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 Leave a 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 3 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

Flòraidh “ioma-chànanach”!

05/02/2021 Leave a comment

Gàidhlig agus Beurla, gu cinnteach – ach a bheil cànain eile aig Flòraidh NicDhòmhnaill? Agus ma tha, cia mheud!?

Abair seachdain “techie” a th’ air a bhith aig Guthan nan Eilean. Bha fèill mhòr Dihaoine is Disathairne sa chaidh air na fo-thiotalan “automataigeach” a chaidh a chruthachadh aig Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann ann am pròiseact Shoillse, ach dè eile a thàinig a-mach à sin ach cothrom fo-thiotalan a chur air na bhidiothan Gàidhlig uile gu lèir a th’ aig Guthan nan Eilean air YouTube! Cha ghabh an obair sin dèanamh taobh-a-staigh latha, ach tha an sgioba ris a’ ghnothach, agus tha Sreath 1 deiseil mar-thà.

Chan e sin deireadh an sgeòil ge-tà. Le fo-thiotalan “san t-siostam” a-nis tha sin a’ fàgail gur urrainnear “eadar-theangachadh” a thabhann cuideachd tro Google Translate air na fo-thiotalan sna bhidiothan. Cha bhi iad gun mhearachd idir, ach can nam biodh càirdean agad aig nach eil Gàidhlig: an dèidh dhut “CC” a chur air, faodar an uair sin na settings air “subtitles” atharrachadh gu “auto-translate” airson tionndadh air choireigin a thabhann dhaibh ann am Beurla – no Frangais, Gearmailtis, agus iomadh cànan eile.

Seo Flòraidh, ma tha, ann an Sreath 1, ri “leughadh” cha mhòr ann an cànan sam bith a thogras tu.

Agus mar chuimhne air a’ chuspair air a bheil i a’ bruidhinn, cuir sùil a-rithis air a’ phost “Community Adaptations” airson tionndaidhean eile (gun fo-thiotalan) fhaicinn dhe na filmichean aithriseach a thòisich an còmhradh, le seann charaid eile aig Guthan nan Eilean na rionnag annta…

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Same-time Sub-titles

30/01/2021 2 comments

Archie Campbell’s peatcutting skills and lore – well-known to Island Voices followers – were given a sparkling fresh polish in the progress report from the Gaelic Automatic Speech Recognition project being led by Will Lamb – another Island Voices veteran.

While the overall aim of the project is more ambitious still, the new Gaelic audio alignment tool was unveiled as a step along the way, using videos from our Series 2 collections, particularly featuring the ever-popular Peatcutting documentary plus the talking head interview clips of Archie talking about the work and associated social customs.

Will’s tweet shows a short sample clip.

But you can see the videos in full (plus another documentary sample looking at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig) by following this link. (Clips 724-726 for the peatcutting, 746 for SMO.)

This raises an interesting question for Island Voices, going forward. We’ve generally avoided adding sub-titles to our videos – with some specific exceptions – though we have made a point of supplying scrollable read-along Clilstore transcripts in almost all cases. This latest innovation suggests on-screen same-time sub-titles may be about to become an additional option – for our Gaelic films at least. What do our followers think of that?

 

Categories: Audio, CALL, Community, Research, Video

Gaelic Speech Recognition

29/01/2021 2 comments

Island Voices have made a significant contribution to this fascinating project led by Will Lamb, formally of Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla and now at Edinburgh University.

Follow the tweet, or this link, not just for a full techie description that is clearly laid out, but also to see how the transcribed videos created by the Guthan nan Eilean project have been visually enhanced by Quorate‘s text aligner to automatically produce same-language Gaelic subtitles.

It’s dazzling stuff! And this is still the beginning, thanks to the seed funding from Soillse for collaborative work. Next stages promise to bring in additional partners and much wider applications. Watch this space!

 

Categories: Audio, CALL, Community, Research, UGC, Video

“Oral Literacies”

18/01/2021 Leave a comment

Following her major project on Reading Aloud, in which she included research on Gaelic as well as many other languages in England, Scotland, and Wales, Sam Duncan has now written a book about it. The title, “Oral literacies”, nicely encapsulates the challenge to many established orthodoxies around language and learning that Sam clearly, yet warmly articulates within its pages.

This is, in fact, the second substantial publication emerging from the project, following the special issue of Changing English last year which compiled a number of papers from the UCL symposium on the same topic. These included Gordon Wells’ paper on Island Voices, which focussed on the primacy of speech while freshly acknowledging the porosity of the boundary with written language.

While proponents of established language teaching regimes (and writers of census questions) may still find it appropriate to categorise linguistic behaviour in terms of a traditional “four skills” matrix, it’s refreshing to find research work which interrogates a rigid compartmentalisation of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Approaching, as she does, from a quite different perspective to that of Gaelic revitalisationism, it may nonetheless be significant for those engaged in the latter that “orality” features highly in Sam’s treatment.

And the book’s comprehensive index enables the selective reader to focus in on particular interests, such as Gaelic, psalm-singing, or indeed Island Voices!

Here’s the full back-cover description of the book.

This is the first book to focus exclusively on an examination of early 21st-century adult reading aloud. The dominant contemporary image of reading in much of the world is that of a silent, solitary activity. This book challenges this dominant discourse, acknowledging the diversity of reading practices that adults perform or experience in different communities, languages, contexts and phases of our lives, outlining potential educational implications and next steps for literacy teaching and research.

By documenting and analysing the diversity of oral reading practices that adults take part in (on- and offline), this book explores contemporary reading aloud as hugely varied, often invisible and yet quietly ubiquitous. Duncan discusses questions such as: What, where, how and why do adults read aloud, or listen to others reading? How do couples, families and groups use oral reading as a way of being together? When and why do adults read aloud at work? And why do some people read aloud in languages they may not speak or understand?

This book is key reading for advanced students, researchers and scholars of literacy practices and literacy education within education, applied linguistics and related areas.

There was an online launch at Lancaster University in early January, for which Sam wrote this blogpost:

https://literacieslog.wordpress.com/2021/01/04/oral-literacies-when-adults-read-aloud-launch-of-the-book-by-sam-duncan-on-8th-january/

The scholarship is meticulous throughout the book in its treatment of a fascinatingly wide-ranging and ambitious topic. Nonetheless, Sam’s writing style (of which the blogpost gives us an example) remains clear, approachable, and fundamentally humane – while pleasingly sprinkled with evocative surprises:

“… and in the background we might hear the sounds of Gaelic karaoke…”

The interested readership may well extend beyond the purely academic!

 

Categories: Community, Research

Ceòlas nyári iskola

13/01/2021 Leave a comment

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

Categories: CALL, Community, UGC, Video

Tο Κέντρο ημέρας Craigard

06/12/2020 1 comment

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 of 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 has a wide range of domestic interests too, 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…

 

Categories: CALL, Community, UGC, Video

Gaelic Mafia?

04/12/2020 1 comment

Twitter hashtags do not normally attract much attention from Island Voices, far less participation or amplification. Firestorms and pile-ons are not our usual digital habitat. 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 understandable 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 and open 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 already possessed of all the advantages that English (or perhaps another language) can bestow, and 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 origins 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 about ten years ago, as an exercise in the POOLS-CX project – a rough and ready multilingual production, 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!

Categories: Community, Video
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