A’ CROMADH SÌOS AN RATHAD: The Last of the Gaelic in the Land of the Whisky

The Gaelic Dialect of Strathspey

There’s a gnawing at me most days. Nothing to do with hunger or thirst I’m in the very privileged position to say. It’s not a drug or alcohol addiction either. I somehow managed through my early twenties in Glasgow without one of them, despite how crazy life had been at times.
No, this is a different kind of thing altogether. But it is there all the time, chipping away at my resistance until I capitulate, finding myself in a set of circumstances which allow the itch to be scratched.
This itch is quite simply the desire to know the eldest and wisest of my compatriots, to know their minds and hear their thoughts, and eventually it finds itself getting scratched because of the growing feeling that there’s something getting lost while I acquiesce, something irreplaceable and never to be seen or heard again.
One such itch has been the one which finally led me to meet Nól Gobha (Noel Gow), born and bred in Srath Spéidh (Strathspey) and the last speaker of anything approaching the local dialect. I had rung him a couple of times in the past but he had always been out and about at the time. Having spoken to my friend Niall MacGriogair (Neil MacGregor) who has strong family connections to the Strathspey area and is an impressively fluent learner himself, I finally got a hold of Noel in the sound knowledge that my arrival was not going to be an imposition and both of us looked forward to a céilidh (visit) on the afternoon of Friday 4th September.Not for the first time, it struck me that we live in a society which culturally speaking spends most of its time standing on its head. Everything’s bun os ceann (base over head), as we’d say in Dalriada. Whisky exports generate something in the region of £4 billion every year. That’s heading for £1000 per head of the Scottish population. It’s funny money. And a lot of that trade comes from the distilling, bottling and selling of Strathspey whiskies. It’s an absolute hotbed of activity. Looks like the area’s “earning its keep” and helping to maintain the superficial front required to convince everyone that Scotland is still Scottish. Forgetting the fact of course that the entire area is English-speaking and that the dialect that named just about every bottle of the local scud is a gnat’s wing away from a final deoch an dorais (drink of the door).
A farm in Perthshire from the A9

I left Glasgow later than expected on Friday morning and hit the A9 -one of the most dangerous roads in Europe, but swift if you’re lucky- and made for Ceann a’ Ghiuthsaich (Kingussie) to meet up with our lovely TOSGAIR for Bàideanach (Badenoch), Màirin mhór Uilleim Sheathanaich (Maureen Hammond) who very luckily knew the way to Noel’s house. I had listened to Niall MacGriogair‘s patient instructions on how to get there as a man realising he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Put it this way; if you’re a salesman thinking of visiting Noel because he’s getting on and might purchase a few of your wares, think again. You’ll never find him.

Noel and Màirin standing at the porch

After a quick stop in to pick the brains of dialect legend Seumas Grannd, we set off to Noel’s place, driving through the lush, green surroundings of Strathspey and into the hinterland of Drochaid Neithich (Nethy Bridge). At the end of a rough track we found a run-down but beautifully-situated white house and entered to find Noel sitting at the fire. We were given a most hearty welcome and he was clearly thrilled to bits to have both company and two young Gaels to boot. The fire was on, and a couple of bluebottles buzzed lazily from wall to wall. We deposited our offerings to our host, some cake and the first portion of my wife’s homemade tablet from the tin in my car, on the table by the window and made a seat opposite the man himself.

