Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gaelic for punks and hackers for Gaelic

Clachan to those who think that Gaelic can only be promoted by shaving something of the sacred cow that is Taxpayers' Money. Recent days have seen two initiatives that brought a smile to many Celtic faces as well furthering the cause of Gàidhlig in Scotland and Gaeilge in the Six Counties of 'Northern Ireland'.

First of all, we go the wee statelet of Northern Ireland which according to some is the last bastion of Protestant tradition in the whole wide world. I guess that must mean something to someone. As for me, a united Ireland as well as an independent republican Scotland under no god, goddesses or gurus would be a big step forward.

Some in the 'Protestant' or 'Unionist' camps see anything Gaelic as being foreign to their 'culture'. This is strange as many of the original Scots settlers into Ulster were Gaelic speakers. Even until the 1920s there were church services for Protestants in Gaelic on the east coast of Ulster. When Queen Victoria visited Belfast during her reign, she was welcomed with 'Cead Mile Fáilte' on banners. However, in recent years, some Unionists have sought refuge in the recent phenomenon of 'Ulster Scots'. Further to this, Unionist politicians have shored up their tribal status by opposing any measures of support for Irish Gaelic. Unfortunately for them, a Derry based IT whizz who goes by the name of Hector O' Hacktatdawn gave the backward and conservative Democratic Unionist Party a facelift overnight.

Another hack further improved the DUP's street-cred by claiming...
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir.
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir. This is a public service announcement on behalf of the DUP.
We apologise for the levels of homophobia that exist deep within the ranks of the DUP. We apologise for Iris Robinson who seeks to "cure" gays from their homosexual lifestyle. We apologise for the Reverend Ian Paisley's attempts to save Ulster from sodomy. We apologise on behalf of Maurice Mills who claimed that hurricane Katrina was a punishment for those who engaged in sodomy.
Although, we do appreciate the hypocrisy of all this with Iris Robinson getting severely sodomised by a barely-legal teenager. Catholic at that..  (High-five young chap). What was that Iris said? “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children” Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad Iris..
We apologise for Ian Paisley Jnr who is repulsed by homosexuals. The poor chap is trying to deal with being stuck in the closet.
We recognise that what two consenting adults do in their own time is none of our business, and does not affect society in the least. We admit that our views have been asinine, and are working to better ourselves as humans. Evolve if you will..
Irish Language
We have decided to end our childish and archaic mindset towards the Irish language. We understand that it is an integral part of the community, and should be given a similar status that the Welsh and Scottish Gaelic languages have been afforded.
We also agree that as part of the St. Andrews agreement, that both the Irish and British Government came to a very clear agreement with respect to the Irish language.
"The Government will introduce an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language. "
We agree that we have failed to deliver these promises, but were more than happy to champion for the Ulster-Scots language - while at the same time, criticise the indigenous language of this island at every given opportunity. We understand that this was deeply unfair of us, and humbly apologise. Tá brón orainn go léir. Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam!

Back home in Alba, members of Skye based garage punk band An t-Uabhas have also gone down the road of promoting our indigenous Celtic tongue by adding Gaelic for Punks lessons to their online collection of new songs.

Click here to learn how say the likes of: tha an comhlan seo cac (this band is shit), cluich beagan Saxon (play some Saxon) and thalla is cac (away and defecate).

Slán go foill.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A healthy Scots tongue in 2011?

Bliadhna mhath ùr as you might say in the original and auld Scots' tongue. 2011 is shaping up to be an important year for our oldest indigenous language on many fronts. March sees the census taking place. Some are predicting a drop in the total number of Gaelic speakers though most agree that the rate of decline has slowed. There also seems to be a rise in the numbers of younger speakers, especially in areas with Gaelic medium units.

Gaelic medium education has been a huge success by any yardstick. There are still problems satisfying demand for it though and sadly some of these problems are caused by public 'servants' who do their best to hinder progress - and Edinburgh cooncil's anti-Gaelic harridan Marilyne MacLaren comes to mind here. Fortunately, anti-Gaelic bigots are thin on the ground though they are still vociferous enough. They don't really have any reasonable objections and resort to erroneous statements like 'Gaelic was never spoken here' (if one is being pedantic it could be claimed that Gaelic speaking monks reached the Northern Isles long before the Norse came - certainly they reached Iceland and the Faroes in their curraichean before the arrival of the Lochlannaich) and 'no-one speaks Gaelic'. Or else they harp on about tax-payers' money as if Scots Gaelic speakers have somehow evaded paying taxes for the past few centuries. If so, then i'm surely entitled to one hell of a fkn rebate. More usually, the bigots resort to abuse when logic fails them and tend to set out their stall with the likes of  'Punjabi mumbled backwards' or 'spoken by a few sheep-shagging crofters'.

Surely education enhances life and an education that leaves that person with two languages instead of one is excellent value for money. Leaving a child with only one language is a gross waste of his/ her potential and is a future of American-English monolingualism one that we should aim for?

On the bright side, Glasgow wants to go ahead with a second Gaelic school. The numbers of kids in the Western Isles in Gaelic medium finally seems to be rising though less than half of all kids there are in GME units or schools. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar however are still years behind their counterparts in Wales and the Basque Country on using and not just promoting their valuable heritage. Away from education, Gaelic is seen more and more in the arts - including galleries in Dùn Eideann. This month sees an attempt to get Gaelic in the charts for the first time in many years with Mànran singing Latha Math. Other contemporary Gaelic music is still being created by punks and indie rockers such as Na Gathan, Oi Polloi, An t-Uabhas, Atomgewitter and Sunrise not Secular. Dòl Eoin is another cool dude who seems to do more than just parrot old folk songs written by dead bards. Various types of courses for learners are now seeking new students in most corners of Alba. This included the ULPAN method which brings rapid competence in speech without resorting to complicated grammar lessons.

On the semi-legal front, 'shadowy' activist group Am Buidheann Dubh continue to decorate various parts of Scotland in a way not seen here since Ceartas did something similar in the 70s. If the Welsh can do it...

Gaelic cultural direct action.

Finally, the high heid yins at the BBC have finally seen sense and 'allowed' BBC Alba to be shown on Freeview. Deagh naidheachd gu dearbh.

So, if you're a non-Gael who's looking for a resolution for this bliadhna ùr then, I'd suggest (I'm allowed to be opinionated here after all. I mean, what else do you want to read in a blog? My latest IKEA purchase or what I ate/ drank at Xmas?) the following...
  • seek out your local ULPAN course or night class in Gaelic and learn it. Use the BBC Alba website, radio and tv to support your learning. Click here for info on ULPAN and other courses.
  • if you have kids - send them to the nearest croileagan or Gaelic school/ unit. If there isn't one, write to your council and demand it
  • support Gaelic arts - go and see Oi Polloi if your ears can take it and buy the Mànran single
  • stick an Alba sticker on your bike or car
  • use Gaelic names when using the post. Dùn Eideann instead of Edinburgh, Sruighlea instead of Stirling etc... the post-code will ensure it gets there anyway. Why just go with the flow if you don't need to?
  • if you meet Tory Hibee and Edinburgh Evil News slaverer/ jakie John Gibson, don't bother engaging him in arguments regarding his barely literate slaverings in the press, buy him a few drams, film the ensuing carnage and post it on You Tube.
Embrace diversity and fck conformity. Suas leis a' Ghàidhlig.

Link to the Scottish Government's census/ cunntas-sluaigh in Gaelic here.