What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby CelticSpice » Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:01 pm

Inntinneach, Thrissel. Mòran taing. :)
Interesting, Thrissel. Many thanks.

Am Faclair Beag, Níall Beag.



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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby DeTamble » Thu May 10, 2012 3:13 pm

I was born in Australia, and so was my Mother. She feels Australian through and through. I don't, not at all. I feel like I was transplanted. Since I was six I felt like I was stuck on one hellishly long holiday in Australia and I was desperate for it to be over so I could go home to Scotland. I used to beg her to move back where our family came from, she refused. When I was seven I started asking her to send me to boarding school there, she refused. To distract me she put me in Highland dancing classes, which I loved. Not that I ever let up about moving there. I plastered my walls with pictures of Scotland. I would go into travel companies and ask for brochures and read them at the breakfast table where she would be sure to see them. I would bother her at least once a week about moving there, or if not, couldn't we at least go on holiday?? WHY NOT? What if we just eat baked beans for two months, can we save enough then?? I got a paper round at twelve and saved my money for a trip (thinking now about how much I earned then, that was pretty damn hilarious). When I turned thirteen I started ordering school prospecti from affordable boarding schools all over Great Britain to show her, she refused. When I graduated secondary I started saving money to move there permanently. When I was barely twenty, through some very strange circumstances, I ended up in Uganda. I'm still here, now with a Ugandan husband and one year old son.

Approximately eighteen years of wanting to move to Scotland is starting to send me insane. Tha an cianalas orm. So, this year I'm pulling out all the stops so that I can go on a two week holiday there next April or May. I would move there but can't yet, maybe in another six years it will be possible. My husband pities me, he says I'm homeless. I don't belong in Australia, as nice as it is there. He's taking on extra work this year to save enough for me to go for a few weeks. I feel cheated, like my grandparents and mother robbed me of my citizenship, language and culture. My Grandfather agrees with me, he says I should make any effort necessary to get back there. The rest of my family think I'm a lunatic for not being happy in super sunny beach BBQ Heaven.

However, I'm worried I'll go there and not like it. That I'll breathe in the air and think, 'I don't belong here either', or 'Man, this place sucks'. I've heard too that Scots don't much like tourists who happen to have Scottish ancestors going there and claiming to be Scottish, and frankly it always struck me as rather pathetic. So, I'll probably keep my mouth shut whilst I'm there. I've got to know though, I can't spend the rest of my life wondering if that's where I feel I really belong. I must find out, and the worst that can happen is that I go and decide I don't belong there either and then I can go on feeling homeless in hapiness. At the moment I feel exiled.

Any way, that's why I'm learning Gaelic. I tried learning at seven, but that was before the Internet was popular and there was nothing in the library. I did find a small book in a book shop, but I really couldn't make head nor tail of it, so I gave up. I started learning German at ten, which I liked, didn't get very far, but I loved listening to it. I heard Gaelic for the first time last year, and I really didn't know what to expect at all. All I can say is now I know why I've always enjoyed listening to Norwegian and German, because, ignoring Irish, they're really about as similar in over-all sound as one can get.
Last edited by DeTamble on Fri May 11, 2012 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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akerbeltz
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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby akerbeltz » Thu May 10, 2012 11:55 pm

Dé am faclair...?
What dictionary...?


The Faclair Beag. Sorry, it's not always perfect, especially (bizarrely) when it comes to rather basic terms as it started life as a collection of terms and expressions which weren't easy to find in dictionaries. I've added more meanings for toilichte and voted it to the top. Remember you can help improve the search result order by sliding the green bar for relevant results.

Yes, you also get nach buidhe dhut etc, the underlying idea being that certain colours are associated with qualities, yellow in Gaelic is a lucky colour (a bit like the Chinese with red).

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Níall Beag » Sat May 12, 2012 9:04 am

DeTamble wrote:I've heard too that Scots don't much like tourists who happen to have Scottish ancestors going there and claiming to be Scottish, and frankly it always struck me as rather pathetic.