quickly I noticed that what Noel spoke was not the pure Strathspey dialect,
that it was in fact a fairly standard but remarkably rich Gaelic clearly learned from
all sorts of sources, with words pulled from every nook and crannie he could
find. That said, whenever we asked him about local words he was able to
reach deep into that particular well of his youth and pull out all manner of
jewels for us and his blas (accent, lit. taste) was clearly not out of
any learner’s handbook!
We were
shown a photo of Na Gobhaich (The Gows), Domhall (Donald, Noel’s
father) and Seumas (James, his uncle) and informed that both them and everyone
else in the photo had spoken fluent Gaelic, but that this was the last
habitually-speaking generation. You can hear both of the aforementioned men in
recordings for the Survey of Gaelic Dialects in the 1950s,
available for a listen in the School of Scottish Studies archives in Edinburgh.
a’ bheil a’ Ghàidhlig agad·sa?
Noel asked whether Màirin spoke Gaelic: a bheil a’ Ghàidhlig agad·sa?
and received a hearty reply in the old language, being informed that she was from just down the road in Badenoch. He then inquired as to myself and having found out that I hailed from Arra-Ghàidheal
(Argyll), he asked:
a bheil a’
Ghàidhlig a’ togail ceann ann an Arra-Ghàidheil?
(is the
Gaelic raising its head in Argyll?)
. My reply was
that although there are plenty of speakers over a certain age in Tiree and Islay,
we are in a pretty dire situation in the mainland with perhaps only three or four of us able to do more than dish out a few random words.

We got to talking about how this same situation arose in Strathspey. Cha robh Gàidhlig anns an sgoil (Gaelic was not in the school) said Noel. As soon as they began, the Gaelic was air a cur ris an darna taobh (put to the second side) and English was the sole medium of instruction. There were two teachers that were both Gaels, one a Frisealach (Fraser) from Geàrr-loch (Gairloch) and the other from further north in Noel’s local area and yet cha robh aon fhacal a’ tighinn thairis air am bilean (there wasn’t a word [of Gaelic] coming over their lips).

I often wonder how Gaels could bring themselves to speak anything other than their own language to their compatriots who knew no English before they went to school, but the answer of course is that in Scotland we have long been taught that we should aspire to being “British”, that our own languages are worthless and culture parochial, and that English is the medium of progress and civility. People seeking to secure their family’s livelihood in rapidly changing times took by far the simplest option open to them and went with the flow. When this option was backed by the teacher’s strap, ready to strike the hands of little children for speaking the only language they knew, parents protected their own and encouraged them to comply.

dualchas: Nól Gobha

Noel rubbed a sore knee that had been under obair-lannsa (an operation) as he called it and went on to chat about what he calls Gàidhlig an latha an-diugh (the Gaelic of [the day] today) and the challenges of maintaining spoken ability. An aon chnap-starra, chan eil i ga bruidhinn gu cunbhalach an seo (the one barrier [is that] it’s not spoken regularly here), meaning that if you are to speak Gaelic at all, you have to go out of your way to create opportunities.

Something that irritates Noel -an irritation I understand only too well- is faclan Beurla tighinn a-staigh nuair a tha a h-uile facal ann an Dwelly (English words coming in when there’s every word in Dwelly[‘s dictionary]). He mentioned use of the English word in its ill-fitting Gaelic orthography traidisean (tradition) when in truth, he informed us, the word that should be used here is dualchas, something that any fluent Gael will know. We chatted over some other words for such things and I filled Noel and Màirin in on the expression I have heard most in Argyll, seana chleachdainnean (old practices).

Noel asked whether my children attended the Gaelic school in Glasgow where we currently live to which I replied that they did. He asked about language habits in the playground: bheil Beurla a’ toirt làmh an uachdair air a’ Ghàidhlig? (is the English getting the upper hand on the Gaelic?). Unfortunately it is, I replied, when 100 years ago Highland kids were desperate to get out of school so that they could get back to speaking Gaelic, many children in Glasgow and elsewhere it would seem see the old language as part of the official structure of the school day and quite naturally reject it the second they’re out of the classroom. While I expect my children to speak only Gaelic among themselves, I can only imagine that it is extremely difficult to maintain it with others when those others rarely display the slightest interest in it.

