Ciamar a tha sibh? (How are you?)
Tomorrow sees me do the last few modules of level 1 Gaelic/Gàidhlig. For those that don't know or are confused as I was – Gaelic is pronounced Gah-lic at least when speaking about Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic). What the Irish choose to do is their choice.
The course I've been on is ran by Fife Council. It's usually ran over 24 weeks/6 months and conprises 24 units. FC didn't invent the course, they use Ùlpan, which was developed by a clever linguist fello.
I wont say it's been easy because it's not. It's been doable with occassional periods of genuine crashing of the brain. On one unit my head went numb, I was flicking my forehead and couldn't feel it. Given I've ADHD it could be I over applied myself. My brain was still recording and I was able to do a document recovery the next day when we did our breif revision of the previous units.
I am yet undecided weather or not being blind is an advantage or not for learning how to speak Gàidhlig. Since the words look nothing like English phonics your brain struggles to work out where on earth the sounds are coming from. A bhail thu deiseil? Are you ready, pronounce ah-vel-oo jehshul. The only issue I really have is know how many words are in a sentence or phrase. A bhail thu runs into one word. Tha gu math, I'm well - the T is silent and so is the TH at the end so it runs into, hagewmah.
Thankfully I've an ear for languages so when I listen to BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal my brain is able to desypher the phonics and find some sense in all these lovely new noises that I'm hearing and making.
The educator said that there are 8 fewer letters in Gàdhlig but 40 more phonics. Some of the phonics are almost indistinguisable from one another either because they're slightly softer, change in internation or it's a double sound with one of the two parts being different.
As with a lot of languages Gàidhlig genders it's nouns. This confuses me generally coming from a place of genderless nouns. Eggs, I think we can agree are pretty much excusive to females but in Gàidhlig are masculine… Milk however is feminine yet males can produce it too… Since 80% of nouns are masculine, I've decided to make everything masculine and 4/5 times I'll be correct. This as a feminist is not ideal however it's more important to be correct most of the time… that way I'm showing women can, right?
I used to think Gàidhlig was pointless and should die off naturally. After all, it's just as imported to Scotland/Alba (al-ah-pa) as Latin or English. However, Gàidhlig was spoken more widely than Latin historically - so Gàidhlig is the de facto native language of Scotland. If there are any Pictish speaking folk out there do let me know. I now feel it's important to save Gàidhlig both as a language and the culture around it. If we can get people growing up bilingual with English and Gàidhlig that would be great. Is it useful? Not for calling your ISP no. But for conversations with others that speak it, especially as an act of exclussion :D; to save beautiful poetry and songs and to make the world more interesting and less samey for sure it is.
I don't think there are many, if any Gàidhlig only speakers still alive, so changing road signs to include Gàidhlig place names seems somewhat of an expensive action by the Scottish Government. So does re-marking the Scottish Police helicopter while we're going through a time of great gabs between those that, hae meat and can eat and those than wad want it – to crudely paraphrase Rabby. (Rabby burns wrote in Scots not Gàidhlig FYI :) )
I'm very grateful that my partner and I got our places funded on this course and I believe teaching as many people as possible to speak and/or read and write Gàidhlig is important. But, most people wont see “Poileas Alba” on a chopper which doesn't serve the biggest population of Gàidheal. It is based in Alloa near Stirling half way (ish) between Glasgow and Edinburgh 270Mi south of the outer Hebrides. If however, they were to re-brand their land vehicle that would maybe be more logical. Even if they only changed from POLICE to POILEAS. Obviously this would be done on the basis of when a vehicle dies the new one is given the new branding, so the costs would be roughly the same as adding the livery to any new vehicle. The helicopter was re-branded as part of the lease agreement with Bond Air Services after the lost of the helicopter that cashed into The Clutha Vaults in 2013. There are figures of £100,000 knocking about but I don't know how accurate they are despite quoting them else where, oops, bad me for poor research.
I do know the resigning of roads etc cost £2,000,000. Once again, I have been quoting higher figures in real life when I was against Gàidhlig and even still think that it's a silly amount of money. Partly because no Sat Nav yet supports Gàidhlig so you'd have to be reading the English or translating the Gåidhlig. If you're navigating by road signs only then please let me know how the 1800's are and your horse. Yet again, a replacement rather than remediation scheme would be more logical. It would still be a novelty project to a degree.
Ireland and Wales have kept their languages alive along side English so why shouldn't Scotland? If Scotland had more of a separate identity from England I could maybe see the logic in Scottish Independence. I can understand the view point of Siol nan Gàidheal as far as the English didn't exactly bring us wine and chocolates when they came calling. But the U.K. isn't England it's a newer separate entity. Don't say the words out loud someone may hear you – I'm beginning to feel Scottish. I'll always be British first. I've lived in Scotland for 19 years, I was born in Scotland and half my family are Scottish; I speak and understand Scots and Scottish English yet I've never felt all that Scottish until now. That maybe a bit of an exaggeration, it's been a growing sense of Scottishness since last year. Learning Gàidhlig has only served to strength that part of my identity.
In conclusion :) :
• Gåidhlig as a language and culture needs to be saved.
• As many people as possible need to learn it.
• Overtime we should re-brand everything to Gåidhlig and English where possible.
• Scotland might be worth more with its own true identity but not at the cost of required resources.
• I used to dislike but not like Gåidhlig.
• Gåidhlig reading and writing is going to take me far longer to get than speaking.
• Learn Gåidhlig if you can, it's a lovely language, even if a little tricky.
• Always keep hydrated and wear sun block…