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Peatcutting: slow burner catches fire

08/06/2018 Leave a comment

Among the 200+ Island Voices videos on YouTube, the documentaries and interviews on peatcutting, featuring Archie Campbell, have constantly attracted a steady, if not eye-catching, stream of hits. Slow burning, you might say, like the stuff itself.

Well, there appears to have been a shift in the wind in the YouTube algorithms, judging by recent analytics for the English version of the documentary. This looks more like a muirburn out of control!

Suddenly, viewers all round the world – from the United States to Sweden, to Romania, India, Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere – are taking an interest in how peats are cut in Benbecula. It’ll be interesting to see how many move on to listen to Archie talking about the process and the social customs attached to it in either English or Gaelic – all available on the Series 2 Outdoors page. And any Polish-speaking viewers can also get a version of the documentary in their own language – Kopanie torfu!

 

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Categories: Video

Uist Guide for Gaelic Learners

08/05/2018 Leave a comment

A year has passed since Ceòlas’ Liam Alastair Crouse last spoke to Gordon Wells about his work in Uist. He took time out from helping with the latest immersion course for Gaelic learners at Kildonan Museum to talk about what he’s been doing. He’s not been idle!

Part of his work involves helping organisations (local and national) develop their Gaelic, particularly online. Here are some of the sites he mentions.

https://www.runnach.co.uk/
https://www.toradh.org/
https://www.taigh-chearsabhagh.org/gd/taigh-chearsabhagh-taigh-tasgaidh-agus-ionad-ealan/
http://digital.nls.uk/learning/iolaire/

He then goes on to mention the latest initiative to help Gaelic learners in Uist – a listing of likely places where you might hear and practise the language, together with some helpful tips on how to engage in Gaelic conversation. You can download and print off the guidelines here. It’s also available on the Ceòlas site here.

In the final part of the conversation with Gordon he talks about further plans for local development. Watch this space!

Categories: Community, Video

Learning Gaelic: Effort and Reward

15/04/2018 1 comment

This is a very nicely made video from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Multimedia centre, with Liam Alastair Crouse making some well considered points about learning Gaelic. It may not be the easiest task in the world – but the rewards for success are worth noting!

Categories: Community, Video

रीस्टोर प्रोजेक्ट – Re-Store Project

22/03/2018 Leave a comment

When language scholars talk about Gaelic, they often talk about other “minority languages” too, drawing parallels between what’s happening in the Hebrides and in other parts of the world. In Island Voices we’ve made a big thing of connections to Ireland, for example, with our “Gaelic Journeys” series. We’ve also made links to other Celtic languages (Welsh and Manx) as well as to Basque, another European minority language. And we’ve grouped these together with other languages across the world on our “Other Tongues” page. This page goes beyond European boundaries to include some Asian languages. And now we’ve added another one – Hindi.

“Cùm do shùil air taobh an Ear”, was Norman’s advice in “Saoghal Thormoid” (here at 22.22) – “Keep your eye on the East”. But, truth be told, this is not a new film at all. It belongs originally to Series 1 (2005-2007), being first made in English and Gaelic as usual, but with the Hindi version added soon after, following a visit to India by Gordon Wells for the University of the Highlands and Islands, during which time he made contact with the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan. He returned from India inspired by the environmental awareness displayed at Tilonia, the commitment to working with people on the ground in their own communities, and the energetic determination shown to do practical work, if need be outside established educational structures where they don’t suit local contexts. Clearly, material circumstances in the Hebrides are very different indeed from Rajasthan, but the Island Voices project has always been imbued with something of a DIY, self-reliant, “Barefoot College spirit” since that visit – which is partly why the Hindi version of the Re-Store film, which features a local voluntary project focusing on recycling furniture and books and the development of practical skills, was made so early (and sent on a disk to Tilonia as a token of appreciation).

As the official language of the Indian Union, with hundreds of millions of speakers, it obviously makes no sense to bracket Hindi as a “minority language” in that context – though it is also spoken by smaller yet significant numbers in other countries around the world, including the UK. Nevertheless, we’re happy to add it to our “Other Tongues” catalogue in Island Voices, as part of our “Sharing Gaelic Voices” theme. India is a highly multilingual nation, and it may well be that our efforts here in the Hebrides to support healthy interrelationships between our different languages could be usefully informed by closer study of the Indian context.

