June 1, 2023

It has been agreed amongst the members of the network to bring the Soillse project to a close, with activity formally ceasing at the end of March this year. The Soillse website will remain live for a time but no new posts will be added after this point. Key materials accumulated over the duration of the project have been archived and will be available to view on the pages of the UHI Language Sciences Institute, which will continue important legacy workstreams emerging from the Soillse years in partnership with other universities and community stakeholders.

Conference Record Online

November 16, 2022

An online record of the August Soillse Conference on “Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community” has now been created. This document provides links to video recordings of many of the presentations, together with PDF versions of the slides or texts, and further links to other videos displayed throughout the conference.

You can access the Conference Record here:

Conference Statement

September 6, 2022

The 2022 Soillse Conference: Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community

Conference Statement

The Soillse conference held in Stornoway from 29-31 August 2022, advises Scottish Government, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Local Authorities, development agencies and, importantly, individuals and families speaking and learning Gaelic to come together in a spirit of cooperation and renewal. A renewed spirit of inclusive cooperation is a prerequisite for addressing the societal and demographic challenges of promoting and protecting Gaelic as a living language in our vernacular communities, particularly our island-based Gaelic communities where, until relatively recently, Gaelic was the everyday language.

We call upon decision-makers in Scottish Government, Local Authorities, development agencies and academic institutions to:

1. Base the framework for Gaelic policy decisions and revitalisation priorities on the best available evidence.

2. Acknowledge through practical and appropriate support structures that each community of speakers and network of learners across Scotland has specific requirements.

3. Clearly demonstrate conviction and leadership by working in productive partnership to protect and develop Gaelic communities.

4. Invest and provide adequate funding and resources, in an equitable and efficient manner, in the effective support of island-based Gaelic-speaking communities to provide for sustainable sociocultural and Gaelic development.

5. Recognise and utilise the core role of the family and community as indispensable sociocultural and linguistic cornerstones for Gaelic language maintenance and revitalisation.

6. Place Gaelic development in island communities within a comprehensive whole-of-society approach, recognising the critical importance of supportive socioeconomic and sociocultural conditions, including Gaelic arts and heritage, as prerequisites for credible Gaelic language promotion and protection in creating a basis for a sustainable future for Gaelic in our island communities.

7. Reform and resource the Gaelic development support structure on a regional basis and recognise the various development requirements of varying speaker communities and networks of learners in order to increase mutual cooperation and complementary outcomes for all Gaelic speakers.

8. Realign and strengthen the Gaelic development role of UHI as the primary teaching, learning and research institution to enable a significantly more proactive partnership with Gaelic communities and with development partners; this should entail developing an evidence-based policy framework and public engagement approach, rooted in a pro-active research agenda, to address critical socioeconomic and cultural challenges.


Gaelic vernacular communities are in a societal and demographic crisis, and if current conditions prevail, will no longer be sustainable. The current socioeconomic development support structures for the islands, as well as the Gaelic language policy framework of language promotion with insufficient language protection are presently unable to address the various levels of societal challenge.

Community Projects

August 2, 2022

Projects with close community links will be on display at the Stornoway conference at the end of the month. Series of videos in Gaelic or about Gaelic will be viewable in playlists put together on the Island Voices site, including “Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal”, “Saoghal Thormoid”, “Island Voices Series 1&2” and “International MOOT”.

No specific time is set aside on the conference timetable to discuss these, but they will be running non-stop at free times through the day, to give anyone a chance to take a look and ask questions about them.

And the playlists can be viewed remotely as well, with live links embedded in this PDF poster, where you can also find additional information about the links between Soillse and Island Voices, and other current research work in partnership with other universities in Scotland and internationally.

Some of the projects displayed are ongoing, with new videos added to them on a continuing basis. “Cuairt Chuil Uaraich”, from the Back Historical Society, was added to Stòras Beò nan Gàidheal just yesterday, following the incorporation of optional auto-translatable CC subtitles.

