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Studies in Culture and Education

An academic journal titled “Changing English” may seem an unlikely location for a Gaelic-focused article, but the strapline, “Studies in Culture and Education”, captures better the breadth of field that comes within its scope. Island Voices came under the spotlight in its March 2020 special edition on Reading Aloud, edited by Sam Duncan, who had kindly invited Gordon Wells to give a presentation at a November 2018 symposium on Reading Aloud at the University College London Institute of Education. The title of his talk was “Reading Island Voices: issues around the primacy of speech and the privileging of literacy, from a Hebridean viewpoint”

Sam’s introductory editorial has this to say about Gordon’s contribution: “In our final article, Gordon Wells takes us to the Outer Hebrides and into a different perspective on relationships between literacy and oracy. Starting with potential tensions in ‘value or status’ between ‘community members’ (and their predominantly oral uses of Gaelic) and ‘language professionals, activists or academics’ (and their literacy-based claims on Gaelic) and moving onto how forms of oral and written language come together creatively in his Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean documentary project, Wells invites us to rethink the differences between the written and the oral. He reminds us that a ‘REvaluation’ of the oral need not be a ‘DEvaluation of the written.’ This final article – a printed version of a text originally written to be read aloud as a presentation to a listening audience, a text therefore first written to be voiced and then later readjusted to be read (silently?) rather than listened to – also reminds us of the third challenge this special issue has highlighted. How can the written form of an article, editorial or book express the ‘what else’ or ‘what different-ness’ of reading aloud? How can words on paper or screen contain that which we are arguing voice adds, ear captures and body enacts? This challenge is made explicit by Wells, but we can also read each of the other pieces with an eye (or ear) for how this struggle plays out.”

The Reading Aloud special edition of “Changing English” (Volume 27, 2020 Issue 1), with the full collection of papers, is available online here:


There are various ways of going directly to Gordon’s article.

Firstly, if you have automatic access through an academic institution to the journal (or plenty of spare cash!) you can follow this link:


Alternatively, there are up to 50 free e-prints available. The article dwells to some extent on the need to strengthen connections between Gaelic academia and the Gaelic communities on whose behalf it may sometimes claim to speak, concluding “deeper reflection may be called for on some fundamental assumptions and expectations in respect of speaking and writing skills, and perhaps even some closer self-examination on the part of researchers and activists in relation to the links and linguistic power relations between academy and community.” Gordon would like the paper to be as widely available to the wider community as possible. So anyone who is able to access it through the link given above, rather than through the free e-print route, is urged to leave the latter open for those who have no other choice. If that is not an option, you can access the free e-print here.

Lastly, if you find the free e-prints all used up, there is still the option of reading Gordon’s original script for the symposium, which is very close to the eventual printed article – and viewing the accompanying presentation (with embedded links) – on this 2018 post about the event.



Categories: CALL, Community, Research
  1. Lillis Ó Laoire
    18/07/2020 at 5:21 pm

    Pàipear gu math intinneach. Cha do chuir a’ bhoil a bh’air a’ Ghàidheal ri luchd ionnsachaidh iongnadh orm ann an dòigh, ach bha e cho làidir. Chan eil sin idir fallain, agus tha ‘Guthan nan Eilean’ ag iarraidh siod a leasachadh. Gur math thèid leibh!

    • Gordon Wells
      18/07/2020 at 6:16 pm

      Mòran taing airson do thaice, a Lillis! Cumaidh sinn oirnn a’ dèanamh nas urrainn dhuinn. Chan eil faireachdainnean mar sin cho doirbh a thuigsinn, agus cha dèan e feum sam bith a bhith gan gabhail san t-sròin. ‘S e dealbh toinnte a tha romhainn. Agus ma tha luchd-ionnsachaidh airson pàirt a ghabhail sa chultar agus sa choimhearsnachd, feumaidh sinn uile ar dìcheall a dhèanamh gus a h-uile pàirt dheth a thuigsinn.

  1. 18/01/2021 at 10:26 am
  2. 20/09/2022 at 7:43 am

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