...which is in itself an attitude that is likely to be ... chmmm... unappreciated.

The problem is that we all have our own self-identity, and all too often you'll hear this "I'm Scottish" from people from America, who are actually using "Scottish" as a label for there self-identity. I remember one US right-winger stating quite plainly that Scottish people are hard working so don't believe in state welfare, completely ignorant of the heavy socialist leanings in Scotland, the large public sector and resistance to privatisation, and the history of things like Red Clydeside.

If you impose yourself on others as "Scottish", there is an implicit imposition of your identity and therefore an identity of the other's, and there's nothing uniquely Scottish about resenting such an imposition.

Maybe just start by saying that you don't think your genes like the heat.....

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby faoileag » Sat May 12, 2012 11:00 am

(BTW, not sure what Akerbeltz's dictionary post is doing in this thread! :lol: )

I'm probably about to open a can of worms here, but....

The whole issue of identity, as you've discovered yourself, De Tamble, is a thorny and complex one, as Niall also says.

Among the many other points worth making, here are two that maybe those outside Scotland, including those of Scottish background more than one generation away, are not really aware of (apologies if you are - this is generally intended):

Scots (in Scotland) have a bit of a job establishing their own identity in the British public awareness and English-biased media, so are very protective of it. E.g. When a Scottish sportsperson/team wins internationally, they are often reported as a 'British' win. When they lose, they're suddenly 'Scottish'. In the national news, weather charts etc, Scotland comes last and gets very short shrift. English reporters talk about 'the North' in a British context, but clearly mean 'the North of England', etc. This constant seeming ignoring of their nation can make people defensive and possessive about it.

Secondly, the Highlands have seen a relatively large number of non-Highland, often English, incomers in the last few decades. Some of these are sensitive to local culture and adapt to it, but quite a few (maybe a vocal minority?) who came for the scenery and low house prices after enjoying a holiday there realise once there that things are not as comfortable or progressive as they were back home, and start trying to 'modernise' the community (Sunday openings etc), or find it's not as romantic as they thought, and try to block modernisation wanted by the locals (eg new supermarket, better street-lighting, wind turbines). The fact that they have more money to spend on houses, as they probably sold a home in a higher-priced area down south, means that house prices go up and locals can't afford them. This all gets incomers a bad name, even if, as I said, they are just a minority, but a pushy one.

Anyone blithely coming in unaware of these issues is likely quite innocently to tread on a few toes, and may then not get as warm a welcome as they expected.

I'm not saying all this as an excuse, just as a fact of life for any visitor to be aware of. Tread softly! :priob:

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Thrissel » Sat May 12, 2012 4:37 pm

faoileag wrote:(BTW, not sure what Akerbeltz's dictionary post is doing in this thread! :lol: )

Hint: last post on p 2.

faoileag wrote:E.g. When a Scottish sportsperson/team wins internationally, they are often reported as a 'British' win. When they lose, they're suddenly 'Scottish'.

That's how Scots see it. The English, on the other hand, complain that if a Scotsman wins, it's a Scottish victory, if an Englishman does, it's a British one. Not that there's anything unique about it. In ye old days of Czechoslovakia you could rewrite both these viewpoints simply substituting Slovak for Scottish, Czech for English and Czechoslovak for British. I'd be surprised if other examples couldn't be found all over the word.

Whatever. DeTamble, a great lot, even though not all, of what you say resonates with my own story. You're obviously intelligent enough to realize the danger of disappointment &c&c, so I'll just tell you one thing: don't wait any longer than absolutely necessary. A few weeks as a tourist will probably just confirm to you that you should come and stay for good - but if you later do that and then find out this really was what you yearned for, you'll regret every single year you'd "lost" elsewhere even more than you do now.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby EowynAnduin » Sun May 13, 2012 2:47 pm

Long weaving story, a cup of tea or a slow drink needed ;) .. or skip to the next entry ... Your choice.

Good question. I am unsure if there is a quick answer. It is more of a piece of this and a piece of that and ends up being a "feeling" or possibly better understood as a "woman's intuition".