Even in Harris and Lewis, the language is losing out to English, Noel informed us, to which we nodded gravely, well aware of how things are going. We discussed the concept of what I call Gàidhlig stéidhichte (established Gaelic) and Noel laughed when I said that although I have massive respect for those who learn the standard tongue, it’s hearing the dialects a thogas mo chridhe (that lifts my heart).
Màirin certainly managed to lift our hearts with a story of when she was in Éirisgeigh (Eriskay) in the southern Western Isles. She said that when on holiday there recently there were many local people out and about, speaking nothing but Gaelic to one another and spending time in each others company rather than being static in front of the TV, receiving nothing but the bland Anglo-American babble that has worn away much of what we once held dear over the last 50 years, since the TV invaded living rooms never to be evicted. This experience was great news.
Ma tha aon duine tighinn a-staigh le Beurla, sin a chuireas ás den Ghàidhlig (if just one person with English comes in, that’s what snuffs out the Gaelic) said Noel. The change which has come over the Gael during the last 250 years, from a proud, sometimes haughty but deeply independent people to a cowed, demure, obedient remnant of their former selves has meant that we are in general simply too polite to have someone in a room with us who doesn’t speak Gaelic and carry on as we should, in our own country, among our own people, speaking our language.

Both Màirin and myself were eager to get to the meat, to talk about Strathspey words and phrases, as Màirin‘s Badenoch no longer sports a spoken vernacular and what remains of the evidence of the dialect is not in the most plentiful supply. Strathspey is the next best thing.

I have long been interested in finding out about the children’s verses that cropped up in local areas to name the fingers of the hand, but unfortunately Noel was unable to recall the one from Strathspey. When I recited our version from Dail Riata (Dalriada), he recognised the words for thumb and little finger, but not the rest.

òrdag (little hammer)
corragag (little finger)
mealla-fada (long lump)
mac an lùba (son of the pinkie)
lùdag (little hinge?)

Certainly òrdag and lùdag were familiar, and Noel was sure that there would have been a rhyme at one time, even in his father’s generation, but he could not recall it had he ever heard it at all. He seemed to accidentally use the word meòir (fingers) which he quickly “corrected” to corragan and it left me wondering whether this was in fact the usual Strathspey usage.
Noel has gone so long now listening to the Gaelic of the radio and therefore the dialects of the Outer Isles that somewhere in his mind I suspect he feels that the world has moved past his homeland and has left interest in the dialect behind with it. Having found out that I very much appreciate the differences, he was clearly pleased and a most fascinating blether ensued for the following hour.
We carried on with discussion of the lapwing or peeweet which in Strathspey was referred to as the doireagan. Noel’s superb knowledge of the elder Scottish language did not stop there however and he went on to fill us in on several other variants which included curragag and adharcan. I chipped in myself with our own Dalriadan word aoracan and one I remember being from Ràth (Reay Country) in northern Caithness and Sutherland, adharcag. The word for a lark in Strathspey was tobag.
In Strathpey praitseach with a strong /ɛ/ sound in the first syllable was what was used for a boy. In Badenoch too Màirin informed us, this was the common expression.Our word in Dalriada for smoke is toit, but in Strathspey Noel said that something along the lines of tuinnt was used.In most of southern Argyll a spider is a figheadair (weaver) and a large grass spider or harvester is a figheadair-feòir (weaver [of the] grass). Noel had not one but two local words. The first was marbh-allaidh (lit. dead-wild) called such because of its natural habit of killing cuileagan (flies) and other small insects. Likewise the second word spadadh-allaidh (lit. killing-wild) suggests the same idea.

Here are some other words Noel gave us:

seilean[-srianach] ([bumble]bee)
leamhan (moth)
bratag (worm)
cruimh (grub, maggot)
beach (wasp)
dithis a tha siùbhlach anns a’ chànain  

 In Strathspey, the word for a fox is balgair which Noel was quick to inform us also means someone who is a bit on the sly side. Màirin agreed when he said that the word in Badenoch is madadh-ruadh which although being the same as what we use in Dalriada, I can tell you that seannach was also heard. We chatted about the fact that many words are boireann (feminine) in Badenoch while fireann (masculine) in most other locales. Màirin was keen to reinforce the fact that the Gaelic of Badenoch and Strathspey were quite distinct despite there being a mere two miles between them. Geography and clan loyalties seem to have played a massive part in the story of our Scottish dialects.

