Gaelic learners will be better able to extend their linguistic horizons by tapping into the rich and diverse heritage of the language. This follows the successful conclusion of a project forging strong links between the older generation of native Gaelic speakers and the current generation of adult Gaelic learners.
The work, spanning 3 years, is captured in a new book “Mas Math Mo Chuimhne – Reflection of the Gaels” being launched today (13 October, 2010) at Mòd Ghallaibh – the Caithness Mod.
The oral history project was led by Clì Gàidhlig – The Gaelic Learners’ Association – and involved the recording of stories from native Gaelic speakers which may otherwise have remained unknown to the general public. The key aims were to:
- document living history and the richness of the language through the memories of volunteer native speakers;
- help combat the feelings of isolation experienced by some older fluent speakers by acknowledging and recognising the value of their local and linguistic heritage;
- involve and train adult learners of Gaelic to conduct the interviews;
- enhance learners’ access to varied vocabulary and idiomatic expression over the project period.
The book, published in Gaelic and English, comes with an accompanying CD which features a range of people talking informally in Gaelic about their lives and work. It was produced by Gaelic Scholar Kenneth Lindsay and edited by Author of “Everyday Gaelic Conversation Book” Morag MacNeill of Inverness.
A series of interviews were conducted with over 20 Gaels from the Highlands and Islands and urban Scotland and as such capture a wide range of existing regional and island accents and dialects. This is also important for Gaelic learners, allowing them to be exposed to the diversity of the language.
In addition to capturing the dialects of the language, the interviews also provide a fascinating insight into snapshots of real life experiences of those interviewed. Donald MacLean of Gairloch and Inverness, recounted the time that he spent in Berlin when the Berlin Wall was being built.
The project has been supported by: The Heritage Lottery Fund, Leader +, Bòrd Na Gàidhlig, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and The Highland Council.
It is hoped that, as well as enriching the full Gaelic experience of language learners, it will also be useful to schools and Scottish modern history studies.
Chairman of The Highland Council’s Gaelic Committee Councillor Hamish Fraser welcomed the publication of Mas Math Mo Chuimhne: “This is a resource beyond the language alone. It’s important that as many folk as possible get a wider experience of Gaelic and Gaelic culture. As a local authority we have been involved in other efforts to achieve this, and this project complements that.
“Our Am Baile staff have played a part in its completion and I’m sure pupils in our Gaelic Medium schools will enjoy using it.”
Non-Gaelic speakers should find it an engaging and informative read, and an ideal opportunity to hear the language as spoken by indigenous Gaels.