Community Conference

July 11, 2022

Conference Fee Waiver for Islanders 

To encourage local participation in this conference we will offer free places to island residents from the Gaelic Crisis study area. We do ask islanders to register on the conference website, however, to allow the organisers to plan appropriate hospitality for the event. Follow, click on Tickets, and choose the conference bursary option.

Virtual participation in the conference 

The Soillse team will provide technical options for those wishing to participate in the conference virtually.

Travel Bursaries 

Soillse will make a limited number of travel bursaries available for island residents (outwith Lewis) to help defray travel costs. Please enquire with the conference organiser about this:

Conference Programme

July 5, 2022

The draft programme for the conference on Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community has now been published. The conference will be held in Stornoway on 29th-31st August (details here:

The draft programme (updated on 24/08/22) can be viewed here:

You can also see the list of abstracts for presentations here:

Conference: Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community

June 30, 2022

International Conference, 29–31 August 2022, Caladh Inn, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Soillse is delighted to announce an international sociolinguistics conference on ‘Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community’ which will be held between 29–31 August 2022 at Caladh Inn, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

The conference is organised and sponsored by Soillse, University of the Highlands and Islands. Among our speakers are François Grin (University of Geneva), Jane MacLeod (Community Activist), Pàdruig Morrison (Community Activist), Agnes Rennie (Galson Estate Trust), Ùisdean Robertson (Western Isles Council) and Lowri Cunnington Wynn (Aberystwyth University).

Registration is still open and further information is available at the following Evenbrite page: []. The conference programme will be available to view soon.

For further information [] and all queries, please contact

Presentation for North Uist Historical Society

June 27, 2022

A presentation was given to Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society) by Iain Caimbeul and Conchúr Ó Giollagáin on the Gaelic Crisis as part of the “Aire Air Sund” project in which CEUT is currently engaged. This was followed by a lively debate with members of the Society. The presentation can be viewed here. It was delivered entirely in Gaelic, with subtitles now available through the CC button on YouTube. These can be auto-translated into multiple languages through the Settings Wheel:

Here is a PDF of the presentation.

The presentation was delivered as the first part of a series of online workshops relating specifically to Gaelic in partnership between CEUT and Island Voices.

Seminar on Gaelic ASR

May 5, 2022

Soillse held an online seminar on “Progress Towards Accurate Automatic Speech Recognition” on 27/04/22, led by Dr Will Lamb, Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. The attendance was international with representation from Basque, Friulian, and Maltese language interests, as well as Scottish Gaelic community members.

Dr Lamb’s presentation was recorded. You can view it here with a short introduction by Soillse Director, Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin.

Dr Lamb has also made a PDF of his presentation available to read here. This includes live links to online references.

Conference: Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community

February 21, 2022

Soillse International Conference, 29–31 August 2022,

Caladh Inn, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Call for Papers

Soillse is happy to announce an international sociolinguistics conference on ‘Rooting Minority Language Policy in the Speaker Community’ to be held between 29–31 August 2022 at Caladh Inn, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

The conference is organised and sponsored by Soillse, University of the Highlands and Islands. Our keynote speakers are François Grin (University of Geneva), Jane MacLeod (Community Activist), Patrick Morrison (Community Activist), Agnes Rennie (Galson Estate Trust) and Lowri Cunnington Wynn (Aberystwyth University).

We welcome abstracts of between 250 and 300 words (excluding references) in either English or Scottish Gaelic along with a short biography, no longer than 150 words, together with an affiliation if appropriate, and to include a non-binding preference whether you are likely to attend the conference in person or online. The extended deadline for abstracts is 20 May 2022. Please forward abstracts and/or queries to We welcome proposals for presentations from people of all career stages that engage with the themes of the conference. Postgraduate students and early career researchers are particularly encouraged to participate with a limited number of bursaries available (on a first-come, first-served basis). Papers should be approximately twenty minutes in duration and should allow for around 10 minutes for discussion.