I have a very strong desire to know the words for certain things in different locales and I’m not really sure I can do justice to the reason for that in English. The names of the fingers are some of those, as well as the names for spiders and insects in general, but another two of these are the local words for frogs and toads. I think in general I associate knowledge of these things with memories of rural Argyll while growing up. To be in the presence of nature is to feel that you have not been excluded from the inner machinations of the planet and that you are a part of -and not a stranger in- your home area. Spoken Gaelic is the way in which I interact directly with the land on which the tongue itself was grown.

Our Dalriadan word for frog is the same as what is now regarded as the standard, losgann, although we pronounce the o /o/ rather than /ɔ/. Noel’s word for a frog was cròigean which immediately intrigued me because the Gaelic in Lios Mór (Lismore) is gille-cnàigeanach (knobbly boy), which isn’t too far out as a and o often switch places depending on dialect. Noel’s toad was màgan (little creeper) while in Dalriada we call him muile-mhàig. The similarities can be seen here too with màg being the common feature. Noel regaled us with a quick anecdote about the use of the word màg.
Thàinig cuideigin a chéilidh air duine bha sin. Thuirt e “ciamar a tha an ura bheag?” Fhreagair an duine: “Ó, tha i air mhàgan a-nis”
(Someone came a visiting on a man once. He said: “how is the little child?” The man answered: “oh, she’s on all fours now” i.e. crawling)What is interesting about the usage of ur(a) here is that we can trace the history of the word ùraisg (fresh water spirit) by its use. From ur (child) and uisge (water), we get ur-uisge (water-child), which gradually declined to ur-uisg’ and uruisg, before falling into the pot of words due reform of their final vowel and receiving an accent to ensure correct emphasis, ending up as ùraisg.
Màirin asked Noel what word he used for a stirring stick for porridge, called a spurtle in Lowland Scots. It was graidlean they said in Badenoch to which Noel replied that maide-coir’ (pot-stick) was what they used in Strathspey. I’m fairly certain that’s what we had in Dalriada too. An interesting thing in Noel’s locale is that they share the word lite for porridge with the island of Lewis and some other places, while most dialects including the length and breadth of Argyll use the word brochan.
Like us in Dalriada, Strathspey dialect speakers would say a-máireach rather than a-màireach for tomorrow, i.e. pronounce the first syllable vowel as /ɛ/. It would seem like there are several others which follow this pattern of a being nasalised.
In Argyll, we say tha sgailc air to mean that a man is bald. According to Noel, Strathspey people would say that someone is sgallach although he wasn’t shy in pointing out that the standard expression would be maol. Noel mentioned that he often hears people talking about rusgadh (shearing sheep) but that in Strathspey it was always lomairt. This is certainly closer to what I have for Dalriada, a word that a friend from Cnapdail (Knapdale) also heard from an old shepherd 50 years ago, lomamh.
Àdhamh Ó Broin, Dail Riata & Nól Gobha, Srath Spéidh

Tha usa togail an leòr de dh’fhacail ‘s a’ cumail greim orra (you are lifting plenty of words and keeping a hold of them) Noel said to me, which was a nice compliment on my memory which can’t be much better than his and me half his age! He then asked, since I happened to mention Loch Fìn (Loch Fyne): bheil sgadan loch Fìn eadar-dhealaichte bhon fheadhainn eile? (are Loch Fyne herring different from other ones?) tha ‘d beag ‘s tha ‘d nas mils’ (they are small and sweeter) I answered, although you won’t find many now as chaidh ead thair a’ bhalla leis an iasgach (they went over the wall with the fishing, i.e. overdid the fishing).

We then got to talking about Noel’s working life over the years.