As a young one I was told very often all my ancestors were from Scotland. They came to Canada to find a new life. I remember sitting at my grandparents house and listening to my grandfather speak, not understanding a word of it. I was very young at this point in time. I do remember the parents stating: the kids don't understand, he is speaking "Scottish", was the word they used.

Later on in life I always wanted to marry a Scotsman and keep the bloodline pure <-- yes a very young me was thinking and saying this.

Time went on.....

About 5 years ago I started checking more and more into my family roots.

I have learned that my family comes from Scotland, England and Ireland transplanted to Scotland during the potato famine. Probably if I look further there may be some Welsh in there somewhere.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing... Does it matter? No, it just is. My heart was broken. I was not a pure blood Scotsman. ;) .. That is fine. My ancestors come from the "Isles". I often say they (my very ancient ancestors) came from caves. You see, I am short and stalky, which makes living in caves easier. Tall people would hit their heads or have to dig the ceilings higher. I digress. ;)

I took several trips to South West United States and visited Anasazi sites. These are the ancestors of the Native American people. Their cities are called Pueblos. Their homes were built on the sides of cliff's. You actually either climb up or down the side of the hill to get to them. It can be a bit scary to get there but well worth the adrenaline rush. Others were into the earth, called Kivas, or they fashioned the red clay into bricks for walls. All of the ceilings were high. To me this indicates tall people.

Then I went on a trip to Ireland. I visited my first Cairn. I was the only one that did not have to duck. I walked straight in, no bending over or crawling.
Field stone walls, ivy/vegetation covered, seem to be everywhere. Many of them not too much higher than myself. Why build a wall higher than you can reach, see over, climb over? <-- practical side to me, what can I say I am curious.

The signs were all written in two languages, Gàidlig and English. We sat in the pubs with others singing and telling stories. Loved this experience. Not all of it in English. It was fantastic and felt very natural. We learned some traditional Irish songs while there. These ones were in English.

I am studying Celtic and Tribal traditions of spirituality. They are very similar if not the same. As a part of this we drum and sing, not always in English. Several of our songs are in Mik' Mak, Ojibwa and Iroquois. The "feeling" does not come out in English. These are languages that are being revived the best they can. At one point the Native people were beaten out of their language and forced into using English. (I am trusting not to have opened the can of worms). It has been an honour to learn these songs. They are held in an oral tradition and not written down, filmed or recorded.

This year we are heading to the Tor. I heard to check more into my roots and visit Scotland. Mom wants me to visit Gretna Green and see where her parents lived. She did not get the chance. I am going a bit further and visiting where my grandparent's parents, and their parents were raised.

I have a huge curiosity of ancient sites. Heading over and not visiting them does not feel right. The places where my ancestors lived were amongst these areas. This means what I would call a "road trip".

Actually understanding more is not complete without understanding the history of the people, to me. To you... I cannot say :), we each have our own path in life. Understanding the people, means understanding how they communicate, the language of the land. The language of the land being the history, culture, verbal and non-verbal aspects.

Will a full grasp be had in one trip? No. Will I get a better feeling for it? Yes. Will I continue to learn the language after the trip? Yes, it's a part of me.

I have found one of the websites of oral tradition recorded for those moving forward. I am trusting others will follow.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby akerbeltz » Sun May 13, 2012 5:08 pm

"Overseas" identities are complicated for both sides of the coin. Being half Cantonese, half German, I've had the best and worst of both, on both sides. These days, I just don't go there, even in my head. If someone asks, I have a mother from HK, a German father and I grew up in German. If someone asks about my national identity today, I shrug my shoulders and say "who knows but I can parlay in a variety of languages".

My approch to the whole Scottish/Gaelic identity thing was therefore rather diplomatic. I am a Gaelic speaker but beyond that, I make no personal claims to Scottish identity or being a Gael. Especially the latter I feel is something that has to be given, not taken. Once or twice I've had native speakers call me a Gael, which was rather chuffing, but I'd never label myself as one.

