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“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 Leave a 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

Stòras Beò: Màiri

01/12/2020 2 comments

Mary Robertson is another well-known Benbecula resident, here talking to fellow Baoghlach Archie Campbell for UHI’s Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal series of recordings capturing natural conversations between fluent Hebridean speakers of Gaelic.

In the first part, Mary talks about her family and her memories of her early schooldays in Torlum. Her father was a gamekeeper for the South Uist estate. Leaving home at 15 to get further training at Duncraig Castle was a shock. She describes the daily routine there. After that she worked in Edinburgh for two years before moving to Fort William to do hotel work, where she found more of an island community.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8252

In the second part, Mary describes returning to Benbecula after losing her husband in an industrial accident, and the changes she noticed, particularly with the increased army presence and the work available through public schemes. She found work in the newly opened Sgoil Lìonacleit, where she continued till retirement. She is also involved with various charities and community groups, and her church involvement has entailed trips abroad to various countries. Her Gaelic interest also took her to Canada. She still dances and enjoys walking in various parts of the Highlands.

A wordlinked transcript alongside the embedded video is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8253

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

Skye Meeting

26/11/2020 Leave a comment

Fios agus fiosrachadh:

Categories: Community, Research

Schnellboot nach St Kilda

23/11/2020 Leave a comment

St Kilda, UNESCO-Welterbestätte im Nordatlantik, ist für viele Schottlandbesucher ein Traumziel. Der Kurzfilm berichtet über eine Gruppe von Tagesausflüglern, die vom natürlichen und kulturellen Reichtum des abgelegenen Archipels in ihren Bann gezogen werden.

St Kilda, UNESCO world heritage site in the North Atlantic, is a dream destination for many visitors to Scotland.

This short film reports on a group of day trippers who are captivated by the natural and cultural wealth of the remote archipelago. It’s our latest addition to our “Other Tongues” collection.

As usual, a word-linked Clilstore transcript, with the film embedded, is available here: https://multidict.net/cs/8989

Our translator and narrator for this film is Volker Labitzke. A keen traveller who has visited many places all over the globe, he found his paradise in the Outer Hebrides where he moved from Germany more than 10 years ago.

“The breathtaking scenery of Uist, the friendliness of the islanders and the slower pace of life in my new home have made my former busy city life a distant memory”, he says. He is interested in languages, history, and walking as well as railway and miniature modelling.

At Island Voices we are very grateful that Volker found time in his busy schedule and amongst his many interests to offer this skilled narration. Mòran taing, a charaid!

Categories: CALL, Community, Video

Island Gaelic Conversations

02/11/2020 1 comment

Is there more to Gaelic development than a talking point for academic debate or social media clickbait? How can island voices be heard in discussions and decisions about the language they speak? The “Gaelic Crisis” book has stimulated a re-appraisal of the current situation, and makes suggestions for a new way forward.

A series of “GAELIC CONVERSATIONS – CÒMHRAIDHEAN GÀIDHLIG” is proposed around the islands.

“Alasdair Allan MSP is working with the authors of the study from the Soillse research team based at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and a cross-party group of MSPs and researchers including Kate Forbes MSP, Michael Russell MSP, Donald Cameron MSP, Rhoda Grant MSP, John Finnie MSP and Dr Michael Foxley.

…..

As well as discussions about Gaelic usage in the home and community, the meetings will also gauge opinion on whether such ideas in the report such as a Gaelic community cooperative – Urras na Gàidhlig – could be an appropriate structure to coordinate and drive forward local development actions under the direct control of the Gaelic-speaking community.”

You can register to attend here. Written submissions are also welcomed.

Categories: Community, Research

Stòras Beò: Ailig

01/11/2020 Leave a comment

Moving on to Benbecula this month we feature Alick MacPhee from Nunton – Baile nan Cailleach – in our regular spotlight on contributors to Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal. Alick still lives in Nunton, and has three sons (Donald, Angus, and John), eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Here he talks to Archie Campbell, also a Benbecula man.

In the first part, Alick recalls his childhood in Nunton, and wartime schooling in Balivanich – Baile a’ Mhanaich – and then Torlum, including pranks in the playground, classroom, or garden, as well as crofting chores at home, and later with the peats. Leaving school at 14, he started his first paid job in the building trade at 16. He also recalls wartime memories of many different nationalities associated with the airport and POWs, including Australians, Poles, Germans and Italians. He talks too of the end-of-war celebrations and memories of the “Whisky Galore” SS Politician. He then spent some time in Glasgow.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8243

In the second part, Alick relates how he came back to the croft and then got work with a services company which took him and several friends out to St Kilda. He later got work with the Water Board, with whom he stayed until retirement. He also talks about recreational activities, including badminton and football, as well as dances and New Year customs and associated drinking practices. He describes how he met his wife, Margaret, and the details of their wedding, and tells a story of a commando who turned up in the Steadings. Discussion of army-community relations leads to reflection on the changes he’s seen in island life.

A wordlinked transcript is available here: http://multidict.net/cs/8244

Categories: CALL, Community, Research, Video

“Living off the edge”

30/10/2020 1 comment

Conchúr Ó Giollagáin gave this talk online, and the recording is now available on YouTube. His title was “Living off the edge: The crisis in late modern ethnolinguistic diversity from the Gaelic perspective”, and the talk drew substantially from the findings of the recent publication “The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community”. This is a weighty report on the findings of Soillse’s very comprehensive Islands Gaelic Research Project. It’s a challenging read in many ways, with particular relevance for anyone interested in Gaelic language planning in the Hebrides. From that point of view it’s good to be able to hear Conchúr talk about the research and answer questions about the implications.

He had a lot of ground to cover in 40 minutes. If you missed it live here’s your chance to hear what he had to say – or indeed to listen again in case you feel the need.

Categories: Community, Research, Video
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