If circumstances permit we aim to hold the conference on an in-person basis but, if not, we have alternative plans in place to proceed in a hybrid mode, with live keynote addresses, speakers and audience in Stornoway (if possible, and following any government guidelines at that time) as well as online speakers and audience. The choice of their mode of attendance will be open to all delegates. A nominal fee of £50 is charged for attendance whether in person or online (but please note that travel or accommodation expenses cannot be covered if the conference goes ahead on an in-person basis) which also includes the conference dinner. Registration details will follow.

For further information and all queries, please contact

Download the Call for Papers as a PDF:

Conference registration:

“Talking Points” from Norman Maclean

January 18, 2022

A series of recorded discussions on Language Endangerment, Language Hierarchies, and Language Contact.

In the last few weeks of the funded period for Mediating Multilingualism, international project partners in universities in Scotland, India, and Jamaica discussed themes of common interest with UK-based community language speakers, stimulated by brief extracts from the final session of Saoghal Thormoid. These discussions, held in English, were recorded, and have been placed on the Island Voices YouTube channel.

The table below gives links to all the discussions, together with associated clips of Norman Maclean in conversation. (In the recorded discussions Norman’s remarks in Gaelic are subtitled in English. On the freestanding clips from Saoghal Thormoid, the YouTube Closed Captions option will give viewers the choice of following his comments with same language Gaelic subtitles, or automatic translation into other languages using the Settings wheel. Written translations into English are also provided in the YouTube video description.) Linked projects can be accessed on the webpages of the University of the Highlands and Islands Language Sciences Institute.


Recorded Discussion Norman Maclean Extract

Language Endangerment:
Gaelic Trajectory?

Talking Points 1 Saoghal Thormoid clip 1

Language Hierarchies:
English Ascendancy?

Talking Points 2 Saoghal Thormoid clip 2
Language Contact:
Bilingual Balance?
Talking Points 3 Saoghal Thormoid clip 3

Gaelic Award

November 17, 2021

Congratulations to the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group GARG at the University of Edinburgh on their Gaelic Award for the work they’ve done on Gaelic Speech Recognition!

Agency and Participation Factors: the Gaelic Vernacular Community

August 24, 2021

“This research study builds on the legacy of the Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community research (GCVC)[1] through exploring community agency and participation factors relevant to how Gaelic development interventions engage with the Gaelic vernacular community.”

More here:

PDF: An exploration of agency and participation factors relevant to supporting Gaelic vernacular communities.

Gaelic Crisis Discussion Recorded

July 5, 2021

This is the recording of “One Year On: ‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community’”, delivered on 2nd July 2021, in which a panel of island residents discussed the impact of the book. This was followed by an open forum for follow-up questions and comments.

Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin’s opening Powerpoint presentation can be viewed here.

The written contributions submitted to the Chat function during the discussion are collected here.

The full series of recordings of UHI’s “The Edge” online seminars is available here.


UHI Debate: ‘One Year On’

June 18, 2021

Friday 2nd July, 11-12.30pm Free, open to all. Register

Workshop on “Urras na Gàidhlig”

April 29, 2021

Another online workshop was held on the recommendation in the Gaelic Crisis publication for the establishment of “Urras na Gàidhlig”. Iain Campbell from the Language Sciences Institute at the University of the Highlands and Islands spoke on the topic “Building Resilience in Gaelic-speaking Communities: Governance, Agency, Participation“.

The presentation is written in English, but Iain spoke to it in Gaelic, and in the debate that followed all those in attendance who raised questions and comments also used Gaelic, with island residents from Skye, Lewis, Uist and Barra in attendance, as well as representatives from universities in the Soillse network.

Here is a PDF of the presentation.

ASR project final report

April 16, 2021

Here is the final report on the Gaelic speech recognition project funded by Soillse. As can be seen, although the Soillse seed-funding has come to an end, the development work continues with a growing team.

Spring Sale

April 1, 2021

Special 40% discount price of £15 on this important book throughout April.

