Archive for the ‘CALL’ Category

Under the Gaelic ASR Bonnet

06/05/2022 Leave a comment

Old Island Voices friend, Will Lamb, delivered some fascinating insights into the development of Automatic Speech Recognition for Scottish Gaelic in a recent seminar for the Soillse inter-university research network. In a step-by-step approach, he outlined the progress made so far, the current state of the art, and plans for further development to a local and international audience representing a range of languages in addition to Gaelic, including Basque, Friulian, and Maltese.

His talk was recorded, and you can view it on the Island Voices Videos YouTube channel:

Will has also made a PDF of his presentation available for anyone who wants to study it in detail. This includes live links to other online sites and resources for further background reading (or viewing).

ArchieASRHere at Island Voices we have, of course, been following the progress of this development closely for some time, and were very pleased to contribute substantially to its initial phases through the provision of our own collection of ready transcribed recordings, which Will generously acknowledges.

The benefit has been mutual, as the ASR project has in turn provided Island Voices with the impetus to develop the subtitling of our videos using the YouTube Closed Caption option. It was nice to see a sample Island Voices clip used in Will’s presentation, as well as one from the Ceòlas collection!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video Tags: , , ,

Old Storytellers Newly Subtitled!

07/04/2022 Leave a comment

TormodEoinRevived interest in storytelling brought the Island Voices Storytellers page into renewed focus recently. First put together nearly ten years ago, it was a pleasure to look back over this collection of videos, many of which pre-figured later exciting developments, such as further series of recordings of Norman Maclean and the Stòras Beò style of conversational capture.

But it turned into more than an exercise in fond reminiscence! Given the existence of Clilstore transcripts for three of the items it became a relatively simple exercise to use these as the basis for incorporating YouTube subtitles into the films in question. This has now been done, which means you can view the videos with Gaelic subtitles, using the CC button. And further, using the Auto-translate function in settings you can also get subtitles in a host of other languages too. The translations are not perfect, of course. (Iain does not work a 400-hectare “harp”…) But they’ll generally give you a good gist in any place where your own Gaelic is not yet up to scratch. Take a look and see!

“Master raconteur Norman Maclean tells the spine-tingling Gaelic tale of Àiridh na h-Aon Oidhche, a local landmark out near Rueval in Benbecula, and reveals how it got its name… He relates the story for Mary Morrison, an enthusiastic community participant in the Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean project.”

“Norman Maclean tells the story in Gaelic of the Battle of Carinish in 1601 – as if it was yesterday. And, master storyteller that he is, he brings it right up to date with references to current singers who still mine this rich cultural heritage.”

“”Difficult Encounters with Mother Earth” – Iain talks to his old friend and neighbour, Mary Morrison, a retired English teacher and revitalised Gaelic learner. Their conversation covers three generations of family and friends from the acquisition of the croft, through the many changes since, to current practice today, via English-teaching in Spain, the North Uist Highland Games and other highlights.. Iain speaks clearly and precisely and is always keen to encourage Gaelic learners. This is Mary’s first Gaelic interview.”


Categories: CALL, Community, Video

Karaoke sa Ghàidhlig

04/02/2022 1 comment

Roll over, Beethoven!

Irish-speaker Seán Ó Muiris has announced a new voluntary and non-profit initiative to replicate his work in producing an Irish language karaoke repertoire with a parallel Scottish Gaelic stream. First fruits can be tasted in the YouTube link above, with his rendition of Runrig’s classic “Alba”.

Scottish Gaelic enthusiasts “of a certain age” may recall a previous venture in the karaoke genre, spearheaded by Comann an Luchd-Ionnsachaidh, nach maireann, in collaboration with Clydebank College (also no longer with us in the shape pictured here).


As Gordon Wells’s notes to that pioneering production point out, “Scottish Gaels had of course … developed their own (pre-electronic) means of musical entertainment without instrumental backing, in the shape of puirt-à-beul…”. He also remarked that “Singing can be very helpful for the language learner. It allows you to concentrate on your pronunciation, and helps to fix unfamiliar vocabulary in your memory.” So, given that the original cassette-based package may not have fully withstood the test of time, this new venture in the world of Gaelic karaoke could well be overdue!

