Join us over the next week here at DÒRLACH as we revive our old blog and tell you all about our travels in the north of Scotland. I’ll take you on a journey from Strathspey south of Inverness to the MacKay Country on the far north-west coast south to Loch Carron in Ross-shire where you’ll meet a handful of the lovely folks who were born and bred in the Highlands and who still speak the language which named the very landscape around them.
After our successful Crowdfunder for the Dalriada dialect, we managed to gather yet more from the very generous people who contributed to our cause. This has allowed us the privilege of visiting the last of the native mainland Gaels in their home areas to see what can yet be learned about the road forward.
Unsurprisingly the trip was both encouraging but also deeply saddening. I found fluent Gaels in their 70s in places where I thought the language had died out altogether but also far fewer people than anticipated in places I had heard still retained a habitual if decidedly elderly Gaelic-speaking population.
Tune in over the next week and hear all about what made the dialects I came into contact with different from the standard, about what caused the death of the Gaelic language in the areas I visited, but most importantly about what the people I met had to say in their own tongue about their own culture, the one that most of them now go weeks and sometimes months without the chance to share with others so disposed.
It’s these voices which although now seldom heard, must be heard if we are to have any hope of saving the Gaelic language in anything other than the most token sense. Despite the current obsession with slavishly indulging the whims of those whose minds are often completely thrown over by Anglo-American culture, no amount of pandering to a generation who know nothing of the tradition of their grandfathers will replace what is about to be lost in mainland Scotland over the next 20 years.
The future condition of the language comprises a stark choice between an accentless Creole, a paltry collection of thinly-masked English language idioms given voice using Gaelic phraseology stretched grotesquely into unrecognisable shapes, or the proudly-spoken jewel in the Scottish crown, the speech of the Fingalian heroes, as learned from the last native generation in both vocabulary and in mindset and carried forward by those willing to give their all for the cause.
It is our sole purpose here at DÒRLACH to make the link once more between old and new, to bridge the gap that has widened so rapidly, especially over the last 50 years.
Join us tomorrow for the first installment of my tour diary. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did.
Slàn leibh air an àm,