From the Gaelic Books Council here:

New insights

March 22, 2021


Soillse held an online workshop on “New Insights on the Vernacular Gaelic Communities in the Islands” for members and associates on 04/03/21, led by Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin. There was university representation from a cross-section of the network, as well as from a range of scholars outwith Scotland. Significantly, a number of Gaelic-speaking community members from within the study area also attended.

A recording was made of Professor Ó Giollagáin’s presentation, which is now made available for general viewing here:

A decision was made not to record the following discussion, in order to encourage a free exchange of views and comments, during which university-affiliated scholars raised points and questions, and lay community members made some notable contributions. However, following the event, members of the Guth nan Siarach group who took part in the seminar separately recorded their own reactions to the study. The group, formed in response to the Gaelic Crisis publication, will shortly be launching its own website. Meanwhile, the recording can be accessed in full on the Guthan nan Eilean website.

The following short clip has also been released on social media, to give a taste of the discussion. (This version has English translation subtitles “burned in”, for the benefit of non-Gaelic speakers. CC Gaelic subtitles, enabled through the Gaelic Speech Recognition project, are also available via the Guthan nan Eilean link.)


International Mother Language Day event recorded

March 3, 2021

International Mother Language Day was celebrated across the globe on 21/02/21. Among the many online events, the Digital Museum held a series of sessions with a focus from South Asia to North America.

Gaelic was featured in Session 3, alongside Jamaican. Soillse Director, Conchúr Ó Giollagáin delivered the opening presentation (at 00.12.50), summarising the key findings and recommendations of the “Gaelic Crisis” publication. This was followed by a range of contributions in conversation, poetry and song, with further input on Gaelic from Gordon Wells (00.31.50) and Meg Hyland (01.09.50), beside Jamaican contributions from Audrey West (00.50.45) and Yvonne Blake (01.35.35). The full recording can be accessed, following free registration, via this link:


Gaelic Speech Recognition Update

January 29, 2021

Lucy Evans, working on the Edinburgh-led Gaelic Speech Recognition project, has produced a comprehensive report on progress so far for the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group blog. This is supplemented with some early examples of how their work is already yielding results in relation to automatic video-subtitling.

You can read it here.

While the Soillse start-up funding for this work will shortly come to an end, Will Lamb and colleagues have already secured funding from other sources to continue this valuable work.


Minority Language Media and COVID-19

November 10, 2020

In their series on minority language media and the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, the European Centre for Minority Issues return to the British Isles for an in-depth analysis of Scottish Gaelic. Dr. Douglas Chalmers, Senior Lecturer in Media and Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, provides a thorough overview of the situation for that linguistic sphere, in particular by focusing on the public service broadcasters BBC Alba and Radio nan Gàidheal.

You can read the interview with Douglas here: 

Gaelic Crisis: Caibideil 9

November 6, 2020

For anyone wishing to read more about the “Gaelic Crisis” in advance of the community meetings being held by Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, a Gaelic translation of Chapter 9 is now available online: “A dh’ionnsaigh modail ùr airson ath-bheòthachadh coimhearsnachd na Gàidhlig”. It can be read here.


And you can register for the meetings here.

“Living off the edge”: online presentation

October 30, 2020

Soillse Director, Professor Conchúr Ó Giollagáin gave an online presentation for the UHI “The Edge” seminar series on Thursday 29th October, with the title  “Living off the edge: The crisis in late modern ethnolinguistic diversity from the Gaelic perspective”. It draws on findings from the “Gaelic Crisis” publication.

It is now available to view on YouTube:


Gaelic Speech Recognition Researcher

October 5, 2020

Lucy Evans is a freshly appointed researcher at Edinburgh University, working on a Soillse-sponsored Gaelic Speech Recognition project led by Dr Will Lamb in a partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands and Quorate Technology Ltd. Here’s her interview for GARG – the Gaelic Algorithmic Research Group: