Second Digital Fèis

01/05/2023 1 comment

Digital Fèis 2 Poster - MayThe Aire air Sunnd project is hosting another Digital Fèis, including showings of some Island Voices videos created during the course of the project. Check the programme! The event also features the recording of placenames, presentations of the Virtual Trinity Temple Walk, the North Uist Sound Archive, and discussion of the local impact of climate change, plus the sharing of the project’s survey results, and a Friday evening cèilidh!

Categories: Community, Research Tags: ,

Beryl Bailey Symposium

04/04/2023 Leave a comment

Here’s welcome news of an exciting event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU) at the University of the West Indies, with whom the University of the Highlands and Islands recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the back of joint work on Mediating Multilingualism with the Language Sciences Institute (LSI).

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This symposium is livestreamed on the Braadkyaas Jamiekan YouTube channel – the JLU’s media platform which provides a community-facing link for speakers of Jamaican, in much the same way as Island Voices has aimed to bridge gaps between academic linguists and vernacular Gaelic speakers in the Hebrides.

Any successful language revitalisation or normalisation strategy or plan will not be developed in isolation from the real world around it. That is surely a truism, yet worth repeating in a context where the detailed and demanding practical work entailed requires careful, even microscopic, attention to the actual “facts on the ground”. For best results in a highly challenging task the critical linguistic gaze must surely still be both inward and outward. Insofar as Island Voices can contribute to a wider appreciation and re-valuing of the Gaelic language in hopeful anticipation of renewed community use, that is why this project, alongside its local Hebridean capture and curation work, has from the start been multilingual in orientation, and actively seized any opportunity to build links with other language communities who might find their own continuity or development under similar threat.

The applied linguistic collaboration between the JLU and the LSI has included the creation of Jamaican versions of various Island Voices films alongside other foundational media and corpus work, in the hope that this Hebridean-Caribbean language link can be further developed going forward. Creole linguistics and the languages of the Caribbean tell an illuminating story, which pioneering Jamaican linguist Beryl Bailey helped uncover. It contrasts interestingly with that of Scottish Gaelic. Nevertheless fruitful links, perhaps particularly in relation to oral and bilingual skills and resources, are there to be seen, explored, and developed. This event is open to all comers. Happy 20th Birthday, JLU!

Maithili Film: Taigh Chearsabhagh

05/03/2023 Leave a comment

Udaya NachiketaUnder his pen name ‘Nachiketa’, poet and professor Udaya Narayana Singh presents his Maithili version of the Island Voices film about the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre:

एखन अहाँ लोकनि जे तथ्य-चित्र देखै जा रहल छी, ततय स्कॉटलैंड केर आउटर हेब्रिड्स मे स्थित उत्तरी उइस्ट के पूर्वी भाग मे लोचमैडी मे जे संग्रहालय आ’ कला केंद्र अछि – जकर नाम भेल ‘थइ ख्यैर्सवाग़ संग्रहालय एवं कला केंद्र’ – तकर एकटा वर्णन मैथिली मे प्रस्तुत करै जा रहल छी हम – उदय नारायण सिंह ‘नचिकेता’.

Close followers of Island Voices’ collaborative work with colleges and universities in Scotland and overseas will already be familiar with Udaya’s voice and aspects of his work, from his many contributions to Mediating Multilingualism and Talking Points (with Norman Maclean). But it’s a special pleasure now to hear him actually voicing the language of his father, about and for which he has written and spoken so extensively and authoritatively on various other platforms. As part of our “Sharing Gaelic Voices” theme, we’re delighted to here add Maithili to our Other Tongues collection!

Here is the Maithili version of the Island Voices documentary on Taigh Chearsabhagh, North Uist, translated and narrated by Professor Udaya Narayana Singh – ‘Nachiketa’. YouTube’s Closed Caption subtitles are also enabled, so you can read the Maithili text as you listen (if you wish), or you can choose instead to read automatically generated translations into many other languages.

