a comment

PàdruigandGordonPàdruig Morrison, PhD scholar, crofter, musician, and community activist from Grimsay, talks to Gordon Wells for the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal project.

We’ve added a Gaelic subtitle option on YouTube for those that wish it, which can be machine translated into multiple other languages through “Settings”. Wordlinked transcripts are also available on Clilstore.

In the first part, he recalls his family history, including his grandfather’s celebrated recordings and their importance for the preservation and transmission of Gaelic culture, and his father’s love of singing and the continuation of tradition. His own Gaelic was nurtured in the extended family and community, with the strong support of his English-speaking mother. An early interest in music was well supported through Uist schooling initially, and then intensively in Edinburgh, where he found additional impetus for his Gaelic through church and university circles. Following his father’s death, he maintained close contact with his Grimsay home, to which he always intended to return.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9686

In the second part, Pàdruig makes some comparisons between Irish and Scottish traditional music scenes, drawing on his experience of postgraduate study in Maynooth, where he noted a common preference in rural more “Gàidhealach” areas for a steady swing in contrast with urban centres like Dublin or Glasgow. Now back home in Grimsay he is busy with his croft, in addition to pursuing a PhD. The maintenance of traditional crofting skills is important to him in times of heightened environmental awareness. He is also involved in debates around access to crofts and housing for young people, especially following Covid lockdowns. He is optimistic about developing the common interest of vernacular Gaels and learners in sustaining island communities.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9687

Attentive listeners will have noticed occasional references to earlier films made in the Island Voices series, including some featuring a much younger Pàdruig, as well as his father! You can check back on these in the archives, particularly in the Series 2 Generations section.

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Stòras Beò: Curstaidh NicDhòmhnaill

20/08/2021 1 comment

KirstyGordonJPegIndependent Gaelic consultant Kirsty Macdonald, from Claddach Illeray in North Uist, talks to Gordon Wells.

Patronymics (and a DNA test) reveal a long Gaelic-speaking lineage on her father’s side, while her mother first moved to Uist to learn the language, then marrying and settling down. From a family of teachers, Kirsty had a difficult relationship with education in her school years, but found her passion for Gaelic ignited when she left Uist to study, first at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and then Edinburgh University.

Talking to Gordon, she also fleshes out some of her memories and thoughts recently published in her very popular article on “Getting closer to home from a journey away” in the West Highland Free Press, highlighting the treasures of Tobar an Dualchais, and the importance in her eyes of discussing and addressing the concerns of Gaelic speakers in the vernacular community – a topic of current debate.

YouTube “closed caption” videos are enabled here, so viewers have the choice of reading the Gaelic subtitles while they watch and listen. You can also, if you wish, get automatic machine translations of these into English and many other languages through the Settings menu.

A wordlinked transcript with embedded video is available on Clilstore via this link: https://multidict.net/cs/9629

This is part of the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal 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. Alasdair MacDonald, Kirsty’s dad, is already on the Stòras Beò site, but Kirsty’s final words indicate there’s yet more to come from that quarter… Watch this space! 

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Stòras Beò: Christine NicLeòid

21/07/2021 1 comment

ChristineChristine MacLeod from Bragar in Lewis talks to Maggie Smith.

Christine remembers growing up in a crofting community where weaving and fishing were commonplace activities, and Gaelic was widely spoken in the local primary school. After secondary education in Stornoway, she moved to Edinburgh, first to study and then to teach, first through English medium, and then in the Gaelic school at Tollcross.

She has happy memories of her teaching career, but is content to have retired from that job and returned to Lewis. She speaks with particular conviction on the value of storytelling in education. She talks about Bragar today, touching on the use of Gaelic, local placenames, the new use for the old school, and the Bragar style of speech. She’s pleased her own Edinburgh-raised children think of it as home.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9504

Categories: Community, Research, Video

Taisce Bheo: Clíona

12/07/2021 Leave a comment

Clíona“Tionscadal píolótach a dhíríonn ar shamplaí cuí eiseamláireacha den chaoi a labhraítear an Ghaeilge agus a’ Ghàidhlig i bpobail Ghaelacha in Albain agus in Éirinn atá sa Taisce Ghaelach. Baintear leas as uirlisí soláimhsithe cláraithe agus teicnící furasta chun an t-ábhar a chruinniú.”

We start with a quote from the Irish language introduction to the UHI “Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal” project, whose Scottish Gaelic samples we’ve been regularly featuring on these pages. It explains that the project aims to collect exemplary samples of Gaelic speech from vernacular communities in Scotland and Ireland with user-friendly equipment and techniques.

The COVID crisis struck just as the Irish recordings were due to be getting underway, causing an inevitable delay. However, following the recent experimentation with Zoom conversations in Scottish Gaelic, a parallel Irish series has now begun recording, following the same pattern. This conversation between Colm Mac Giolla Easpaig and Clíona Ní Ghallachòir is the first to be placed online. Consider it a foretaste of more delights to come!

Clíona is from Meenaclady and Colm is from Gweedore. Clíona is a twenty-one-year-old student who is currently residing in Galway. In the first part of the interview, she speaks about the student experience during the Covid 19 pandemic. She talks about her hometown and her views on the state of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht. She goes on to talk about her interest in singing and storytelling with some mention of local traditions and customs.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9452

In the second part of this interview, Clíona talks about the changes occurring in the Irish language communities and her own work experience with both translation and language planning. She goes on to speak about her childhood memories and other interests she would like to pursue. She then speaks about her involvement in drama both onstage and behind the scenes. She discusses the importance of faith in her local area before finally talking about what she would do if she were to win the lottery.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/9454

If you follow the Clilstore transcript links for either of these clips you will spot an interesting innovation in comparison with the earlier Scottish series. Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin of Ulster University, who produced the transcriptions, has gone a step further and provided additional footnotes to mark regional variations on the standard. You’ll find these by clicking on the “annotated version” tab in the Clilstore unit. At this point, Guthan nan Eilean aficionados may well also be thinking back to our “Gaelic Journeys” page, and noting previous links to Ulster University and Donegal. This is not the first time Colm has appeared on this site!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Clach-mhìle air YouTube

05/06/2021 Leave a comment

Island Voices Videos on YouTube1,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel!

About the channel:

“Video clips primarily for language learners, but also anyone else interested in the Hebrides. For more information please pay a visit to the “Fiosrachadh – Information” page …. Perhaps you have some suggestions – or would like to take part? You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

In the great majority of cases we have not burned subtitles into our videos, but “wordlinked” transcripts are generally available via the Clilstore links through our WordPress site …. In such cases, an automatically generated English version (via Google Translate) is available through Clilstore. The quality of the translation is, of course, subject to Google’s capacity to process the original text.

It’s early days yet for Automatic Speech Recognition in Gaelic, but we’re pleased to be contributing to that development. This has stimulated experimentation with the optional Closed Caption facility. Where activated, auto-translation into other languages is also available.”

Here’s to the next 1,000!

Categories: Community, Video

Titles for the Raiders

01/06/2021 Leave a comment

AlecScrnShtRetired policeman Alec MacAulay recounted this story in 2014 of his raider father’s bold exploits on coming back home to Uist from the First World War. Returning soldiers across the islands were in no mood for undue deference to the landowning classes, and were taking crofting matters into their own hands, with strong popular support.

“Làmhachas làidir” was the call of the hour. It was a fascinating account, related on the day to Archie Campbell, and recorded as part of the Comunn Eachdraidh Uibhist a’ Tuath project “An fheadhainn tha làighe sàmhach”.

Skilfully told here, it’s a compelling story well worth repeating, and recent techie developments have enabled Island Voices to enhance the access both for learners of Gaelic, and for those who don’t know the language at all. Now you can click on Closed Captions to get written Gaelic subtitles, which can then be machine-translated simultaneously into English and scores of other languages through “auto-translate” on the Settings button. If you missed it first time round, here’s your chance now!

Leading the technical team that’s facilitating this progress for Gaelic is Will Lamb, ex-Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla, now at the University of Edinburgh. There’s a new report by Lucy Evans on the GARG (Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group) blog, detailing latest developments.

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, UGC, Video

Techie Tormod

14/05/2021 1 comment

A couple of Norman Maclean’s impromptu recordings provide the material for trying out the latest developments in Gaelic Automatic Speech Recognition.


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
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