Here’s the film on YouTube.

As usual we have also created a Clilstore unit, so you can watch, listen, and read at the same time, and click on any word to get an online dictionary translation: Unit 6555

Finally, readers are reminded that the film paints a picture of the Re-Store Project in its earliest days. Things have moved on a lot since then, with purpose-built premises now located on the Cothrom campus in Ormacleit. Here’s some more recent news, including a link to a BBC Alba feature on “DIY le Donnie“.

Categories: CALL, Community, Video

“Cearcall a’ Chuain”

23/02/2018 1 comment

Island Voices activist, Mary Morrison, has launched another fascinating project with Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath, The North Uist Historical Society, (with Berneray and Grimsay). The Island Voices project is delighted to host some very young film-makers’ work on our YouTube channel. Mary explains:

“Have we found the Great Auk Stone?”

“This bilingual film was planned, devised, filmed, edited and photographed by the Junior Section of our Historical Society, Comann Eachdraidh na h-Oige, forty children from P4-7 of Sgoil Uibhist a Tuath over the Summer Term of 2017. The final editing and translation was the work of Anna Black, the film technician trained by St Andrews ‘Smart History’ group, under the direction of Dr Alan Miller, and given invaluable technical support thereafter from local artist, Peter Ferguson.

We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, ‘Stories, Stones and Bones’ for funding this elaborate project, since it relied heavily on our team of outreach volunteers, working alongside the very helpful and tolerant teachers in the school. Each of the six township groups, having chosen a specialist area of maritime history to research, also chose a secret landmark from their area. The film was devised as a form of treasure hunt to be explored, either to test residents’ local knowledge, or to encourage tourists to explore the island.

It is intended to follow this up with a paper map, charting the places of interest the children chose to photograph, plotted as six different walks. It also might be possible in future to download each section of the film as an app if our mobile signals improve or we obtain funding for a set of geo-caches?

As well as this film, we have kept all the longer oral history interviews in rough edit form. The children elicited so much of interest from the tradition bearers they chose to invite, using their preplanned, shared group questioning. We feel the excellence of the work they have done deserves to be captured here in its own right.

As you survey this stream, DO REMEMBER THAT THIS IS THE WORK OF CHILDREN AGED 9 – 12!”

Categories: Community, Research, UGC, Video

Looking Back on Island Voices

27/12/2017 Leave a comment

Series 1 of the Island Voices videos first came out on DVD in 2007. The project has grown a lot since then in various ways. Everything is now online (instead of DVD); Series 2 (Outdoors, Generations, Enterprise) added greatly to the number of videos created by project staff; and community members and groups have got involved in creating learning materials themselves. Perhaps the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the greatest emphasis is still placed on trying to base any recordings that come out of the project on real island life. That can still be seen even in the latest series “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” and “Saoghal Thormoid”, in which the project recorded stories and conversations from Norman Maclean in his final years, after he’d settled back in Uist.

Support for learners

Island Voices started (with help from the European Union) as a scheme for giving simple support in using new technology to learners and teachers. So, from the start the project has been about developing skills in community members in creating and sharing learning materials. As there generally tends to be more material for beginners (particularly in Gaelic) than there is for people who want to progress on to fluency, the project placed an emphasis on more advanced materials – with a mixture of documentary clips and interviews with community members speaking naturally. That’s the kind of material available in Series 1 and 2, with additional support available through Clilstore which gives you an online transcript alongside the film itself.

Made by the community

After those series, the project changed its way of working. It wasn’t project staff who created the new materials, but community members themselves. You can see examples on the “Bonnie Prince Charlie” or “The Great War” pages – series that were created in collaboration with Stòras Uibhist and Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath – in which people like Tommy MacDonald, Mary Morrison and others made their own recordings for sharing on the project website. In this way the project obtained new stories at a level even closer to the community, and new people got a chance to get involved in the work and to develop skills.

Social media and other languages

The project started online on WordPress (for a central website) and YouTube (for the films). But then the Facebook page was added, to help with sharing information about what was happening in the project and in the community. There is also a Twitter account, and overall there are well over 3,000 followers now, who are spread across the world. From the beginning the project worked bilingually with English and Gaelic. But as things have grown and developed, other languages have appeared, such as Irish, Welsh, Basque and others. Once people start learning a new language, they may naturally develop an interest in bilingualism, and how you can use different languages together.