A Clilstore unit has also been created here: On this platform the embedded video is shown alongside a scrollable text which allows you to click on any word you don’t know to access an online dictionary translation.


Còmhradh air crìonadh nan cladaichean

01/02/2023 Leave a comment


In our second community recording for Aire air Sunnd there are two new features. Firstly we’re very grateful to the Tobar an Dualchais project, and of course to the next-of-kin, for making a recording of Ruairidh na Càrnaich available for discussion in the same manner we used for “Còmhradh air Blàr Chàirinis“. This was a suggestion and request that came from the Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath Gaelic group themselves, to which Flòraidh Forrest at Tobar an Dualchais responded immediately and most helpfully, going the “extra mile” to additionally commission a transcription of the recording, which has also been a great help in creating a Clilstore unit for the full YouTube clip. It was Ùisdean’s idea to pick this particular clip, in which Ruairidh talks about historical coastal erosion in North Uist, in a recording made in 1958. With climate change now such a “hot topic” it makes particularly interesting listening to hear how it was thought about and discussed in times gone by.

Secondly, we also experimented with a “hybrid” format for the meeting, with most of the participants meeting together in Sgoil Chàirinis, while a couple of others joined in on Zoom. Obviously, it’s easier to hold a conversation with people all in the same room together, though that does pose recording challenges, particularly when folk are quite naturally more likely to all talk at once, and you’re trying to use the ordinary everyday recording equipment we all now have to hand in our phones or laptop computers. So it was interesting to see how that would work with some people also joining in remotely. We’ve done some editing with the final recording to select “best bits” where the recorded conversation is clearest. So we have missed some parts out, but hopefully viewers will still get a good idea of how the discussion went, after listening to Ruairidh’s high quality audio recording in full.

We have again added Closed Caption subtitles as an optional extra, and these can be auto-translated into a wide range of languages, including English, from the original Gaelic, using the YouTube settings wheel. It may be worth bringing to the attention of Gaelic learners that you can also slow down the playback speed of the clip (without altering the pitch!) if there are any parts that you struggle to follow in real time.

Members and supporters of Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, the North Uist Historical Society, listen to and talk about Ruairidh na Càrnaich’s Gaelic discussion of Uist coastal erosion with John MacInnes, as presented on the Tobar an Dualchais website. Part of the Ideas Fund “Aire air Sunnd” project, in which the Universities of Aberdeen, St Andrews, and the Highlands and Islands team up with Island Voices to provide research support for well-being initiatives on the island.

The full details of the recording of Ruairidh na Càrnaich are as follows: Cunntas Air Crionadh Nan Cladaichean Ann An Uibhist A Tuath, Roderick MacDonald, (contributor), John MacInnes, (fieldworker), ref: SA1958.171.B4, the School of Scottish Studies Archives, the University of Edinburgh. Permission, which is gratefully acknowledged, has been granted for this use only.

The full transcript is also available as a Wordlinked Clilstore unit here – – and here –

Aire air Sunnd: Artefacts & Stories

12/01/2023 Leave a comment


The Aire air Sunnd Digital Fèis was a celebration of community heritage spread over two days in September 2022, held at the old Carinish School, now headquarters for Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, the North Uist Historical Society. Digital activities involved digitising artefacts from the community, recording stories, listening to Gaelic voices, and exploring heritage places through virtual reality. A cèilidh was also held with music and drama from young people of North Uist.

The fèis was held as part of the Ideas Fund “Aire air Sunnd” project, in which the Universities of Aberdeen, St Andrews, and the Highlands and Islands team up with Island Voices to provide research support for well-being initiatives on the island. The recordings in the video below were made by the St Andrews digitisation team, and can be viewed as separate items alongside several clips in English on the CEUT site.

This selection of Gaelic videos has been brought together in a single clip on the Island Voices YouTube channel to enable optional auto-translatable subtitling. This means that even if you have little or no Gaelic you can still listen to the original spoken descriptions while reading the subtitles – whether in Gaelic, or English, or another language – at the same time.

Another alternative for conscious learners of Gaelic who don’t want to use subtitles is to try this Clilstore unit, where video and scrollable transcript are available on the same page, with one-click access to dictionary translation of individual words: or

Edits, Updates, Additions, Improvements

01/01/2023 Leave a comment

New Island Voices compositePNGcropBliadhn’ Ùr Mhath and Happy New Year to Island Voices followers wherever you are!

The changeover from 2022 to 2023 coincides with a number of changes to the WordPress site.

We’ve updated the Research/Reports page by including the talk on ‘Guth Thormoid: the “Island Voice” of Norman Maclean’ for the University of Arizona Celtic Linguistics group.

We’ve updated and improved the Other Tongues page by adding Di Nyuuzpiepa to the Jamaican selection, prompting us to also de-clutter the page by creating subsections for languages with multiple films (Basque, Hindi, Jamaican, Urdu).

We’ve added a new page for the Aire air Sunnd project so you can find all related posts in one place – with more to come in 2023…

And we’ve re-edited and updated the About page to reflect latest developments.

We’re still pretty comfortable in our overall somewhat retro skin, but have indulged in one further cosmetic improvement – no more adverts!

Simply refreshed, we look forward to 2023, hoping for all good things for us all!

Categories: Community, Research, Video

Còmhradh air Blàr Chàirinis

19/12/2022 1 comment

AntamagadcroppedProbably most people in North Uist recognise the importance of the Gaelic language to the local culture, even if not all speak it themselves. But in the interests of “inclusion” there is an often-felt pressure on Gaelic-speakers to use English more and more, and Gaelic less and less. This can be true, perhaps even particularly so, in community groups with a mission to bring people together around a common interest – such as local history, for example.

This is one of the issues that Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath are attempting to address in new ways through the Ideas Fund “Aire air Sunnd” project, in which the Universities of Aberdeen, St Andrews, and the Highlands and Islands team up to provide research support for well-being initiatives on the island.

Part of the Island Voices contribution is to enable the viewing of selected extracts from the Guthan nan Eilean collection in order to stimulate Gaelic discussion, reminiscence, and ideas, and perhaps the airing of questions and concerns, so creating a contemporary and accessible record of speakers’ thoughts, memories, and opinions. Recordings of these discussions can then be transcribed for wider dissemination to enable any and all interested community members to gain increased knowledge and understanding of local stories, customs, practices, and issues, without first requiring them to be voiced in English.

That’s the theory, at least. Now for the practice! Here’s a first attempt. What do you think? (You can turn subtitles on and off on YouTube, and select a wide range of languages – including English – into which to translate the original Gaelic.)

Members and supporters of Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, the North Uist Historical Society, view and discuss Norman Maclean’s telling of the Battle of Carinish.

The full transcript is also available as a Wordlinked Clilstore unit here – – and here –

Jamiekan Vorzhan

14/12/2022 Leave a comment

Kadeyne Marshall“Norman luk api pan fiim tuu piej. Di nyuuz bou di wok dem ina Lochboisdale riili gud, an elp buus op kanfidens ina wan komyuuniti we a chrai aksep se nyuu teknaliji a kom bout. Di regila advataisment dem an komyuuniti fiicha mek evribadi memba di sorvis dem we de bout an mek dem tankful se dem liv de.” (Jamiekan)

“Gu dearbh, tha coltas toilichte air Tormod air an dà dhuilleag aige. ’S e naidheachd air leth a th’ ann cuideachd mu na h-obraichean ann an Loch Baghasdail, agus cuiridh sin ri misneachd ann an coimhearsnachd a tha airson buannachd fhaighinn a-mach às an teicneòlas ùr. Bidh sanasan agus sgeulachdan bhon choimhearsnachd a’ toirt gu aire a h-uile duine na seirbheisean a tha ri fhaighinn, agus na h-adhbharan eile a th’ aca airson fuireach an seo.” (Gàidhlig)