Seán makes the point strongly that his innovative approach is undertaken in a completely voluntary capacity, without any institutional backing, for the benefit of the Gaelic languages. You can hear him talking about it in detail in this interview in Irish for RTE. With over 100 karaoke versions of Irish songs on his YouTube channel he now wishes to start something similar for Scottish Gaelic and is offering to run free training seminars for anyone who might be interested in helping out.

His graphic below gives more detail:


Categories: Audio, CALL, Community, Video

Invitation to Unmute

24/01/2022 3 comments


Who remembers we once mooted a MOOT?

Well, the idea of an Island Voices “Multilingual Open Online Teach-in” is now no longer, um, moot – for want of a better word. “Chan ann a h-uile latha a bhios mòd aig Mac an Tòisich”, mar a chanas iad, (“It’s not every day Mackintosh throws a party” – loosely) but its time has come.

“Talking Points” with Tormod

We’ve recently placed a whole series of “Talking Points with Norman Maclean” recordings on our YouTube channel, built on a merging of materials and ideas from the Soillse/UHI Language Sciences Institute projects Mediating Multilingualism and Saoghal Thormoid. In the last few weeks of the funded period for Mediating Multilingualism, linguists in universities in Scotland, India, and Jamaica discussed topics of common interest with UK-based community language speakers, stimulated by brief extracts from the final session of Saoghal Thormoid. And these discussions are now available to view.

It’s an experimental format, mixing subtitled Gaelic recordings with live English debate. The topics are sociolinguistic, covering Language Endangerment (Gaelic Trajectory?), Language Hierarchies (English Ascendancy?), and Language Contact (Bilingual Balance?). And they may raise just as many questions as answers, if not more. Just the thing then for the enquiring mind, and quite in the spirit of the “Teach-in” philosophy described in our 2019 post! In the end, we didn’t set up a separate online forum then, and we won’t now. There are perfectly good comment and reply functions on YouTube and here on WordPress for any questions readers or listeners may have.

YouTube Playlist

But to help provide a degree of focus or sense of direction – without closing down the options for diverging lines of thought and enquiry – we’ve put together a special “box set” International Island Voices MOOT playlist on YouTube that brings together the Talking Points material with some other key videos from our overall body of work which underpin and exemplify our multilingual approach.


By the way, we knitted some 2-minute Norman Maclean “highlights” into the recorded discussions, as an aide memoire for the longer extracts that were being discussed. If you want a quick taste of a topic, we’ve extracted them here, and you can take a quick look at any of them now, before choosing which full discussion to dive into for the wider treatment.

1. Gaelic Trajectory? 2. English Ascendancy?
3a. Bilingual Balance? 3b. Homecoming Postscript

Taking Part

There’s no start or stop date on this. The “Talking Points” participants are separated by up to ten and a half hours difference in time zones between India and Jamaica, so a simultaneous “launch” has not been feasible. And our geographical catchment is worldwide, so the approach is deliberately asynchronous – completely independent of any timetable. View the videos, ask questions, and make comments (which will be moderated) as and when you can and wish. Please be polite, and be prepared to be patient if waiting for responses.

Choosing where to comment is up to you. Specific queries about particular videos may be best posted under the relevant YouTube clip. But if your point or question is more general, then a comment here under this WordPress post may be the best place.

Binge-watching the whole playlist in one go is probably doable, if challenging, but perhaps not the best way of giving yourself time to think through issues that arise and about which you may have questions. A better approach might actually be to split up the longer discussion videos into smaller chunks – for which the “chapters” function in YouTube may well come in handy. If you take a look at the video description for any of these long clips you’ll find timed listings for each of the speakers, which you can click on to go straight to that particular point in the film.

And any time you catch yourself wondering which one’s Treebeard, it’s probably time for a break…

We’re pleased to have a receptive and supportive audience and readership, of course, but comments, questions and other feedback are always very welcome. Wikipedia tells us “Teach-ins are meant to be practical, participatory, and oriented toward action. While they include experts lecturing on their area of expertise, discussion and questions from the audience are welcome…”

Dear readers, whether you have questions or suggestions, the MOOT is open. We invite you to “unmute”!

International Island Voices MOOT: the YouTube Playlist

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Gaelic Jorni

13/01/2022 Leave a comment

Jorni3“Winta jos a ton ina spring ina di Outer Hebrides, we de pan Scotland wes kuos. Di priti plies dem mek yu memba se dem ailan ya suun fulop a piipl we lef dem yaad an kom pan alidie ina di at mont dem we suun riich, bot rait ya nou wan gruup a luokal piipl a go pan a chrip pan di Naatwes kuos a Ireland. Bak ina di diez,  dem wuda chavl bai waata an wuda go fram ailan tu ailan ina dis lang schring a komyuuniti we piipl ongl chat Gaelic. Bot nou-a-diez Benbecula ierpuot gi piipl wan iiziya an muo komfatebl wie fi go bout dem bizniz…” (Jamiekan)

“Mu dheireadh thall tha sinn a’ cur ar cul ris a’ Gheamhradh anns na h-Eileanan Siar, sa chuan pìos a-mach à taobh an iar na h-Alba. Tha na seallaidhean àlainn gar cuimhneachadh gum bi luchd-turais gu leòr a’ tighinn ann am mìosan blàth an t-samhraidh. Ach an-diugh fhèin tha sgioba de dh’Eileanaich a’ dèanamh an slìghe gu taobh an iar-thuath na h-Èirinn. Aig aon àm, b’ e bàta a bhiodh aca, a’ leum bho eilean gu eilean ann an sreath slàn de choimhearsnachdan Gàidhlig, ach tha port-adhair Bheinn na Faoghla a’ dèanamh gnothaichean nas fhasa dhaibh an-diugh…” (Gàidhlig)

Jorni2“Tá an tEarrach ag teacht sna hOileáin Siar amach ó chósta thiar na hAlban. Cuireann na radharcanna áille i gcuimhne dúinn go mbeidh neart turasóirí ag triall ar na hoileáin seo sna míonna teo atá le teacht. Ach san am i láthair tá buíon oileánach ag imeacht ar thuras go cósta Iarthuaiscirt na hÉireann. Blianta ó shin is turas farraige a bheadh ann, ag imeacht ó oileán go hoileán i slabhra de phobail Ghaeltachta. Ach anois cuireann Aerfort Bheinn A Faoghla modh níos áisiúla taistil ar fail…” (Gaeilge)

“Winter is just turning to spring in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. Picturesque scenes are a reminder that these islands will host a steady stream of holidaymakers in the warmer months to come, but right now a team of islanders is heading off on a trip to the Northwest coast of Ireland. In earlier times the journey would have been by sea, hopping from island to island in an unbroken string of Gaelic-speaking communities. But now, Benbecula airport offers a more convenient means of travel…” (English)

Following his work on the Tobar an Dualchais Dijitaizieshan Senta, Hugh Campbell of the University of the West Indies Jamaican Language Unit has kindly voiced another Island Voices film – the “Gaelic Jorni” documenting the seminal linkage with Irish language speakers in Donegal.

As with his first film, this is part of the transnational “Mediating Multilingualism” project linking Scottish, Indian, and Jamaican universities. Congratulations also to the UHI IT team for adding Jamaican to the growing list of languages in which the university’s webpages are now available!

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Taisce Bheo: Caitlín Ní Bhroin

12/01/2022 1 comment

ColmagusCaitlínColm Mac Giolla Easpaig from Gweedore speaks to Caitlín Ní Bhroin from Magheroarty.

Although originally from Magherorarty, Caitlín has spent time living in the six counties and currently lives outside Letterkenny while working in the Gaeltacht Láir.

In the first part of the conversation, she speaks about her family and her upbringing as well as some of the customs and superstitions in the area. She goes on to speak about her work-life and the initiatives she has been involved in to help the inhabitants of Fintown, Edeninfagh and Doochary.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

In this second part, Caitlín speaks about her educational background. She then speaks about her love of placenames and explains the meaning of some local names. She goes on to give details about a campaign in which she is involved which hopes to save the bays of her hometown. Finally, she describes what she would do if she were to win the National Lottery.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

Part of the Taisce Bheo na nGael 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. This is the second set of recordings in Irish, following the earlier release of the conversation with Clíona Ní Ghallachóir. Once again, we’re indebted to Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin of Ulster University for his meticulous work on the transcriptions.