He was 20 years a ciobair (shepherd) and spent two of those in Siorramachd Lannraig (Lanarkshire). He also worked in Siorramachd Obair Dheathain (Aberdeenshire) and Bàideanach (Badenoch) as well as passing time in Tom an t-Sabhail (Tomintoul). He later worked on obair-choille (forestry), a’ cur chraghan (planting trees) and for the last 20 years he was a fencer, working with what he informed us is the correct word for articifical hedges and also for fences, callaidean. He was quick to point out that the word feansa (fence) is just a silly addition from English and that there was no need for that when there is briathrachas mór anns a’ Ghàidhlig (a large vocabulary in the Gaelic). An extremely well-thumbed copy of Dwelly sitting on the floor by his chair attested to Noel’s readiness to self-educate. As can be seen in the example above, tree was not pronounced craobh, but cragh with the /ö/ vowel sound as lagh but with a velar fricative to close /ɣ/.
He says that he worked the area from Baile na Dalaich (Ballindalloch) to Bail’ ùr an t-Sléibh (Newtonmore) and that any hedge or fence we see in the area could well be his handiwork.
Noel’s word for a farm was tuathnachas but he had heard the term baile-fearainn which is what we would say in Argyll. Like us, he said that the old folk in Strathspey also used their and abair for say rather than can as they do in the Western Isles, Sutherland and Ross.
His word for go! was theirig! and Noel told us that the Gaelic was a’ toirt buaidh air a’ Bheurla (bringing an effect on the English) in Strathspey as people often said such things as go you down the road! when they were sending the kids home from the moors.
A lón bhiorach was a field that came to a point while a caora bhiorach was a sharp-nosed sheep.
Màirin said that if someone was sullen-looking in Badenoch they would be referred to as gréisg while the only thing Noel could think of that sounded like that was grùisg, a grin. We chatted further on all sorts of words for sullen, whether in face or in sky, and Noel mentioned gruamach (lowering) and took no end of pleasure from my breakdown of our Argyll word duiseallach (cloudy) which comes originally from dubh-sheallach (black-viewish). We hopped, skipped and jumped easily over to mood, where we discussed the words dubhach (blackish, i.e. miserable), brònach, muladach and tùrsach/tùirseach (sad/mournful/sorrowful).I said that in Loch Abar (Lochaber) and Arra-Ghàidheal a Tuath it’s common to describe nasty weather as robach. Although Noel understood this meaning fine, he said that in Strathspey this would more likely refer to someone’s face were it stuck with food round their beard or moustache!One of Noel’s words for stubborn was what sounded like duinealach, which I couldn’t find at all in Dwelly’s dictionary. Another was dìorrasach and he was fascinated when I told him that our Argyll word is the lovely stallachdach, although interestingly Dwelly suggests that Argyll folk regarded this word as meaning something more like careless. The Scots word thrawn comes much closer to what I have come to understand about its correct usage!

I asked about the most common expressions for greeting someone and Noel gave me several, some of which were:

ciamar a tha u? (how are you?)
dé do chor? (what’s your condition?)
dé do shunnd? (what’s your mood?)
dé ‘n sunnd a th’ ort? (what mood is on you?)
dé ‘m beò a th’ ort? (what life is on you?)

I was fascinated to hear that the latter phrase was a common expression in Strathspey as I had never heard it outside of Lios Mór (Lismore)!

Noel remembered a couple of interesting anecdotes from his youth giving us a window into how people answered such questions:

ciamar a tha an seann duine an-diugh? (how is the old person today?) someone had asked of an elderly relative. The reply was: och, tha comas eirbheirt aice fhathast (oh, she has the power of movement yet).His uncle would be asked: ciamar a tha sibh? (how are you?) to which he most often replied cho math ‘s a bhitheas mi tuilidh! (as good as I’ll ever be!)It was crystal clear throughout our conversations that Noel was a man in possession of both an innate respect of where he had come from but also an unquenchable inquisitiveness to find out more about the Gaelic language of his ancestors. He commands an admirable ability to decipher fairly sharply between what are Strathspey expressions and what constitutes “standard” or Western Isles-influenced idiom.

