Since its launch in February 2005, YouTube has changed the way a generation consumes video content, and now it offers new ways to learn languages, including Scottish Gaelic.
There’s a vast and growing amount of material about Scottish Gaelic and in Gàidhlig available on YouTube, which is big enough now to challenge more traditional television, cable and streaming content for viewer’s interest. That material isn’t collated in one place, so you have to search for it, and sometimes it’s hard to find what you need.
In this series of articles, we’ll look at various resources available for Gaelic learners on YouTube. Eventually, ACGA will have links to these resources on its website. (Shockingly, ACGA has only a couple of videos on its YouTube channel. We’ll have to address that as well.)
We’ll start with a resource that the oldest of ACGA’s grey-heads will remember, but many younger members may not know: The 1979 BBC Gaelic-learning program “Can Seo.”
Can Seo is a 20-episode Gaelic course for beginners that was broadcast in 1979, accompanied by a book and audio and videotapes. At the time ACGA was formed in the 1980s, Can Seo was the latest (really the only) multimedia course available. Distribution and use of the videos was tightly controlled by the BBC (unlike the book and cassette tapes, the videos weren’t available for purchase).
ACGA was licensed at the time to use a limited set of the videos in study groups. Thirty-five years later, all 20 episodes of Can Seo are available on YouTube. You can find them by searching for Can Seo. Much has changed in Gaelic education in 40 years, and there are more recent learning programs, such as Speaking our Language, available, but Can Seo’s lessons are still valuable, not only for the Gaelic content, but its views of life back in 1979!
Registration is now open for the 2019 ACGA Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song & Language Week, a five-day intensive exploration of Scottish Gaelic song, language and culture in the western mountains of North Carolina. This year’s program will run from Sunday, July 7 through Friday, July 12, followed by the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and North Carolina Provincial Gaelic Mòd.
The GS&LW returns to Lees-MacRae College for its 21st year, featuring instructors James Graham, Kathleen Reddy and Màiri Britton. James and Màiri are natives of Scotland, while Kathleen hails from Nova Scotia. Màiri now lives in Nova Scotia, where she teaches at St. Francis Xavier University. James and Kathleen return for their second tour as instructors, while Màiri joins us for the first time.
All three will offer instruction in Scottish Gaelic song and language, with classes running from Monday morning through Friday at noon. Lessons will be available for everyone from beginners to fluent speakers. There will be workshops as well focused on specific aspects of Gaelic culture, whether dance, music, song or story. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an exceptional program.
Critics of Gaelic-medium education often decry it as serving “the middle class,” but the headteacher of Glasgow Gaelic School/Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu says that’s not true.
In a recent article in Scotland’s The Herald newspaper, Donalda McComb, said 15 percent of the Gaelic-medium school’s pupils come from neighborhoods classed as the poorest in Scotland, though 17 percent come from wealthy neighborhoods.
“Some 19 per cent of our school population are eligible for free school meals and every year that is increasing,” McComb told The Herald. “By now we should be over the perception of Gaelic as for middle class families. … “We encourage all families from the local area and beyond so that parents know what is ahead and it is unfair if people still see us like that.”
The school, which had 33 pupils when it was established in 2006, now has 343 students.
It’s well-known, or should be, that Scottish Gaelic was once spoken well beyond the Hebrides and Highlands, as far south as the Scottish borders during the Middle Ages. That’s been obscured by history and historical myth-making that sought to de-emphasize the role of the Gaels in Scotland (how many times have researchers heard “Gaelic was never spoken here” from people in parts of Scotland pocked with Gaelic place names, and in some cases where Gaelic was alive within living memory or just beyond it? The answer, too many times.)
An ambitious artistic project last year attempted to leap and blur some of the dividing lines of history and revive a song called Òran Bagraidh, possibly a relic — the only one — of the Gaelic once spoken in Galloway in southwestern Scotland. Galloway. The song came to light in the book “From the Farthest Hebrides,” (MacMillan Company of Canada, 1978) a collection of songs edited by Donald A. Ferguson of Cape Breton and Aonghas Iain MacDhomhnaill, or Angus John MacDonald, originally of Knockline, North Uist.
(Although some of the songs in the book were later found to be inventions of MacDhomhnaill, scholars have given Òran Bagraidh “serious consideration.” Read this informative blog by Michael Newton for more background.)
Medieval Galloway was a place where many languages met — a form of Cumbric or Welsh, Irish or Gaelic, English and Norse. It’s fitting that the Òran Bagraidh project involved musicians and poets drawn from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. They met for a week-long collaboration at Barscobe House in Galloway last September, using the song as a “springboard” to explore “commonalities and differences between musical styles and languages, within the context of the historical diversity of Galloway.”
The group has since performed their version of Òran Bagraidh in concert and an album featuring the song and other original works by the artists was released February 2. The album, more information, and a longer video on the project is available on https://www.oranbagraidh.com/
One of the benefits of membership in ACGA is our quarterly bilingual e-zine, An Naidheachd Againne. It is often the only connection that geographically isolated members have with ACGA and Scottish Gaelic. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as the editorial team enjoys putting it together for you.
If An Naidheachd Againne is something that you consider worthwhile, we wonder if you would consider joining our volunteer editorial team. Gaelic is not a requirement in order for you to volunteer your help.
We are looking for volunteers for the following positions to supplement the current editorial team. Please note that we work cooperatively so that no one person is left with too much of the work.
Must be able to work carefully according to our guidelines to proofread content for spelling, typographical and formatting errors. No particular computer skills required beyond a general ability with Word, Apache Open Office or Pages.
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place.
Availability in the two weeks before publication (not necessarily for every issue). Publication dates are March 15, June 15, September 15 and December 15.
Someone willing to shadow the current content editors for the next few issues to acquaint themselves with our process and be ready to take on the job of content editor for one issue per year. We currently have 3 editors who take turns being content editor. Work on a particular issue begins approximately a month after the publication of the previous issue (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15)
A willingness to join the ACGA forum, where discussion about the current issue takes place
Content editors are the “shepherds” who co-ordinate an issue by:
Deciding with the other editors on a lead article and contacting potential authors.
Contributing ideas for other articles / content of a particular issue and contacting authors.
Keeping track of article submissions and deadlines.
Co-ordinating the proofreading schedule.
Should have experience with Microsoft Word and Publisher, especially with creating and using styles.
A sense of design is helpful.
Expectation of doing one issue per year and taking over at some point.
Availability at least 2 weeks prior to publication (March 15, June 15, September 15, December 15).