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Seanchas le Magaidh Smith

13/12/2021 Leave a comment

Maggie (2)“Bhuail e mi nach eil cruinneachadh de sheanchas a tha a’ buntainn ri Sgìre nan Loch an àite sam bith, is gum bu chòir dhomh cuid aca a thoirt cruinn agus mar a bha sa chleachdadh bho chionn fhada an aithris. ‘S e bha nam amharc gum biodh iad ri làimh dha daoine òga a tha ag iarraidh an aithris aig a’ Mhòd, no aig a bheil ùidh ann am beatha anns an sgìre bho chionn fhada”.

Magaidh Smith explains how the need for a collection of traditional tales from the Lochs district motivated her to record some in the old style. They might be useful for young people entering the Mòd, or who are interested in the traditional life of the area. We’re delighted that she offered them to Island Voices to place online. They will also contribute to the Stòras Beò collection.

Here she retells the story of Calum Bàn, Tacksman of Laxay, from her own knowledge of oral tradition.

You can access a wordlinked transcript on Clilstore with the video embedded here:

Here she brings back to Gaelic life a story from William Cummings’ edited collection “Family Traditions: John Macleod, 11 Melbost”.

You can access a wordlinked transcript on Clilstore with the video embedded here:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Cànain eileanach eile

11/12/2021 Leave a comment

Dhaibhsan a dh’fhaodadh a bhith ag iarraidh Gàidhlig sgrìobhte fhaicinn an seo bho àm gu àm, seo dà alt a nochd o chionn treiseag ann an “Sgrìobag” – a’ chuairt-litir aig Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – air an cur còmhla. ’S ann mu dheidhinn Uidsianàguidsidh agus Diaimeugan a bha iad.

“Uidsianàguidsidh”?? Seadh, sin mar a dh’fhaodadh tu うちなーぐち, ainm cànan Okinawa, a sgrìobhadh ann an Gàidhlig, nam biodh feum air – mar a bha aig Caoimhín Ó Donnaíle nuair a sgrìobh e duilleag ghoirid ma deidhinn airson an Uicipeid.

Agus carson a rinn e sin? Leis gun tug Gordon Wells air aonad Chlilstore a thogail sa chànan sin, a rachadh le film mu dheidhinn Sabhal Mòr Ostaig a chaidh a dhèanamh airson Guthan nan Eilean. Chan e obair bheag a bha sin. Leis nach eil faclair air-loidhne ann airson Uidsianàguidsidh, bha feum air “custom wordlist” a chur cuide ris. ’S e rud gu tur ùr a tha sin airson Clilstore, a bhios gu math feumail le mion-chànain eile a tha san aon staing.

Bidh cuimhne aig cuid gun deach am film seo a dhèanamh ann an Gàidhlig agus Beurla an toiseach, le tionndadh ann am Breatnais a’ tighinn a-mach as dèidh sin.

Cha bhithear a’ cluinntinn mòran mu dheidhinn Uidsianàguidsidh ann an Alba, no fiù ’s ann an Seapan, ach ’s e cànan gu math inntinneach a th’ ann. Seo am film “ùr” air YouTube le ceangal ri Clilstore na lùib:

Agus seo cànan ùr eileanach eile airson Clilstore. ’S e “Diaimeugan” – no “Jamiekan” mar a chuireas iad air san speiligeadh aca fhèin – an crìtheol a thathas a’ bruidhinn air an eilean ud air taobh thall a’ Chuain Siar, ach a chluinneas tric gu leòr san dùthaich seo cuideachd, gu h-àraid mas math leat ceòl Reggae no Dancehall.

Co-dhiù, tron phròiseact “Mediating Multilingualism”, tha Gòrdan agus Caoimhín air a bhith ag obair airson ’s gum biodh e comasach an aon seòrsa rud a dhèanamh ann an Diaimeugan le Clilstore agus a thèid a dhèanamh a-nis le Uidsianàguidsidh agus iomadach cànan eile, Gàidhlig (an dà chuid Albannach is Èireannach) nam measg. Chaidh aca air a’ chiad eisimpleir a chruthachadh o chionn ghoird, le tòrr a bharrachd fhathast ri teachd.

A-rithist, ’s e seann fhilm le Guthan nan Eilean a chaidh a chleachdadh airson an siostam fheuchainn a-mach, an turas seo air Tobar an Dualchais agus an t-ionad a b’ àbhaist a bhith aca ann an Loch Baghasdail deich bliadhna air ais. Mòran taing do Hugh Caimbeul aig an Jamaican Language Unit aig Oilthigh nan Innseachan an Iar airson a ghuth a chur ris. Bidh cuimhne aig cuid gu bheil tionndadh eile ann ann an Sgots mar-thà le Alistair Heather, a bharrachd air Gàidhlig is Beurla.

Faodar barrachd a leughadh ann am Beurla air ar blog mu dheidhinn an dà chuid Uidsianàguidsidh agus Diaimeugan agus mar a tha iad a’ cur ris na cànain eile againn. Tha 21 againn uile gu lèir a-nis. Cò an ath fhear?

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Stòras Beò: Anna Frater

08/12/2021 Leave a comment

AnnaagusPadruigThe poet and UHI lecturer Dr Anne Frater was born in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, and brought up in the village of Upper Bayble in the district of Point, a small community which has also been home to Derick Thomson and Iain Crichton Smith.

Here, she talks to Pàdruig Moireach for the Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal project.

In the first part she talks about her family and early childhood in Point. Her mother was a teacher and her father at sea. She recalls with appreciation her primary schooling at Sgoil Phabail, and the breadth of extra-curricular activity enabled by her teachers, extending into the 2-year secondary stage. Participation in inter-school activities and local mods, where she won her first poetry prize, is fondly remembered. The area has changed, with much less working on the land. There are many new houses, and more children around again now after a period when there were very few.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

In the second part Anne talks about her experience as a pupil of the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway. She enjoyed the learning, though teenage years can be difficult. While she was interested in science her forte was languages. Again, she appreciated the teachers who encouraged or enabled the development of interests and activities outside the class, such as concerts or sales of work for charity. Then, at Glasgow University she studied French and Gaelic, spending a year in Brittany where she had some exposure to Breton. She liked Glasgow, and went on to do teacher training and then a PhD before finding media work with STV (on Machair) and the BBC (Eòrpa) in Gaelic, and with the Lesley Riddoch programme in English. But city life was beginning to pall, so she listened to her mother and returned to Lewis.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

In the third part Anne and Pàdruig recall the early years of the University of the Highlands and Islands, when colleges co-operated in the creation of Gaelic-medium courses. Anne appreciates the UHI mix of Higher and Further Education, and the opportunity to contribute to courses in Gaelic and English, as well as the range of delivery methods, including online for remote students. Moving on to her poetry, she reveals how her interest started at a young age, and the important influence of local bards, including women such as her great aunt Ciorstaidh Anna. At university Derick Thomson was also supportive, helping her get published in the Gaelic circular, Gairm. And she notes that his father James had been the local schoolmaster for earlier generations of local poets. She also discusses how her work is stimulated, whether through commission or spontaneously.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

In the fourth part, the conversation returns to changes in the area since Anne’s childhood. With less working on the land it has become more a family than a community activity. Stornoway seems quieter, though Sabbath observance has changed. While the community seems less close in some ways, lockdown brought out a strong co-operative spirit amongst neighbours. She considers the islands’ experience of the pandemic has been less burdensome than for many city dwellers. In discussing changing patterns of Gaelic use, she notes that nowadays many children attending Gaelic-medium education do not have the language at home. It is being left to the schools to teach it. There is a general assumption that young people do not speak it by preference. So using it with them, when their own parents don’t speak it, may raise interesting questions. Nevertheless, even though by census figures it is now a minority language in her own community there remains an appetite for Gaelic events.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Hebridean Dijitaizieshan Senta

15/11/2021 2 comments

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:

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video
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