A whole lot easier in Basque where your national identity comes via the language; they call themselves Euskaldunak (BasqueLanguage-possessor-plural), so "the ones who speak Basque". Which amusingly means that *anyone* can be Basque as long as they speak it.

'Tis complicated, I would advise diplomany and at best, a references to ancestry, that's something most folk are comfy with.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby sr3nitygirl » Mon May 14, 2012 8:11 pm

Oh my... many touch-points for me in this thread :)

As a Scot living in the U.S, I can only nod in agreement reading Niall and Faoileag's posts about identity...

I've met many, many people here in the U.S. with broad US accents and multi-generational legacies claiming to 'be Scottish', and many a-time I have had to hold my tongue in the interests of International Diplomatic Relations when I really want to say, "No, you're really not...". This has increased more-so since I found my way into Gaelic learning circles here. And at times, a part of me feels bad for thinking that way, but, really, no you're not...

:P

The U.S. is an odd country - and I don't mean that in a mean way; more that everyone is SO busy being a "this"-American and a "that"-American that I think they don't concentrate on simply being American. As if being "American" isn't enough for them. Maybe it isn't, who knows. Nice people, though.

:P

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby poor_mouse » Tue May 15, 2012 6:48 am

There are also "Scottish-Russian" people.

As a little son of one friend of mine in Moscow said to the man in kilt, who was talking about Scotland and Ireland (it was Latha Naoimh Phàdraig, many people in green in the street etc): "You are a toy Scotchman and I am a real one. But don't mind, I often make believe that I'm a jaguar and my mother is she-jaguar (ягуариха)". :D

Well, some (as this child's mother) at least try to learn Gaelic. My friend in Krasnodar, mar eisimpleir.
Eilidh -- Luchag Bhochd

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Seonaidh » Wed May 16, 2012 11:24 pm

Nuair a chì mi rudeigin mar "I'm really keen on learning Gàidhlig, as it's part of my heritage" no rudan coltach bidh mi airson a ràdh rudeigin mar "Why not try Beurla first?" no "Have you maybe considered learning Laideann, Fraingis, Gearmailtis or some other language that's likely to be part of your heritage?" 'S dòcha gu bheil mi "touchy" ach cha toil leam giullachd shònraichte fhaicinn don fhacal "Gaelic", mar a bhiodh tabù do am facal Beurla a chleachdadh. 'S e cànan a th' anns a' Ghàidhlig agus sin e. 'S toil leam ga h-ionnsachadh air a son-sa fhèin. 'S dòcha gu bheil freumhan Albannach agam àiteigin ach "so what?". Tha mi a' fuireach ann an Alba, tha ùidh agam air cànanan agus 2+2=4.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Ebillan » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:06 am

I've always been interested in learning another language, and I think Gaelic is beautiful. As well, as with others here, I have Scottish heritage- and I think the country's history and culture is fascinating.

On the identity topic, I've found it can get ridiculous. It's one thing if you call yourself British, or English, or Scottish (or anything else) when it's one or two generations away. But I have one friend who takes a lot of pride in the fact that he's Irish. However, if you ask who in his family was from Ireland, he couldn't tell you.
My mother's Scottish, I've stayed in the country (it's beautiful, albeit rainy), and we have good friends there, but I still wouldn't consider myself Scottish.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Thrissel » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:43 pm

Och, I call myself Scottish without any Scottish ancestry that I know of whatsoever... :P

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Broganta » Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:37 pm

Not a drop of Celtic blood in me, but why not learn the language of the area you're living in....sin as coireach gu robh mi diesseil a thoisich a dh'ionnasachadh na Gàidhlig.

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Re: What Made You Want To Learn Gàidhlig?

Unread postby Seonaidh » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:11 am

Broganta wrote:Not a drop of Celtic blood in me, but why not learn the language of the area you're living in....sin as coireach gu robh mi diesseil a thoisich a dh'ionnasachadh na Gàidhlig.

But isn't the language of where you stay Mi'kmaq?