We talked about the fact that people would be moladh an latha (praising the day) rather than saying the likes of good morning or good evening, these being a formality that came in from outside and not particularly native expressions before I went on to ask about what the common word for anything/nothing was, in the sense of is there anything there?
Noel was very interested to hear that in Dalriada we most naturally say gas, while in Strathspey it was definitely dad, something which admittedly was heard in the rest of Argyll. Chan eil dad/gas ann (there’s nothing there). In terms of little bits and pieces of things, Noel said that they called a fresh blade of grass coming up a spiolag while in Dwelly this is translated as a slight bite or small crumb. A snàdag was also a little bite of something although it could also be used to name the bird known in English as the heather or meadow pipit and found in Dwelly as snàthag.
Following on from there being nothing there, Noel said that they used to say chan eil éis mhòin’ ann an seo (there’s no want of peat here) and that when they’d finish up at the peat they’d say: tha an t-àm ann a-nis air son a bhith (a’) cromadh sìos an rathad (it’s time now to be bending down the road). Noel’s s in sìos was like ours in Dalriada, i.e. hard.
Indeed it was time to be bending down the road, although more like up for me, as my next stop was Drochaid a’ Bhanna (Bonar Bridge) in south-east Cataibh (Sutherland) and the house of Easaidh Stiùbhart (Essie Stewart), the great storyteller who spent her formative years on the road as a member of the travelling folk. Noel said that he had been up there not three years before with our mutual friend Seon Caimbeul who first encouraged me to visit Noel.

Before we left, Noel was keen to find out bheil u (a’) sgrìobhadh na Gàidhlig agad mum faigh i am bàs? Bheil u (a’) cumail cuimhne air na facail ann an Arra-Gàidheal? (are you writing your Gaelic before she gets the death? Are you keeping a memory of the words in Argyll?). That I am, I answered, explaining that my children are fluent in the dialect and that a’ chiad fhacal a chualaig ead nair a tháinig ead a-staigh don t-saoghal (the first word they heard when they came into the world) was in Gaelic. Fàilte don t-saoghal I said to them as they emerged!
‘s e ionnsachadh òg ionnsachadh math (young learning is good learning) said Noel, dishing out the well-known and most wise proverb, uamhaidh math (awfully good) in fact, which is the natural way to say that around Noel’s local area. They also said tuilidh ‘s a chòir (rather than tuilleadh) just they way we do in Argyll and Noel found the fact that we sometimes say tuilidh ‘s a chòir blàth (too much warm) instead of ro bhlàth (too warm) quite amusing.

And so we rose to leave, feeling that we had just been treated to something entirely unique, something that despite Noel’s relative fitness for what he called his seann aois (old age), time would not be on our side. The house was like it hadn’t been touched in 80 years, with a great amount of wooden furniture and “old-fashioned” wallpaper. The only thing that betrayed the time period we were now in was the TV in the corner. Otherwise, it could easily have been 1915 rather than 2015.
We had a samhradh dona (bad summer) said Noel as we squeezed out through his porch. Màirin and I agreed that it had been disproportionately wet throughout July. Little did I know that all the farmers I was to meet in the succeeding few days would say the same. It had not been a summer to be attempting a living off the land.
Dìle-bhàite (drowning flood) according to Noel was not a phrase he was very familiar with in Strathspey, although I have heard it from the speakers of many dialects, including my own and that of Lewis. Noel suggested smùgraich for a fine misty rain. I’d heard this plenty times before but for some reason it does not appear to be in Dwelly. In Argyll, I said, we have a lovely word for that, ceòbanach and in Dalriada we also pronounce the word doirteamh (pouring) as /dortʒəv/. We made it outside, the wind having got up a little and a bite in the air telling us that the summer we never actually had was nevertheless at an end.
I’ve a new word for you, I said to Noel and positioned my camera.

Bithidh sinn uile anns an fhéineig! (we’ll all be in the selfie!)

Bithidh sinn uile anns an fhéineig! (we’ll all be in the selfie!).

Coinnichidh sinn a-rithist! (we will meet again!) said Noel.ó gu cinnteach! (oh for sure!) I replied raising a palm, and I walked away contentedly knowing that Màirin and Noel were excitedly making plans to meet again much sooner than I was likely to return. This had been an immense and singular pleasure. We had met with a man who lives more or less as his people have lived through the ages; in the family home, with the land around him and a fire to keep him warm.When people talk about the Gaelic revival, there are many reasons I don’t buy into it, but above all it is this. Any true revival would not leave Gaels like Noel in isolated cottages without the chance to speak the language of their childhood for weeks on end. Why should cultural stimulation be anything less of a priority than shelter, heat or food? Not only should Noel have access to what is essentially a basic human right, but what all of us actually need more than anything is the chance to converse with people like Noel. Perhaps we even need this more than Noel needs us. We must do this so that Gaelic does not turn into an accentless, idiomless vehicle for a mono-culture all of its own, modeled on the one which stole the fire from the top of our mountain in the first place. Rather than establishing our battle plan on the wisdom of our old people, drawn from centuries of learning directly from land, weather, language and elders, we have given a back-handed compliment to the admittedly brilliantly executed bureaucratic destruction of our native outlook by aping it chapter and verse to put in place our so-called revival.

Nól Gobha

We have established a cohort of “experts” who spend their lives talking about “code-switching” and “pre-aspiration” instead of kneeling obediently at the alter of native wisdom. We bend over backwards to get our degrees and doctorates while the only thing that ever mattered, the outlook as preserved in the minds of our people, irreplaceable and worth a billion PHDs, slips quietly out the back door with few even sparing it a farewell glance. In 20 years time, it will be dead in the Scottish mainland. In 50 years time, it will be dead in the Western Isles. The “broader picture” has all but blotted out the needs of actual people on the ground. Once all the committees and quangos and departments are done pressing their suits and talking about “what needs done”, will they get their new shoes dirty getting reacquainted with the people? I’m too busy to care either way. But they really should.

(Tune back in soon for my thoughts after visiting the MacKay Country)


“Excellent post that resonates completely with my experiences doing Gaelic fieldwork in
the 1990s on the mainland and in the Southern Hebrides. I met many
elderly Gaelic speakers who felt unrepresented and although
very good and important scholarship was happening in the universities,
it had virtually no positive trickle down effect on the lives of
ordinary Gaels”

-Michael Newton

“revival should have set folk like Noel at its heart, not its margins”

-Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul


  1. Tha sin uamhraidh math a charaid, chòrd sin rium gu mór! "Beach", 's e as ciall den fhacal sin anns a' Ghaeilge — "bee"! Tha "lomadh" againn sa Ghaeilge airson "sheering", agus "cruimh" is "leamhan" leis an dearbh-chiall cuideachd. Tha "méara" againn airson "fingers". Tha "diúnas" anns a' Ghaeilge a' ciallachadh "self will, stubborn refusal to obey", nach eil ro fhad air falbh bho "duinealach". Cùm a' dol a charaid! X

  2. Gun robh math agaibh! Tha e uabhasach inntinneach. Tha mi nam beachd dual-chainnt na Tìre Mòr ionnsachadh cuideachd (tha mi a' cur m'aire air gin Arra-Ghàidheil an-dràsta) agus saoilidh mi gum bi sibh a' dèanamh obrach mòr cudromach. Agus aontaichidh mi leibh dair a theireas sibh gur e rud brònach a th' ann dair a bhios Gàidheil na aonar. Am b' urrainnear database nò network a thogal far am b' urrainn do luchd-ionnsachaidh na Gàidhlig Gàidheil dualach a choinneamh, 's mar sin bithear ag ionnsachadh dual-chainnt, a' togail ceanglaichean ùra anns a' choimhearsnachd is a' cur feabhas air Gàidhlig na luchd-ionnsachaidh. Dè bhur beachd? Agus biodh e math cùrsa-bogaidh samhraidh fhaotainn le Gàidhlig na tìre mòr (an àite Mid-Minch nò Gàidhlig Leòdhasach), ach is dòcha gum biodh e doirbh (agus daor!). Co-thiù, mòran taing a-rithist. 🙂

  3. Ged labhrainn le teangaidhean dhaoine agus aingeal, agus gun ghràdh agam, tha mi am umha a nì fuaim, no am chiombal a nì gleangarsaich.

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