Norman Maclean

Perhaps Norman Maclean was among the quickest to appreciate this, and he was also one of the readiest people to record Gaelic stories and other materials. After returning to Uist he did some pieces for Series 2 to begin with. He also got involved in the Storytellers and Great War pages. But his “pièces de résistance” were the series he made towards the end of his life. The project was very fortunate to get the opportunity to record his voice while he still had the ability to tell his own stories in his own style (“Sgeulachdan Thormoid”), and then to relate his thoughts and memories of Gaelic life in Glasgow and the Islands in a collection of long conversations (“Saoghal Thormoid”). All these recordings are now available on the website under the title “Dìleab Thormoid”. There can be no doubt that this is a very special resource that will keep advanced learners and other researchers very busy in the years to come.

Natural spoken language

Although Island Voices was established for the benefit of learners, it has always sought to capture and curate the natural language of people in the community. Emphasis was placed on Gaelic – or English – as it is spoken, though there is also written support for those who wish it or may find it useful. In this way project users get a taste not just of the languages and how they are really used today, but also of the local island way of life in the multilingual, multicultural world in which we all live.

Coimhead air ais air Guthan nan Eilean

15/12/2017 Leave a comment

Tha 10 bliadhna air a dhol seachad on a thàinig Sreath 1 dhe na bhideothan aig Guthan nan Eilean a-mach air DVD. Tha am pròiseact air fàs gu mòr on uair sin ann an diofar dhòighean. Tha a h-uile rud air-loidhne a-nis (seach air DVD); chuir Sreath 2 (Outdoors, Generations, Enterprise) gu mòr ris an uiread de bhideothan air an dèanamh le luchd-obrach a’ phròiseict; agus tha muinntir nan eilean agus buidhnean sa choimhearsnachd air a dhol an-sàs ann an stuthan ionnsachaidh a chruthachadh dhaibh fhèin. ’S dòcha gur e an aon rud nach eil air atharrachadh gu bheil an cuideam as truime fhathast ga chur air feuchainn ri clàradh Gàidhlig sam bith a thig a-mach às a’ phròiseict a stèidheachadh air beatha nan Gàidheal anns na h-eileanan. Gabhaidh sin fhaicinn fiù ’s sna sreathan às ùire – “Sgeulachdan Thormoid” agus “Saoghal Thormoid” anns an d’ fhuair am pròiseact stòiridhean agus còmhraidhean le Tormod MacGill-Eain san dà bhliadhna mu dheireadh, agus e air seatlaigeadh air ais ann an Uibhist.

Taic do luchd-ionnsachaidh

Thòisich Guthan nan Eilean (le taic bhon Aonadh Eòrpach) mar sgeama airson taic shìmplidh a thoirt do luchd-teagaisg agus do luchd-ionnsachaidh le bhith a’ cleachdadh teicneòlas ùr. Mar sin, bho thùs tha am pròiseact air a bhith airson comasan a leasachadh measg dhaoine sa choimhearsnachd ann a bhith a’ cruthachadh agus a’ sgaoileadh stuthan ionnsachaidh. Leis gu bheil barrachd stuth ann airson luchd-tòiseachaidh, san fharsaingeachd, na tha airson daoine a tha airson cumail orra gu fileantas, chuir am pròiseact cuideam air stuthan aig ìre caran nas àirde na an àbhaist – le measgachadh de phrògraman aithriseach, agus agallamhan le daoine sa choimhearsnachd a’ bruidhinn gu nàdarra. ’S e sin an seòrsa rud a tha ri fhaotainn ann an Sreathan 1 agus 2, le taic a bharrachd ann tro Chlilstore a bheir dhut an tar-sgrìobhadh air-loidhne cuide ris an fhilm fhèin.

Air an dèanamh leis a’ choimhearsnachd

An dèidh na sreathan sin, dh’atharraich an dòigh-obrach sa phròiseact. Chan e an luchd-obrach a chruthaich na stuthan ùra, ach daoine sa choimhearsnachd fhèin. Chìthear sin, mar eisimpleir, air na duilleagan “The Great War” no “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, sreathan a chaidh a dhèanamh ann an co-obrachadh le Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath agus Stòras Uibhist, far an do rinn daoine mar Màiri Mhoireasdan, Tommy Dòmhnallach is eile an clàraidhean fhèin airson sgaoileadh air làrach a’ phròiseict. San dòigh seo fhuair am pròiseact stòiridhean ùra aig ìre fiù ’s nas fhaisge air a’ coimhearsnachd, agus bha cothrom aig daoine ùra a dhol an-sàs san obair agus sgilean a leasachadh.

Meadhanan sòisealta agus cànanan eile

Thòisich am pròiseact air-loidhne air WordPress (airson làrach-lìn) agus YouTube (airson nam filmichean). Ach an uair sin chaidh duilleag Facebook a chur air dòigh airson cuideachadh le fios a sgaoileadh mu na bha a’ dol anns a’ phròiseact agus anns a’ choimhearsnachd. Tha cunntas Twitter ann cuideachd, agus a-nis tha timcheall air 3,000 luchd-leantainn ann uile gu lèir, a tha sgapte air feadh an t-saoghail. Bho thùs bha am pròiseact ag obair gu dà-chànanach le Gàidhlig agus Beurla. Ach, mar a tha cùisean air fàs is air leasachadh, tha cànanan eile air nochdadh ann, leithid Gàidhlig na h-Èireann, Cuimris, Basgais, is eile. Aon uair is gun tòisich iad air cànan ùr ionnsachadh tha an ùidh aig cuid a’ fàs ann an dà-chànanas, agus mar as urrainn dhaibh cànanan eadar-dhealaichte a chleachdadh còmhla.

Tormod MacGill-Eain

’S dòcha gum b’ e Tormod MacGill-Eain an duine a bu chliobhaire gus sin a thuigsinn, agus e aig an aon àm fear dhe na daoine a b’ fheàrr airson sgeulachdan Gàidhlig is eile a chlàradh. As dèidh dha tilleadh a dh’Uibhist rinn e pìos no dhà airson Sreath 2 an toiseach. Chaidh e an-sàs anns na duilleagan “Storytellers” agus “Great War” cuideachd. Ach ’s e na “pièces do résistance” aige na sreathan a rinn e aig deireadh a bheatha, agus bha am pròiseact gu math fortanach gun d’ fhuaras an cothrom a ghuth a chlàradh fhad ’s a bha an comas fhathast aige gus na stòiridhean aige fhèin innse san stoidhle aige fhèin (“Sgeulachdan Thormoid”) agus, an uair sin, a bheachdan agus a chuimhneachan air beatha nan Gàidheal eadar Glaschu agus na h-Eileanan a mhìneachadh ann an sreath de chòmhraidhean fada (“Saoghal Thormoid”). Tha na clàraidhean sin uile rim faighinn a-nis ann an aon àite air làrach a’ phròiseict fon tiotal “Dìleab Thormoid”. Agus chan eil teagamh ach gur e stòras sònraichte a tha seo a chumas luchd-ionnsachaidh adhartach agus luchd-rannsachaidh eile gu math trang sna bliadhnaichean ri teachd.

Gàidhlig mar a tha i ga bruidhinn

Ged ’s ann airson luchd-ionnsachaidh a chaidh Guthan nan Eilean a stèidheachadh, tha e air a bhith a’ feuchainn bho thùs ri bhith a’ glacadh agus a’ cleachdadh cànan nan daoine fhèin anns na coimhearsnachdan. Chaidh cuideam a chur air Gàidhlig mar a tha i ga bruidhinn – ged a tha taic sgrìobhte ann cuideachd dhaibhsan a tha ga h-iarraidh air neo a tha ga faighinn cuideachail. Mar sin tha luchd-chleachdaidh a’ phròiseict a’ faighinn blasad chan ann a-mhàin air a’ chànan agus mar a tha Gàidhlig air a cleachdadh ann an dha-rìreabh san latha an-diugh, ach cuideachd air dòigh-beatha eileanach nan Gàidheal san t-saoghail ioma-chànanach, ioma-chultarach anns a bheil sinn beò.

 

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