“Norman is indeed looking happy in his two-page spread. The news about the jobs in Lochboisdale is excellent, and helps to boost confidence in a community wishing to embrace the potential of new technology. Regular advertisements and community features remind everyone of the services that are available and why they appreciate living here.” (English)

Kadeyne Marshall’s narration last year of Di Nyuuzpiepa was the third Jamaican version of an Island Voices film, and complements Hugh Campbell’s Gaelic Jorni and Dijitaizieshan Senta, all provided through the Jamaican Language Unit of the University of the West Indies, thanks to Audrey West‘s inspired introduction. Following the 2022 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Highlands and Islands, we hope to see further collaborative work developing out of these small but concrete initial steps with the Jamaican Language Unit and their media channel Braadkyaas Jamiekan.

Followers of Island Voices who have sampled our Talking Points page will also be familiar with the voice of Dr Joseph Farquharson, the Jamaican Language Unit co-ordinator, discussing – in English – various sociolinguistic points arising from the Normal Maclean Saoghal Thormoid recordings with academic and community partners. As part of the JLU 20th anniversary celebrations, you can hear him here – in Jamaican – explain more about the work of the unit. It’s a fascinating story of language study and linguistically-informed language activism from another island context.

Island Voices co-ordinator Gordon Wells was particularly interested to hear the name of Robert Le Page mentioned – a relatively unsung but key sociolinguistic pioneer who headed the department at York University where Gordon’s own linguistic career began. Saoghal beag…


Maltese Seatrek to “Santa Kilda”

01/11/2022 Leave a comment

SantaKildaWe’re deeply indebted to Sharon Pisani, our Maltese “Island Voice”, for the latest addition to our “Other Tongues” collection! This takes up to 22 the number of languages in which we have Island Voices films. Abair ioma-chànanas!

We first came into contact with Sharon through Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, the North Uist Historical Society, for whom she’s doing great work in supporting the “Aire air Sunnd” project.

Based at St Andrews University, where she’s doing doctoral research on augmented reality, she’s somehow also found the time to translate and record a Maltese version of our Series Two Enterprise “Seatrek to St Kilda” film. Apparently, the island theme struck a chord!

And for anyone learning Maltese, or who perhaps just wants to see what it looks like written down, we’ve also created one of our trademark Clilstore units – – which combines the video with an online transcript wordlinked to online dictionaries.

Talk on Tormod

25/10/2022 Leave a comment

1 Title - Guth Thormoid

Island Voices Co-ordinator Gordon Wells was delighted to be invited to speak to the University of Arizona Celtic Linguistics Group recently (14th October) about Island Voices, with specific reference to Norman Maclean’s notable contribution to the project. Gordon’s presentation is available online, and includes lots of Island Voices screenshots with live embedded links so that anyone interested can explore the site further.

Here’s the abstract for the talk:

“Gordon’s presentation samples and contextualises some of the multi-faceted mainly Gaelic contributions by the multi-talented creative icon, Norman Maclean, to the “Guthan nan Eilean/Island Voices” online language capture and curation project. These include Norman’s final “Saoghal Thormoid” (“Norman’s World”) series of videoed conversations, recorded in April 2016, in which Norman spoke reflectively of his memories and impressions of bilingual life in Glasgow and the Hebrides from the middle of the Twentieth Century onwards. In addition to offering a vivid first-person voiced and experiential account of Gaelic life over a tumultuous period for the language, the Island Voices adherence to basic linguistic principles also pays dividends in relation to some initially unpredicted spin-off applications. These are discussed in conclusion.”

And here’s the recording of the talk on YouTube, including follow-up comments and questions from the group. Many thanks to the Celtic Linguists of Arizona!

And in a new departure for Island Voices, if you can’t find the time to watch the video, there is a Twitter thread which you can follow to get a quick slide-by-slide commentary on the main points. These also link back to the online PDF, and so to all the embedded webpages referenced if you want to dig deeper into the material at any point.

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